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Dr. Arthur Zajonc was born in 1949 in Boston, MA. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan. Zajonc is the Andrew Mellon Professor of Physics and Interdisciplinary Studies at Amherst College, where he has taught since 1978 and has been Department of Physics Chairman for three
separate terms. His first-year seminar course, Erôs and Insight, created and jointly taught with Joel Upton, “challenges common beliefs about the very nature of education” (L. James in her article about the course, Amherst Magazine).
Zajonc has been Visiting Professor and Research Scientist at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and at the Universities of Rochester and Hannover. He has been Fulbright Professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria; Postdoctoral Research Associate at the
Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado and the National Bureau of Standards, Boulder, CO; and General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America. He is co-founder of the Kira Institute, President of the Lindisfarne Association, and co-founder and Senior Program
Director at the Fetzer Institute.
Zajonc’s research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities, and the contemplative traditions. He has written extensively about Goethe’s science work.
In 1997, Zajonc served as Scientific Coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue: The New Physics & Cosmology in Dharamsala, India. In 2002, he organized and was Scientific Coordinator for the dialogue with the Dalai Lama: The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life. In 2003, he moderated Mind and Life dialogue:
Investigating the Mind, hosted by MIT.
Zajonc is currently Academic Program Director at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, membership of which includes more than 1500 academics who support contemplative practices in higher education. He is Steering Committee Chair for The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education.
In 2009, Zajonc was diagnosed with stage one Parkinson’s disease. He is addressing this personal challenge through meditation, which, he says, “has helped me to carry the prognosis and changes in my life.”