What is our History?


While the early roots of this project have started sprouting in the year 2012, the concrete vision for a “CERN-inspired research infrastructure for Contemplative Science” was born in 2015, when the question arose:

“How can the experience, expertise, and model of international scientific collaboration at CERN be merged with state-of-the-art research in the nascent interdisciplinary field of Contemplative Science, for mutual benefit as well as for the wider benefit of society, humanity, and all living beings?”

That vision was initially shared and discussed with individual researchers and  colleagues in Europe (e.g. at the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI 2015) in Germany) and the US (e.g. at the Advances in Mindfulness Research (AMR 2015) conference in New York), who provided invaluable insights and feedback. Further inspiration came during the CERN-UN symposium “The CERN model, United Nations and global public goods: addressing global challenges” in the Palais des Nations at UNOG in Geneva, Switzerland (see a full recording of the event here).

Early explorations

In August 2016, this vision was publicly presented and shared for the first time at the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI 2016) hosted by Mind & Life Europe at Chiemsee, Germany. Here the emphasis was placed on key factors that would be essential for a “CERN-inspired contemplative collaborative culture” and research infrastructure for Contemplative Science.

In September 2016, the project was officially launched under the working title “Contemplative Collaboration” (CC) by working as an independent contractor for the Yoga Science Foundation, who had already been generously supporting the development of this vision (and the related necessary career transition) for many years.

In November 2016, the CC project and vision was presented and shared at the International Symposium for Contemplative Science (ISCS 2016) hosted by the Mind & Life Institute in San Diego, California, USA.

Extending the scope

In 2016 and 2017, in the course of several visits to CERN and exchanges with colleagues, as well as various trainings and workshops, the scope of the vision was extended to embrace themes such as organizational culture and development, collaborative decision-making, communication, and a wide range of other practices and processes suitable for collaboration. The emphasis also began to shift towards inclusion of the importance and role of practice, cultivation, development and refinement of skills and traits that help enable individuals and groups to participate and engage in collaborative structures.

An interdisciplinary workshop on the theme of Contemplative Collaboration was hosted at CERN in May 2017, thanks to the support of Dr. Markus Nordberg who heads the IdeaSquare innovation hub at CERN. This workshop, co-facilitated with Nathalie Legros, brought together for the first time particle physicists, contemplative neuroscientists, and other individuals working at NGOs and in the private sector, to explore the creative tension field between competition and collaboration.

In July 2017, an updated presentation of the project and vision was shared at the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI 2017) hosted by Mind & Life Europe at Chiemsee, Germany. Here the emphasis was placed on the interconnections between first-, second-, and third-person approaches, practices and principles that are essential for successful collaboration, specifically in the domain of Contemplative Science.

In August 2017, the project and vision was also shared with a wider audience during an “Art of Hosting” workshop at the European Forum Alpbach 2017 in Alpbach, Austria. Further presentations and exchanges with researchers in Europe and the US followed during the remaining months of 2017.

The growing enthusiasm for the vast potential – and recognition of the dire necessity – of “deep collaboration” in science and society was balanced by the humbling appreciation of how difficult such collaboration can be on the court; this experience was largely shaped by the ongoing values-aligned collaboration and exploration of “integrated cooperation” with the Leap Forward community, whose members have also provided invaluable support for this project.

Refining the vision

As the scope of the project has steadily grown, a proposal document is currently being written to capture and disseminate the vision of the project – now being titled “Contemplative Scientific Collaboration” (CSC) – and to propose a possible roadmap and next steps towards its further development and gradual implementation over the coming years and decades.

Further presentations of the CSC project were given at the Todi Week in June 2018 in Todi, Italy; at the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI 2018) in August 2018 in Chiemsee, Germany; and at the International Symposium for Contemplative Research (ISCR 2018) in November 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Next steps

In the spirit and practice of humility, we do not know what the next moment will bring, but our intention compels us to look in the following direction:

One of the immediate next steps is to identify an „entrepreneurial partner“ who resonates with the vision and mission to develop the CSC (and ideally is a contemplative practitioner) – perhaps similar to the role that Adam Engle has played in the formation of the Mind & Life Institute. 

We also aim to host and co-facilitate participatory workshops, conferences, and networking meetings, to develop the CSC vision and mission statement through a process-oriented collaboration – in a spirit of generosity and curiosity that is rooted in epistemic and intellectual humility. We seek to create safe and empowering spaces for scientists and practitioners to explore „the unknown“ and discover what really matters, what really is in the service of the whole, and how to collaborate toward accomplishing our emerging goals. 

We will continue to disseminate materials to share the emerging vision and its „minimal replicable seed“ across multi-media outlets – to “tell the CSC story” and to inspire others to share their stories with us.

We seek to discover and invite like-heart-minded organizations to engage in a collaborative partnership. A major milestone will be to actualize the first CSC model for collaboration and meta-collaboration.