Speaking

Speakers from the Greater Good Science Center are available to give talks and lead interactive workshops at schools, corporations, health care facilities, professional conferences, and other organizations and events. When possible, we work with the organizer to customize the presentation to the unique characteristics of the event. Speakers’ fees start at $500 for a one-hour talk and increase based on the type of presentation, customization, and travel required.

To find out how to bring the Greater Good Science to your organization, please call 510-642-2492 or email us. For information on talks at schools, visit our education program.

Here are the GGSC’s featured speakers:

Amie Gordon

Amie Gordon, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Health and Community, UCSF

Why aren’t we nicer to the people close to us, and what can we do about that? Dr. Gordon studies the unique roles that prosocial emotions, cognitions, and behaviors (e.g., gratitude, perspective-taking, responsiveness to a partner’s needs) play in promoting healthy relationships, as well as the psychological, physiological, and biological factors that undermine such qualities. Dr. Gordon also examines sleep and seeks to identify the ways in which lack of sleep hurts our social world, such as by making us less grateful.

Dr. Gordon has worked closely with the Greater Good Science Center as both a graduate student and postdoctoral scholar; she was one of three postdocs supported by the GGSC’s Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project. She writes frequently for Greater Good and has published over a dozen research articles focused on topics such as perspective-taking, gratitude, conflict, sacrifice, depression, and sleep. In addition to award-winning university teaching, Dr. Gordon has given talks to a variety of audiences, including hospital staff, educators, and therapists, and researchers. She earned her doctorate in Social-Personality Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

The talks she can deliver include:

1. Awe and Gratitude: For Health, Well-Being & Relationships

    Positive emotions are critical for our health and well-being. In this talk, Dr. Gordon discusses the science of positive emotions, focusing on the benefits of awe and gratitude for health, well-being and relationships. As part of this talk, she provides practical, evidence-based tips for easily cultivating more awe and gratitude in daily life.

    Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Health care, workplace, general interest, wellness, faith-based organizations

2. The Dos and Dont’s of Gratitude

    The science of gratitude robustly shows that gratitude is good for your health, well-being, and social relationships. But how do you effectively cultivate gratitude into your everyday life? In this talk, Dr. Gordon will provide a summary of the research on gratitude after which she will focus on the practicalities of how best to cultivate more gratitude in everyday life. Not every gratitude practice will work for everyone, and simply being told to “be more grateful” may not work for many people. Here, Dr. Gordon goes over why gratitude is good along with the do’s and don’ts of practicing gratitude so that everyone in the audience will leave with the tools they need to cultivate more gratitude in their daily lives.

    Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Health care, workplace, general interest, wellness, faith-based organizations

3. The Science of Happy, Healthy Relationships

    Healthy relationships bring joy, support and security to our lives, making people happier and healthier physically and mentally. Unhealthy relationships can cause stress, loneliness and pain and wreak havoc on our health and well-being. But even the happiest, healthiest relationships hit ruts sometimes. In this talk, Dr. Gordon brings together the best of the relationships research to highlight key factors that help people maintain healthy, happy relationships. Longer versions of this talk will include practicing 3-5 exercises for boosting relationship quality that can easily be implemented into everyday life.

    Duration: One hour to one day (up to 8 hours)

    Target audiences: General interest, health care, workplace, wellness, faith-based organizations



Emiliana Simon-Thomas

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D.

Science Director, Greater Good Science Center

Dr. Simon-Thomas is the science director of the Greater Good Science Center, where she oversees its Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project, which has been supporting and disseminating cutting-edge research on gratitude. She is also a co-instructor of the GGSC’s Science of Happiness online course, which has enrolled more than 450,000 students and has measurably increased students’ levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

In addition to studying the neuroscience of well-being, Dr. Simon-Thomas is also a skilled teacher, lecturing frequently on topics such as gratitude, compassion, happiness, and mindfulness. Her talks zero in on the keys—and benefits—of social connection and caregiving, making science feel engaging and personal. Dr. Simon-Thomas earned her doctorate in cognition, brain, and behavior at UC Berkeley.

The talks she can deliver include:

1. The Science of Gratitude

    Scientists have tied gratitude to greater health and happiness, as well as more depth and joy in social relationships at home, work, and in communities. From an evolutionary perspective, gratitude is considered formative to the prosocial interactions that are instrumental to humans’ welfare and survival. In this presentation, Dr. Simon-Thomas will offer the scientific perspective on gratitude: how it’s defined, studied, and strengthened, as well as ways that these findings can be translated into real-life techniques for fostering gratitude.

    Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Workplace, health care, general interest, wellness, faith-based organizations

2. The Science of a Meaningful Life

    In this talk, Dr. Simon-Thomas gives an introduction to eight keys to a meaningful life: optimism, mindfulness, connection, gratitude, compassion, kindness, play, and awe. The talk goes on to cover some important scientific concepts that help to explain why these factors are so important to the meaningful life, including “the prosocial nervous system,” how we form connections and spread goodness via touch, and how kindness boosts happiness.

    Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Workplace, health care, general interest, wellness, faith-based organizations

3. Overcoming “Compassion Fatigue”

    How are compassion and empathy different, and why should “compassion fatigue” really be called “empathy fatigue”? What are the components of burnout? Dr. Simon-Thomas presents a “geography of compassion,” including its triggers, origins, and benefits for happiness and activation of neural “reward circuitry.” Finally, she will share the benefits of compassion, as well as practical tips for burnout “antidotes.”

    Duration: One hour

    
Target audiences: Health care, caregivers

4. Kind Brains Learn Better: A Science-Based Case for Promoting Kindness in the Classroom

    In this talk, Dr. Simon-Thomas explains why altruism and social connection help support learning in the classroom. She explains the importance of kindness and connection from an evolutionary perspective, identifying brain areas associated with caregiving and compassion, presenting social neuroscience and other research demonstrating the benefits of kindness, and explaining research on the benefits of social connection for well-being.

    Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Parents, teachers, mentors, therapists, and others who work with children and youth

5. The Compassionate Brain

    In this talk, Dr. Simon-Thomas defines what compassion is—and isn’t—and presents the brain circuitry involved in compassion. She discusses research related to emotion regulation, self-efficacy/optimism, and affiliation/care/nurturance, and concludes with research demonstrating the benefits of compassion.

    
Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Workplace, health care, general interest, wellness, faith-based organizations

6. Workshop: Getting More Gratitude into Your Organization

    Scientists have tied gratitude to greater health and happiness, as well as to more depth and joy in social relationships at home, work, and in communities. In this workshop, Dr. Simon-Thomas will present the state of the field of gratitude research, with a particular emphasis on the benefits of gratitude and approaches to fostering it. Participants will engage in three to four gratitude exercises, both individually and in small groups. They will also explore ways to tailor known gratitude-enhancing activities to the organizational context, or generate entirely novel approaches. The workshop will close with a practical, strategic session dedicated to implementation and measuring the impact of fostering gratitude within an organization.

    Duration: Half day (4 hours)

    Target audiences: Workplace, health care



Jeremy Adam Smith

Jeremy Adam Smith

Editor, Greater Good

Mr. Smith edits the GGSC’s online magazine, Greater Good, and helps launch new GGSC products like Thnx4.org and Greater Good in Action. He is the author or co-editor of four books: The Daddy Shift, Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood, Are We Born Racist?, and The Compassionate Instinct.

Jeremy’s coverage of racial and economic segregation in San Francisco schools has won numerous honors, most recently the 2014 Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting and John Swett Award from the California Teachers Association, and his articles and essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Utne Reader, The Nation, Mindful, Shambhala Sun, Wired, and many other periodicals, websites, and books. Jeremy has also been interviewed by The Today Show, the New York Times, USA Today, Salon.com, and numerous NPR shows about parenting and education. Before joining the GGSC, Jeremy was a 2010-11 John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University.

The talks he can deliver include:

1. Positive Thinking for Cranks and Pessimists

    Sick of people telling you to be happy? Does compulsory optimism make you want to scream? If so, Jeremy Adam Smith is on your wavelength. But as a writer and editor for UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, he also knows about a lot of research that can improve your life, if you’re willing to give positive thinking a chance. He’ll explain the science of happiness—minus all the happy talk. 

    Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Workplace, general interest

2. Happiness at Work

    Presents five tips to reduce stress, with accompanying interactive exercises. The tips address the benefits of volunteering, forgiveness and lovingkindness, mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude.

    Duration: One hour

    Target audiences: Health care, workplace, general interest



Vicki Zakrzewski

Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D.

Education Director, Greater Good Science Center

Dr. Zakrzewski is the education director of the Greater Good Science Center. Her articles, talks, and workshops provide 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. A former teacher and school administrator, Dr. Zakrzewski earned her Ph.D. in Education and Positive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.

The talks she can deliver include:

1. Helping Your Child Build a Happy and Meaningful Life

    Students today struggle with perfectionism, low resilience, and trauma. In this talk, Dr. Zakrzewski dives into the science of a meaningful life for kids, including practices to help kids foster hope, self-compassion, mindfulness, and gratitude.

    Duration: 90 minutes

    Target audiences: Parents, teachers, school administrators, and anyone who works with children or youth

Visit the GGSC’s eduction program to learn more about Dr. Zakrzewski’s talks and workshops.