Recent social psychological and neuroscientific studies demonstrate that specific contemplative interventions, especially secular forms of Buddhist-based compassion trainings, enhance prosocial behavior. This panel offers a rare opportunity for scientists and humanists to review together recent discoveries and discuss pressing questions. Advocates often assume that practices such as compassion training and its behavioral effects are universally good. However, many cultures and subcultures prioritize other values, such as maintaining family honor, over the development of compassion. In light of this cultural diversity, does recent data from developmental and cross-cultural psychology provide evidence for relevant kinds of universality among human beings? Further, can this psychological data serve as evidence that certain behaviors or attitudes, such as compassion, should be cultivated by all human beings? And finally, how do specific conceptions of prosocial behavior, secular education, and human goodness impact the design of Buddhist-based contemplative trainings and scientific research on these interventions?

Paul Condon, PhD

Southern Oregon University

Fellow, Grantee, Reviewer

Dr. Paul Condon is a professor of psychology at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. His research examines the impact of meditation on social processes–including compassion, moral decision-making, and emotion … MORE

Jake Davis

CUNY Graduate Center



Gaelle Desbordes, PhD

Independent Researcher

Fellow, Grantee, Planning Committee Member, Reviewer

Gaelle is a Mind & Life Fellow with years of previous experience conducting research in contemplative neuroscience. After receiving a Masters degree in computer science and a PhD in cognitive … MORE

John Makransky, PhD

Boston College

Convening Faculty, Fellow

John Makransky, PhD, is Associate Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College, senior academic advisor for Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s Centre for Buddhist Studies in Nepal, co-founder of the Foundation … MORE

Erin Robbins

Spelman College


Brooke D. Lavelle, PhD

Courage of Care Coalition

Convening Faculty, Grantee, Reviewer

Brooke D. Lavelle, PhD, is the Co-Founder and President of the Courage of Care Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to facilitating the co-creation of a more just, compassionate world. Together with her … MORE