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Spirituality & Science: June 18-20, 2018

A Learning Journey with the Forum of Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum


This Learning Journey will be a journey into our inner selves at the cross-section of spirituality and science with findings from the latest research by some of the leading minds in the field. We will raise questions about what science now knows about the nature of reality, how meditation can affect our lives, whether there is life after death, and how to be resilient in the face of adversity, among others. This journey will be about sharing some of the fundamental questions about life and existence, not prescribing answers from any one religious tradition. The sessions will be led by world-renowned researchers and best-selling authors. We will also ​set aside time to sit together and practice different types of prayer and meditation. It is open to everyone from all faiths and walks of life. The program will take place in Rome, just steps away from the Vatican and there will be a special private tour of the Vatican for the participants.


This a YGL-led Learning Journey for the Forum of Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum, co-sponsored and organized by Krueger & Lee, the Forum of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum and the John Templeton Foundation. 


June 18 Day 1



Welcome Remarks


Introduction of the Co-Organizers


Group Discussion: "What Are We Seeking?" : This is a free conversation and introduction session where the participants will have an opportunity to share why they have decided to join the learning journey on Spirituality & Science, what they hope to learn from it and talk about their own personal practices.


Introduction of Contemplative Sessions : Hyon Gak Sunim and Christof Wolf will explain briefly what will take place during the Zen Meditation Session and the Christian Meditation Session so that participants can choose which session they would like to attend on Day 2 and 3. Participants are free to change from one to the other and experience both sessions over the next two days.





June 19 Day 2



Morning Meditation: Participants will meet in the main hall where we will begin the learning journey with a short, non-religious meditation.



"The Deep, (Inter-)Connected Nature of Reality”


Robert Wright is a New York Times best-selling author and speaker. His most recent book, Why Buddhism is True, explores how modern psychology and neuroscience support Buddhist notions about the nature of reality, the human mind, and well-being, and how Buddhist practices can make us better, happier people.


Networking Coffee Break

“Faith, Meaning and Resilience”

Jamie Aten is a professor of Psychology at Wheaton College, who helps others cultivate faith and resilience amidst personal, mass, and humanitarian disasters. Dr. Aten studies how to overcome disaster, not just as a practitioner, but as a personal survivor of both Hurricane Katrina and late stage cancer.

Lunch Break

Practice Sessions: 

  • Zen Meditation

Hyon Gak Sunim (“Sunim”) was born Paul J. Muenzen to a family of devout Roman Catholics in New Jersey, U.S.A. After studying literature and literary theory at Yale University and comparative religions at Harvard Divinity School, Sunim became a Buddhist monk in 1992 in China: the first Westerner to be ordained in the People’s Republic of China since the Communist Revolution. Sunim received formal public certification of his enlightenment and authorization to teach (inka) from Zen Master Seung Sahn, at a public ceremony in Hwa Gye Sah Temple, Seoul, Korea, in August 2001. He was later appointed by Zen Master Seung Sahn to be the Guiding Teacher of the Seoul International Zen Center at Hwa Gye Sah. Sunim has compiled and edited several of Zen Master Seung Sahn's books, including The Whole World is a Single FlowerThe Compass of ZenOnly Don't Know, and Wanting Enlightenment is a Big Mistake. He also translated into English the 500 year-old classic of Zen Master So Sahn, The Mirror of Zen. Sunim currently resides in Regensburg, Germany where he has founded and runs a small temple-community Zen Center Regensburg e.V.  

  • Christian Meditation

Christof Wolf SJ is Founder, CEO and President of Loyola Productions Munich, Inc. and DOK TV & Media, Inc., two film production companies specializing in documentaries and educational films. He is a graduate of the New York Film Academy. He has directed and produced a number of short documentaries, including his work about the American Zen master Bernie Glassman as well as the award winning feature length documentaries “In Spite of Darkness. A Spiritual Encounter with Auschwitz“, and “Ai-un: Hugo Makibi Enomiya-Lassalle – Bridge Builder between Zen and Christianity”. He is also lecturer at the Munich School of Philosophy for “Art, Culture, and Religion”, Chaplain for the “Association of Catholic Journalists Germany” and Chaplain for the “Association of Catholic Entrepreneurs” in Munich. He leads film retreats around the world and is the founder and President of TIFF (The Iñigo Film Festival) for World Youth Day.

  • Self-directed Practice Across Faith Traditions

“The Future of Intelligence: AI and Humanity”

Rosalind Picard, a professor at MIT, is an artificial intelligence researcher who studies the topic of emotion and whether or not and to what extent emotion is something that distinguishes beings likes us​ from other animals and supposedly intelligent machines. She is a prolific inventor and thinker who is at the forefront of the conversation about artificial intelligence and machine learning as it relates to human intelligence and emotion.


Coffee Break

Quiet Contemplation: We will close the program of Day 2 with few minutes of silence and meditation to bring our attention back to the present moment.

Shared Reflections: This is a time for the participants and speakers to share their thoughts and feelings on the contents of the day's sessions.

June 20 Day 3



Contemplative Practice Sessions: Participants and speakers will start Day 3 of the learning journey by going directly to the contemplative session of their choice. 


“Mindfulness, Meditation, Compassion & Enlightenment”

Lobsang Negi is a Professor of Practice at Emory University. A former Buddhist monk, Dr. Negi explores mind/body medicine and the connections between meditation, the emotions, and health. He also developed Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), a compassion meditation program that is currently used in a variety of research programs, including testing the efficacy of compassion based meditation on depression. He is a mindfulness leader practitioner who has studied how spiritual practices can positively shape our lives.

Networking Coffee Break

“Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives on Life after Death”

Stephen Cave is the Executive Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge. He is a philosopher, writer, and diplomat who has written extensively on the common beliefs that humans share about immortality and how those beliefs shape our present lives, relationships, and civilizations.

Lunch Break



“A Finely-tuned Universe: What Does It Mean?”


Luke Barnes is a postdoctoral researcher at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney. His work centers on cosmology, galaxy formation, and the fine-tuning of the universe for life. He recently released a book entitled A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos.


Andrew Pinsent is the Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University, a Research Fellow of Harris Manchester College, and a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford. He holds a doctorate in particle physics from Oxford, a doctorate in philosophy from Saint Louis University, and a degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. As a physicist and Catholic priest, Dr. Pinsent is a leading voice in the dialogue between science and faith.

Private Guided Tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel: This private tour will be guided by Elizabeth Lev, the speaker of the popular TED Talk "The Unheard Story of the Sistine Chapel". She is an art historian who teaches at the Pontifical University of the Angelicum in Rome as well as at Christendom College. She has published numerous articles for First Things, Sacerdos, and Inside the Vatican magazines, the College Art Association, and Zenit News Agency. Her most recent regular series of articles appears online on Aleteia.  She is the author of three books, The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de' Medici, Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches with George Weigel, and A Body for Glory: Theology of the Body in the Papal Collections with Fr. Jose Granados.

Shared Reflections: This is the final conversation for the participants and speakers to share their thoughts and feelings having gone through the learning journey. 

Dinner & Farewell

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