Along with the marvels of this century come hurry, distraction, distress and a compelling question: How can we reconnect with our own humanity in the midst of a rapidly changing technological society?

Virginia Tech is hosting the April 11-13 conference, Contemplative Practices for a Technological Society, where academics, educators, business leaders, scientists, social innovators, and others from all walks of life will convene to address this fundamental question and discuss how contemplative practices can advance service, innovation, creativity, and reflection as a foundation for enriched life experiences.

“We are placing a high priority on cultivating health and well-being in our modern day institutions,” said Virginia Tech Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee. “We are excited about how this conference has brought together institutions in the mid-Atlantic region including Radford University and the University of Virginia to further explore this vital topic of contemplative practice in the 21st century.”  

In addition to keynote lectures, practice sessions, presentations, and roundtable discussions, a form of appreciative inquiry will be led by a team of experienced physician facilitators from the University of Virginia’s Center for Appreciative Practice to engage all participants in helping define the future of contemplative disciplines.

“Our planning committee wanted a conference that gave voice to participants so we could listen to one another’s views for strengthening contemplative practice in our institutions,” said Douglas Lindner, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech and conference chair. “And our colleagues at the University of Virginia have a perfect process for bringing the conversation alive. It should make for a vigorous conference.”    

Speakers for the event include

  • His Eminence Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche, Tibetan meditation master;
  • Rich Fermandez, senior people development lead at Google;
  • Linda Lantieri, co-founder of the Resolving Conflict Creatively program and coauthor of “Waging Peace in Our Schools";
  • Michael Carroll, author of  “Fearless at Work,” “Awake at Work,” and “The Mindful Leader”;
  • Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez, founders of the Holistic Life Foundation;
  • Richard S. Bowles III, retired Merck & Co. executive, long time Zen practitioner, and ordained daojin;
  • Mark G. McNamee, Virginia Tech senior vice president and provost; and
  • Charles G. Lief, president of Naropa University.

Virginia Tech's Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology and the institute’s Integrative Mind and Performance through the Arts, Creativity, and Technology Studio is sponsoring a pre-conference open house and reception featuring a showcase of technology demos and technology-driven art installations focusing on contemplative practice. This public event will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on April 11 in the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology Studio 1.

In addition, two pre-conference workshops are being offered to the general public:   

  • The MindUPTM Workshop, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on April 11, is based on the Hawn Foundation’s MindUPTM educational program, a set of social, emotional, and self-regulatory strategies and skills developed for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
  • Bringing the Wisdom of Mindfulness into Everyday Life with Michael Carroll and Patton Hyman from 1:30 to 5 p.m. on April 11, focuses on how mindfulness meditation can train the mind to skillfully engage the many challenges of everyday life.  

“Our aim is to begin bridging the gap between our time-honored contemplative practices and our fast-paced, technology driven way of life” says Lindner. “Both contain inspiration and wisdom and by bringing them together we can better foster health, well-being, and compassion within our modern day institutions.”  

More information about the conference, workshops, and registration is available online.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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