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UCLan's new Centre for the Study of Compassion is first of its kind in UK

New Centre is officially launched

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has officially launched a new centre that will bring compassion to the forefront of the institution’s thinking.

Thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, the new Centre for the Study of Compassion will support interdisciplinary research focused on compassion, mentoring and building community resilience.

The Centre’s key research areas include the role of compassion in health and wellbeing; compassion in education and organisations; mentoring and compassionate leadership; mediation and compassionate approaches to justice; and the role of compassion and cooperation in establishing sustainable communities. It will initially provide support and supervision for new PhD students and seek to fulfil UCLan’s ambition to be a compassionate university; enriching the lives of students and staff and serving the local community by understanding its needs.

The Director of the Centre, Professor Patrick Pietroni, spoke about what a compassionate university might look like. He said: “My own notion of a compassionate university is one that will allow itself to be guided by the motto in the crest of Bologna university (the first university in the western world) – ‘Alma mater studiorum’ – nurturing mother of studies.”

Professor Pietroni is also the newly appointed Elizabeth Bryan Foundation Trust (EBFT) Chair for the Study of Compassion. Professor Pietroni’s career has spanned the NHS and academia. He is currently Director of the EBFT, a charitable trust founded in memory of the eminent paediatrician Elizabeth Bryan, whose work with families with twins or multiple births brought together the best of skilled medical practice with a profound commitment to the wellbeing of her patients and their families.


It is important that compassion underpins everything we do across the institution; from teaching to research to community work.

In addition, he is the Director of the Darwin Centre Trust CIO, which supports the Darwin International Institute for the Study of Compassion (DIISC). UCLan’s Centre for the Study of Compassion will house the new UK hub office for DIISC, establishing a focus for a number of British universities that have formally affiliated with DIISC; these include the Universities of Kent, Leicester and Westminster, among others.

Professor Pietroni was welcomed to the University by UCLan Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Dr Lynne Livesey. Dr Livesey said: “Compassion is a core value of the University, so we are delighted to welcome Patrick to the team as we continue to develop and strengthen this ethos. It is important that compassion underpins everything we do across the institution; from teaching to research to community work. We believe we are the first University in the UK to create a Centre for the Study of Compassion and we remain at the forefront in embedding compassion into higher education.”

The Centre will also act as a hub for the growing international network of universities and other organisations working on research into different aspects of compassion. To date, eighteen institutions have affiliated with DIISC, including the University of New Mexico, which is home to DIISC’s North American hub, Harvard Medical School, Yellowstone Forever, and others in the USA. DIISC is also developing its network of affiliates across Asia, creating further opportunities for international and interdisciplinary research.

Professor Patrick Pietroni, the Director of the Centre

Lyndsey Boardman | 23 October 2018