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

Dr. Paul Condon is a professor of psychology at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon and a meditation teacher with the Foundation for Active Compassion. His research examines the impact of … MORE

Jake Davis

CUNY Graduate Center

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Gaelle Desbordes, PhD

Grants & Science Manager, Mind & Life Institute

Fellow, Grantee, PPC Member

Gaelle is the Grants & Science Manager of the Mind & Life Institute, where she oversees the grants programs. A trained neuroscientist, she was previously on the research faculty at … 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

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Brooke D. Lavelle, PhD

Courage of Care Coalition

Convening Faculty, Grantee

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

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