Kim Schonert-Reichl to present 2018 Compassion Lecture

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An international expert in programs and practices that foster children’s positive qualities, Kim Schonert-Reichl, will present the 2018 Lecture on Compassion. Schonert-Reichl, director of the Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia, will talk about the “School-Based Promotion of Children’s Empathy, Kindness, and Altruism,” at 4 p.m. on April 19 in Room 22 of the Biobehavioral Health Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Schonert-Reichl’s research focuses on identification of the processes and mechanisms that foster positive human qualities such as empathy, compassion, altruism and resiliency in children and adolescents. Her projects include studies examining the effectiveness of classroom-based universal social-emotional learning (SEL) programs, including such programs as the Roots of Empathy, MindUp, and the Kindness in the Classroom Curriculum. Schonert-Reichl is also conducting interdisciplinary research in collaboration with neuroscientists, psychobiologists and molecular geneticists to examine the ways in which school-based preventative SEL interventions “get under the skin” and result in changes in self-regulation and biological processes among children in typical classroom settings.

She has led the development of the implementation of the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), a child self-report population measure of 4th- and 7th-grade children’s social, emotional and physical well-being and developmental assets inside and outside of school. To date, almost 90,000 children have completed the MDI in British Columbia. The MDI is also being implemented in Australia, Germany, the U.K. and Croatia, and work is currently underway for MDI implementation in the U.S. and across Canada.

“Penn State has long been a leader in research on children’s social-emotional development and the promotion of compassion and well-being in the classroom,” Schonert-Reichl said. “I look forward to sharing insights into my own work with the Penn State community, and hearing about ongoing and planned work in these areas.”

In her presentation, Schonert-Reichl will offer a brief review of ground-breaking research that demonstrates the importance of promoting students’ social and emotional competence in schools and describe how recent innovations in SEL can inform these efforts. She will describe some of the current SEL initiatives in Canada and the U.S., and highlight her own recent evaluations of universal school-based social and emotional competence promotion programs developed from research and theory in the fields of mindful attention awareness, SEL and positive psychology. The explicit and intentional promotion of students’ social and emotional competence in school is necessary for the future of education. 

“Children, adolescents, families, teachers and schools have all benefited from Kim’s work, which is influencing the future direction of research on children and social-emotional learning, and the creation and implementation of educational interventions focused on mindfulness and compassion for the classroom,” said Robert W. Roeser, Bennett Pierce Professor in Caring and Compassion.

The Lectureship on Compassion is an annual event developed and funded by Mark Greenberg, holder of the Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research, and his wife, Christa Turksma, a curriculum developer and teacher of mindfulness skills. The forum is intended to showcase the findings and perspectives of outstanding researchers and practitioners in the areas of awareness, compassion and empathy.

Schonert-Reichl received her doctorate from the University of Iowa in educational psychology. She has published hundreds of articles, books, special journals, chapters and reviews, and is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute and a Fellow of the Botin Foundation’s Platform for Innovation in Education. In 2009, Schonert-Reichl received the Confederation of University Faculty Associations BC (CUFA BC) Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award. As the association’s highest honor, the award recognizes an individual for sustained outstanding contributions to the community beyond the academy through research or other scholarly activities over the major portion of his or her career. She is also the recipient of the 2007 UBC Killam Teaching Prize in recognition of excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching, and the 2004 Vancouver School Board Recognition Award for her work promoting social responsibility in students.

In addition to the Lecture on Compassion, on Wednesday, April 18, Schonert-Reichl will give a presentation on “A New Kind of Fitness: Strengthening Social and Emotional Competence and Well-being of Children through Social and Emotional Learning,” at 4:15 p.m. in 127 Moore Building. This talk is being co-sponsored with the Child Study Center in the College of the Liberal Arts.

The College of Health and Human Development and the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center are hosts for the annual event. For more information on the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, visit prevention.psu.edu.

Last Updated March 07, 2018