The Contemplative Studies Centre awards seed funding to four innovative projects

The Contemplative Studies Centre is pleased to announce the recipients of the Academic Seed Funding Program Plus (ASFP+).

The ASFP+ is a competitive funding initiative designed to propel existing projects to the next level of excellence. The program was open to the current six ASFP recipient projects, and after careful evaluation, the Contemplative Studies Centre (CSC) has awarded funds to four outstanding projects that exemplify innovation, collaboration, and potential impact.

The ASFP+ program aims to advance the interest, capacity, and impact of contemplative studies and practice at The University of Melbourne and in the broader community. The successful projects have demonstrated their commitment to these goals and have proposed bold initiatives that will significantly enhance their existing projects.

Here are the four projects that have been awarded funding:

1. Enhancing meditation training for beginner meditators using functional MRI neurofeedback

This project seeks to leverage advanced brain-based technology, functional MRI neurofeedback, to enhance meditation training for beginner meditators. The team aims to explore the benefits and costs of using this expensive technology and investigate its potential to improve long-term brain function, mental health, and behavioural changes related to meditation. This project holds promise for increasing the efficiency and consistency of future meditation practice, as well as providing meditation-related brain and mental health benefits.

2. Contemplating time and trust: encounters with ancient standing stones and swarm robotics in performance artwork ‘Sacrifice’

ASFP+ funding will support an enhanced staging of 'Stone Swarm,' an intimate contemplative ceremony performed with an autonomous swarm of stone-robots. This interdisciplinary project, combining art, robotics, and archaeology, aims to investigate embodied encounters with swarms involving mobile non-human intelligent entities. The team will employ various methods, including questionnaires, motion capture, photogrammetry, interviews, psychophysiological data, and video, to gain a deeper understanding of contemplative experiences. Their findings have the potential to impact diverse audiences and contribute to the development of a touring exhibition in the future.

3. Dying ‘Buddhish’ in Australia: Investigating the role of Buddhist contemplative practices in end-of-life and death care

This project addresses the challenges associated with delivering high-quality spiritual care to Australia's diverse aging population. By examining the systems and barriers related to end-of-life and death care in the context of Australia's diverse worldviews, the research team will identify priorities for future research and practice. The project aims to produce academic and public-facing papers and develop an online short course for Australian spiritual care professionals to navigate the complexities of working with individuals with diverse worldviews in the context of aging and death.

4. Informing decisions to implement mindfulness-based programs at work

This project focuses on helping individuals make informed choices when selecting mindfulness interventions. The team will evaluate the effectiveness of a 'psychological vaccine' in building resistance to misleading information in mindfulness program advertisements. By training individuals to critically evaluate program information, this project aims to improve decision-making and prevent deception. The team will conduct online experiments to test the effectiveness of this approach, with the goal of sharing the training through short video clips on social media to empower the public to make better-informed decisions about mindfulness programs.

The Contemplative Studies Centre congratulates the recipients and commends them for their outstanding proposals. These projects represent the commitment to collaboration, interdisciplinary work, and impactful research that the CSC values. The funded projects will contribute to the advancement of contemplative studies and practice, benefiting both the academic community and society at large.

Visit the Academic Seed Funding homepage