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Darwin Centre Trust launches international institute for study of compassion in Shrewsbury

The new Darwin Centre Trust in Shrewsbury is to launch the International Institute for the Study of Compassion on Wednesday 30th September The Conference will be attended by individuals and media from across the Globe, including leading figures such as Andrew Stone, ex-chair of Marks & Spencer, Karen Armstrong author & TED prize winner, & author Ruth Padel the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin. It will be followed by a ground breaking working conference at Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn on 1st and 2nd October 2015 to explore what sustains compassion in individuals, organisations and society.

Compassion is a core concern in our health, social care and educational services. It is core to community and inter-cultural relations and, most pressingly right now, in the world's response to refugees and migrants. The conference will comprise of workshops and opportunities for debate with international experts, looking at the relevance and rigour of compassion in today's world. There will be the opportunity to meet and talk to members of the group who have brought the IISC into being* and to a range of international thinkers.

Presentations of work by projects local to Shropshire, such as emergency poet Deborah Alma who welcomes individuals to her 1970s ambulance, will also stimulate thinking. More than ever, we need to understand what compassion means and what undermines it and how it can be fostered. The Conference, and the new Institute, will bring together work from many disciplines to illuminate these questions.

The Trust, the Institute and the Conference have the support of the Darwin family, and his great-great-granddaughter, the poet Ruth Padel, will be reading from her celebrated verse biography of Charles Darwin (Darwin, a Life in Poems), and discussing his views on the development of moral conscience and compassion.

The Institute will also establish a scheme like the Fulbright or Rhodes scholarships, called the Darwin Scholarship Programme which will provide bursaries for students to study the importance of compassion during a 3 year PHD course in their particular discipline such as business, health and social care etc. Universities from across the globe are currently expressing interest (including from South Africa, the US, the UK, Pakistan, Portugal). The students from across the Globe will meet in Shrewsbury for 4 weeks each summer. The Institute has a vision to grow future leaders of society from across the world. The title of the scholarship programme recognises the vital perspective that Darwin's and subsequent evolutionary thinking offers on the development of cooperation and altruism in human society.

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