The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2016

A six-day retreat for education professionals on the science of social-emotional learning

  • Venue: Clark Kerr Campus, UC-Berkeley
  • Date: Sunday, June 26-Friday, July 1, 2016 OR Friday, July 15-Wednesday July 20, 2016 OR Sunday, July 24-Friday, July 29, 2016
  • Price: $2,200, which includes tuition, lodging, most meals, and materials. Partial scholarships are available.


The science is clear: Integrating social-emotional learning and mindfulness into the classroom and our schools is good for both students and the adults who work with them.

But why are social-emotional learning (SEL) and mindfulness good for us? How do these practices improve our overall well-being--including our ability to learn, prevent burnout, and develop positive relationships? How can we cultivate social-emotional and mindfulness skills in both our students and ourselves and encourage colleagues around us to do so as well? What gets in the way of developing our social and emotional competencies, and how can we overcome those challenges?

This six-day, five-night retreat gives education professionals from all over the world the opportunity to dive into the science and practice of social and emotional well-being in order to better understand how to cultivate this well-being within themselves and their students.

In addition to brief lectures, participants will engage in deep self-reflection, thought-provoking discussions, and collaborative strategy sessions as they consider how this science applies to pedagogy, classroom and school climate, stand-alone lessons, curricula, staff development, and their own personal development. They will also have the opportunity to informally share their own SEL and mindfulness practices with each other.

In order to form a strong support network—one that will last long after the Institute is over--participants will be divided into “families” of eight to ten that work, explore, and play together throughout the six days. Participants will also have plenty of opportunities to connect with other educators outside their families.

In addition to this support network, participants will leave empowered with cutting-edge, science-based social-emotional and mindfulness strategies, tools, and techniques to implement this important aspect of student and teacher development in their school environments.

They will also leave with a deeper understanding of who we are as human beings.

To apply, please click on the “Application” tab and fill out the on-line form. The application deadline is midnight on January 15, 2016. Applications submitted after January 15th will automatically be placed on the wait list.

Groups of three or more from the same school and/or district will receive a 10% discount per person.

Institute Leaders

Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D., is the education director at the Greater Good Science Center and a former teacher and school leader.




Brooke Lavelle-Heineberg, Ph.D., is a senior program officer at the Mind and Life Institute and co-founder of the Cognitively-Based Compassion Training program at Emory University.




Who Should Attend?

Pre-K through university-level educators, counselors, psychologists, and school and district-level administrators who are interested in cultivating the social-emotional well-being of students and the adults who work with them.


"The institute was the best I have ever attended. The leadership and conference design have been impeccable. You guys are so attuned to the needs and predilections of teachers."

"I have never been to a conference where educators were treated with such respect and professionalism and compassion."

"Armed with some powerful tools, I am returning to the teachers, mentors, and administrators I work with more passionate than ever about SEL. Determined to make changes in my organization, I now feel I have the resources and collective community to do this effectively. This has been an honor and I know the experience will have a ripple-effect in my field."

"Hard to imagine a more meaningful, impactful professional development experience as an educator."

"Inspired, heart is full, mind is blown with new insights/resources/information. Heart is overflowing with gratitude for all of the connections and collaboration, the sense that we are now truly a part of something greater than ourselves. I had no idea how rich and fulfilling this experience would be. While I can't wait to enjoy the remainder of summer break, I truly can't wait to get back to work to put my ideas and inspiration into action."

"This was a phenomenal professional and personal development experience. In addition to enriching our mental understandings of how the brain and physiological systems help us or block us from experiencing positive emotion, the experiential practices helped us really feel the sensations we want to bring back to our schools. This was the best way I could have used these five days this summer! I would recommend this conference without reservation and with great enthusiasm! This conference clarified so much for me, and I feel much more confident about making specific changes to help my staff and students."

"This institute has highlighted the importance of a teacher's (my!) mental and emotional health, an idea that so often, in education, is seen as selfish and/or a waste of time."

"I am extremely grateful that the GGSC exists. I benefit from the articles regularly and the Summer Institute for Educators has been an absolute dream come true."

"This conference has raised my level of consciousness to understand that by developing one's self, one creates opportunities to lift the lives of others. By learning to value and love one's self, one has an opportunity to create a world for the greater good."


This year, for the first time, the Summer Institute for Educators will offer three separate sessions, with up to 75 educators attending each session. This will give the Summer Institute a more retreat-like feel and will allow for deeper and more personal exploration of the topics.

Session 1 will run from Sunday, June 26 - Friday, July 1, 2016, Session 2 will run from Friday, July 15 - Wednesday, July 20, 2016  and Session 3 will run from Sunday, July 24 - Friday, July 29, 2016.

Each session will take place in the same location and will offer the same content. 

Accommodations and Meals

We understand that many local participants might prefer to sleep at home during the Institute. However, those from nearby communities during past Institutes stated repeatedly how grateful they were for the opportunity to leave behind the daily stressors of life. Time away from home allowed them to fully engage in the learning community and to reflect more deeply upon the material. Therefore, we are requesting that all participants stay on campus.

Housing accommodations are located at the University of California, Berkeley, Clark Kerr Campus--a beautiful Spanish-style complex, highlighted by terra cotta accents, tiled fountains, and landscaped courtyards. Situated in a lovely Berkeley neighborhood, the campus is within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and the UC Berkeley main campus. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are several hiking trails with breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay directly behind the campus.

The two- and three-bedroom suites have attractive living rooms and one or two bathrooms that are shared by suite occupants. Each participant will be assigned a private room with a shared bath.

Participants will dine in the Great Hall Dining Room with its richly paneled walls and coffered ceiling. Buffet menus offer a wide selection of hot entrees (including vegetarian and vegan options), a 100% organic salad bar, vegetables, soup, beverages, and desserts at each meal. Breakfast and lunch are included, beginning with breakfast on Monday and ending with lunch on Friday. Coffee, tea, and snacks will be available during the meeting sessions. You will have the option of purchasing dinner at the Dining Hall or making your own evening meal arrangements in Berkeley (or the greater Bay Area).


Participants are required to arrange their own travel arrangements. Please do not make any arrangements until you are admitted to the program. More details will be included in the registration package. 


Parking permits are available for $84/session. 

Nearby airports:
Oakland International Airport
San Francisco International Airport

Transportation from the airport:
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) + taxi
Bayporter (daytime, by reservation only)
Super Shuttle (evening, by reservation only)

What Is Included

6 days of training
Accommodations, including breakfast and lunch, for 5 nights, 6 days
Web-based and printed materials
1-year membership to the Greater Good Science Center
A certificate of completion and a letter confirming clock hours of instruction

Enrollment Instructions

The application deadline is midnight on January 15, 2016. Applications submitted after January 15th will automatically be placed on the wait list.

Non-scholarship applicants will be notified of admission by January 25, 2016, via email. We ask that you kindly let us know by February 8, 2016, if you will attend. Your payment will be due in full (via check or credit card) on February 22, 2016.

Scholarship applicants will be notified of admission by February 25, 2016, via email. We ask that you kindly let us know by March 10, 2016, if you will attend. Your payment will be due in full (via check or credit card) on March 24, 2016.

If acceptance into the program falls less than 90 days prior to program start date, your payment will be due in full (via check or credit card) upon acceptance. 


$2,200 per participant. This includes tuition, materials, room, and board (all breakfast and lunch meals included). Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses and arrangements.

Groups of three or more from the same school and/or district will receive a 10% discount per person.


Understanding that those who attend the Summer Institute for Educators do so on the salary of education or non-profit professionals, we do our best to make the Institute affordable without sacrificing quality or integrity. 

If you are unable to pay the full amount, we ask that you first check with your school/organization to see if they will cover any of your costs with professional development or other funding. If your school does not have funding, or their funding does not cover what you need, we may be able to provide a partial scholarship to help offset the cost of attendance. In the case that your school does not provide any funding, you will need to submit a letter from your principal, district administrator, or organization supervisor confirming that there are no funds available to support your attendance at the Summer Institute for Educators. 

The Greater Good Science Center is completely funded by donations and grants -- we do not receive any financial support from the University of California-Berkeley. As such, we have limited funds available for scholarships and cannot offer full scholarships. In order to be as fair as possible to all applicants and create the most opportunity we can with the scholarships, we ask applicants to request the minimum necessary.   

Please note that UC Berkeley policy prohibits us from awarding scholarships for travel. 

A limited number of partial scholarships will be awarded. To apply for a scholarship, please fill out the scholarship section on the application.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations must be submitted via fax or email. Full refunds will be given up to 45 days prior to the start of the program. Due to program demand and pre-institute preparations, cancellations received 44-31 days prior to the start of the program are subject to a fee of 10% of the program tuition. Cancellations received within 30 days prior to the start of the program and no-shows are subject to the full program tuition. Please note: cancellation fees are based upon the date the written request is received.

Nondiscrimination Policy

The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State Law, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), gender identity, pregnancy/childbirth and medical conditions related thereto, disability, age, medical condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran.

  • 2016 Agenda

  • Day One

  • 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.


  • 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

    Informal Reception (optional, buffet dinner provided)

  • Day Two

  • 7:00 - 7:45 a.m.

    Optional yoga

  • 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.

    Optional hike

  • 7:00 - 9:00 a.m.


  • 9:00 - 12:30 p.m.

    Creating a safe learning environment

  • 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.


  • 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

    Surfacing our deepest beliefs, values, and mental models about social-emotional well-being within the school context

  • Day Three

  • 7:00 - 9:00 a.m.


  • 9:00 - 12:30 p.m.

    Using the science of social-emotional well-being and mindfulness to nurture the teacher-student relationship

  • 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.


  • 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

    Caring for ourselves and building our own social-emotional competencies

  • Day Four

  • 7:00 - 7:45 a.m.

    Optional yoga

  • 7:00 - 9:00 a.m.


  • 9:00 - 12:30 p.m.

    Using the science of empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude to build a positive school climate

  • 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

    Building a positive school climate con’t

  • Day Five

  • 9:00 - 12:30 p.m.

    Overview of social-emotional learning & mindfulness in education: The whys and wherefores

    Stand-alone SEL and mindfulness lessons & integrating SEL and mindfulness into content and pedagogy

  • 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.


  • 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

    Taking it home


  • Day Six


  • 9:00 - 12:00 p.m.

    Open Space


  • 12:00 p.m.

    Check-out of rooms/Lunch

  • Based on past participant feedback, the majority of the Institute will be facilitated by a smaller number of faculty than previous years. With this change, more time will be spent on the practical application of the science into pedagogical methods, classroom climate, stand-alone lessons, curricula, staff development, and personal development. Participants will also have the opportunity to share their own best practices with each other. 

  • {mtx_speakers_name}

    Brooke Lavelle Heineberg, Ph.D.

    Brooke D. Lavelle Heineberg is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Courage of Care Leadership Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing compassion training programs and support to individuals and communities in education, health care, and other areas of social service. She is also Senior Education Consultant to Mind & Life's Ethics, Education, and Human Development Initiative and a co-developer of the Call to Care program for teachers and students. Brooke holds a PhD in Religious Studies and Cognitive Psychology from Emory University. Her academic work focuses on the confluence of Buddhist contemplative theory and cognitive science, as well as the cultural contexts that shape the transmission, reception, and secularization of Buddhist contemplative practices in America. While at Emory, she served as a lead instructor for several studies examining the efficacy of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), and has helped to develop and adapt CBCT for school children as well as adolescents in Atlanta's foster care system. In 2010, she helped developed the CBCT Teacher Training Program, and served as associate training director.

    Brooke earned her BA in Religion and Psychology at Barnard College, and her MA degree in Religion at Columbia University. While at Columbia, she also worked as a Research Coordinator for the Columbia Integrative Medicine Program, where she developed and taught yoga and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs for a variety of clinical populations. Brooke serves on the Board of the Foundation for Active Compassion and works as a consultant at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University and the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at UC Berkeley.  

  • {mtx_speakers_name}

    Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D.

    Vicki Zakrzewski (zahk-shef-skee), Ph.D., is the education director of the Greater Good Science Center.

    In her role as education director, Vicki writes a blog that provides science-based ideas for promoting the social and emotional well-being of students, teachers, and administrators, as well as methods for creating positive school cultures. Her work has also appeared in ASCD’s Educational Leadership,Edutopia, and Huffington Post.

    Vicki also gives talks and workshops, and leads the GGSC’s Summer Institute for Educators—an annual multi-day event in which educators from around the world learn how the science of compassion, empathy, gratitude, awe, and other social-emotional skills can enhance their own lives and the lives of their students.

    In addition to her writing and workshops, Vicki consults with organizations on how to incorporate the science of well-being into their work. Recent collaborations include those with the Mind and Life Institute (of which she is a fellow), the Jim Henson Company on a new television show for preschoolers, the International School of Brussels on the Common Ground Collaborative curriculum, and Pixar/Disney on The Emotions Survival Guide—a follow-up book for children based on the movie Inside Out.

    A former teacher and school administrator, Vicki earned her Ph.D. in Education and Positive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. In her doctoral research, Vicki spent two months in India at a school awarded the Peace Education Prize by UNESCO and the Hope of Humanity Award by the Dalai Lama, researching their methods for developing teachers’ ability to create caring relationships with students.

All three of the 2016 Summer Institutes for Educators are full and we are no longer accepting applications for the wait list. Please check again in the fall for the 2017 application.

I live in the Bay Area. Can I commute to the institute and sleep at home?

We understand that many local participants might prefer to sleep at home during the Institute. However, those from nearby communities who attended the Institute in the past stated repeatedly how grateful they were for the opportunity to leave behind the daily stressors of life. Time away from home allowed them to fully engage in the learning community and to reflect more deeply upon the material. Therefore, we are requesting that all participants stay on campus.

Do you offer CEUs for this course?

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer CEUs at this time.

Do I need to bring my own sheets and/or towels?

No, UC Berkeley provides both these items.

Can my spouse/partner stay with me in the dorms?

Yes, for an extra fee. 

Can I arrive a day early or stay a day later?

Yes, for an extra fee.

Will we have free time to explore Berkeley and San Francisco?

Yes, besides the first evening of the institute, you will have all evenings free to explore the Bay Area.

For more information, please email or call 510-642-2451.

2014 SIE participants practice mindful movement that can be used with students in the classroom

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