Centre for Mindful Engagement

Our Approach


The centre embraces and embodies mindful community engagement through valuing the intersections of varied intellectual traditions. Our transformative engaged research explores the critical and creative conditions that foster sustainable well-being for ourselves and others across the life course.


The centre brings together scholars, researchers and practitioners invested in cultivating learning contexts for all to live well in the world with others. Our relational and participatory approach incorporates multiple voices and recognizes diverse forms of knowledges and experiences.


The centre is a gathering place for researchers from across all disciplines and interests to explore the significances of mindful engagement.


The centre aims to envision and articulate the educative significances of mindfulness now and for our future. Guided by the principles of respect, relationality, relevance and reciprocity, our projects promote intergenerational and cross-cultural engagement within and across diverse communities.

Who We Are

Respect for the past, awareness of the present, discernment for the future — the Centre for Mindful Engagement (CME) is a gathering place for researchers from across all disciplines and interests to explore the significances of mindful community engagement.

The CME Advisory Board provides guidance to the centre’s director, supporting, refining and promoting the centre’s mission to foster research into mindful engagement.

Director of the CME

Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, Associate Professor
Okanagan School of Education

Photo credit: Adam Lauzé

Advisory Board Members

  • Dr. Jessica Chan, Assistant Professor, Okanagan School of Education
  • Dr. Sabre Cherkowski, Director of Graduate Programs, Okanagan School of Education
  • Dr. Fabien Fenouillet, Professeur de psychologie positive des apprentissages, Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire en Neurosciences, Physiologie et Psychologie, Université Paris Nanterre
  • Freya Green, Program Coordinator, B.A.R.K. Program

Upcoming CME events

There are no upcoming CME events. Please check back again or follow our Okanagan School of Education Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. 


Past Events

Thursday, Dec. 2  |  8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  | UNC 200
Due to physical distancing measures and current Interior Health event restrictions, this event is open to Okanagan School of Education students, staff and faculty only. 

Now is the time like no other for us to work together to find ways in which to promote the well-being of both educators and students. Recent innovations in social and emotional learning (SEL) in the past decade have seen an abundance of research documenting the critical role that social and emotional competencies, such as self-regulation, empathy, and self-compassion can play in fostering thriving and mitigating mental health problems. This session will focus on the promotion of social and emotional learning (SEL) to transform the lives of students and educators. The session will provide a guide for understanding how systemic approaches to SEL provide a foundation for developing learning contexts that promote the social and emotional competencies of adults and students to support success and well-being. Implementation and strategies that are successfully being used in schools will be shared, including information on how SEL can be promoted in both educators and students.

About the Speaker

Dr. Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl is the NoVo Foundation Endowed Chair in Social and Emotional Learning in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to her graduate work, Dr. Schonert-Reichl worked as middle school teacher and then as a teacher at an alternative high school for adolescents identified as at risk for high school completion. Known as a renowned expert in the area of social and emotional learning (SEL), Dr. Schonert-Reichl’s research focuses on identification of the processes that foster positive human qualities such as empathy, compassion, altruism, and resiliency in children and adolescents. Her projects in this area include studies examining the effectiveness of classroom-based universal SEL programs including such programs as the Roots of Empathy, MindUp, WE Well-being, and the Kindness in the Classroom Curriculum. Over the last decade she has led the development and implementation of the Middle Years Development Instrument, or MDI, a measure that captures children’s voices regarding their social and emotional well-being, physical health, and resiliency inside and outside of school. Dr. Schonert-Reichl has received several awards for her work, including the Janusz Korczak Medal for Children’s Rights Advocacy, and the Joseph E. Zins Distinguished Scholar Award for outstanding research on social and emotional learning (SEL).

This study group aimed to facilitate conversations about Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy. The main goal was to understand Freirian praxis through contemporary issues such as systemic racism, health education, diversity, and many others. This study group was open to UBC students.

On Dec. 3 2020, the Center for Mindful Engagement hosted a book launch for Dr. Virginie Magnat, and an Eminence Cluster of Research Webinar on  Culture, Creativity and Health.

On Feb. 1, 2021, the Centre for Mindful Engagement and Indigenous Education UBC hosted Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba, to speak at a virtual event.

As the information presented in the webinar is in the process of publication, the recording was only provided temporarily. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Research, Collaborations & Partnerships

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Dr. Scott Roy Douglas

Examining the Impact of English for Academic Purposes on the Undergraduate Experiences of Students from Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds

This project seeks to identify the impact of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programs on students’ undergraduate experiences as well as the value of these programs as a pathway to university. Data gathering includes classroom observations, questionnaires, and interviews, with data being compiled into emerging themes. This knowledge is critical to fostering positive student experiences and developing quality EAP programming as an equitable entrance pathway to higher education and a legitimate alternative to standardized English language testing.

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Dr. Stephen Berg

This study is aimed to develop a greater awareness of the impacts that outdoor environments have on the physical activity levels of children in early childhood settings. Providing children with opportunities to develop their skills and be active can help them reach greater levels of physical literacy and obtain higher levels of self-efficacy.

Certificate and Minor in Communications and Rhetoric (CORH)

This project will develop both a Credit Certificate (anticipated launch date: Fall 2021) and a Minor (anticipated launch date: Fall 2023) in Communications and Rhetoric (CORH). These programs will build upon UBC Okanagan’s interdisciplinary expertise to offer unique learning pathways that will help students develop the academic, professional and cross-cultural communication skills crucial to active citizenship in our increasingly interconnected world.

The 15-credit CORH Certificate structure contains four thematic interdisciplinary clusters, with the learning outcomes for each cluster of courses focusing on a specific conceptual aspect of communications, and a final capstone project. The tentative titles for the thematic clusters are: The Self, The Individual and Others, The Community, and The Media.

Learn more

Funding for this certificate was made possible by Aspire 2010 Learning Transformations (ALT) Funding 2020

Community-Led Action for Resiliency Important Throughout Youth (CLARITY)

Co-leads, Dr. Sana Shahram, School of Nursing & Dr. Karen Ragoonaden, School of Education

Suicide is the second-most common cause of death among young people. Over 40% of youth who die by suicide showed no previous warning signs. In an effort to prevent suicide risk before it arises, the CLARITY Project aims to promote community-based initiatives and actions to support resiliency among all youth in our communities. This work includes heightening awareness among parents, teachers, doctors and community members about suicide risk. Importantly, we hope to clarify the ways in which everyone involved in caring for our younger generation can help foster resilience in our youth to actively protect against that risk.

This research is supported by the MMRI Institute at UBCO.

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Dr. John Tyler Binfet

Building upon a successful study of kindness (which surveyed 1,753 students in Grades 4 to 8 from School District 23 in the Okanagan), Binfet’s is investigating primary students’ perceptions of kindness. Working in collaboration with graduate student Amy Gaertner, this innovative research has students draw what kindness looks like to them and sketch an act of kindness they have done recently at school.”

Learn More

This research is funded by the University of British Columbia Eminence Fund and the University of Exeter Wellcome Center for Cultures and Environments of Health.

Exploring synergies between cultural, creative, and mindfulness practices that have the potential to foster and sustain health and well-being. This cluster draws on the collective expertise of researchers from Canada, the U.K., and France to co-develop an arts-based community-engaged research model combining cultural, creative, and mindfulness practices and integrating the perspectives of Indigenous scholars and artists to explore the cultural, spiritual, and environmental dimensions of health and well-being.


Cluster Leads

Virginie Magnat, UBC, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (Performance and Voice Studies, Arts-based Inquiry)

Karen Ragoonaden, UBC Okanagan School of Education (Mindfulness and Well-Being, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy)


Canadian Research Team

Tania Willard, UBC Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (Indigenous Art, Multidisciplinary Artistic Practices, Land-Based Community Engagement)

Sarah Dow-Fleisner, UBC, Faculty of Health and Social Development (Social Work and Health and Wellbeing, Intervention and Prevention in High-Risk Contexts)

Evan Adams, UBC Faculty of Medicine and First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Chief Medical Officer (Indigenous Health, Cultural Safety, Holistic Approaches to Wellness)

Rena Sharon, UBC School of Music (Arts-Based Inquiry, Music and Health, Music and Science)

Vicki Kelly, SFU Indigenous Education (Arts-Based Inquiry, Indigenous Cultural Revitalization, Ecological Education)

University of Exeter Partners

Konstantinos Thomaidis, Performance and InterdisciplinaryVoice Studies

Ann Grand, Open Science and Public Engagement

Bryony Onciul, Public and Indigenous History, Community Engagement, Truth and Reconciliation, Understanding Place and Environment


Université Grenoble Alpes Partner

Gretchen Schiller, Arts de la Scène (Dance Studies Scholar-Practitioner)

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor  Dr. Sabre Cherkowski

This three-year, SSHRC-funded research project explores organizational well-being in schools across British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Researchers aim to understand how it is that some K-12 school communities thrive, and to use what they learn to contribute to increasing flourishing in all schools, especially those on the margins and those who have not yet reached their full potential.

Learn more


Research Cluster in Culture, Creativity, Health and Well-being

This research cluster team is exploring synergies between cultural, creative and mindfulness practices that have the potential to foster and sustain health and well-being.

This cluster draws on the collective expertise of researchers from Canada, the U.K. and France to co-develop an arts-based community-engaged research model. The cluster combines cultural, creative and mindfulness practices and integrates the perspectives of Indigenous scholars and artists to explore the cultural, spiritual and environmental dimensions of health and well-being.

Learn more

Learning Garden Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Dr. Robert Campbell

Built in 2006, the Learning Garden at UBC Okanagan is primarily an experiential teaching and learning tool for potential teacher candidates to develop the practices of environmental education. The garden is dedicated to promoting the principles of sustainable environmental practice, authentic and responsible stewardship of nature, interdisciplinary learning and ecoliterate knowledge, across campus.

Learn more

Principal Investigator: Professor of Teaching, Dr. Karen Ragoonaden
Co-Investigator: Professor of Teaching Dr. Margaret Macintyre Latta

Shared Narratives about Well-Being

This study aims to examine the similarities between Mindfulness and Indigenous knowledge. An ancillary aim is to examine how integrating mindful practices into university courses, whose focus is on Indigenous knowledge, impact on identity and on the wholistic well-being of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal student populations.

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Principal Investigator: Associate Professor, Dr. John-Tyler Binfet

This Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council 2021-2022 Partnership Engage Grant provides support to work with School District 23 (SD 23) collaborators and senior administrators in SD 23 Sherri McKinnon and Alan Lalonde. The aim of this CME-aligned project is to explore perceptions of social and emotional learning and its instruction in elementary schools.

Principal investigator: Associate Professor Dr. John-Tyler Binfet
Co-Investigator: Dr. Christine Tardif-Williams from the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University

This Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant funded study will explore how to support student stress-reduction by creating “virtual canine comfort modules.” Research findings attest to the efficacy of in-person canine-assisted interventions to reduce student stress and foster well-being and this SSHRC-funded project allows Drs. Binfet and Tardif-Williams to adapt this intervention to a virtual context to support remote learners. This research holds the potential to support geographically isolated learners who would not otherwise have access to the support offered by interactions with therapy dogs. This research is nested within the Okanagan School of Education’s Building Academic Retention through K9s (bark.ok.ubc.ca) program.

Interested in Smart Resiliency And Mindfulness Training (SMART) for Educators?
Learn more

Get Involved

Faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and community members are invited to become affiliates of the centre. If you are interested in contributing to the centre’s mission and enabling its growth, please contact us.

The Centre for Mindful Engagement, Okanagan School of Education
1137 Alumni Ave.
UBC Okanagan
Kelowna, BC Canada V1V1V7