European conference on personal and societal change from the contemplative perspective

Meet the faculty

Mark Williams

Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford

Mark Williams is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford.  His research is concerned with psychological models and treatment of depression and suicidal behavior, particularly the application of experimental cognitive psychology to understanding the processes that increase risk of suicidal behavior in depression.  With colleagues John Teasdale (Cambridge) and Zander Segal (Toronto) he adapted Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), combining it with elements of a cognitive understanding to develop Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, and MBCT is now used in the UK as an NHS-approved treatment for preventing relapse and recurrence in depression. 

His books include The Psychological Treatment of Depression (Routledge, 1984, 1992); Cry of Pain: Understanding Suicide and Self-Harm (Penguin, 1997, 2002), Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A new approach to preventing relapse (Guilford, 2002, 2013 with Z. Segal and J.D. Teasdale), The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Guilford, 2007, with J.D. Teasdale, Z.V. Segal and J. Kabat-Zinn) and Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World (London, Piatkus & New York, Rodale, 2011, with Danny Penman). 

Mark is also a minister in the Anglican Church, and an Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.

Matthieu Ricard

Ph.D., Buddhist monk at Shechen Monastery in Nepal

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk at Shechen Monastery in Nepal. Born in France in 1946, he received a Ph.D. in Cellular Genetics at the Institute Pasteur under Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob. He first travelled to the Himalayas in 1967 and has lived there since 1972, studying with Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, two of the most eminent Tibetan teachers of our times. Since 1989, he served as French interpreter for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

He is the author of The Monk and the Philosopher (with his father, the French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel), The Quantum and the Lotus (with the astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan), Happiness, A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill and Why Meditate? His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He also has translated several books from Tibetan into English and French, including The Life of Shabkar and The Heart of Compassion.

He is the author and photographer of Journey to Enlightenment, Buddhist Himalayas, Monk Dancers of Tibet, Tibet: An Inner Journey, Motionless Journey, and Bhutan: Land of Serenity.

He is an active member of the Mind and Life Institute, and is engaged in the research on the effect of mind training and meditation on the brain at various universities in the USA (Madison, Princeton, and Berkeley), and Europe (Leipzig).

Matthieu donates all proceeds from his books and much of his time to humanitarian projects (clinics, schools, orphanages, elder care, vocational training) in Himalayan areas through his organization, Karuna-Shechen (, and to the preservation of the Tibetan cultural heritage (

Tania Singer

Ph.D., Director of the Department for Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig

After Tania Singer received her Ph.D. in psychology from the Freie Universität Berlin in 2000, which was awarded the prestigious Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, until 2002.

Tania became a postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, London in 2002 supported by a Leopoldina stipend and at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London in 2006. Then, she accepted a position as assistant professor (2006-2008) at the University of Zurich and later as Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research.

In 2010 she became a director of the Department for Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.  In 2011, she was awarded honorary professorship at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and at Humboldt University, Berlin and is an honorary research fellow at the University of Zurich.

She has published multiple papers on the social brain in high-impact journals such as Science and Nature, and is currently an Advisory Board Member of the Society for Neuroeconomics. Tania investigates the foundations of human social behaviour and, more specifically, the developmental, neural, and hormonal mechanisms underlying social cognition; social moral emotions such as empathy, compassion, envy, and fairness; and emotion-regulation capacities and their role in social decision making and cooperation. To achieve these goals, she uses a multi-method and interdisciplinary approach, where she combines theories, paradigms, and techniques from disciplines as varied as neuroscience, developmental and social psychology, psychobiology, and economics.

Wolf Singer

MD., Ph.D., Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and founding director of the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI)

Wolf Singer, M.D., Ph.D., is Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and Founding Director both of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and of the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society.

He studied medicine at the Universities of Munich and Paris, received his M.D. from the Ludwig-Maximilian-University and his Ph.D. from the Technical University in Munich. 

Until the mid-eighties his research interests were focused on the experience-dependent development of the cerebral cortex and on mechanisms of use-dependent synaptic plasticity. Subsequently, his research concentrated on the binding problem that arises from the distributed organization of the cerebral cortex. The hypothesis forwarded by Professor Singer is that the numerous and widely distributed sub-processes which constitute the basis of cognitive and executive functions are coordinated and bound together by the precise temporal coordination of oscillatory neuronal activity. His work was honored with many scientific prizes and two Drs. Honoris causa

He is member of numerous national and international academies, including the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He served as President of the European Neuroscience Association, as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Max Planck Society, and as member of numerous Advisory Boards of scientific organizations and editorial boards of journals.

Otto Scharmer

Ph.D., Senior Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Founding chair of the Presencing Institute

Dr. C. Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and founding chair of the Presencing Institute. Scharmer chairs the MIT IDEAS program and helps groups of diverse stakeholders from business, government, and civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system. He co-founded the Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Lab, which links innovators from Bhutan, Brazil, Europe, and the United States in order to innovate beyond GDP. He has worked with governments in Africa, Asia, and Europe and has delivered award-winning leadership and innovation programs for clients including Alibaba, Daimler, Eileen Fisher, Fujitsu, Google, Natura, and PriceWaterhouse.

Scharmer introduced the concept of “presencing” —learning from the emerging future — in his bestselling books Theory U and Presence (the latter co-authored with P. Senge, J. Jaworski, and B. S. Flowers), which have been translated into fifteen languages. His new book Leading From the Emerging Future: From Ego-system to Eco-system Economies (co-authored with Katrin Kaufer) will be published in June 2013.

He currently is a Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on New Leadership Models and holds a Ph.D. in economics and management from Witten-Herdecke University in Germany.

Dennis J. Snower

President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Professor of Economics at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel

Dennis J. Snower is President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Professor of Economics at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel.

He is Director of the Global Economic Symposium and Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (London), at IZA (Institute for the Future of Work, Bonn), and CESifo (Munich).

Dennis J. Snower earned a BA and MA from New College, Oxford University, an MA and a PhD at Princeton University. Prior to becoming President of the Kiel Institute, he was Professor of Economics at Birkbeck College, University of London. 

He is an expert on labor economics, public policy and inflation-unemployment trade-offs. As part of his research career, he originated the “insider-outsider” theory of employment and unemployment with Assar Lindbeck, the theory of “high-low search” with Steve Alpern, and the “chain reaction theory of unemployment” and the theory of “frictional growth” with Marika Karanassou and Hector Sala. He has made seminal contributions to the design of employment subsidies and welfare accounts. He has published extensively on employment policy, the design of welfare systems, and monetary and fiscal policy. 

He has been a visiting professor at many universities around the world, including Columbia, Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard, the European University Institute, Stockholm University, and the Vienna Institute of Advanced Studies. Furthermore, he has advised a variety of international organizations and national governments on macroeconomic policy, employment policy and welfare state policy.

Arthur Zajonc

President Mind and Life Institute, emeritus Professor of Physics at Amherst College

Arthur Zajonc was professor of physics at Amherst College from 1978 to 2012, when he became President of the Mind & Life Institute. He has been visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the universities of Rochester and Hannover. He has been Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. His research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities and the contemplative traditions. He has written extensively on Goethe’s science work. He is author of the book: Catching the Light, co-author of The Quantum Challenge, and co-editor of Goethe’s Way of Science.

In 1997 he served as scientific coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. He again organized the 2002 dialogue with the Dalai Lama, “The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life,” and acted as moderator at MIT for the “Investigating the Mind” Mind and Life dialogue in 2003. The proceedings of the Mind and Life-MIT meeting were published under the title The Dalai Lama at MIT. While directing the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Arthur fostered the use of contemplative practice in college and university classrooms, and he continues to speak around the world on the importance of contemplative pedagogy. Out of this work and his long-standing meditative practice, Zajonc has authored Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love. He has co-authored a book with Parker Palmer, The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal. Zajonc blogs for Psychology Today on meditation. He has also been General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, a co-founder of the Kira Institute, president of the Lindisfarne Association, and was a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.

Elena Antonova

Ph.D., Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

Elena Antonova is a Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK.  Her main research interest is in the neuroscience of mindfulness with the application to the prevention, management, and treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia. 

Her most recent research includes a project funded by the Templeton Positive Neuroscience Award investigating the effect of mindful attention on sensory information processing in expert mindfulness practitioners using MRI.  This project is the first step towards a research program into investigating the efficacy of mindfulness in preventing psychosis in vulnerable individuals. 

Doctor Antonova is a program leader for the new MSc in Mindfulness: Neuroscience and Clinical Applications that is scheduled to start in Sept 2014 at the King’s College London.  She also engages closely with philosophical issues in cognitive neuroscience and psychiatry.

Michel Bitbol

Ph.D., Directeur de Recherche at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Paris, Member of the Archives Husserl at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

Michel Bitbol is presently Directeur de Recherche at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and member of the Archives Husserl at Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris. He was educated at several universities in Paris, where he received successively his M.D. in 1980, his Ph.D. in Physics in 1985, and his “Habilitation” in Philosophy in 1997.

He worked as a research scientist from 1978 to 1990, specializing in biophysics. From 1990 onwards, he turned to the philosophy of physics. He edited texts of general philosophy and of quantum mechanics by Erwin Schrödinger, and published a book entitled Schrödinger’s Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (Kluwer, 1996). He also published two books in French on a neo-Kantian interpretation of quantum mechanics and on quasi-realism and anti-realism in science, in 1996 and 1998 respectively. In 1997 he was the recipient of an award from the Academie des sciences morales et politiques for his work in the philosophy of quantum mechanics.

Later on, he focused on the much-debated connections between the philosophy of quantum mechanics and the philosophy of mind. He published a book on that topic in French in 2000, and worked in close collaboration with Francisco Varela in the wake of this work. He is presently pursuing this line of research by developing a conception of consciousness inspired from neurophenomenology, and an epistemology of first-person knowledge. Besides, he also learnt some Sanskrit in order to get a better understanding of basic texts by Nagarjuna and Candrakirti, and recently published a book (De l’intérieur du monde : pour une philosophie et une science des relations, 2010) in which he draws a parallel between Buddhist Interdependence and non-supervenient relations in quantum physics and the theory of knowledge.

Natalie Depraz

Ph.D., Professor of German and Contemporary Philosophy at the University of Rouen. Member of the Archives Husserl (ENS/CNRS), Paris

Natalie Depraz is presently Professor of Contemporary Philosophy (German Idealism and Phenomenology) at the University of Rouen (E.R.I.AC.) and University Member of the Husserl-Archives at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). This year (2011-2012) and next year (2012-2013) she is more especially directly attached to the CNRS through a ANR Research Project (2012-2015) which she leads at the Husserl-Archives as the Director of the pilot-team of the ANR Emphiline EMco, entitled: «La surprise au sein de la spontanéité des émotions: un vecteur de cognition élargie». It is a pluri-disciplinary project combining conceptual and experiential phenomenology, cognitive linguistics and neuro-psycho-physiology. It aims at providing first person-descriptions collected thanks to the elicitation technics interview founded by P. Vermersch and at generatively correlating them with third-person linguistic verbalizations and physiological and neurological empirical data.

She was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Fontenay-Saint Cloud (1984-1988) and at the Universities of the Sorbonne (Paris I and IV), she lectured at the University of Istanbul (1988-1990), worked as an "Assistant Moniteur Normalien" at the University of Poitiers (1990-1994), was Pensionnaire at the Foundations Thiers (1994-1997), Directrice de programme at the Collège International de Philosophie (1997-2004), and Maître de conférences at the University Paris IV-Sorbonne (2000-2006).

She received her PHD at the University of Paris X (Nanterre) with a thesis in Phenomenology about Intersubjectivity in Husserl (Transcendance et Incarnation, Paris, Vrin, 1995) and her habilitation entitled «Philosophy and Practice» (2004) at the University of Poitiers.

1995 onwards and till Francisco Varela’s death in 2001, she worked in narrow collaboration with him and Pierre Vermersch and published with both of them a joint-book entitled On becoming aware. A pragmatics of experiencing (2003) with a  French version A l’épreuve de l’expérience. pour une pratique de la phénoménologie (2011). She published a dozen of books about phenomenological main issues (intersubjectivity, embodiment, consciousness), more recently attention as vigilance, with a coming book with P.U.F. (Epiméthée collection): Attention et vigilance. A la croisée de la phénoménologie et des sciences cognitives.

Her main hypothesis lies in the care for providing an integrated inter-disciplinary and generative fertile dialogue between empirical sciences (neurology, introspective psychology, physiology and psychiatry), Christian and Buddhist traditions and phenomenological philosophy. On this latter interface she published Le corps glorieux. Une phénoménologie pratique de la Philocalie (2008).

Lone Overby Fjorback

MD, PhD, leading clinical consultant at the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital

Lone Overby Fjorback, MD, PhD, is leading clinical consultant at the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital. Her job is to initiate new research projects, with the hope to integrate neuroscience in the mindfulness treatment and research.

She has created a mindfulness approach to treat patients who experience multiple, persistent and disabling physical symptoms that cannot be explained by a well-defined medical or surgical condition. Used is an empirically defined definition bodily distress syndrome (BDS), which includes various conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and somatization disorder. Also mindfulness was tested in a randomized trial including 119 patients, and mindfulness was found to produce improvements within the range of those reported with CBT (e.g. Fjorback et al, Journal of Psychosomatic research). The economic effects of mindfulness are evaluated by the use of original register data from the 119 enrolled patients and a matched control group of 5950 individuals. Mindfulness had substantial socioeconomic benefits over the control condition (e.g. Fjorback et al, Journal of Psychosomatic research). Lone Overby Fjorback is a member of the scientific board for the annual mindfulness conference at the Center For Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School. She also participates and presents at the conference since 2008. During her PhD studies she had a research stay at the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Alongside her medical background in medicine and psychiatry, she is a yoga and meditation practice. She participated her first three-month retreat in 1990. And since 2011 she has been studying Zen with her teacher Melissa Myozen Blacker Roshi.

Rupert Gethin

Ph.D., Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol

Rupert Gethin is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol where he teaches courses in Indian religions. He has published a number of books and articles on aspects of Pali literature, Buddhist meditation and the psychology and philosophy of Buddhist systematic thought (abhidharma), including The Buddhist Path to Awakening (1992), an English translation (with R. P. Wijeratne) of a Pali commentary to a traditional textbook of Abhidharma, Exposition of the Topics of Abhdihamma (2002), and an introduction to Buddhist thought and practice, The Foundations of Buddhism (1998). 

He is currently working on a comparative study of aspects of the Abhidharma of the ancient Theravada, Sarvastivada and Yogacara schools of Buddhist thought. Since 2003 he has been President of the Pali Text Society, and in 2008 he was Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley.

Diego Hangartner

Pharm. D., Chair of Planning Committee, Director of Mind and Life Europe

Diego completed his studies in pharmacology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, specializing in psychotherapeutic and psychoactive substances. Having worked with drug addiction, he became interested in understanding the workings of mind and consciousness.

After encountering Buddhism, he then spent 11 years in Dharamsala, India, where he first learned Tibetan and then studied for 7 years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. During those years, he did several retreats and worked as a translator and interpreter, translating Tibetan into English, German, French and Spanish.

After returning to Europe in 2003, he taught widely, was General Secretary and project manager of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits in Switzerland 2005 and in Hamburg 2007. He has been associated with Mind & Life Institute since the late 1990s.

Since 2013 he is Director of Mind and Life Europe based in Zurich.

Felicia Huppert

Ph.D., Professor emerita of psychology, founding Director of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge

Felicia Huppert is Professor Emerita of psychology and the founding Director of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge. This inter-disciplinary institute aims to advance the scientific understanding of well-being through fundamental and action research, and use this knowledge to inform and evaluate public policy. Felicia has obtained degrees in psychology from the universities of Sydney, California (San Diego) and Cambridge. She has recently been appointed to a part-time professorship in the Centre for Positive Psychology and Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Felicia's principal research interest is the determinants of well-being across the life course. Her work brings together approaches from psychology and neuroscience with a population perspective derived from epidemiology. Felicia has been involved in the design and analysis of major longitudinal and population studies and she headed the consortium that has developed national indicators of well-being for Europe as part of the European Social Survey. She is currently a member of the Technical Advisory Group of the UK Office for National Statistics ‘Measuring National Well-being Programme’ as well as an advisor on similar European and OECD initiatives.

Felicia’s action research includes controlled trials of the benefits of mindfulness training for pupils in secondary schools. This research aims to establish the benefits of mindfulness for mental health, well-being, social relationships and academic performance. She works with colleagues in the Mindfulness in Schools Programme, which has developed the highly regarded .b (‘dot b’) curriculum.

Her book publications include the seminal book “The Science of Well-being”, a four-volume set “Major Works in Happiness and Well-being” (Routledge, 2011), and a new book “Interventions and Policies to Enhance Well-Being” (Wiley, in press).


Ahu Karan Jespersen

Ashtanga Yoga Teacher

Ahu Karan has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga since 2005. She has completed 200-hour Teacher Training with Tias Little: Richard Freeman’s one month long Teacher’s Intensive in Boulder, Colorado, and 200-hour Teacher Intensive with Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty. Since meeting Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty, they became one of her main inspirations in her practice and teaching. She assisted Maty Ezraty for two weeks in Stockholm in the summer of 2012. 

During her first India trip, Ahu also spent time at the Osho Mediation Resort in Pune, participating in various therapy groups and mediations.  The following year, she completed their three-month long “Work as Mediation” program. She has been participating in various Osho groups since then. In 2012, she started Buddhist meditation practice with Stephan Pende Wormland.

Nicolaj Jespersen

Yoga and Meditation Teacher

Nicolaj Jespersen’s main inspiration as a practitioner and teacher comes from two sources. 

One being Richard Freeman, with whom he has studied regularly since 2005 and has completed Teachers intensive, Advanced Teachers intensives and many workshops. The other being Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller with whom he has studied since 2008 and assisted by invitation during a 200 hours teachers training in 2011, as well as assisting Maty for two weeks in Stockholm in 2012. Other people who have influenced Nicolaj in his practice and teaching: Aadil Palkhivala, Ramanand Patel, Godfrey Deveruex and Michael Stone. 

Since 1998 he has been practicing Buddhist meditation in different traditions; Tibetan, Zen & Vipassana with Dalai Lama, Lakha Lama, Eido Shimano Roshi, Denko, Genpo Roshi, Genno Roshi, Cathrine McGee, Rob Burbea  and Stephan Pende Wormland.

Walter Osika

Ph.D., Researcher at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University and the Dept. of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Solna


Heart rate Variability sub study, MRC National Survey of Health and Development, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College, London, project coordinator. Heart Rate Variability sub study at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University.

Experimental and clinical studies of the early development of atherosclerosis, at the Department of Clinical Physiology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, epidemiological studies regarding adversities in childhood and adolescence and later disease, Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Karolinska Institutet.

Former co-investigator in the IDEAL studies, a pharmacological trial where the effect of cholesterol lowering drugs was tested. Mindfulness based stress reduction in patients with stress related symptoms, measurements of effect on working memory and executive function.

Neuroimaging study of burn-out patients at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet. PI Compassion Foucsed Training in cancer patients Karolinska Institutet. Co-supervision of doctoral student Julia Romanowska and several medical and psychology students. Grants from the Swedish society of Medicine, Olle Engqvists Stiltelse, Carlgrenska Kempes stiftelse, Västra Götalandsregionens Folkhälsokommittee, Ekhagastiftelsen.

Walter Osika published numerous books.

Claire Petitmengin

Professor at the Institut Mines-Télécom, associate researcher at the Archives Husserl, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

After studies in Buddhist philosophy and ten years of research and consulting in information system design, Claire Petitmengin completed her Ph.D. thesis under the supervision of Francisco Varela at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, on the subject of the lived experience which accompanies the emergence of an intuition. She is presently Professor at the Institut Mines-Télécom and associate researcher at the Archives Husserl, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris.

Her research focuses on the usually unrecognized dynamics of lived experience and “first-person” methods enabling us to become aware of it and describe it. She studies the epistemological conditions of these methods, notably the conditions of validity of their results, as well as their educational, therapeutic, artistic and technological applications. Her research also addresses the process of mutual enrichment of “first person” and “third person” analyses in the context of “neurophenomenological” projects.

She wrote numerous scientific articles and two books : L’expérience intuitive, and Le chemin du milieu. Introduction à la vacuité dans la pensée bouddhiste indienne. She also edited Ten years of viewing from within. The legacy of Francisco Varela which commemorates the 10th anniversary of the publication of The View from Within, where Francisco Varela designed the foundations of a research program on lived experience.

Andreas Roepstorff

Professor Cognition, Communication and Culture at the Department of Culture and Society & Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University

Andreas Roepstorff is Professor in Cognition, Communication and Culture in the Department of Culture and Society & Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University. He works at the interface between anthropology, cognitive science and neuroscience, equally interested in the workings of the mind and brain, and in how cognitive science and brain imaging, as fields of knowledge production, relate to other scientific and public fields.

He has formal training in social anthropology and in neurobiology, and he has published widely both within these disciplines as well as in various collaborations across other fields, such as psychology, linguistics, clinical medicine, semiotics, and philosophy. He is the director of the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University and is involved in a number of transdisciplinary collaborations, focusing on aspects of human interaction. He has a long-standing research interest in cognitive aspects of contemplative practices.

Ilina Singh

Ph. D., Professor of Science, Ethics & Society in the Department for Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London

Ilina Singh is Professor of Science, Ethics & Society in the Department for Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London. She is cross appointed to the Institute of Psychiatry. Her work examines the psychosocial and ethical implications of advances in biomedicine and neuroscience for young people and families. She is particularly interested in bringing first person perspectives of children into research, theory and policy. Current projects include: the VOICES project (Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics & Stimulants: Children join the debate – funded by the Wellcome Trust); SNAPBY (Survey of Neuroenhancement Attitudes & Practices Among British Young People – funded by STICERD); and an edited volume on biomarkers and bio-prediction, published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. Future projects involve a mindfulness intervention for children with behavioral difficulties and a major research program on ‘character’ and moral education.

Ilina has published widely in eminent journals, including Nature, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Social Science and Medicine, and The American Journal of Bioethics. Over the years she has served on committees and working groups for e.g. the UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Wellcome Trust, Norwegian Research Council, and NICE (UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence). She is Co-Editor of the journal Bio Societies, and is on the Editorial Board of The American Journal of Bioethics-Neuroscience and of Qualitative Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

Martijn van Beek

Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Institute of Culture and Society at Aarhus University

Martijn van Beek is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Institute of Culture and Society at Aarhus University, currently based at the newly established Interacting Minds Centre. He lived and worked among Tibetan Buddhist communities for extended periods since the early 1980s, particularly in Ladakh. 

While his earlier research focused on development, religious identification, and the dynamics of communal conflict, his current research concerns Tibetan Buddhist practice lineages as they negotiate the challenges of normative secularism and the scientific worldview. He heads the collective research project “Buddhism and Modernity: Global Dynamics of Transmission and Translation” and has a particular interest in the methodological and conceptual challenges of experimental and experiential research on contemplative practice and the emerging field of contemplative studies more generally.

Together with colleagues at the Centre for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience at Aarhus University and elsewhere, he initiated a trans disciplinary research collaboration with a group of Danish practitioners from a single community in the Dzogchen tradition, drawing on neuroscientific, phenomenological and anthropological methods to study contemplative practice. Among his publications are numerous articles on questions of religious identity, development and democracy, anthologies on Ladakh and on secularism, as well as more recent work on the dialogs and collaborations between scientists and contemplatives.

Fred von Allmen

Buddhist Meditation Teacher

Fred von Allmen has been engaged in Buddhist studies and meditation since 1970. He has practiced with teachers from the Tibetan Gelug- and Dzogchen-Traditions as well as the Theravada-Vipassana-Tradition in Asia, Europe and the USA and has spent many years in retreat. Since 1984 he has been teaching meditation retreats and Buddhist workshops in Europe, the US and India.

Lately he teaches primarily in Switzerland and Germany. He is the author of a number of books in German on Buddhist practice, studies and on legends of awakened saints. He is a co-founder and guiding teacher of the Meditation Center Beatenberg in the Swiss Alps and lives in Switzerland.

Plan your trip

The conference will take place in Berlin, close to the „Ostbahnhof“. Suggested hotels provide a limited number of rooms; all within walking distance of the venue.

Plan your stay

Stay informed

If you want to receive information about Mind and Life's activities, please subscribe to our mailing list. Registered symposium participants will be kept informed by e-mail.

Subscribe to list