Application period has ended

Cultivating Prosocial Development Across the Lifespan: Contexts, Relationships, and Contemplative Practices

SRI 2020 is moving to an online format. See below for more information.
Important Update Concerning COVID-19:

In light of the most recent COVID-19 predictions, the Mind & Life Institute is moving our annual Summer Research Institute to an online format, allowing our accepted applicants to learn, engage, and connect digitally during the original dates of Monday, June 8 – Saturday, June 13.

Accepted applicants will be contacted directly in the weeks to come with more information concerning the program schedule and how to register for the online event.

If you have any questions, please email

Program Overview

In the face of pressing ecological, economic, social, and political challenges, the world stands in need of a social systems renewal. We need individuals and communities that are educated and skilled in virtuous habits of the mind (e.g., awareness), the heart (e.g., compassion), and the body (e.g., engagement) to address the global challenges of our times.

How can virtuous prosocial qualities and behaviors such as trust, cooperation, empathy, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, truth-seeking, and reparation-making be cultivated in individuals, families, schools, and communities such that we support generations of people in becoming agents of positive change in the world today? The future of our planet, and all its inhabitants, depends on our collective ability to answer this question in ways that are compassionate and inclusive, evidence-based, practical, and immediate, as well as culturally and developmentally diverse.

SRI 2020 is an exploration of prosocial development across the lifespan of individuals and within communities, and of how history, social contexts, relationships, and contemplative practices all play key roles in such development. Integrating academic, contemplative, and artistic knowledge and wisdom, we will address how the development of prosocial qualities can be promoted at different stages of life––from infancy and childhood to adolescence, and from early adulthood to old age––and in different cultural-historical situations, through the use of contemplative practices, educational and social programs, community-building and activism, and systems reform.

We gratefully acknowledge the Hershey Family Foundation for its generous, continued support of Mind & Life’s Summer Research Institute since the program’s inception in 2004.

Who Should Attend

The Mind & Life Institute is committed to building a rigorous community of interdisciplinary contemplatives, scholars, scientists, and changemakers–––professionals, policy-makers, leaders, and activists–––that integrates diverse perspectives and experiences. We welcome candidates of all races, ethnicities, classes, genders, ages, religions & spiritualities, physical abilities, sexual orientations, geographic locations, disciplines, and institutions to apply.

The Summer Research Institute is restricted to 120 participants who are selected through a competitive peer-review process. With a limited number of committed participants, the gathering fosters the potential for innovative and interdisciplinary dialogue as well as potential collaborations and the emergence of new research projects.

Applicants to the Summer Research Institute must apply into one of two categories:

  • New Investigators: Undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral students/fellows conducting research in basic and applied sciences as well as the arts and humanities. Junior faculty and independent researchers in the interdisciplinary field of contemplative science and scholarship who are in the first five years of their appointment or career are also eligible to apply in this category.
  • Senior Investigators: Established academic researchers, contemplative scholars, and educators who hold a university or college faculty appointment (full-time, clinical, research, or adjunct). Other professionals (including therapists, teachers, clinicians, thought leaders, activists, etc.) who are independent researchers/professionals/practitioners or affiliated with non-academic institutions are also encouraged to apply in this category.


In our continued efforts towards equity, diversity, and inclusion, Mind & Life has a commitment to increase participation of individuals from culturally diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds, and those with financial need. We know the field of contemplative research is immeasurably enriched through the intersections of a multitude of perspectives and experiences. With the support of generous donors, scholarship funding is available to people who might otherwise be unable to attend the SRI. This includes those who identify as being from historically underrepresented backgrounds, international, or having financial need–––persons whose presence and whose contributions are essential to the development of the field and the full realization of our community.

In addition, a small amount of scholarship funding is also available for individuals who are full-time monastics or members of the clergy (ordained or in full-time training). Individuals who wish to be considered for a monastic scholarship should indicate so as part of their scholarship application.

Scholarship applications are submitted as part of the general application form (opening on December 2, 2019). Scholarship awards come in two types: travel stipends and registration scholarships. Applicants may apply to be considered for one or both. In order to be considered for a scholarship, applicants must submit a 150-300 word personal statement that describes their need and how a scholarship to the Summer Research Institute will enable their work and help them to achieve their research/professional goals. (Please note: individuals applying for a monastic scholarship will also need to provide a brief 150-word description of their monastic/clerical background).

Scholarship recipients will be notified of their awards, including funding amounts, along with the general application decision letters that will be sent in early March.


The Summer Research Institute faculty includes scientists, clinical researchers, contemplative practitioners, scholars, and teachers from a variety of disciplines.

Plenary Faculty & Discussants

Angel Acosta is an Education Consultant & Doctoral Candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Ramona Beltrán, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver.

Kamilah Majied, PhD, (Planning Committee member) is a Professor in the Department of Social Work at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Jennifer Mascaro, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University.

Barbara (Bobbi) Patterson, PhD, (Planning Committee Co-chair) is a Professor of Pedagogy in the Department of Religion at Emory University and a member of the Mind & Life Steering Council.

Philippe Rochat, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology at Emory University.

Rob Roeser, PhD, (Planning Committee Co-chair) is the Bennett Pierce Professor of Caring and Compassion in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Pennsylvania State University and a member of the Mind & Life Steering Council.

Juan F. Santoyo (Planning Committee member) is a Doctoral Student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Co-founder of The Black Lotus Collective.

Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, PhD, is a Professor of Education at the University of British Columbia and Director of the Human Early Learning Partnership.

Jasmine Syedullah, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Vassar College.

Phil Zelazo, PhD, (Planning Committee member) is the Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota.

More to be announced

Contemplative Faculty

Kelvy Bird is an artist, internationally recognized scribe, and Co-Founder of the Presencing Institute.

Brooke D. Lavelle, PhD, is Co-Founder and President of the Courage of Care Coalition.

Srinivas Reddy, PhD, is a scholar, translator, and musician, as well as Visiting Professor of Religious Studies and Contemplative Studies at Brown University.

Juliana Santoyo, MEd, is a core faculty member at the Courage of Care Coalition and Co-Founder of the Black Lotus Collective in Boston.

Laura Schmalzl, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Southern California University of Health Sciences and Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Martin Vitorino, PhD, is a lead faculty member at the Courage of Care Coalition and the Director of Programming at InsightLA.

Peter Wayne, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of Research and Center Interim Director for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and Founding Director at the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center.

Program Planning Committee

The Program Planning Committee (PPC) is a committee of invited specialists from diverse disciplines and perspectives who bring their expertise to curate and produce the content for the Summer Research Institute. In addition to developing the overall theme and narrative arc of the program, the PPC actively participate in SRI and serve as leaders for small group discussions.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted through the Mind & Life online application portal (see below for instructions). Applications will be open from Monday, December 2, 2019 through Friday, January 31, 2020. All application 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.

Deadline Extended! Applications will now be accepted until Friday, January 31, 2020

Required Application Materials:

  • A 500-word personal statement that describes: 1) how the SRI is relevant to the applicants’ work and/or studies; 2) how the SRI will develop the applicant’s research and/or career goals; and 3) how the applicant is poised to contribute to the learning exchange at the SRI and the field of contemplative science in general. When writing your personal statement, please be sure to specifically address the 2020 SRI theme and its relevance to your work.
  • Your current CV and/or résumé
  •  For New Investigators only: one letter of recommendation from a mentor or advisor
  • Application Fee: $45

Optional Materials:

  • Poster proposal to be considered for presentation at the SRI (instructions for how to submit a poster proposal can be found within the online application form)
  • Scholarship application (part of the online application form)

Application Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Relevance: Application describes the relevance of the Summer Research Institute and the 2020 theme to the investigator’s research, professional work, and/or broader society.
  2. Development: Application shows how participation in the 2020 Summer Research Institute will foster the investigator’s research and/or career goals.
  3. Contribution: Application demonstrates the investigator’s potential to a) contribute to the learning exchange at the SRI and to the advancement of the field of contemplative sciences; and b) to produce rigorous work in their respective discipline.

Please note:

  • Having an active contemplative practice is not considered a requirement for acceptance to the Summer Research Institute.
  • Participants are expected to stay the entire duration of the Summer Research Institute.

Instructions for Submitting an Application

  1. Click the button below titled “Begin the Application Process” to be directed to the login page for the Mind & Life Online Application Portal hosted through SurveyMonkey Apply.
  2. If you have not applied for a Mind & Life Institute Grant or Program through the online platform before, please create a new account by clicking the green “Register” button in the top right corner of the screen. If you have applied for a Mind & Life Institute Grant or Program in the past using the online platform, please use your previous account information to login. (Note to administrators and assistants: please fill out the information of the person you are registering in the account information section). If you are not sure if you have already created a Mind & Life login in the past, or are having trouble accessing your account, please email for assistance.
  3. Once you have created your account and logged in, you will be directed to the Mind & Life Institute Online Applications Portal which lists all open applications. To begin an application to the Summer Research Institute, click the green “more” button at the bottom right corner of the Summer Research Institute header, then once you have been directed to the program description page, click the green “Apply” button in the top right corner of the screen.
  4. Once inside the online application form, follow the instructions on screen for filling out your personal information and uploading your application materials. Please note if you are accepted to the program, the same information you submit as part of the application will be used to populate your registration form for the event, so please make sure your information is accurate. A separate registration link will be sent out in March 2020 to finalize your registration for the SRI. (Note: submitting a SRI application does not constitute registration for the event, nor a commitment to attend).
Begin the Application Process

For More Information

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