In accordance with the industrial trend known as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, KAIST has declared its plans to establish the Meditation Research Center by June 2018.
The Meditation Research Center aims to contribute to society through intensive research on meditation. Research in meditation was stimulated in 1993 when the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), a sub-organization in America’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), first gave official funding for meditation research. According to recent research, meditation produces effects such as the thickening of the cerebrum and increased activity in the portion of the brain involved with concentration and empathy. Research in meditation is being conducted globally at institutions such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, with 1,200 research papers on meditation being published annually in psychology and medical journals. The Meditation Research Center to be built in KAIST will be an integrated research center involving the School of Electrical Engineering, the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The research center will investigate the relationship between meditation and psychology and the physical effects of meditation on the brain.
The Director of the Meditation Research Center will be Misan Sunim, a monk who leads the Heartsmile Training organization. A doctor in philosophy in Oriental Studies from Oxford University and a former researcher at the Center for the Study of World Religions, Misan Sunim hopes to take meditation beyond religious beliefs and lead research that verifies the scientific effects of meditation. Misan Sunim stated that “Meditation will play a large role in training the empathetic and creative individuals that will be needed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
This facility will provide meditation programs for students and faculty at KAIST to relieve academic stress and enhance creativity. Furthermore, there are plans to provide a meditation textbook to the public and various learning institutions for use in meditation programs. KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin stated, “Eminent universities worldwide and research institutions are actively researching meditation. The Meditation Research Center will be a vital institution that will provide insight into the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cognitive Science, and integrated technologies that will come to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”