Kindness is costly.
The University of California, Los Angeles was given $20 million to study kindness and mindfulness thanks to a gift from philanthropists, Jennifer and Matthew C. Harris, of the Bendari Foundation, which helped establish the UCLA Bedari Kindness Insitute.
“Universities should always be places where we teach students to reach across lines of difference and treat one another with empathy and respect — even when we deeply disagree,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. “The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will bring the best thinking to this vital issue and, I think, will allow us to have a real social impact on future generations.”
The institute, housed in the division of social sciences, will support research on understanding kindness through evolutionary, biological, psychological, economic, cultural and sociological perspectives. The goal is to use kindness as an "antidote" to "current world politics, violence, and strife," according to Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA division of social sciences.
The private family foundation funding the new initiative aims "to enable significant cultural shifts in the fields of health and wellness, community displacement and environmental conservation."
Matthew Harris, the foundation’s co-founder and a 1984 UCLA graduate, said, “Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world. As we seek...to bridge the divide between science and spirituality...we hope to educate and empower more and more people in the practice of kindness.”
The new institute "will provide seed funding for research projects that examine the social and physical mechanics of kindness and how kindness might be harnessed to create more humane societies. It also will provide mindfulness-awareness training to students, faculty and staff and in underserved Los Angeles communities, and host an annual conference at which presenters will examine new discoveries in kindness research, among other activities."