Upcoming Seminars

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Course Information

The Science of a Meaningful Life: Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion (UCB-18)

This ground-breaking, one-day conference will explore the important connections between mindfulness and compassion. What are they, and how are they similar or distinct? How does one promote the other—for instance, how does mindfulness support the practice of self-compassion? What does the science of mindfulness suggest about the human propensity for compassion, and vice versa? Which research-tested programs have been shown to boost mindfulness and/or compassion, and with what specific results?

The roster of speakers will include some of the world’s leading experts on the science and practice of mindfulness and compassion, including best selling author Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in the clinical application of mindfulness. They will distill the strongest science and evidence-based practices involving mindfulness and compassion, focusing especially on the “pro-social” dimension to mindfulness—how it deepens our relationships with others. This seminar will also offer practical strategies and techniques for cultivating mindfulness and compassion to reduce stress in oneself and others.

The event will include presentations from experts, including a keynote by Kabat-Zinn, and breakout sessions offering first-hand training in some of the top research-based practices, including Kristin Neff’s self-compassion practice and Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). We will also hear “stories from the field” from people who have successfully applied the science to the real world, creating programs that foster mindfulness and compassion in schools, workplaces, health care, and beyond.

The underlying goal of the event is to support a large and growing movement around mindfulness and compassion--a movement we want to fuel with science. It will empower attendees with a deeper understanding of mindfulness and compassion, explaining what programs are working in this realm, with what effects, and with what research behind them, so that attendees can incorporate these evidence-based practices into their personal and professional lives.

The event will include the following:

  • Keynote talks from leading experts in the fields of compassion and mindfulness, including Jon Kabat-Zinn (top right), Dacher Keltner (bottom right), Kristin Neff (bottom left), and Paul Gilbert (top left);
  • Breakout sessions that provide first-hand experience with mindfulness and compassion practices that have been tested by research;
  • A panel of leaders who have created programs that foster mindfulness and compassion in schools, workplaces, health care, and beyond.

This conference is co-hosted by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and Mindful magazine.



Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is a scientist, best-selling author, and meditation teacher. He is a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he was the founder and former director of its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Clinic. Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s work has contributed to a growing international movement to bring mindfulness into psychology, health care, schools, corporations, prisons, and professional sports. He is the author of several books, including Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, Full Catastrophe Living, Coming To Our Senses, and the forthcoming Letting Everything Become Your Teacher. Dr. Kabat-Zinn received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT and has received many awards over the span of his career.

As an undergraduate at UCLA, Dr. Kristin Neff studied communications, and as a graduate student at UC Berkeley she studied moral development. Her dissertation research on children’s moral reasoning was conducted in Mysore, India. As a post-doctoral researcher at Denver University, she studied issues of authenticity and self- concept development. Dr. Neff is currently an Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin.

While doing her post-doctoral work she decided to conduct research on self-compassion – a central construct in Buddhist psychology and one that had not yet been examined empirically. She has a new book titled "Self-Compassion" published by William Morrow in 2011.

Dr. Neff lives in the countryside in Elgin, Texas with her husband Rupert Isaacson – an author and human rights activist – and with her young son Rowan. She and her family were recently featured in the documentary and book called The Horse Boy – www.horseboymovie.com

Professor Paul Gilbert is head of the Mental Health Research Unit as well as Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby. He holds degrees in Economics (Wolverhampton, 1973), Masters in Experimental Psychology (Sussex, 1975), PhD in Clinical Psychology (Edinburgh, 1980) and a diploma in Clinical Psychology awarded by the British Psychological Society (1980).

He was made a fellow of the British Psychological Society for contributions to psychological knowledge in 1993 and was president of the British Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapy in 2003.

He has published and edited 21 books, over 100 academic papers and 39 book chapters, and is currently a series editor for a 'compassionate approaches to life difficulties' series.

After years of exploring the processes underpinning shame and its role in a variety of psychopathologies, Paul Goilbert's current research is exploring the neurophysiology and therapeutic effectiveness of compassion focused therapy.

Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and the research director of the university’s Greater Good Science Center, an interdisciplinary center that disseminates the new science of happiness and compassion to thousands of educators, parents, mental health workers, and others.

After receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University, Dr. Keltner has devoted his career to studying the roots of compassion, awe, gratitude, and love. He is also a leading expert on social intelligence, the psychology of power, and the emotional bases of morality. He is the author of more than 100 scientific papers and two best-selling textbooks, Social Psychology and Understanding Emotions. More recently, he is the author of the popular book Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. He is also the executive editor of the Greater Good Science Center’s online magazine, Greater Good.

Dr. Keltner is an outstanding speaker who has received several national research and teaching awards. Wired magazine has rated the podcasts of his “Human Emotion” course as one of the five best academic podcasts in the country. He has twice presented his research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of a continuing dialogue between the Dalai Lama and scientists. His work has been featured in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, and on CNN, among other media outlets. In 2008, the Utne Reader named him as one of 50 visionaries who are changing our world.


This event will be webcast live! Attend in-person or online.

With the webcast, you’ll watch real-time video of the event, including slides, be able to submit questions to the presenter online, and receive CE credits —all from the comfort of your home, office, or anywhere with an Internet connection. You will be emailed prior to the event with course materials and a login and password for the webcast.

*Attendees can receive 6 CE credit hours for attending in-person or online.*

Attendees will be able to:

  • Distill the strongest science and evidence-based practices around mindfulness and compassion, exploring the important connections between the two concepts
  • Empower a large audience to apply cutting-edge science on these topics to their personal and professional lives
  • Explain what the most effective programs are in this realm, why -- according to research – they work, and with what outcomes
  • Help educators and mental health practitioners identify best practices for promoting compassion and mindfulness among those they serve, and to understand how these practices often go hand-in-hand.


8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Registration and check in;

9:00-9:10             Welcome Ann Shulman, Greater Good Science Center Executive Director

9:10-10:10          Keynote by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.

10:10-10:30       Break

10:30-12:00       Scientific & clinical perspectives on mindfulness & compassion, with:

·       Kristen Neff, Ph.D., on relating mindfulness to compassion and self-compassion

·       Dacher Keltner, PhD., on the neuro-psychology of mindfulness & compassion

·       Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., on Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

Presentations followed by Q&A and discussion, including Jon Kabat-Zinn

·       Moderator: Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Greater Good Science Center Science Director

12:00-1:00          Box lunch provided

1:00-2:15             Breakouts:

·       Self-compassion practice, led by Kristen Neff

·       Cognitive-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), led by Brooke Dodson-Lavelle (Emory University)

·       Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), led by TBD (Stanford University)

2:15-2:20             Break

2:20-3:45             Stories from the field: 4-5 speakers (TBD--will add to this section with details as confirmed by speakers with years of professional experience in the fields of: education, health care, business/leadership, prison, veterans, lawyers, birthing/parenting)

Moderator: Barry Boyce, Mindful

3:45-4:00             Break

4:00-5:00             Reflections and discussion, with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, Kristin Neff, Paul Gilbert


Continuing Education

Continuing Education is co-sponsored by R. Cassidy Seminars.

Presented by the Greater Good Science Center, and co-sponsored by the International House at UC Berkeley

The Science of a Meaningful Life seminar series is made possible through a generous grant from the Quality of Life Foundation.

Psychologists: R. Cassidy Seminars is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. R. Cassidy Seminars maintains responsibility for this program. (6) CE hours.

Social Workers CA: Course meets the qualifications for (6) hours of continuing education credit for MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Provider #PCE418.

Marriage and Family Therapists CA: Course meets the qualifications for (6) hours of continuing education credit for MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Provider #PCE418. This course provides 6 CE hours.

Occupational Therapists: Occupational therapists will receive a certificate of completion for (6) CE hours.

Nurses CA: Provider approved by the CA Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CeP12224, for (6) contact hours.

Satisfactory Completion: Participants must have paid tuition fee, signed in, attended the entire seminar, completed an evaluation, and signed out in order to receive a certificate. Failure to sign in or out will result in forfeiture of credit for the entire course. No exceptions will be made. Partial credit is not available.

Cancellation Policy: Refund (minus $25 administrative fee) when canceling prior to 7 days before the workshop. No refund within 7 days of the seminar.

Disability Access: If you require ADA accommodations please contact our office 30 days or more before the event. We cannot ensure accommodations without adequate prior notification.

Please Note: Licensing Boards change regulations often and while we attempt to stay abreast of their most recent changes, if you have questions or concerns about this course meeting your specific board’s approval, we recommend you contact your board directly to obtain a ruling.