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The Mindful Researcher: Transforming Academia from Within

After this year’s European Summer Research Institute (ESRI 2020) by Mind & Life Europe, an enthusiastic group of young researchers came together to collaborate on a proposal for the Contemplative Research Conference (CRC 2020) by Mind & Life. This event took place last weekend, and a 15′ paper presentation (see our abstract below) as well as a poster presentation were given by me on Saturday, November 7, 2020, with many of our collaborators participating in the discussion.

For a “follow-up and next steps” discussion, please join us on Zoom this Thursday, November 12, 2020 from 17:00-18:00 CET.

The Mindful Researcher:
Transforming Academia from Within 

Today’s academic environment is dominated by fierce competition for scarce resources. The majority of researchers struggle with chronic publication and career advancement pressures. Moreover, a lack of collaboration and support structures, rewards based on publication metrics, and increasing workload often lead to reduced quality of research (e.g., publication bias and hyped results) and life (e.g., burnout). In this process, science loses invaluable protagonists on the urgent quest to respond to our societal, humanitarian and ecological challenges. 

Under such systemic pressures, researchers (particularly contemplative practitioners) also face the challenge of enacting their values through their academic work. Consequently, they have been increasingly advocating that academia be rendered more compassionate, generous and inclusive. 

As a growing collaborative, we explore the values, practices, and structures that can sustain such a transformation. How can diverse stakeholders, including funding agencies and the public, contribute to this change? How can interdisciplinary collaboration and mutual support be skillfully embraced by research communities? What resources can social, embodied, or contemplative practices and research provide in this direction? How can they assist researchers in maintaining their grounding in compassion, generosity and deliberate action?

Our vision for transforming academia focuses on practices that align larger social structures and collaborative projects with individual needs and values. We present possible pathways to integrate these practices and foster skill and integrity in our academic environments. Furthermore, we invite participants to join our interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborative exploration, to advance an academic and research culture that is alive with purpose and meaning.

Many thanks to our collaborators who birthed and supported this co-creative process: Dav Clark, Annika Lübbert, Wolfgang Lukas, Sophie-Anne Perkins, Mary Rees, Frank Schumann, Mareike Smolka, Fr. Francis Tiso, and Marieke van Vugt, with invaluable contributions by Oussama Abdoun, Amy Cohen Varela, Gabriela Cortez, Rocio Martinez Vivot, Heather McDonald, Daniel Meling, Francesco Noera, Willeke Rietdijk, Hendrik Stark, and Mathis Trautwein.

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