The Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics

With modern science’s focus on the material, little attention seems to be given to the workings of the mind. And yet, so many of the problems we face today arise because of our disturbing emotions. I believe by learning more about inner science and how to tackle our emotions, we can ensure that individuals, families, and all of humanity will be happier and more at peace. Maintaining our focus on our long-term vision, I am glad that, with funding assistance from the Dalai Lama Trust, Emory University has decided to create the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics to promote social, emotional, and ethical development in students from preschool through university.

—His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Emory University Presidential Distinguished Professor

The vision for the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics is to equip individuals with the skills necessary to cultivate social, emotional, and ethical well-being for both self and others as global citizens in a multicultural world. The center will work with community and institutional partners in Atlanta and around the world to develop, implement, and evaluate evidence-based educational programs grounded in compassion-based ethics.

Compassion-based ethics is rooted in the human capacity for kindness and altruism, and its approach is to identify and promote the skills that support the cultivation of a discerning mindset and a caring heart. Building on insights from scienti c evidence, common experience, and common sense while respecting and supporting the important roles of faith, family, and culture in navigating ethical challenges, compassion-based ethics is not dependent upon any individual system of belief.

The new center will have three main areas of focus: primary and secondary education, higher education, and contemplative programs.

Primary and Secondary Education

The K-12 program, known as SEE Learning—social, emotional and ethical learning—takes a holistic approach to education that supports well-being by cultivating prosocial behavior and socially responsible decision making. SEE Learning is a competency-based system, not a prescriptive list of values or rules, and the curricula are adaptable to local needs. The intention is for compassion-based ethics to be incorporated into existing curricula, where it will permeate and enhance each school’s pedagogy.

A feasibility study is planned for fall 2017 with schools in Atlanta, GA; Peoria, IL; Aspen, CO; Canada; and India. Other partnerships are being formed in Chile, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Sweden.

Higher Education

Course offerings in Contemplative Science and Secular Ethics at Emory College will begin in academic year 2017–2018, and work will begin to design an academic minor. Through the minor, undergraduates will have opportunities for hands-on experience in intervention research and program evaluation. Additionally, the center will work with other schools at Emory University and with other institutions to embed compassion-based ethics into existing courses and curricula.

Contemplative Programs

The existing CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) program brings to the new center a wealth of experience in evidence-based research. Originally developed as a protocol for the rigorous study of compassion meditation, CBCT® has more peer-reviewed journal articles than any other form of compassion training and a rigorous teacher-certi cation program to assure program delity. CBCT® is o ered around the world at medical schools and other venues both as a research program and to support individual well-being.