Dalai Lama Fellows offers emerging leaders a rigorous, interdisciplinary program on ways to be a different kind of leader, a leader that connects and cares for self, extends genuine compassion to others, and works for our common humanity. Fellows cultivate practices in mind training for increasing self-awareness, self-care and resilience, for connecting with others and working across differences, and in building solutions for generations to come. Over the course of a year, with the support of mentors and coaches, each Fellow implements an original Field Project addressing a global challenge. Upon graduation, Fellows join a LifeLong Community, where they connect with and support each other while continuing to advance their leadership journeys.
To date we have awarded 175 Fellowships.
Housed at the University of Virginia’s Contemplative Sciences Center, Dalai Lama Fellows cultivates and supports a global movement of next generation leaders integrating contemplative work with social innovation to solve global challenges in locally adapted ways that promote human flourishing.
We all share a vision for our common humanity, and a love for our own localities, communities, and cultures, but somehow we’ve overemphasized profit, growth, and organizational metrics over wellbeing and deep interconnection with others and the worlds in which we are embedded.
We seek to broaden and deepen emerging leaders’ perspectives on what’s best for both their communities and the world as a whole now and for generations to come, calling on them to think and behave differently, and to seek realistic, innovative, integrated, and expansive ways to address local and global challenges in interconnected manners.
The mission of the Contemplative Sciences Center (CSC) is to advance the study and application of human flourishing at all levels of education—K-12, undergraduate, graduate, professional, and lifelong. In particular we are focused on how educational institutions can better understand and facilitate the types of knowledge, mindsets, and practices that promote flourishing. To flourish is to realize well-being by achieving deep states of health and actualization of potential in all aspects of life (physical, social, emotional, cognitive, academic, professional), as well as to actively contribute to the well-being and flourishing of other people, other communities, and the natural world. Contemplation—the variety of experiential, integrated, and immersive forms of learning and resiliency that afford deep reflection, integration of the personal and the intellectual, transformative understanding, and the cultivation of skills applicable to all domains in one’s life—is critical to flourishing. Another critical pathway to the flourishing of students and others at the University and beyond is practical engagement at all social and institutional levels that is inclusive, equitable, and scale-appropriate. We at CSC are pursuing our mission through a variety of programs and initiatives in academic classrooms, residential life, digital technologies, research, scholarship, application, and social innovation.
There are many leadership models that prescribe new ways of leading, such as Adaptive Leadership, Servant Leadership, and Transformative Leadership. We do not intend to create another leadership model. Instead, we provide leaders the skills and practices to lead in any circumstance using their Head, Heart and Hands and their inner values.
Leaders embody and cultivate positive values. Leadership begins with the self. Exemplary leaders like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Malala and the Dalai Lama cultivate strong personal practices to maintain their connection to themselves and others. The Dalai Lama advocates for mind training, and practices daily, despite a heavy travel schedule. We believe a strong foundation in practices that cultivate awareness and are rooted in a genuine compassion for the self and others is necessary to embody one's values.
Leaders work for the benefit of our common humanity. Every person in a position of leadership, regardless of sector, must realize how his or her actions impact communities and societies, both directly and indirectly. Leaders must have the integrity, courage, humility, ambition and resilience to stand up to and take accountability for violence, corruption, abuse, inequity, bias and indifference. Leaders must connect deeply across perceived differences and come together as one human family.
Leaders build solutions now for a better future. Leaders can reinvent the future, heal our planet and ensure our survival. Leaders must develop their abilities to understand the bigger picture and think long-term. Only by taking the long view will leaders be able to discern the best course of action now towards achieving that better future. The Reimagined Leader is one who leads in community, working for the benefit of generations to come.
Collaborating with experts from around the globe from Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama's translator and renowned author, to Marshall Ganz from the Harvard Kennedy School, over the last six years, we have created a distinctive, immersive leadership curriculum which builds a skill-set, complementary to the cognitive and commercial education that Fellows typically acquire in school. Our Head, Heart and Hands curriculum has three main components:
Head - Training the mind, exploring inner values, cultivating practices to enhance self awareness
Heart - Harnessing the intelligence of the heart, deepening compassion, practices for working across differences
Hands - Acting now, in community, to benefit the world, building unexpected relationships and leading with the mindset of interdependence
The 175 Dalai Lama Fellows hail from 48 different countries. More than half of the Dalai Lama Fellows are women.
Fellows attend the week-long Contemplative Leadership Assembly, where they will have the opportunity to cultivate mindfulness practices and learn new perspectives on leadership and social change. By engaging in workshops and dialogues throughout the week and sharing stories and experiences from diverse cultural backgrounds, Fellows leave the Assembly with lifelong friendships and a reimagined sense of leadership in our global world.
The Dalai Lama Fellowship is not a one-year experience. It is a LifeLong commitment to becoming skilled in Reimagining Leadership and advancing the movement to build a world that works for all of us and for generations to come
"I needed to come into this Fellowship. I had no idea about seeing leadership in this way. Previously I did things according to how I felt, but not really using discernment. I was guided by my emotions and passion and not by my inner wisdom. The truth is, most millennials who are into social change like me are searching for the same thing. We are all seeking meaning and purpose of our lives and we desperately want to find it. Therefore, we never cease trying so many things hoping that through many trials we will get to see what it is that resonates with our passion and talents. However, I now understand that we must find balance in life, because without it, we end up doing many things ineffectively and so, we are neither making an impact nor discovering ourselves. My priorities now are to serve with the best of my soul and my commitment. I ask myself, "How is that state of being impacting the work that I'm committed to?" I have learned to identify whether my decision is based on my emotions or if it is coming from the point of wisdom, which is the prerequisite to succeed in leadership. I believe there is a sense of urgency that many young leaders should have this understanding as I do now.” Dejoie Sylvain, Ashesi University
Social change projects engage with one or more of these categories:
Dalai Lama Fellows was founded in 2010, with the authorization and support of the 14th Dalai Lama (Read the Dalai Lama’s Authorization Letter), as an independent, secular and ecumenical organization. Beginning with a fellowship program, Dalai Lama Fellows has become a pioneer in integrating contemplative practices and universal values within programs for leadership and social change.
The fellowship program has now grown to include 175 individuals across 48 nationalities, constituting an active global leadership network that serves as a continuing resource for human flourishing within next generation leadership.
A strategic partnership in September of 2018 brought the Fellowship to the Contemplative Sciences Center (CSC) at the University of Virginia to ensure the DLF’s long-term sustainability and maximize our impact and reach. CSC is a leader in the field of human flourishing and contemplation and has been an important partner of DLF for the last four years including serving as host of the most recent annual Ethical Leadership Assembly in June 2018.
Integrity — We embrace and advance five core values as we conduct our work. We strive to be wholly honest and to have consistent alignment between our values and actions.
Interdependence — We work in the interest of present and future generations because we are all connected and mutually dependent.
Resilience — We meet challenges with optimism, ingenuity, flexibility and grace.
Humbition — (Humility + Ambition) We live the questions rather than presume the answers, and ground social change with respect for others.
Courage — We have strength to take action for moral reasons, despite doubts, fears or risk of adverse consequences.