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

The Summer Research Institute is an application-based program. Applications are open until Thursday, April 1. Upon notification of your accepted application, you will be contacted directly with more information concerning the program schedule and how to register for the event.

What to Expect
  • Live plenary lectures and Q&As with leading scholars, activists, and contemplatives in the climate sector.
  • Curated small group breakout sessions for storytelling, reflection, and action
  • Daily contemplative meditation and movement practices to cultivate awareness and embodiment
  • Live intergenerational, interdisciplinary panel discussions for fostering inquiry and dialogue
  • Social forums to network with participants and faculty, share new ideas, discuss topics of interest, and find new collaborators
  • Poster presentations with interactive discussion boards
  • Contemplative arts offerings to experience the prosociality of music and art
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 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.

Who Should Attend

Researchers (scientists and humanities scholars), contemplatives, and changemakers—professionals, policy-makers, leaders, and activists—from all over the world whose studies, work, and passions align with this year’s Summer Research Institute theme related to Human-Earth Connection. 

The Mind & Life Institute is committed to: 1) building a thoughtful and engaged interdisciplinary community that integrates diverse perspectives and experiences, and 2) offering catalytic and transformative opportunities especially for those early in their careers.  

The Mind & Life Summer Research Institute (SRI) participants are selected through a competitive peer-review process. This unique virtual gathering fosters the opportunity to deepen work and connections and the potential for innovative and interdisciplinary collaborations and projects. 

We welcome candidates of all races, ethnicities, classes, genders, ages, religions and spiritualities, physical abilities, sexual orientations, geographic locations, disciplines, and institutions 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.


The registration fee is paid by successful applicants at the time of registration. 

Registration fee:

  • $125 for Emerging Participants
  • $250 for Established Participants

The registration fee provides participants access to the conference platform including video recordings of plenaries and panels post conference.

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