The Science of a Meaningful Life: Seeds of Compassion, Roots of Empathy

A day-long seminar, featuring Dacher Keltner and Mary Gordon, offering strategies to cultivate compassion, empathy, and resilience in yourself, others, and children.

This day-long seminar will offer strategies for cultivating compassion, empathy, and resilience in yourself and others, especially children.

It will be led by Dacher Keltner, a renowned professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and the GGSC’s faculty director.

Drawing on cutting-edge research from psychology and neuroscience, Dr. Keltner will highlight the strong connections between happiness, compassion, and altruism, identifying the health and social benefits that come from practicing gratitude, kindness, and other positive behaviors.

Building on this science, Dr. Keltner will present research-based tips for fostering empathy, compassion, and other positive skills in yourself, in children, and in colleagues and clients.

He will also shed light on those who have trouble forming compassionate relationships, such as those who suffer from social disorders like autism.

The seminar will also feature a presentation by Mary Gordon, the internationally recognized founder of the trailblazing Roots of Empathy program.

The Roots of Empathy curriculum centers on regular classroom visits by an infant and parent—a way of teaching children how to identify and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings, and to develop empathy for others.

Ms. Gordon will discuss why developing empathy among children and adults is essential to caring, peaceful societies, and she’ll explain how her work has dramatically increased positive behaviors and decreased aggression in hundreds of thousands of children.

Workshop Topics

  • People are wired to form deep social connections, to cooperate, and to feel compassion
  • There are practical steps one can take to cultivate compassion, empathy, trust, and other qualities of social-emotional well-being in themselves and others
  • One’s own emotional well-being can foster social well-being in their relationships, families, workplaces, communities, and the world at large
  • Practicing pro-social behaviors—such as compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude—brings measurable psychological and physiological benefits to oneself
  • Empathy and compassion are skills that can be taught to children from a young age
  • By imbuing children with empathy, we give them the ability to resolve conflicts creatively and constructively, and to be more mindful of their emotions

(All sections led by Dacher Keltner unless otherwise noted)

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.—Registration and check in
9:00-10:30—The evolution and neuroscience of social well-being
10:45-12:00—Compassion, empathy, and gratitude as paths to social well-being and the meaningful life
12:00-1:00—Lunch (on your own)
1:00-2:30—Mary Gordon on the roots of empathy      
2:45-3:30—Breakdowns in social and emotional well-being: autism, depression, antisocial disorder
3:45 to 4:45—Practical steps toward cultivating happiness and compassion in yourself and others

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the connections between compassion and happiness
  • Design effective ways to handle stress and maintain a more resilient, compassionate approach toward other people
  • Diagnose the root causes of anti-social behavior, such as aggression and autism
  • Utilize research-based practices to boost happiness in themselves and others
  • Teach children skills for developing compassion and empathy

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.

Continuing Education

Course approval for Psychologists, Social Workers, Therapists, Counselors and Nurses

This seminar is approved for 6 CE hours. 

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

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) 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. This course provides 6 CE hours.

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.

Chemical Dependency Counselors Provider approved by CAADAC, Provider #4N-00-434-0210 for (6) CEHs.

Occupational Therapists: Occupational therapists will receive a certificate of attendance for 6 CE hours.
Nurses - CA: Provider approved by the CA Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CEP12224, for (6) contact hours.