Centre for Mindful Engagement
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
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, Okanagan School of Education
- Dr. Christine Tardif-Williams, Associate Professor, Department of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University
Upcoming CME events
The Okanagan School of Education is pleased to welcome Dr. Margaret Kovach, Professor, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education, UBC to the Okanagan campus on Thursday, February 17.
Dr. Margaret Kovach will be discussing her latest book Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts (2nd edition). Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in an informal discussion with Dr. Kovach.
Thursday, February 17, 2022 | 4 to 5:30 p.m. PST
Everyone is welcome to register to attend to watch the event online.
In-person option is available for Okanagan School of Education graduate students, faculty and staff. A limited number of seats will be available to attend the event in-person and dinner will be provided. In-person attendees must register by February 13, 2022.
A New Kind of Fitness: Promoting the Resilience and Well-being of Teachers and Students Through Social and Emotional Learning - Recent Research and Practical Strategies
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.
An Investigation into the Physical Activity Levels of Children in Outdoor Early Childhood Environments
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Small Secondary School Think Tank
The Small Secondary School Think Tank was created in 2013 as a result of the Rural Education Advisory expressing a need for an annual event where educators from across the province could come together in an effort to share ideas and collaborate on the unique challenges faced by small schools in British Columbia.
The Think Tank, hosted by the Okanagan School of Education, takes place in the Innovative Learning Centre (ILC) Learning Lab, located in the Engineering, Management and Education (EME 1123) Building on UBC’s Okanagan campus annually.
Each year one case study school is chosen. During the two-day think tank, educators discuss the case school and the unique challenges faced by the school community. Educators also participate in a Design Challenge. This is a process where educators creatively identify problems, and then solutions, using design thinking, a philosophy supported by the ILC.
For more information, please contact Leyton Schnellert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review the most recent case studies below.
Mount Sentinel Secondary is a Grade 7 to 12 school located in the community of South Slocan, British Columbia, on the traditional territory of the Sinixt, Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, and Syilx Peoples. With an enrolment of 280 students, the catchment area of this small school extends for 65 kilometers along Highway 6 from South Slocan, north, to the village of Slocan. Mt. Sentinel is considered the graduating school for students who may transition from one of three schools in the Slocan Valley, including Brent Kennedy Elementary, Winlaw Elementary or W.E. Graham Community School. The majority of our learners transition from elementary school in Grade 6 to start high school in Grade 7. The Grade 7 and 8 program has not historically provided a transition program between elementary and secondary schooling. Our middle year students are learning in a high school context; they follow a secondary student schedule and are fully immersed in a high school experience. No ﬂexible learning spaces or playgrounds are currently present at the school. The question and now curiosity has been raised: are Grade 7 and 8 students entering this rigorous timetable too soon?
Located on the traditional territory of the St’at’imc peoples and Lillooet Secondary School serves the communities of Zwisten, Sekw’el’was, Xaxli’p, Ts’kw’aylaxw, Tsal’ath, T’it’q’et and Lillooet.
There are 210 students between Grades 8 and 12, with 67 per cent declaring Indigenous ancestry.
A 2016 survey of Indigenous learners showed:
- Lack of connection to adults in school
- Lack of belonging in the school of community
- Experiencing racism
- Feelings that racism was going unaddressed by staff
- Feelings of inequity in the way the school served students
From there the school embarked on an action plan for learning to creative a culturally safe space for all learners.
Pemberton Secondary School (PSS) is located in Pemberton BC. The total population is approximately 5,000, which includes the town of Pemberton, the rural outlying areas, and Mt Currie. Pemberton is located 30 minutes north of Whistler, BC.
Pemberton Secondary School is a diverse and unique school comprised of 40 per cent Aboriginal students (non-status First Nations, Metis and Stl’atl’imx Nation – N’Quatqua, Lil’wat, Samahquam, Skatin, and Xa’xtsa7 Bands). It has an active student population, students with diverse artistic interests, a growing international program, children of long-time Pemberton residents, and students that are new to the area. Specialized programs currently offered at PSS are:
- Outdoor Education Program for Grade 10
- Ski, Snowboard & Bike Academy (SBBA) for Grades 11 and 12
- French immersion Grades 8 – 12
- Ucwalmicwts Language Program
Watch the Small School Think Tank Video
Osoyoos Secondary School is a rural high school in the South Okanagan Similkameen School District #53. The population is approximately 200 students, Grades 8 – 12. Approximately 20 per cent of the population is of Indo-Canadian ancestry and 10 per cent is of First Nations ancestory, with all of their First Nations students coming from homes that are off reserve.
Osoyoos Secondary has a very positive school culture characterized by strong relationships between teachers and parents support and has strong connections to the community. A significant number of O.S.S. graduates return to Osoyoos to live, work, raise families, and send their children to school in here.
Declining enrolment made it challenging for the school to offer a strong complement of elective courses to students. Over time, students in the Grad Programs had fewer options to choose from and thus had little ability to create a Grade 10 – 12 graduation plan that was personalized to their needs and goals. At the end of the 2014/15 school year staff agreed to enter into a process of exploration and research in order to find ways to increase choice for students.
By 2016/17, staff, parents, and students moved that Osoyoos Secondary adopt a Flexible Schedule learning model.
Desert Sands Community School (DSCS) is in its first year as a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in Ashcraft, BC, a rural community in the heart of the Gold Trail School District #74.
In 2016, students and staff from Ashcroft Secondary School joined forces with those from Ashcroft Elementary School to create a new learning community for 265 students, as well as to share space with the children who attend Strong Start and Early learning programs.
Watch the Small School Think Tank Video
Eagle River Secondary’s (ERS) educational team (a full-time principal and 12 teachers) identifies as being agents of change. Over the past three years, the team has designed and developed a long-term organizational structure of curricular reinvention to address low enrolment, Cross Curricular Competencies, 21st Century learning skills, and BC’s new curriculum with topic-based inquiry options reflecting the current students’ needs. Current team members demonstrate:
1. a willingness to work towards a common goal that is beneficial for students and
2. to think ‘outside the box’ when addressing issues.
Often considered to be “movers and shakers”, ERS has attracted a high percentage of teachers who have more than eight years in the K-12 system and are looking for new opportunities to enrich their previous teaching and learning experiences. Currently, many staff members have obtained, or are in the process of obtaining, graduate certificates and degrees. Within this environment of learning professionalism and willingness to engage in new practices, the team feels the excitement of things to
come. One common professional development requirement the team has identified is the need to deeply understand inquiry-based teaching and learning. Given a choice, these dedicated individuals would choose to stay at ERS; however, given declining enrolment numbers this choice may not be possible.
School district 10 includes six schools (five neighbourhood schools and one distance learning school). They are dispersed across hundreds of km of mountains and lake. While their geography is an asset for environmental learning, there is a significant challenge for district coherence, transportation and travel.
While the district remains under funding protection, they struggle to continue to provide high quality learning while faced with ever decreasing enrollment, more and more complex class configurations and shrinking staff.
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.
Kelowna, BC Canada V1V1V7