The Summer Research Institute (SRI) is an application-based program and will take place in-person at the Garrison Institute in upstate New York.  Applications are now open, and close on Monday, January 29, 2024. 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.

Program Description

We’ve never been more connected and yet so divided. Just as technology brings us closer together, we are increasingly polarized, finding affirmation in online echo chambers rather than seeking common ground. Loneliness and isolation are fueling a global mental health crisis just as climate emergencies hasten hunger and the mass displacement of people. And if this weren’t enough, violence, extremism, and armed conflict are on the rise, resulting in untold suffering and loss of life. Quoting the sage singer, Marvin Gaye, “We’ve got to find a way, to bring some love in here today.” More precisely, we have to find ways to cultivate and amplify compassion to bridge these seemingly intractable divides. The enormity of what we face requires us to come together—to recognize and lean into the reality of our interconnection. 

The 2024 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute (SRI) will shine a light on compassion through convening researchers and humanists, nonprofit professionals, monastics and contemplative practitioners, activists, and concerned citizens interested in this topic. 

We will lay the foundation on Day 1, with an exploration of the meaning and boundaries of compassion. What is compassion and how is it distinct from other positive emotions and proximal enemies such as pity? With this understanding, on Day 2, we will explore research on how to cultivate the soil from which compassion may grow. What factors make it more likely that compassion will emerge, especially amidst difficult circumstances and great suffering? What presents barriers to compassion? On Day 3, we will discuss what it takes to bridge the mind and heart. What do we know about the interplay between cognition and emotion towards the cultivation of compassion? To expand the discussion beyond individual experience and interpersonal relationships, on Day 4, we will learn how compassion is being leveraged to promote action related to homelessness, incarceration, immigration, and the climate crisis. And on Day 5, we will focus on how to cultivate compassionate communities.

The conversation will blend perspectives from the sciences, humanities, contemplative practice, and social impact programs on the ground. Moreover, we will take the discussion of compassion beyond the individual realm, examining how we can foster greater compassion between people and within groups, communities, and society as a whole. What would the world look like if we were to nurture compassion—from the inside out—in service of the common good and a world that embraces all? Join us to find out.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone whose work and/or personal passions align with this year’s theme, “Awakening Compassion in Times of Division: Breaking and Coming Together” is welcome, including researchers (e.g., scientists, humanities scholars), practitioners, contemplatives, and changemakers (e.g., leaders, policymakers, clinicians, activists). 

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.  

This unique, international gathering offers the opportunity to deepen work and connections, and the potential to spark innovative and interdisciplinary collaborations and projects. 

Applicants must apply to one of two categories of participants: 

Emerging:  Students (undergraduate and graduate), postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty (researchers across the sciences and humanities), early-career changemakers and professionals, and contemplative practitioners within five years of appointment or beginning work in the field.  

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

Established: Researchers (across the sciences and humanities), contemplative teachers, and changemakers (professionals, policymakers, leaders, activists), and those interested in this topic, who have held faculty appointments or positions for more than five years. 

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

Information on how to apply will be made available when applications open on Monday, December 4, 2023. 

Registration Fees

The registration fee is paid by successful applicants at the time of registration. The fee covers all program fees, room and board (three vegetarian meals per day. Each participant is expected to cover his/her own travel expenses. The registration fee will also provide participants access to video recordings of all plenary and panel sessions from the event for 6 months after the event.

$585 for Emerging Participants

$815 for Established Participants


Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the registration fee and need financial assistance to attend the SRI. Scholarships are available to cover registration costs and/or travel expenses. All participants are eligible to apply for both kinds of assistance.

Please note that scholarships are limited, with priority given to participants from the global majority, systematically marginalized communities, and full-time monastics or clergy. 


The 2024 Summer Research Institute will be held at the beautiful and serene Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York (located 50 miles north of New York City in the Hudson River Valley). This 1923 four-story building, which was originally a Capuchin monastery and seminary, was renovated in 2003 with the opening of the Garrison Institute. In addition to your lodging, Garrison provides three meals daily served in the dining hall. Garrison’s “famous kitchen” serves vegetarian meals, prepared with most of the ingredients from farms and producers in the Hudson Valley. If attendees would like to bring personal food items, there is access to refrigerated and dry storage in the central kitchen for any personal food items. In the kitchen and beyond, Garrison Institute maintains a commitment to sustainability.

As an historic property, accommodations at Garrison are modest (twin/single beds) with no air-conditioning. Attendees should expect shared rooming (up to two individuals per room). Note that each floor has communal binary bathrooms that include individual private shower stalls. Mind & Life supports an inclusive environment and encourages attendees to choose bathrooms that are comfortable for them based on how they identify. We encourage guests to view the photos and information on the Garrison website.

Attendees with mobility concerns should be aware that the four story Garrison Institute building does not have elevator access to higher or lower levels. As such, all SRI plenary sessions will be held on the main level. Our contemplative movement sessions will take place on the lower level. Please contact Mind & Life if you require first floor accommodation as there is only one sleeping room on the first floor available which is ADA compliant.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your stay at the Garrison Institute, we welcome you to reach out to at any point during the application and registration process.

For more information about the Garrison Institute, including photos and travel tips, please visit their website.

COVID-19 Policy

Please visit Garrison’s Safety Protocols page for Garrison’s COVID-19 policy.

Application Process 

Applications must be submitted through the Mind & Life Online Applications Portal (link to be made available during the open application period). Applications will be open from Monday, December 4, 2023, and close on Monday, January 29, 2024. All materials MUST be submitted by the application deadline. Applications that remain incomplete or unsubmitted after the deadline will not be considered for acceptance to the program.

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

If you have any questions, please email