BOSTON (RNS) A new think tank at one of the nation’s leading universities for scientific research will soon bring Buddhist sensibilities to bear on a quest to explore “the ethical and humane dimensions of life.”

The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will formally launch April 30 with a visit to the Cambridge campus from the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader and a leading figure in Buddhist thought.

“The Center is founded to honor the vision of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and his call for a holistic education that includes the development of human and global ethics,” says the Center’s mission statement. “It will emphasize responsibility as well as examine meaningfulness and moral purpose between individuals, organizations, and societies.”

The Center marks MIT’s latest initiative to encourage interfaith dialogue and promote awareness of religious and ethical issues on campus. In October 2007, MIT installed its first chaplain to the Institute, Robert Randolph, who said at the time his job would be “to help knit together the fabric of faiths that already transcend our community.”

Programming at the center, including conferences and lectures, will focus on “help(ing) each of us redirect our creative energies into enlightened actions.” Among the themes will be how contemplative practices can enhance leadership skills, said Tenzin Priyadarshi, MIT’s Buddhist chaplain and director of the center. Another possible line of inquiry: how people learn to be more generous or visionary.

“In addressing the very question of what it means to be human,” Priyadarshi said in a written statement, “and how we can create and sustain positive societies, the center will nurture a new generation of enlightened leaders who will be luminaries for a better world.”

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