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

Thanks to a generous philanthropic grant, Monash University has developed a first-of-its-kind centre for unprecedented collaboration between philosophy, neuroscience, medicine, education and interfaith dialogue research and studies.

Launched this year, the world-first Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies has brought together humanities and science researchers following a transformational philanthropic grant of $12million from Martin Hosking and his wife Loreto Hosking.

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

By combining consciousness research and contemplative studies, the Centre is the first of its kind in the world. Its broad, interdisciplinary remit covers 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.

Through these domains, the Centre champions Monash’s dedication to a multi-disciplinary and society-wide approach to fostering communities that thrive, with programs that drive positive health, economic, social and cultural outcomes both locally and globally.

Centre Director and research stream leader Professor Jakob Hohwy from the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies 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 SciencesAssociate Professor Craig Hassed OAM, leads the education offering, overseeing the development of contemplative practices - mindfulness, meditation and contemplation – into 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.

“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 leads 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. It brings 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.”.

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.”

Three Springs Foundation and the Hoskings have also contributed a philanthropic grant to the University of Melbourne for a Contemplative Studies Centre 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 philanthropic grant from the Three Springs Foundation contributes to the Change It. For Good. campaign, which is the largest public fundraising initiative in Monash’s history.

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