Three World-renowned Scholars Discuss the Art and Science of Mindfulness and Compassion

Leslie Langbert, executive director of the UA Center for Compassion Studies,, 520.621.3466

A symposium and benefit reception for the University of Arizona Center for Compassion Studies hosted by the Arizona Friends of Tibet will gather three world-renowned scholars to discuss compassion research and meditation practice.

What happens when a psychiatrist, an astrophysicist and a former Tibetan Buddhist monk/psychologist come together to talk about how dialog between Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists can help science better address global problems?

In a symposium and benefit reception hosted and sponsored by the Arizona Friends of Tibet, three innovative scholars – Charles Raison, Chris Impey and Lobsang Rapgay – will explore the benefits of compassion meditation and the potential of the convergence of Western science and Tibetan Buddhism to improve human well-being.

The event, held on Sunday, March 26 from 4-6 p.m. at the UA Student Union Memorial Center (Tucson Room), includes hors d’oeuvres, non-alcoholic beverages, and fascinating conversation. A cash bar will be available at the reception. The cost is $125 ($100 is a tax-deductible donation). Tickets can be purchased at

Leslie Langbert, the executive director of the Center for Compassion Studies, will moderate the discussion. In addition to delving into how a dialog between Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists can lead to breakthroughs in addressing the world’s problems, the group will discuss:

  • What can the ancient teachings of Tibetan Buddhism on compassion offer modern society, particularly in these times of political divisiveness and discord?
  • What are the areas of research that can expand our understanding of how contemplative practices can shape how we approach fellow human beings and our planet?​

Proceeds from the event will support the outreach activities of the Center for Compassion Studies, which include secular compassion training to schools, care-giving institutions, behavioral health organizations and businesses. The center has worked with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe to teach compassion training to elementary school students on the reservation, and with La Frontera to bring compassion training to adolescents living in state foster care.

The cornerstone of the center's work draws on Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT. This secular meditation practice, derived from the ancient Indo-Tibetan lojong tradition, was developed by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi and initially researched by Raison at Emory University in 2005.

“Because the methods and techniques we share are backed by scientific investigation into human physiological and psychological responses, we are confident that compassion training will help people of all walks of life to be more resilient and enjoy a better quality of life,” Langbert said.

The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences launched the Center for Compassion Studies in 2015 with the help of a generous gift from the Arizona Friends of Tibet, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to manifesting His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision of promoting basic human values as set forth in Tibetan culture, civilization, and ancient Buddhist traditions.

About the panel

Charles Raison, MD, the founding director of the UA Center for Compassion Studies, is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Raison is internationally recognized for his studies related to the development and treatment of major depression, as well as for his work examining the physical and behavioral effects of compassion training.

Chris Impey, a UA University Distinguished Professor of astronomy and the associate dean of the UA College of Science, is a world-renowned expert on observational cosmology, galaxies and quasars. A dynamic teacher, Impey has won 11 teaching awards. Impey has also written seven popular science books, including The Living Cosmos, Humble Before the Void, and Beyond: Our Future in Space. For years, Impey has taught cosmology to Tibetan monks as part of the program “Science for Monks.”

Lobsang Rapgay is the director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic and Program at the UCLA Semel Institute. Rapgay’s research focuses on the neural, physiological and behavioral correlates of fear reconsolidation in anxiety. Rapgay was a Tibetan Buddhist monk for 18 years and is well versed in both theory and practice of Buddhism.


Published Date: 

03/08/2017 - 9:46am