University of Virginia – Contemplative Sciences Center

102 Cresap Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Description of Organization:

The University of Virginia – Contemplative Sciences Center (CSC) began in the summer of 2012 with a founding gift from private philanthropy and a single staff administrator focused on grant-giving related to contemplation. The center has since developed as an organization with regular staff members and a variety of student interns, vendors, and part-time employees working on an array of programs and initiatives in support of the exploration of contemplation and student flourishing. CSC’s core mission is thus twofold – (i) to do scholarship and research on contemplative practices and its broader traditions in their historical and contemporary forms across the world, as well as design creative extensions of contemplative practices customized for specific social sectors and applications; and (ii) to research, and engage in innovative programming within educational institutions to help exemplify, stimulate, and facilitate environments and systems that better support the flourishing of students as whole individuals in all sectors of their life – physical, emotional, social, spiritual, academic, and professional.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2022, a grant in the amount of $10,000 was awarded to support the “Generative Contemplation Symposium,” (CGI) Program to be held at the University of Virginia (UVA) in April 2023. The program organizes and implements an international symposium with leading Buddhist teacher-practitioners, contemplative science researchers, and humanistic scholars of contemplation to explore the underlying generative principles of Buddhist contemplative practices. CGI is a collaborative spearheaded by the Contemplative Sciences Center that is exploring how contemplative practices are generative capacities such that fluency in a tradition’s underlying lexicons, grammars, and contexts of contemplation is more fundamental than specific procedural instructions with any given practice. The initiative is rooted in an innovative approach to understanding contemplative practices as primarily generative in character, the way that we talk about linguistic fluency or literacy as a generative capacity.

The scope of the initiative includes analysis of classical Buddhist meditation manuals, ethnographic field research, phenomenological inquiry, and various theoretical frameworks, most germanely design theory. The goal is to illuminate the Buddhist contemplative heritage in all its diversity, enabling more nuanced and granular understandings of these practices, and facilitating the design of new applications specific to contemporary contexts including schools, companies, hospitals, and many others. The symposium will bring together an extraordinary group of leading international scholars, scientists, and practitioners to advance an understanding of the principles of generative contemplation from multiple disciplinary points of view, and experiment with more creative and vital applications of contemplation in adapted forms.