About IMEC International Meaning Events & Community Conferences

The IMEC International Meaning Conferences are annual conferences for practitioners and researchers who focus on meaning in life and at helping people to live a meaningful life despite life’s challenges.

Our conferences started...

...as bi-annual conferences (2017, 2019). We will now be organising these at least once per year combining in-person live events in London and online events. The conferences bring individuals from multiple academic disciplines from all over the world together: participants have included humanistic, existential, and phenomenological therapists and researchers, positive psychologists, transpersonal and spiritual speakers, priests, philosophers, nurses, psychiatrists, anthropologists, sociologists, social activists, and human resource managers.

The conferences are always combined with music, poetry and art, and politics...

Whereas other academic conferences can be alienating, we aim to connect participants with each other and build authentic relationships. We offer a stage not only for world-leading speakers, but also for enthusiastic practitioners, students, and artists. To make the conferences accessible for everyone, we aim to organise the conference online each two years, and in the years in between we will organise a conference in person. We aim to publish the lectures in an annual book publication, in collaboration with the University Professors Press.


Chair Joel Vos; Secretary: Natalie Fraser; Scientific Committee

NB: If you join a conference some legal bits may apply to you: read here


General principles of IMEC International Meaning Events and Community Conferences

  • Focus on connecting individuals and stimulating collaborations
  • Multi-disciplinary (psychology, anthropology, philosophy, theology, sociology, humanities, politics, etc.)
  • Pluralistic (not one specific meaning-centered ‘school’ of practice or research)
  • Connect research and practice
  • Any type of practices, e.g. therapists, priests, nurses, community workers, social workers, political activists
  • Any type of research, e.g. phenomenological, quantitative, sociological, clinical, community activities, philosophical explorations
  • Creative formats of connecting and learning, eg workshops, debates, etc
  • Practical tools for practitioners
  • Research inspiration and tools for researchers
  • Meaning in different contexts: therapy, coaching, research, work, church, nursing, social activism, community events, etc.
  • Evidence-based, where ‘evidence’ can be quantitative or qualitative research, clinical experience or systematic conceptual work
  • At the end of the conference, create a joint conference statement with audience and keynote speakers, and publish this
  • Accessible for as many individuals as possible (eg low fees for students and unwaged)
  • Integration with online tools; e.g. live broadcasting of all sessions online (webinars) + make these available online, so that individuals anywhere in the world can follow this; after the conference, individuals can be in touch with each other via Meaning Online where they can create profiles and upload their research/presentations + presenters who cannot attend the conference can present online


Festival of hope & despair

Online, Sat 23 & Sun 24 October 2021

We had a very inspiring conference in October 2021. There were 32 lectures, 11 workshops, 6 music & poetry performances, 2 self-development peer support groups, 1 movie with expert panel discussion! In between the sessions, walk around at the festival market and have a chat in the coffee  queue with other festival goers! Of course, you will get a CPD Conference Attendance Certificate.

It is autumn 2021. The summer-green colours in nature are starting to give way for the autumn palette and the falling of the leaves. Many countries are moving into influenza season, and it is likely that governments will announce new protective measures against the COVID-virus or even new lock-downs. There are also other long-term problems that could make us despair, such as authoritarian governments,  inequalities of wealth and health, and climate change. How can we make sense of our world in turmoil? How can we build a meaningful society with these challenges? Do we dare to hope? Can we directly move from despair to hope, or should we also pay attention to feelings of despair and outrage?

Join us at our Festival of Hope and Despair on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 October 2021! We warmly welcome you, your hopes and desperations, at three days of lectures, workshops, music, art, support groups, fun and conncetions. Listen to world-leading psychologists, philosophers, politicians, biologists and other experts. Share your own thoughts and feelings, and develop your self-insight, during our support groups and workshops. Build your professional skills as therapist, researcher, coach, counsellor or other practitioner in one of our many workshops. Get inspired by our music and art events, and express yourself!

Both hope and despair can be blind. Therefore, we should not ask whether it is better to hope or to despair about our world, but whether we dare to open our eyes. (Joel Vos, 2021)

View conference programme

Keep updated about IMEC Conferences!

Subscribe to our newsletter and get interviews, exercises & reflections directly delivered to your inbox. Be the first to know of exciting upcoming events to get the limited-time early bird discounts up to 60% reduction!