Free Public Lectures

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Dr. Rick Hanson
7:00 - 8:30 pm
Kane Hall 130

We grow happiness, compassion, resilience, and other inner strengths in ourselves and our children by turning passing experiences of them into lasting changes in the brain. Unfortunately, most beneficial experiences wash through us like water through a sieve, while stressful, painful experiences “stick" due to the brain’s negativity bias. Mindfulness of passing mental states is not enough: this talk will explore how to deepen an embodied intimacy with beneficial experiences - without clinging to them - to increase their encoding in neural networks. Then daily life at home, at school, and in clinical settings is full of opportunities for lasting healing, growth, and transformation.

Dr. Hanson will be signing books after the lecture. You can purchase Hardwiring Happiness;  Buddha’s Brain; Just One Thing from the University Bookstore table before and after the lecture. 

About the Presenter

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness (in 14 languages), Buddha’s Brain (in 25 languages), Just One Thing (in 14 languages), and Mother Nurture. He edits the Wise Brain Bulletin and has several audio programs. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on BBC, CBS, and NPR, and he offers the free Just One Thing newsletter with over 110,000 subscribers, plus the online Foundations of Well-Being program in positive neuroplasticity. (

Help Support Center for Child & Family Well-Being!

There is no cost for registration for this event. However, your donation ($20 suggested) will allow CCFW to continue to offer these valuable events as an accessible resource to the community. To help support us, you may donate anytime through the University of Washington Giving Page at

Thank you to our generous sponsors!


Monday, December 7, 2015
Philip Zelazo, Ph.D.
7:00 - 8:30 pm
Kane Hall 120

Registration is FULL. You are welcome to come to Kane Hall the evening of the lecture, as there is a chance we may have some open seats. Doors will open at 6:30pm and non-ticket holders will be allowed to occupy any remaining seats at 6:55pm.

Click here for a summary for this lecture

Abstract: The deliberate control of thought, action, and emotion depends importantly on a set of attentional skills called executive function (EF) skills. EF skills support school readiness, academic success, socioemotional competence, physical and mental health, and other desirable developmental outcomes. This lecture discusses EF, its development in childhood, and effective ways to support this development. One example is mindfulness training—using age-appropriate activities to exercise children’s reflection on their moment-to-moment experiences. Mindfulness training may support the development of self-regulation by targeting top-down processes while modifying bottom-up influences (such as anxiety, stress, curiosity) to create conditions conducive to reflection.

Philip David Zelazo is currently the Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota. Professor Zelazo’s research has helped shape current scientific understanding of executive function and its development, including the key roles of reflection, rule use, hierarchical complexity, mindfulness, and emotion (hot versus cool EF). This work has led to the design of widely used standardized measures of EF skills and to the creation of effective interventions for promoting the healthy development of EF in early childhood. Professor Zelazo’s research has been honored by numerous awards, including a Boyd McCandless Young Scientist Award from the American Psychological Association (APA), and a Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award. He is editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Developmental Psychology (2013), and the lead developer of the executive function measures for the NIH Toolbox.

Thank you to the generous sponsors of this event!


Friday, December 5, 2014
Kimberly Schonert-Riechl, Ph.D.
Kane Hall 220

Registration required (closes 12/5/14). Please register here.

Read summary

Understanding the factors that children and youth need to be successful in school and in life has long been an important objective for researchers, parents, and educators interested in the promotion of competence and the prevention of educational, psychological, and behavioural problems. Informed, in part, from recent research in the area of cognitive developmental neuroscience, the past decade has seen an abundance of research documenting the critical role that self-regulation, emotions, and social processes, such as social and emotional understanding and empathy, play in children’s successful development. This presentation will begin with a brief review of ground breaking research that has emerged that demonstrates the importance of promoting children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools and describe how recent innovations in developmental neuroscience can inform these efforts.

Dr. Schonert-Reichl will describe some of the SEL initiatives in Canada and the US that are taking place, and highlight her own recent research evaluating a universal school-based social and emotional competence promotion program – MindUP – a program developed from research and theory in the fields of developmental neuroscience, mindful attention awareness, SEL, and positive psychology.  A discussion of both processes and mechanisms that underlie children’s social and emotional development in schools and practical implications for the promotion of children’s self-regulation, empathy, compassion, and kindness will be discussed.

Dr. Schonert-Reichl is an Applied Developmental Psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia. She began her professional career first as a middle school teacher and then as a high school teacher for youth “at risk.” For over 20 years she has been conducting research in the area of child and adolescent social and emotional learning (SEL) and development with a particular emphasis on identifying the processes and mechanisms that foster positive development, such as empathy, optimism, and altruism.


Many thanks to the generous sponsors of this lecture!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012
James Doty, M.D.
3:30 - 4:30p
UW Tower Auditorium

James Doty, M.D. Director and Founder of Project Compassion, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Stuart Shanker, Ph.D.

Stuart Shanker, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Philosophy, York University, Toronto

Friday, March 1, 2013
Dr. Dan Siegel
7:00 - 8:30 pm
UW Kane Hall

Read a summary of this lecture

In this seminar, an exciting new approach to raising children will be explored through engaging discussions, case examples, and experiential immersions. Parents, grandparents, teachers, child development professionals and others who help children grow will find this learning experience filled with scientifically based ideas and practical skills that can promote well-being in children’s lives. By offering a definition of an important aspect of the mind and a core mechanism of mental health, the whole-brain child approach offers care providers the cutting edge art and science of child development. 

How we focus our attention shapes the connections in the brain. And how the brain’s connections link to one another in an integrated way directly shapes how it functions in health. An integrated brain creates a flexible, flourishing mind and compassionate and rewarding relationships. By inspiring children to focus their attention in ways that are accessible and easy to teach, parents and educators can provide the kind of guidance that will promote the growth of neural integration at the heart of health. Even moments of despair and discouragement can be transformed into opportunities to deepen relationships and promote integration. Beyond merely tools of survival, this approach empowers us to enjoy the journey of caregiving as we transform challenge into integrative learning. Come join us and explore the exciting world of whole-brain parenting! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D.
7:00 - 8:30 pm
UW Kane Hall 130

Registration is required. Please register here.

Read summary

Individual differences in emotional reactivity and emotion regulation are pronounced and they account for substantial variation in developmental outcome and in predicting vulnerability and resilience in the face of challenge.  The neural substrates and biobehavioral correlates of such developmental individual differences will be described.  This work will form the backdrop for a consideration of how these emotional styles might be shaped through training.  Recent initiatives that are focused on training mindfulness and kindness in children and adolescents will be described and early evidence on the impact of such training on behavior and brain function will be presented.  The talk will underscore the need for a serious national research effort that is focused on cultivating social and emotional skills in children to foster the development of healthy minds.

Richard Davidson is a pioneer in neuroscience in the arena of emotion and neuroplasticity. He is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, and Founder and Chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984. He has published more than 275 articles, many chapters and reviews and edited 13 books. He has been a member of the Mind and Life Institute’s Board of Directors since 1991. He is also the author of the recently published book (with Sharon Begley) The Emotional Life of Your Brain published by Penguin Press 2012. He can be found online at

Many thanks to the sponsors of this lecture:

Friday, December 6, 2013
Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
7:00 - 8:30 pm
UW Kane Hall 220

For many years self-esteem was seen to be the key to psychological health. more recently, however, researchers have identified several downsides to the pursuit of self-esteem such as narcissism, ego-defensiveness, social comparisons, and the contingency and instability of self-worth. Research suggests that self-compassion is a healthier way of relating to oneself, offering the benefits of self-esteem without its downsides. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves kindly, like we would a close friend we cared about. This talk will present theory and research on selfcompassion, which a burgeoning empirical literature has shown to be powerfully associated with psychological wellbeing. it will distinguish self-compassion from self-esteem, self-pity, and self-indulgence, and also discuss research indicating that self-compassion is a more powerful and effective motivational tool than self-criticism. Findings will be presented from the mindful Self-Compassion program, an eightweek course developed in conjunction with Chris Germer that is designed to teach self-compassion skills.

Dr. Kristin neff is an Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin. She conducts research on self-compassion – a central construct in Buddhist psychology and one that had not yet been examined empirically. in addition to her pioneering research into self-compassion, she has developed an 8-week program to teach self-compassion skills. The program, co-created with her colleague Chris Germer at Harvard University, is called mindful Self-Compassion. Her book titled “SelfCompassion” was published by William morrow in April, 2011. Kristin was recently featured in the best-selling book and award-winning documentary called The Horse Boy – - which chronicles her family’s adventure with autism.

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