Welcome to the ESRI event website!

The European Summer Research Institute (ESRI) is an event initiated by Mind & Life Europe bringing together around 120 scientists and practitioners in a unique retreat setting. For the first time ESRI will be held online from August 10th - 14th, 2020.

The main goal of the ESRI is to promote, connect and build the community of contemplative science in Europe with a focus on young researchers. This goal is achieved primarily by engaging in a thorough dialogue between the sciences, humanities and contemplative traditions, especially the Buddhist tradition. MLE fosters discussion and debate by inviting speakers with different viewpoints and disciplines to ensure comprehensive interdisciplinarity.

"Clarity and insight arise in the gap between thoughts, the open ground of Being". ~ Francisco J. Varela

Theme 'Grounding Knowledge in Uncertainty’

The thematic arc of the three editions (2020-2022) is dedicated to the theme of “Knowledge”. During ESRI 2020 we will discuss the following questions: How do we perceive? How do we know what we know?

The current situation of a global pandemic however confronts us with a state of uncertainty. Fixed beliefs are suddenly questioned, deeply rooted societal priorities are re-negotiated, the processual and provisional character of science and the complex interconnectedness of reality become more visible. And in a very practical sense, lockdowns and social distancing urge us to find new ways to lead our lives and build connections.

“Experience of certainty is an individual phenomenon blind to the cognitive acts of others, in a solitude which (…) is transcended only in a world created with those others.”
 ~ Humberto Maturana and Francisco J. Varela

What does knowledge and reality mean in the face of a pandemic?
ESRI 2020 intends to be an invitation to approach the topic of knowledge without falling into – or falling back to – the temptation of certainty. Our invitation is to recognise the uncertainty that emerges from the current pandemic, including its lockdowns and social distancing, as an opportunity to rebuild together, in a new way, our reality. The call is for us to reconstruct our world(s) in the direction of sustainability, deep participation, and responsible interdependence.

Thus we are designing ESRI 2020 as an experiment. Our idea is to use the technologies that in these extraordinary times keep us in touch as the means to explore the richness and creativity of uncertainty. Accordingly, we will dedicate ESRI 2020 to create a community engaged in proposing, experiencing and investigating new forms of being and creating meaning to confront the challenges ahead.

For the complete information on the theme please follow this link.

Joining ESRI

The 2020 ESRI invites researchers and practitioners from neurosciences, clinical and social sciences and humanities to participate in interdisciplinary dialogue with contemplative scholars and practitioners. It aims to deepen the understanding of each approach and to foster cross-fertilisation between them.

Attendees of the ESRI are eligible to apply for the Francisco J. Varela Awards for Contemplative research. Click here for more information about the European Varela Awards (EVAs). The application period of the EVA 2020 cycle runs from Monday, 28 September - Monday, 26 October, 2020 and will be announced via our MLE website, newsletter and social media at time.

The ESRI provides a summer school/retreat environment where scientists, educators, professionals and researchers working in the field of contemplative science can assemble as a community to share ideas, experiences, and knowledge from their lives and work. With its unique format, the ESRI facilitates cross-disciplinary dialogue, and collaboration to advance the training of a new generation of scholars and researchers.

For any questions, please email us: esri@mindandlife-europe.org