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The Center for Compassion, Integrity and Secular Ethics at Life University is dedicated to developing and promoting empirically-based programs that foster the human values most conducive to individual, social and environmental flourishing through research, dialogue, education and community empowerment.


The Center seeks to engender a world in which people act out of an awareness of our common humanity, innate potential, and inherent interdependence, as expressed in the University’s values of neo-vitalism and Lasting Purpose.


The fullest expression of individual and social health goes far beyond the mere absence of physical and mental disease. The emerging field of positive psychology is illustrating that basic human values like gratitude, generosity, meaning in life, contentment and an ability to forgive contribute to physical health, mental resilience, and optimum performance.

Recent scientific research shows that compassion is especially important to individual and social flourishing. Compassion is the wholehearted motivation to benefit others and alleviate their suffering. Studies show that compassion and related processes like empathy are not only important values for individual and social well-being, but also skills that can be taught and cultivated through contemplative practice. Cultivating compassion changes the brain and body in measurable ways, increasing cortical thickness in key areas of the brain, strengthening immune function, promoting prosocial behavior, and decreasing the likelihood of chronic illness.

Helping others out of genuine compassion requires integrity as its foundation. Being able to remain true to one’s deepest values, regardless of pressures or temptations to compromise them for short-term gain, is not only essential to a life well lived, but is also of profound benefit to both oneself and others. Moreover, like compassion, it is a skill that can be learned and developed.

Knowledge of the benefits of basic human values like compassion and integrity is not enough; these values must be promoted, taught, and studied in all aspects of society. Such efforts need not go against anyone’s religious beliefs. In public settings, they must occur in a secular, open way. This is the approach of secular ethics. Here, “secular” does not mean a rejection of religion, but impartiality and respect towards all religious and humanistic traditions. The idea that ethical values, which are so crucial to our survival and our flourishing as a species, can be taught on the basis of science and our common humanity is both new and exciting.



Unquestionably, young people represent our greatest opportunity for effecting positive social change in the world. They are open to new ideas and ways of doing things and capable of learning, discovery and extraordinary innovation. Yet for young people to reach their true potential and become transformative leaders who do not repeat the mistakes of previous generations, they require, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “intelligence plus character…the goal of true education.”

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Center is dedicated to developing:

  • K through 12 educational curricula and resources that provide practical tools for teaching basic human values in school settings
  • Teacher training programs to prepare educators to implement these curricula
  • Undergraduate and graduate curricula in contemplative science, secular ethics, peacebuilding, and related fields that can serve as a model for other colleges and universities


Health is not merely the absence of disease, but the full flourishing of the individual when free from physical, emotional, and environmental disturbances. Research in positive psychology and contemplative science has shown that we can intentionally strengthen the values, traits and habits—both mental and physical—that will facilitate optimal performance and well-being. Based on Life’s University’s approach to the six dimensions of well-being—physical, emotional, social, environmental, intellectual and spiritual well-being—the Center’s projects aim to support a transformation in healthcare through:

  • Promoting and conducting research on the health benefits of compassion, integrity, and secular ethics
  • Developing and implementing programs that cultivate secular ethics for the promotion of physical and emotional well-being
  • Working with healthcare systems to foster compassion and secular ethics as foundational to patient care and to revolutionize healthcare culture towards a positive conception of health

Community Empowerment

Communities are yearning for the resources and methods that will enable them to bridge their differences, realize common goals, and reach maximum states of flourishing, health and well-being. The Center’s projects and areas of focus in community empowerment include:

  • Developing educational programs for prison inmates that provide skills in emotion regulation, forgiveness, and self-compassion alongside the academic training that will enable them to achieve their innate potential and contribute maximally to society
  • Partnering with domestic violence programs to address the scourge of domestic abuse by providing contemplative programs for emotion regulation, forgiveness and self-compassion targeted to both victims and perpetrators
  • Partnering with local and international communities to develop resources for peacebuilding and conflict transformation
  • Fostering global citizenship through the cultivation of equanimity and awareness of global justice issues, such as poverty

Transformational Leadership

Much of our life takes place in organizations, be they political, educational, legal, religious, or commercial. Such organizations flourish when their leaders and members are able to realize their full potential and have a strong ethical sensibility founded in compassion and integrity. Leaders are not only people in positions of status and power: globalization and technology mean that every individual on the planet should be empowered to be a leader in their sphere: be it a family, a community, a healthcare practice, or a multinational corporation. The Center’s projects and areas of focus in the area of transformational leadership will be:

  • Developing resources and training programs for organizations in the cultivation of compassion and other basic human values, with a focus on issues that pertain to running successful organizations.
  • Fostering educational curricula in transformational leadership at Life University as a model for other colleges and universities

For more information on future projects and updates on the Center, please subscribe to our newsletter.