Arthur Zajonc is the former President of the Mind & Life Institute. He is also emeritus professor of physics at Amherst College, where he taught from 1978 to 2012, and former director of the Center for Contemplative Mind, which supports appropriate inclusion of contemplative practice in higher education, from 2009 to 2011.
He was a visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the Universities of Rochester and Hannover. He was a Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. His research includes studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities, and contemplative traditions.
He has written extensively on Goethe’s science work, and is the author of Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind. He coauthored The Quantum Challenge, and co-edited Goethe’s Way of Science. In 1997, he served as scientific coordinator for the Mind & Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama; organized the 2002 dialogue “The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life;” and acted as moderator at MIT for the “Investigating the Mind” dialogue in 2003. The proceedings of the Mind & Life-MIT meeting were published under the title The Dalai Lama at MIT.
As director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Zajonc fostered the use of contemplative practice in college and university classrooms, and developed the foundations for contemplative pedagogy. He coauthored The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal with Parker Palmer. Out of this work and his long-standing meditative practice, Zajonc authored Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love, and contributed to the Psychology Today blog on meditation. He served as general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, was a co-founder of the Kira Institute, president of the Lindisfarne Association, and a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.
Zajonc served on the Mind & Life Board of Directors from 1998 to 2006. He served as Mind & Life President from 2012 to 2015.