Scientific Explorations of Compassion and Altruism is hold today Friday, October 15, 2010 9:00am–4:00pm at Stanford University.

Webcast is available, live, online on:
Recordings of the conference will be made available on: and YouTube

With the ever-growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play by reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. —Dalai Lama XIV

What are the key evolutionary and neurobiological underpinnings of compassion and altruism? What compels us to take risks at a costs to act on behalf of others? How does one potentiate such behavior? This conference will bring together His Holiness the Dalai Lama and distinguished researchers under the auspices of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) to examine these fundamental questions. The Conference on the Scientific Exploration of Compassion and Altruism will focus on exciting new findings in psychology and the neurosciences, including the emerging field of neuroeconomics. The goal of this work is to contribute to a deeper understanding of science of compassion and altruism and to point the way to further research and discovery.
Session Topics and Speakers

View Speaker Biographies

Introduction and Welcome

Gary Steinberg, MD, Director, Stanford Institute for Neuroinnovation and Translational Neuroscience (SINTN), Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor in Neurosurgery and Neurosciences
James R. Doty, MD, Director, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), Stanford University, and Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University

Conference Moderator: Arthur C. Zajonc, PhD, Professor of Physics, Amherst College
Conference Interpreter: Thupten Jinpa, Adjunct Professor, Religious Studies, McGill University, and Visiting Scholar and Executive Committee, CCARE, Stanford University

Session One: The Role of Compassion in Education and Wider Societal Context

This session focuses on the place of compassion, both in individuals’ lives and in larger societal contexts, such as understanding across peoples and cultures as well as the future course of education. It examines how compassion and altruism can be brought into social and educational systems and what the benefits might be.

Speakers and panelists:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Linda Darling Hammond, EdD, Professor of Education, Stanford University
Philip Zimbardo, PhD, Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Stanford University

Session Two: Research and Experiments on Compassion I

This session presents important findings from CCARE’s research on the neural, genetic and behavioral mechanisms associated with compassion, altruism and other pro-social emotions. The session will explore the evolutionary origins of mammalian nurturing as well as neuropsychological and neuroeconomic models of compassion.

Speakers and panelists:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
Bill Harbaugh, PhD, Professor of Economics, University of Oregon
Brian Knutson, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Session Three: CCARE Research and Experiments on Compassion II

This session presents current CCARE research projects on the effects of cultivating compassion through affective training. It examines how cultivating qualities of compassion is possible and introduces a secular protocol for Compassion Cultivation Training developed by Thupten Jinpa for CCARE.

Speakers and panelists:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Phillipe Goldin, PhD, Research Associate, Department of Psychology, Stanford University
Erika Rosenberg, PhD, Consulting Scientist, Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis
Jeanne Tsai, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Session Four: Exploring Scientific Questions for Future Research on Compassion and Altruism

This final session concentrates on addressing ways to ensure the growth and enrichment of the field of compassion and altruism research. It will focus on the next steps and valuable areas to address the kinds of research that can further cast a light on this important topic and bring the question of human compassion to the forefront of modern scientific exploration.

Speakers and panelists:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
James R. Doty, MD
Paul Ekman, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, University of California, San Francisco
Dacher Keltner, PhD, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

Integration, Reflections and Concluding Remarks

Integration and Reflections by Arthur C. Zajonc, PhD
Concluding remarks and thanks by James R. Doty, MD

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