The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will be established to provide an interdisciplinary platform dedicated to the research, education, and practice of kindness, with the goal of transforming the individual and society as informed by the understanding and practice of kindness.  The interdisciplinary research of the Institute will be achieved through deep engagement across UCLA.

  • Research: Engage in interdisciplinary research on kindness rooted in academic work but delivered in formats and on timelines accessible to those within and outside of academia
  • Education: Leverage UCLA’s exceptional faculty and reach and provide a global platform to educate and communicate insights from the research across traditional and new media platforms and through public events
  • Practice: Translate research and insights into real-world applications working with and disseminating through strategic partnerships to achieve scale and impact with the goal of transforming individuals and society through the understanding and practice of kindness

The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute was established through a $20 million gift to UCLA College’s Social Sciences Division by The Bedari Foundation, created by philanthropists Jennifer and Matthew Harris ‘84. The Bedari Foundation’s mission is to catalyze change in environment, energy, health and wellness, and community systems.

The founding concept for the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute came from Sue Smalley, Ph.D. Professor Emerita and Founder of the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA.  Dr. Smalley received her Ph.D. in Anthropology (UCLA) and continued in the field of behavioral genetics in the department of Psychiatry until her retirement.  Her vision for the Institute is the investigation of kindness via science in complement with delivery of practices and education to enrich kindness in our everyday lives.   With Matt Harris, this vision evolved to become the cornerstone of the Bedari Kindness Institute, with the excellence of research and real world applications led by the world class faculty making the breadth and depth of this vision a reality. Dr. Smalley will serve as the inaugural chairperson of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute’s Executive Committee, playing a lead role in the formation of the Institute and bringing it to life.

Message from the Director

To maximize the scientific contributions made by the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute community of investigators, we exclusively support research through grants to UCLA faculty, and through fellowships to enrolled UCLA graduate students. Although we recognize that many worthwhile efforts to advance kindness exist beyond UCLA, and although we are heartened by such efforts, we do not provide funding to other individuals or organizations.

Members of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute community of scholars conduct translational research, seeking to discover how to apply basic research results to real-world situations and problems. In doing so, they partner with entities and organizations outside of UCLA. Generally, these relationships are established directly by the UCLA investigator, but we are happy to hear from organizations willing to host translational research at their sites.

— Daniel M.T. Fessler, Director

A key strength of the Bedari Kindness Institute is that its members encompass a broad range of views and scholarship on kindness and related topics. As such, the works of individual members reflect their individual viewpoints and contributions. Except as otherwise noted, their works do not constitute joint efforts or collective statements by our Institute as a whole.