Growing Up in a Time of Crisis: COVID-19 and the Need for an “Education of the Heart”

New Mind & Life Institute Digital Dialogue Offers Insights, Tools for Whole Child Education from Conversations with Dalai Lama

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia—In the era of COVID-19, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students are faced with growing uncertainty and complex challenges. The pandemic has underscored the need to better equip students to manage difficult emotions, build positive relationships, and understand their role within an increasingly interconnected world.

A new multimedia website, Education of the Heart, launched by the Mind & Life Institute, offers rich insights from leading scientists, scholars, and educational practitioners aimed at education renewal. Summarized on the site are presentations and discussion from Mind & Life’s 33rd Dialogue with the Dalai Lama, “Reimagining Human Flourishing,” held in Dharamsala, India in March 2018. Over five days, Dialogue participants explored new frontiers in education rooted in science and contemplative wisdom—conversations that are now freely available online.

“The pandemic has placed enormous stress on students, teachers, and educational systems overall,” said Mind & Life President Susan Bauer-Wu. “Building on tremendous strides made in social and emotional learning over two decades, ‘Education of the Heart’ shares holistic educational models that can help provide young people with the self-awareness, emotional regulation skills, and ethical understanding they need to navigate today’s fast-changing world.”

The digital dialogue features presentation summaries, analyses, and videos, along with a resource library with links to relevant organizations, curricula, and tools. Visitors will learn about:

  • The science of human development underlying social and emotional learning (SEL) and recent findings on the effectiveness of SEL interventions.
  • New generation SEL programs that emphasize the training of attention, ethical dispositions like kindness and compassion, and systems-thinking skills that foster appreciation of interdependence, community, and global engagement.
  • Tools and approaches to help students and teachers manage stress and cultivate a culture of compassion in the classroom.
  • The use of SEL programs focused on self-awareness, emotional regulation, and attention training to address rising rates of anxiety and depression among adolescents.
  • The importance of “whole systems” approaches to education, including efforts to promote the emotional well-being of teachers and create caring and nurturing school environments.

As noted in the site’s Afterword by Robert W. Roeser, the Dialogue identified the need for a “wider re-imagining of the aims and practices of education in ways that place human flourishing at its center, at its heart.” Such an education would emphasize not only academic development but the education of the “whole child”—equipping students with attentional skills, social-emotional skills, systems-thinking skills, and universal values such as generosity, forgiveness, and compassion. 

“Education of the Heart” introduces innovative tools and programs aimed at cultivating these skills, while pointing to the larger systems-level changes needed to prepare current and future generations of young people to build more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable societies. 

The Mind & Life Dialogues with the Dalai Lama began in 1987 as intimate conversations with leading scientists and scholars to develop an understanding of the mind in relation to human behavior. These conversations have since grown to include large public and private events addressing critical issues of modern life at the intersection of scientific and contemplative understanding. 

Interviews with contributors to “Education of the Heart” may be scheduled upon request.


About the Mind & Life Institute

At Mind & Life, we bridge science and contemplative wisdom to foster insight and inspire action for positive change in the world. At this critical moment in history, we’ve expanded our work to address individual and societal flourishing through a lens of interconnection.

Through grantmaking, convenings, digital education programs, and strategic partnerships, we seek to foster healthy human connections. Our ultimate goal is to spark a global transformation toward a society where we embrace our shared humanity. To learn more, visit


Sheila Kinkade
Mind & Life Institute
210 Ridge McIntire Road, Suite 325
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Phone: 443.722.9642

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