A collaborative, interdisciplinary, and immersive opportunity to deepen work and connections around humanity’s response to the climate crisis for researchers, contemplatives, and changemakers.

Program Overview

Climate change and its consequences—from deadly forest fires to species loss to sea level rise—are reminders of the urgent need to repair the human-earth ecosystem through holistic, ethically-responsible action. The 2021 Summer Research Institute (SRI), a live online event, will explore how the union of contemplative traditions, indigenous wisdom, and science can lead to greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all life and reignite our collective responsibility as stewards of our planetary future.

 

Climate change and its consequences—from deadly forest fires to species loss to sea level rise—are reminders of the urgent need to repair the human-earth-ecosystem through holistic, ethically-responsible action. The SRI 2021 will explore how the union of contemplative wisdom and science can lead to greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all life, and the relationship between earth care and human health and cooperation.
 
The six-day program will begin with a focus on the historic and cultural roots of our current context. We will look at indigenous communities’ earth-care histories and contemporary courage. How have we lost the earth-honoring practices embedded in art, ritual, and storytelling, along with the power and wisdom of ancestor-insights? How can they still help us? We will examine histories of exploration, exploitation, and colonization and their contribution to today’s extinction crisis.
 
We will then look at the individual and structural influences in modern society that disconnect us from each other and the earth. Scientific insights will be shared on the mind, brain, behavior change, and social change, along with successful models that can inform our own goals and work. We will draw from contemplative wisdom and the deep knowledge of change leaders. We will explore models of radical inclusive interrelatedness, interweaving both creativity and new scientific insights.
 
With a firm grounding in contemplative and indigenous wisdom, SRI 2021 will look at the changes needed to nurture devotion to earth-care practices that minimize human impact, restore the natural environment, and nourish the human capacity for cooperative kindness, humility, and positive change. Our driving question will be how to re-awaken our relationship with the earth and all its inhabitants, while re-igniting our collective responsibility as stewards of our planetary future.
 
Topics to include:
  • Histories of exploitation and colonization and their contribution to today’s environmental crisis
  • The individual and structural influences in modern society that disconnect us from each other and the earth
  • Scientific insights on the mind, brain, behavior change, and social change
  • The role of contemplative practice, the arts and storytelling in nurturing climate resilience
  • Pathways toward collective action and movement building

What to Expect

The weeklong program includes:

  • Live plenary lectures and Q&As with leading scholars, activists, and contemplatives in the climate sector
  • Curated breakout sessions for storytelling, reflection, and action
  • Daily meditation and contemplative movement practices, including two half-day contemplative retreats
  • Interdisciplinary panel discussions for fostering inquiry and dialogue
  • Social forums to network with participants and faculty
  • Poster presentations with interactive discussion boards
  • Contemplative arts offerings


The SRI is an application-based program. Applications closed on Friday, April 9. Missed the application deadline? Consider attending the Online Speaker Series instead!

Explore the SRI Live Online Speaker Series

To ensure broader access to SRI, we are also offering a synchronous SRI Live Online Speaker Series. The Speaker Series is designed for a general audience interested in hearing the latest on the convergence of contemplative practice, science, and the climate crisis, but who do not have time to attend the full length of SRI, or who are in time zones that prohibit participation in the live, immersive experience at SRI. 

Participants in the Speaker Series will get live access to, and recordings of, the plenary talks, panel discussions, and contemplative practice sessions from our 2021 SRI.

Please note: Attending the Speaker Series does not fulfill eligibility requirements to apply for the Mind & Life Francisco J. Varela Research Grants; only participating in SRI counts towards eligibility.

Faculty Spotlight

SRI 2021 Faculty is comprised of contemplatives, scholars and changemakers from all around the world.

Carolyn Finney, PhD

Middlebury College

Convening Faculty

Carolyn Finney, PhD is a storyteller, author and a cultural geographer. The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets … MORE

Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD

Upaya Zen Center

Convening Faculty, Fellow

Roshi Joan Halifax is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen … MORE

Who Should Attend

We welcome researchers, changemakers, humanities scholars, and contemplatives globally whose work and passions align with our theme of reawakening the human-earth connection.

Participants are selected through a peer-review process. Candidates of all races, ethnicities, classes, genders, ages, religions and spiritualities, physical abilities, sexual orientations, geographic locations, disciplines, and institutions are encouraged to apply.

Applicants to the Summer Research Institute must apply to one of two categories of participants: 

  • Emerging:  Undergraduate and graduate students (currently enrolled or graduated) and postdoctoral fellows. Junior faculty (researchers across the sciences and humanities) and early-career changemakers (professionals, policy-makers, leaders, and activists) and contemplative teachers within five years of appointment or beginning work in the field.  
  • Established:  Researchers (across the sciences and humanities), contemplative teachers, and changemakers (professionals, policy-makers, leaders, and activists) who have held faculty appointments or positions for more than five years. 

Please note: Only Emerging researchers who attend the SRI may become eligible to apply for the Mind & Life Francisco J. Varela Research Grants. Other participants may be eligible for other Mind & Life grants.

Tentative Schedule

Our event will be held between 10 am-6:15 pm United States Eastern Time Zone.

For more information, please sign up here to receive email notifications from Mind & Life, which include announcements about the Summer Research Institute. For specific questions, please contact programs@mindandlife.org.

                   

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