09 March 2021

Australia to have 2 University-based Centres for Contemplative Studies

Here is news that has been quietly developing these past 6 months, but is now public. The Universities of Melbourne and Monash are each being funded to establish Australia’s first Centres for Contemplative Studies.

It has been my privilege to work with the philanthropists Martin and Loreto Hosking alongside the Universities to help bring this all about. What a delight to have worked with such exceptional people at both institutions. How wonderful to have lived long enough to witness meditation move from the fringes in the 70s to be embraced by two world ranked Universities here in my own home town. Just wonder full. That is – full of wonder!

So this week, seems the best way to convey the import of all this is to directly share the University’s Press Releases, but first

   Thought for the day


     Knowing others is intelligence;

     Knowing yourself is true wisdom.

     Mastering others is strength; 

     Mastering yourself is true power.

     If you realize you have enough,

    You are truly rich.

                               Tao Te Ching


                                             

                                           PHOTO : Professor Jakob Hohwy with students at Monash

FROM MONASH

Generous donation helps Monash open world-first Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies

Professor Jakob Hohwy will lead a new, world-first Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies at Monash University from early 2022.

Monash University has announced it will develop a first-of-its-kind centre for unprecedented collaboration between philosophy, neuroscience, medicine, education and interfaith dialogue research and studies.

The world-first Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies will bring together humanities and science researchers and be housed in the Faculty of Arts’ School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies from early 2022, following a transformational donation of $12million from Redbubble co-founder, Martin Hosking and his wife Loreto Hosking.

The Hoskings’ charitable organisation Three Springs Foundation is behind the gift.

By combining consciousness research and contemplative studies, it will be the first of its kind in the world with a broad, interdisciplinary remit covering three interrelated domains:

Research: enabling multidisciplinary humanities and neuroscience research at the forefront of consciousness science and contemplative studies;

Education: making philosophical wisdom and contemplative practices relevant and accessible to the broadest possible audience both nationally and globally; and

Community engagement: fostering understanding  through cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue around contemplative practice traditions

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Sharon Pickering, said the Centre would enable Monash to set an international benchmark for pre-eminent research, dialogue and outreach for consciousness and contemplative studies.

“Understanding consciousness is one of the great scientific questions of our time, its connection to contemplation and contemplative studies will build our sense of common humanity, so I am thrilled that this new Centre will be based within the Faculty of Arts,” she said.

Centre Director Professor Jakob Hohwy, from Monash’s Cognition & Philosophy Lab, will lead the research stream and said: “We are excited about this unique opportunity to apply philosophical and scientific rigour to provide profound answers about the very essence of consciousness and contemplation.

“Thanks to the Hoskings, we believe we can open doors to greater reflection, curiosity, resilience, wellbeing and meaningful connections. The benefit of the Centre will be significant, across many research areas, for the community, and with future generations firmly in mind.”

Renowned mindfulness expert from Monash’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences,
Associate Professor Craig Hassed OAM, will lead the education offering, with contemplative practices - mindfulness, meditation and contemplation - developed as core curriculum subjects and in-depth electives.

“Monash already has a reputation as a world leader in integrating contemplative practices, particularly mindfulness, into staff development and student education,” he said.


PHOTO Myself along with Assoc Prof Craig Hassed and Prof George Jelinek - both very well known and much loved contributors to programs at the Foundation

“Education will be a crucial platform to equip new generations of mindful leaders and contemplative practitioners. We want to provide public-facing educational opportunities for students, staff and industry partners that will allow for broad engagement with contemplative practice.”

Professor Rebecca Margolis from Monash’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation will lead community engagement to actively foster dialogue between the university and the general public and across cultures and religious traditions in meaningful ways, including in-person and online workshops and webinars, international visiting scholars, conferences, guided practice sessions and more.

“This Centre offers a groundbreaking model for a dynamic meeting place around consciousness and contemplative studies that will bring together researchers, educators, students, practitioners of diverse wisdom traditions as well as the general public,” Professor Margolis said.

Mr Hosking said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for connection and reflection, which led him to consider supporting such a centre.

“I have been interested in unlocking the benefits of meditation and contemplative studies for a number of years. I know the personal benefits of meditation and believe the introduction of study in this area in universities will have a profound impact on our future leaders, professionals and educators. With this centre, Monash has shown a commitment to making research and education in this area a core part of their offerings,” he said.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC said: “This wouldn’t be possible without the generosity and commitment of Three Springs Foundation and the Hoskings. We are deeply grateful for their contribution, and humbled by their passion and enthusiasm for bringing consciousness research and contemplative studies into the public domain.”

From left : Assoc Prof Craig Hassed, Prof Rivke Margolies, Ian Gawler, Martin Hosking, The Dean of Arts Prof Sharon Pickering, the new centre Director Prof Jacob Howhy 

Three Springs Foundation and the Hoskings have also donated funds to the University of Melbourne for a Contemplative Studies Centre, to be established within the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. Together these two centres are positioning Victoria, and indeed Australia, as world leaders in this space.

The transformational gift from the Three Springs Foundation contributes to the Change It. For Good. campaign, which is the largest public fundraising initiative in Monash’s history.


FROM MELBOURNE

The University of Melbourne is establishing a Contemplative Studies Centre, which will be the first point of entry into the world of mindfulness, meditation and contemplative practice at the University.

The centre has been made possible by a generous philanthropic gift of $10 million from Redbubble co-founder Martin Hosking and his wife Loreto.

Contemplative studies focus on the variety of religious, spiritual, and secular practices – such as meditation, mindfulness, and prayer – and is at the very heart of what it is to be connected to ourselves, one another, and the world. These practices help people from all walks of life to facilitate wellbeing, and to aid in the development of a meaningful, balanced life.

The Contemplative Studies Centre will be led by Dr Nicholas Van Dam, a recently appointed fellow of the Mind and Life Institute and hosted within the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. 

It will have offerings for all audiences, including the general public, students, staff, faith leaders and practitioners.

Dr Van Dam said the last 30 years has seen a boom in contemplative practices. 

However, despite increased popularity, enthusiasm for the practices has outpaced the evidence for how best to use them and commercialisation has jeopardised the potential of these ancient practices in the modern world, excluding those most knowledgeable about how to implement and optimise them.

“In Australia, like the rest of the world, we’ve seen massive growth in meditation and mindfulness practices in schools, workplaces and in just about every aspect of life,” Dr Van Dam said. “The foundations of the practices have often been left behind; platitudes and optimistic thinking have replaced authentic self-exploration and opportunities for people to find balance.

“While there’s no doubt these practices can be transformational, helping people and society to thrive, we need evidence-based research and guidelines to determine how they are best used and when.”

The internationally focused centre will bring together experts from around the world to critically assess contemplative practices to help people discern between the plethora of offerings to ensure connection to authentic practices and optimal outcomes for all.

It will draw on knowledge and expertise from across the University including the Faculty of Arts and the Melbourne School of Graduate Education, to deliver ground-breaking research, innovative educational offerings and a world-class engagement series. It will also offer an opportunity for authentic practice, guided sessions and a place for inter-faith and wisdom discussion.

Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said the University is extremely grateful to Martin and Loreto Hosking for the incredibly generous donation to establish the Contemplative Studies Centre. He said the new centre represents a breakthrough to develop contemplative study, research and practice in the Asia-Pacific region and create purposeful change for our communities.

“Considering the quite extraordinary year that we have all experienced, there is a real need for greater focus on mindfulness and wellbeing in our society. Through the new centre we hope to assist many people who would most benefit from mindfulness and meditative practice,” Professor Maskell said.

Mr Hosking said he has been interested in unlocking the benefits of meditation and contemplative studies for a number of years.  “I know the personal benefits of meditation and believe the introduction of study in this area will have a profound impact on our future leaders, professionals and educators.”

Professor Sarah Wilson, Head of the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences said the University is committed to achieving exceptional research quality and impact that translates to benefits for people’s everyday lives.

“The research of Dr Van Dam in mindfulness and meditation is world-leading and his interdisciplinary approach will equip the future generation of thought-leaders with the necessary skills to navigate the complexities our society currently faces,” Professor Wilson said.

              PHOTO : Prof Sarah Wilson

“The long lockdown during the pandemic has shown us that now, more than ever, we need skills to help us engage in contemplative practices that enhance our wellbeing and mental health.

“This exciting new centre is a timely gift to our whole community, as it brings the latest research evidence and an interdisciplinary approach to guide us on the most effective ways to contemplate and navigate the complexities of our lives.”

The centre will be located within Melbourne Connect, a newly completed, purpose-built innovation
precinct at the University of Melbourne, ensuring industry collaborations and community engagement is at the heart of its research partnerships.

Melbourne Connect is delivered in partnership with a consortium led by Lendlease, bringing together world-class researchers, start-ups, government, industry, artists, and Science Gallery Melbourne, right in the heart of Carlton and next to the Parkville precinct.


Three Springs Foundation and the Hoskings have also donated funds to Monash University for a Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies, to be established within the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies in the Faculty of Arts. Together these two centres are positioning Victoria, and indeed Australia, as world leaders in this space.


10 comments:

  1. What absolutely wonderful news, so inspiring, so exciting!

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    1. Such great news! Congratulations Ian for the part you have played in such an exciting project.

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  2. Congratulations to all those involved. This has to be world first of two major Universities -Melbourne and Monash of announcing on the same day Australia’s first Centres for Contemplative Studies due to the enormous generous donations by philanthropists Martin and Loreto Hosking, and the inspirational work of our early pioneers Ian, Craig.....
    Congratulations 👏

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  3. Vicki KotsirilosMarch 9, 2021 at 5:14 PM

    Congratulations to all those involved. This has to be world first of two major Universities -Melbourne and Monash of announcing on the same day Australia’s first Centres for Contemplative Studies due to the enormous generous donations by philanthropists Martin and Loreto Hosking, and the inspirational work of our early pioneers Ian, Craig.....
    Congratulations ��

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Vicki, much appreciated from you as a pioneer in this field :)

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  4. Incredible! Very excited to read this, congratulations, Melissa

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  5. All day today I have been hearing about the generous donation from Mark and Loreto Hosking and I just kept thinking Ian has done so much of this research why are the reinventing the wheel! Then I found out you are involved, fantastic. As it should be. Capturing all the work and research you have done. Well done.

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  6. Amazing work Ian! It can be quite easy to think that the mind/body movement has simply arisen as a 'cultural phenomenon'. This doesn't consider the relentless and humble work that you, and others, have performed for decades to give people the tools and understanding that they need to live with health, peace, and joy.

    Please enjoy seeing your life's work (finally) be embraced by society.

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  7. Wonderful! As a yoga teacher for forty years it is amazing it took so long! So many will benefit especially as mental health is such a big issue right now. I cured panic attacks, anxiety etc., all with meditation and yoga. Good luck. Gerry.

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