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Contemplative Sustainable Futures

The role of individual inner dimensions and transformation in sustainability

Project leader
Christine Wamsler, Professor at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS)

Project summary
Humanity is facing increasingly complex environmental and sustainability challenges. Current coordination mechanisms, problem-solving strategies, and modes of scientific inquiry, teaching and learning appear insufficient to address these challenges. As a result, personal sustainability and inner transformation (embodied in notions such as mindfulness and compassion) is emerging as potential new area of exploration. The “Contemplative Sustainable Futures Program” was set up to explore this new area and create space and opportunities for learning, networking and knowledge development on related topics. In this context, special attention is given to the issue of integrated climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Building blocks & network
The “Contemplative Sustainable Futures Program” consists of different building blocks, including teaching, networking and research activities. They have so far included: i) the creation of a new Master's level course on "Sustainability and Inner Transformation", ii) an Experimental Learning Lab on mindfulness in sustainability science, practice and teaching, iii) the creation of a knowledge database and network, and iv) different research studies and resultant frameworks for more integrated sustainability enquiry. Please send an email to christine [dot] wamsler [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se if you would like to become part of the network (and related mailing lists) or would like to share relevant research, practice or teaching approaches for the knowledge database.

Supporting funding organisation
The Swedish Research Council Formas & the Sustainable Urban Transformation Project (prolongation 2016-2019).

Personal sustainability, inner transformation, inner transition, inner dimensions, interiority, worldviews, values, emotions, consciousness, religion, spirituality, contemplative practices, other ways of knowing, mindfulness, compassion, animism, ecopsychology, well-being.


  • Forthcoming publications: i) "Contemplative sustainable futures: The role of exploring individual inner dimensions and transformation in sustainability research and education" by C. Wamsler, book chapter in: Handbook of Sustainability and Humanities; ii) "The being of resilience" by L. Reeder, M. Crossweller, C. Wamsler, book chapter in: Routledge Urban Resilience Handbook.
  • New course on 'Sustainability and Inner Transformation': The course will be offered by C. Wamsler in 2018 in the context of the International Master Programme in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science (LUMES). Upon completion of the course, the students shall be able to critically investigate and discuss the potential role of inner dimensions and transformation in societies' transition towards sustainability.
  • New academic publication: Wamsler C., Brink E. (2018) Mindsets for sustainability: Exploring the link between mindfulness and sustainable climate adaptation. Ecological Economics 151:55-61. Open access
  • What’s missing in our (lack of) response to climate change? 'Brain Science' says Lynne Reeder, from Australia 21, who has submitted together with LUCSUS (C. Wamsler) an application to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research on this issue. See full article here.
  • New academic publication: Wamsler C. (2018) Mind the gap: The role of mindfulness in adapting to increasing risk and climate change. Sustainability Science 13(4):1121-1135. Open access.
  • New academic publication related to contemplative approaches in climate adaptation: Wamsler C., Raggers S. (2018) Principles for supporting city–citizen commoning for climate adaptation: From adaptation governance to sustainable transformation. Environmental Science & Policy 85:81-89. Open access.
  • Presentation on "Mindfulness, compassion and disaster risk reduction" by C. Wamsler held at the "The Science of Compassion & Its Role in Disaster Management" Forum, the Australian National University, on February 8, 2018.
  • New academic publication: Wamsler C., Brossmann J., Hendersson H., Kristjansdottir R., McDonald C., Scarampi P. (2017) Mindfulness in sustainability science, practice and teaching. Sustainability Science 13(1):143-162. Open access.
  • New popular science article titled "What is the link between sustainability and mindfulness?", published in Lund University Research Magazine Click here (for English version) or here (for Swedish version).
  • New article in The Conversation titled "How mindfulness can help the shift towards a more sustainable society".
  • New blog - Disaster Risk Reduction Voices by UNISDR and ProventionWeb: "How mindfulness can help the shift towards a more sustainable society" (re-published Conversation article by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction UNISDR).
  • First mindfulness-sustainability framework: First framework for analysing the mindfulness-sustainability nexus. Click here.
  • Learning lab: During 2015-2016 an experimental learning lab on mindfulness in sustainability science, practice and education was integrated into two Master’s level courses. The lab was developed and conducted in cooperation with the Student Health Centre and five LUMES students. See related information also here.

Related links
Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE); Mind and Life Institute; Centre for Healthy Minds; Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education; Social Neuroscience at Max Planck Institute; Oxford Mindfulness Centre; Mindful Futures Network; Mindfulness and Social Change Network; Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC); Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA); The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT (Note: Full database soon available).










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