Telluride event highest level conference ever held on the science of compassion

For the third year, the Telluride Institute and Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, (CCARE), join forces to investigate the science and global potential of compassion, altruism and meditation.

The background for this muscular partnership between the Institute and the prestigious university is a love story: our own Abby Lifton-Zoline (granddaughter of ski area founder Joe Zoline) fell in love with and married Joel Finkelstein, an associate at CCARE.

In 2010, Joel brought the center’s director Dr. James Doty, a highly acclaimed neurosurgeon, plus a dozen more scientists, meditation practitioners, contemplatives of various faiths and educators to Telluride for a conference we at the Institute dubbed  “The Language of the Mental Life.”

The final evening of the conference, the wrap up of two+ days of intense meetings, was open to the public. And Telluride turned out in force. It was standing room only when a teary-eyed Dr. Doty called out from the podium: “Let’s have a Compassion Festival right here, in beautiful Telluride!” The crowd cheered long and hard for the man, who had fallen under the spell of our town and the good vibrations from all of us in attendance.

Putting on a festival was nothing new to the Telluride Institute, which has brought Ideas Festivals to town since 1984. Remember “Re-inventing Politics” with Al Gore, “Perestroika” with Mikhail Gorbachev? Remember guests such as Ed Abbey, Bruce Babbit, John Cage, and Terry Tempest Williams?

Bringing more (discussion of, science of, practice of) compassion to town felt just right for Institute founders Pamela and John Lifton-Zoline. So, last year, they welcomed an eclectic mix of Buddhist monks, native American wisdom teachers, and high caliber scientists to the Sheridan Opera House for “Compassion for a World in Crisis.” It was a spectacular event.

This year, 2012, will see the most comprehensive conference of scientists specializing in compassion/altruism/meditation research from around the globe. More than 30 experts are scheduled to visit town to talk with one another about their research and with the rest of us at the Palm Theater, July 19 – 22. Those illustrious will show us all that compassion and happiness can be taught, that we actually benefit from developing more empathy, that it shapes our brains and affects our well being.

A day of  Festival precedes the conference. Held at the Sheridan Opera House on the evening of July 18 and all day July 19, it emphasizes there is “No Place like Home” for putting compassion into action.

A festival pass is just $75. A conference pass is $175. The combined ticket is$225. Individual tickets for morning, afternoon or evening sessions (or any combination) are available for $25 each.

All tickets are available at or at the CCARE site

You can also sign up as a volunteer by e-mailing

For a preview of what’s in store, check out this video.




1 Comment
  • Mia Sands
    Posted at 08:25h, 02 July

    This Festival sounds amazing! We could all be inspired to have more empathy and compassion in our lives. As this energy will intensify and spread onto the world. Feeling the Love and Joy and Happiness is what we all need. I so want to be a part of this Festival.