European Summer Research Institute

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.


ESRI 2023 will take place from August 20th to 24th (arrival date: 19th August) at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Pomaia, Italy.  


The application for ESRI 2023 and the MLE Retreat will open around the end of March! Stay tuned! 



What is ESRI?

Cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration

The primary aim of ESRI is to further develop and promote the interdisciplinary community of contemplative science in Europe, with a special focus on preparing the next generation of researchers and practitioners in the field and building ‘gentle bridges’ (F. Varela) between an ever-widening array of disciplines. The program features interdisciplinary scholarly presentations and dialogue, inquiry through first-person experience, active contemplative practice, and ample intergenerational networking opportunities. Scientists, scholars, researchers, educators, clinicians, and professionals working in this field come together as a community to share ideas, knowledge, methodologies, and experiences from their lives and work, in order to bring about concrete advances in the field.

Attendees of the ESRI are eligible to apply for the European Varela Awards for Contemplative research. Click here for more information about the European Varela Awards (EVAs). The application period of the EVA 2023 cycle starts this fall and will be announced via our MLE website, newsletter and social media at the time.

ESRI 2023: “Sentience and Responsibility in Critical Times”


This year marks the first year in a new three-year thematic arc, “Caring for Life,” which will foreground caring as an active, processual, and participative feature of being human in a wildly complex and rapidly evolving ecosystem. In year 1, “Sentience and Responsibility in Critical Times,” we will start by questioning the basic terms of inquiry: What is sentience? How do we understand responsibility in the widest possible sense? How might responsibility at once emerge from sentience and tend toward sentience? What is the place of the human in the ‘more-than-human’ realm, whether understood classically as nature or as the emergent network of artificial intelligence that undergirds our everyday lives? Is it even possible to demarcate today a clear boundary between sentience and non-sentience? Besides several prominent scientists and philosophers, we will hear from social scientists, clinicians, educators, environmentalists, AI theorists, legal scholars, and more. We hope to thus build a more nuanced understanding of sentience and its ethical implications in a world that desperately needs our tending. 

ESRI offers a much-needed space outside of the traditional academic conference circuit, in which contemplative researchers at different stages of their career can come together, learn from one another, exchange experiences and methodologies, and initiate new collaborations. It also provides an example of how to encourage a productive circulation between different disciplinary perspectives, as well as between theory and practice. In addition to theoretical exchanges, there will be ample space for practice, whether in the form of contemplation, activities in nature, dance, and movement, or artistic co-creations. It is an invaluable opportunity to build life-long connections and friendships with like-minded people, supporting each other's growth in the direction of caring and awareness. 

We hope that you will consider applying this year and participating in the co-emergence of this unique exploration of sentience and responsibility.


Mind & Life Europe will be parterning with the  Institution Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) and the Italian Buddhist Union for the European Summer Research Institute 2022 and the MLE Retreat. We are pleased to announce this event partnership with ITLK and the Italian Buddhist Union, and we look forward to jointly hosting the two events later this summer. 


Alongside ESRI 2023, Mind & Life Europe is also arranging an in-person MLE Retreat at the same venue, from August 17th - 18th, 2023 (arrival and welcome on 16th August). More information about this year's retreat will become available soon. In the meanwhile, you can find out about last year's retreat here.

Who should attend


ESRI fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and potential project collaborations, and thus is limited to 120 participants. A selection process identifies those whose interests are best matched to the annual theme.

Applicants should self-categorize into three categories: Research Fellow, Senior Investigator and Professional.


Research Fellows

"Research Fellows" include undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows conducting research in neuroscience, biological and medical sciences, experimental and clinical psychology, the social sciences, or the humanities. Students and early-career researchers and contemplative scholars who work in the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences and scholarship are encouraged to apply in this category.


Senior Investigators

This category includes established academic researchers, contemplative scholars and educators who hold university or college faculty appointments (full-time, clinical or adjunct).



Professionals (e.g. educators, clinicians, therapists, HR managers, change agents) who are independent practitioners or affiliated with non-academic institutions apply in this category. This includes people working in business and (social) entrepreneurship.

About the Venue


Lama Tzong Khapa Institute is a Tibetan Buddhist center located in the heart of Tuscany (near Pisa). They offer regular courses on Buddhism, meditation, and many other topics, all aimed at the development of the human qualities of kindness, compassion, and wisdom. The Institute community consists of a sangha of Buddhist monks and nuns, an international body of lay students and visitors, and a large group of staff and volunteers. They welcome everyone interested in following a course or just to spend some quiet time enjoying the beautiful, peaceful setting.

Since its founding in 1977, Lama Tzong Khapa Institute has grown into one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist centers in Europe. As an international school for Buddhist studies and practice, it attracts students from around the world who are interested in deepening their understanding of Buddhism and the mind through intensive study of Buddhist philosophy and psychology. These courses also include introspective meditation methods and an opportunity for active service.

Lama Tzong Khapa Institute has a range of clean and bright single and double guest rooms, wooden cabins and dormitories for anyone interested in staying – whether it be for one night or to live here while studying one of our long term residential study programs. Breakfast, bedding and towels are included in the price.

For more detailed information about how to access the venue, please visit the Institute's website