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Contemplative Science Seminar

The Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics hosts a monthly seminar for an interdisciplinary group of participants who meet to discuss and investigate topics pertaining to the growing fields of contemplative science and secular ethics. Each session includes a keynote presentation by a distinguished speaker with expertise on the topic of the month followed with group discussion. This seminar series is free and open to all. Fill out the form below to be added to the seminar mailing list. To watch recordings and learn about past seminar sessions, scroll down.




Contemplative Science Seminar Archives 

March 20, 2024 –

In this talk, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva examined the novel theoretical approach of "rethinking empathy through social embodiment" through the emerging work of the Social Empathy Lab, a new project of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. Co-directed by Chikako and Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, this interdisciplinary lab brings faculty, graduate students and undergrads from anthropology, psychology, sociology and other disciplines together to study empathy, its cultivation, and its potential relation to compassion and ethics.


February 21, 2024 –

What can we learn from monastic lifestyle with respect to aging and neurodegenerative diseases?  In this talk, Tenzin Namdul presented an interdisciplinary study that investigates low incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) among Tibetan monks. This study explores associations between monastic lifestyle and cognitive resilience to identify what sociocultural factors, particularly contemplative practices, could provide insights into ways to potentially prevent or slow the onset of ADRDs.  

Watch Recording Here


September 20, 2023 –

We all aspire to live well, but little is understood about how to die well. During this talk, Dr. Tawni Tidwell presented a multi-institutional collaborative study on a post-death meditative state called tukdam in which expert meditation practitioners enter the state in the dying phase and exhibit attenuated signs of decomposition for, at times, three weeks or more. With a large collaborative team of Buddhist monastic-scholars, Tibetan medical physicians, neuroscientists, forensic experts and biomedical researchers under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this study investigates this meditation practice and its expert practitioners as they enter the postmortem state. Although not explicit to the research focus, findings from this collaborative work also consider how such a practice might offer insight into the death process itself, both for the dying and for their support community, and its potential implications for living and practicing well.

Watch Recording Here


May 17, 2023 –

Compassion can be explored in terms of the processes that give rise to it: empathy, agency, and a prosocial stance. Closely investigating these processes can reveal a wide range of benefits that come with practicing compassion, an array of approaches for promoting it, and the reasons for why it sometimes breaks down. From step-by-step cultivation to more direct approaches, this talk with Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas explored accessible options for fostering compassion at scale, which can be found at the Greater Good Science Center’s "Greater Good in Action" website. Through the "Pathway to Happiness" and "Big JOY" programs, the Greater Good Science Center is learning which approaches for promoting compassion work best, and for whom.

Watch Recording Here


 April 19, 2023 –

In 2015, all United Nation Members adopted the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” which offers a blueprint for achieving a more sustainable future for both people and planet through seventeen goals that address global challenges including climate change, poverty, inequality, and disparities in health and education. The realization of these goals could profoundly improve the lives of many, but at the halfway point, the goals are not on target. To meet the UN’s ambitious hope of a better world, something needs to change. In this talk, Dr. Liz Grant explored how compassion could be positioned as a guiding principle for these sustainable development goals. Compassion can directly address the types of suffering that are at the core of these global challenges, and it can support the cultivation of trust in the relationships that will be central to achieving these objectives.

Watch Recording Here


March 15, 2023 –

In this talk, Dr. Monica Worline asked us to imagine a world of workplaces, institutions, and organizations that bring compassion alive. Flexible social structures such as human social networks, roles, and other routines can create a fruitful foundation for the work of compassion training to unfold. How do we embrace a mindset that harnesses these social structures to awaken compassion at every level of society? Can we look beyond existing compassion training interventions to see that fostering a culture of compassion requires work at both the personal and systemic levels?

Watch Recording Here


November 16, 2022 –

The stress experienced during “times of crisis” can cause moral and spiritual injury on both the personal and societal levels. Finding tools to alleviate stress, especially in the face of adversity, can benefit individuals, while also supporting entire communities and our world at large. In this talk, Dr. Samuel Fernandez-Carriba explored how CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) can be utilized as a stress reduction technique that considers factors beyond one's immediate circumstances including a focus on accepting what is not in one's control while resolving larger ethical conflicts.

Watch Recording Here


October 21, 2022 –

Dr. Shams Syed, Unit Head of Quality of Care for the World Health Organizations (WHO) Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland presented on “Compassion: An Engine for Primary Healthcare.” In this presentation, Dr. Syed discussed the benefits of intertwining compassion with quality care, which research by the WHO has shown to yield effective, safe, and people-centered care. This webinar was part of the Emory Compassion Center's Juliet E. Shield Symposium on Compassion.

Watch Recording Here


September 21, 2022 –

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is considered a best practice for students. The development of competencies that promote self-regulation, interpersonal awareness, self-compassion, and other traits directly aligns with positive behavioral and academic outcomes. However, very little has been done to provide SEL for educators, until now. In this session, Dr. Ryder Delaloye, Associate Director for SEE Learning® provided an overview of how CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) is being adapted for educators to provide a research-based adult SEL program that directly supports student SEL programming.

Watch Recording Here


April 20, 2022 –

Healthcare provider burnout is pervasive, harmful, costly, and worsening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this talk, Marcia Ash, MPH, and Jennifer Mascaro, PhD, shared foundational, interventional, and implementation research they have been conducting at Emory's Winship Cancer Institute to understand burnout and solutions to address it. Marcia Ash presented organizational causes of burnout and the consequences for compassion, as well as on how burnout has changed throughout the pandemic. Jennifer Mascaro discussed a new group-based contemplative intervention that is currently being evaluated to bolster resilience and interpersonal safety among healthcare teams.

Watch Recording Here


March 9, 2022 –

Relative to the attention paid to biological forces, little attention has been spent trying to understand how psychological and social forces can be harnessed as tools for healing inside the doctor’s office. By helping care teams realize that they can use psychological and social interventions to help their patients, we can expand providers’ healing arsenal. In this talk Health Psychologist, Speaker, and Writer, Dr. Kari Leibowitz, shared several interventions conducted during her time at Stanford University that help us harness psychological and social forces in healthcare by intervening on both patients' and providers' mindsets in the healthcare encounter. The overall goal of this work is to bring us closer to realizing the promise of the biopsychosocial model of health by underscoring the impact of psychological and social forces on patient outcomes and experience, and assessing interventions for leveraging these forces in practice.


February 16, 2022 –

Loneliness is everybody’s business. Neither a pathology nor a rare affliction, it is part of the human condition. Severe and chronic loneliness, however, is a threat to individual and public health and appears to be on the rise. In this talk, Chikako Ozawa-de Silva presented findings addressed in her recently published book, The Anatomy of Loneliness: Suicide, Social Connection, and the Search for Relational Meaning in Contemporary Japan. This illuminating book examines loneliness in Japan, focusing on rising rates of suicide, the commodification of intimacy, and problems impacting youth. Through a series of interviews and stories, Dr. Ozawa-de Silva points to how society itself can exacerbate experiences of loneliness, considers how to turn the tide of the “lonely society,” and calls for a deeper understanding of empathy and subjective experience on both individual and systemic levels.

Watch Recording Here


October 20, 2021 –

For many years, psychology and neuroscience focused exclusively on negative emotional states, such as depression and fear. Recently, there is a growing recognition of the value of studying positive states of mind, including well-being and compassion. Furthermore, rather than being something that we’re just born with, evidence indicates that well-being and compassion can be practiced and fostered over the lifespan. This talk will provide an overview of the neuroscience of positive states of mind and the biological pathways through which well-being and compassion affect our mental and physical health. In this presentation on, “The Neuroscience of Well-Being and Compassion,” Dr. Robin Nusslock, Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Neurobiology at Northwestern University, examined how practices designed to increase well-being and compassion, such as meditation, can generate long-term changes in the brain and body. He also discussed new methods for studying the biology of compassion, including brain imaging, peripheral markers, and functional genomics.

Watch Recording Here


September 15, 2021 –

Every year in the United States, over 100 Americans donate one of their own kidneys to a stranger. Dozens more receive the Carnegie Medal for heroism for rescuing strangers from danger. The question is: why? What drives people to take risks and make sacrifices to help others, including strangers? In this talk, Dr. Abigail Marsh, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown University,  considers the biological, social, emotional, and cultural forces that support the emergence of altruism and care for others. She presented results of their work including behavioral and brain imaging research aimed at understanding the roots of extraordinary altruism. Results of their research suggest that individuals who possess neural and cognitive characteristics that predispose them to high levels of care and compassion. In terms of their brain structure and function, they look the opposite of highly callous individuals (such as psychopaths), suggesting they anchor the high end of a "caring continuum." Altruists also show unusually strong connections between brain areas that support parental care. These variations may increase altruists’ capacity for empathic responding and bias them toward protective responses to others’ distress. Together, these results suggest that extraordinary altruism may result from variations in established neural and cognitive phenomena that support social and emotional responsiveness. They also suggest that human altruism may be subserved by ancient neural systems that support parental and alloparental care. 

Watch Recording Here


August 18, 2021 –

Compassion-Centered Spiritual Health (CCSH™) is a program to bolster the wellbeing, resilience, and compassion of healthcare patients and staff. CCSH™ augments spiritual health education and best practices with CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training), a program developed at the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University. CCSH™ interventions are delivered by spiritual care professionals trained in both CBCT® and ACPE: The Standard in Spiritual Care and Education. Each CCSH™ Fellow will present on one of the four stages of the CCSH™ model integrating unique insights from providing spiritual health during their 2-year fellowship with Spiritual Health at Emory Healthcare.

Watch Recording Here


April 21, 2021 – 

Matthew T. Lee, PhD, Director of Empirical Research, Human Flourishing Program, Harvard University explored the contemplative, conceptual, and empirical resources available to individuals and groups who seek to co-create a more regenerative world. In its fullest sense, flourishing involves integrating individual, organizational, communal, planetary, and spiritual dimensions of well-being.  Compassionate acts, structures, and cultures aim beyond the reduction of suffering and injustice and toward this expansive horizon of flourishing.  This requires “system stewards” to simultaneously address ecological, economic, cultural, political, and affective inequalities. 

Watch Recording Here


March 17, 2021 – 

Tim Cunningham, RN, DrPH, FAAN, VP Practice & Innovation, Emory Healthcare, led a conversation that explored the inherent compassion that arises when living and nonliving objects connect with one another and how we translate these connections, especially in healthcare, to healing and growth. With stories, images, and music, Tim examined the core concepts of "beginning, middle, and end" and ways that perhaps we can better measure the attenuation of suffering, while also addressing it in real time with the objective of sharing healing with people in need.

Watch Recording Here


February 17, 2021 – 

Eboni Bugg, LCSW, Director of Programs for the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, drew on her personal and professional experiences with Clinical Social Work, Buddhism, Yoga, and Mindfulness, to explore how the sacred act of bearing witness and radical listening are powerful contemplative tools that can be used to discern and to act.

Watch Recording Here


November 18, 2020 – 

Elizabeth Hearn, Director, and Ayodele Harrison, Assistant Director, of the CREATE Teacher Residency, presented on how they have tailored CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) to support educators in fifteen Atlanta Public Schools. Funded primarily by an innovation grant from the US Department of Education, CREATE is showing remarkable outcomes and attracting national attention for promoting teacher resilience and effectiveness and curbing burnout and attrition.

Watch Recording Here


October 21, 2020 – 

Thaddeus Pace, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona and Edgar González Hernández, PhD, Full Time Professor at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla, México, spoke on how CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) can be helpful in promoting wellbeing in breast cancer survivors and those who care for them. Their research findings have shown that when CBCT® is practiced with commitment and over time, it can gradually transform challenging habits of the mind into those that facilitate healing and flourishing.

Watch Recording Here


September 16, 2020 – 

Charles Raison, MD, Director of Research on Spiritual Health at Emory Healthcare, spoke on a unique collaboration between the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion Based-Ethics and Spiritual Health at Emory Healthcare to provide compassion-based interventions for both patients and healthcare providers. His talk explored data suggesting that CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) has psychological and biological effects known to enhance resilience and wellbeing. Further, he discussed recent efforts to adapt and implement the insights and practices of CBCT into novel interventions delivered by Spiritual Health clinicians.

Watch Recording Here


February 19, 2020 –

Bobbi Patterson, PhD, Professor of Pedagogy, Associate Director of the Graduate Division of Religion, presented on her newly published book, Building Resilience Through Contemplative Practice: A Field Manual for Helping Professionals and Volunteers, which recasts burnout as a normal and necessary phase of service – not a signal of failed will or selfishness.


January 15, 2020 –

Arri Eisen, PhD, Professor of Pedagogy, offered insights from his journey of collaborative research with Tibetan monks and nuns and what the integration of Buddhism and science has taught. He spoke to the nature of the cross-cultural opportunities and challenges, and plans for developing a new type of contemplative investigator.


November 6, 2019

Tyralynn Frazier, PhD, MPH, Associate Research Scientist, SEE Learning, Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics

Dr. Frazier discussed the potential benefits and challenges of cultivating compassion in K-12 education, as well as the Social, Emotional, and Ethical (SEE) Learning program and the research being developed to expand understanding of compassion cultivation in children and adolescents.


October 2, 2019

Briana Woods-Jaeger, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Sciences & Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health

Dr. Woods-Jaeger presented her research on incorporating mindfulness into cultural humility training for educators and increasing access to culturally-relevant mindfulness-based interventions for African American parents.


September 4, 2019

David Addiss, PhD, Director of the Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics (FACE) at the Task Force for Global Health, Founder of the Center For Compassion & Global Health

Dr. Addiss presented emerging work to promote compassion in a global health context. His lecture addressed challenges of extending compassion on a wide scale, the growing need for better compassion metrics, and the epidemiology of compassion.


May 1, 2019

Yoona Kang, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Communications Neuroscience Lab, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Kang presented research on the effect of self-transcendence, or the drive to benefit others beyond self-interest. She focused specifically on whether and how self-transcendence may alter neural signals during health message exposure and subsequent health behavior change.


March 21, 2019

Robert Roeser, PhD, Bennett Pierce Professor of Caring and Compassion, Penn State University 

In conjunction with Tibet Week, Dr. Roeser presented about “Education and the Science of Compassion” – a fascinating overview of what science tells us about the role compassion plays in social-emotional development and how contemplative practices can enhance the effectiveness of schools and other educational institutions.


March 6, 2019

Jennifer Goetz, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Centre College

Dr. Goetz is a social and cultural psychologist from Centre College whose research addresses emotional experience and expression, cultural values, and Chinese culture. In her session, Dr. Goetz presented her research on, “Who Deserves to Suffer? Cultural Variation in Sympathy and Responses to Suffering.”


February 6, 2019

Stephanie Evans, PhD, Professor and Chair, African American Studies

Africana Women’s Studies & History, Clark Atlanta University 

Dr. Evans presented on, “Historical Wellness: Five Self-Care Traditions in Black Women’s Centenarian Memoirs.” Her research focused on meditation, music, prayer, yoga, and exercise in African American elder women’s narratives, and how intellectual history can contribute to contemporary studies of race, gender, and mental health.


December 5, 2018

Lynne Borden, PhD, Department of Family Social Sciences, University of  Minnesota

Dr. Borden presented her research focused on using community-based methods to promote positive development of young people and their families.


November 7, 2018

Nancy Thompson, PhD, Professor, Department of Behavioral Sciences Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health

Dr. Thompson spoke about adapting Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for African American and Hispanic populations using a distance delivered depression management system that she developed called “Project UPLIFT.”


October 3, 2018 – 

Paul Verhaeghen, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology 

Dr. Verhaeghen addressed ideas from his book, Presence: How Mindfulness and Meditation Shape Your Brain, Mind and Life.


September 5, 2018 – 

Jennifer Mascaro, PhD, Department of Family and Preventative Medicine Marianne Florian, MA, MTS, Graduate Department of Religion

Dr. Jennifer Mascaro and Marianne Florian addressed the question, “What is Contemplative Science?” The presentation drew from specific examples from Dr. Mascaro’s emerging research with CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training).


May 2, 2018 --

Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, PhD, D. Phil, Associate Direction for SEE Learning at the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics Lindy Settevendemie, MAT, Project Coordinator for SEE Learning at the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics


April 4, 2018

Inaugural Seminar – “How is Contemplative Science Relevant to Your Field: An Interdisciplinary Panel on the Emerging Field of Contemplative Science.” 

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, Executive Director, Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics

Bobbi Patterson, PhD, Professor of Pedagogy, Associate Director of the Graduate Division of Religion           

Arri Eisen, PhD, Professor of Pedagogy

Sherryl Goodman, PhD, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology


Get Involved/Contact

For questions regarding undergraduate programs, please contact Art Linton ( For questions regarding the Contemplative Science Seminar, please contact Hannah Smith (