CGD Mindfulness Seminar - Professor David Forbes, City University of New York (CUNY)

CGD Mindfulness Seminar - Professor David Forbes, City University of New York (CUNY)

This is a past event

Critical Social Mindfulness: Foundations and Emergent Practices for a New Mindful Deal

Progressive social critics call out certain mindfulness practices as McMindfulness—the unmindful focus on individualistic stress reduction, self-regulation, and personal wellness that ignores neoliberal and racist social contexts, and the root sources of the stress, unhappiness, and lack of well-being people experience. These practices unwittingly reinforce a self-centred neoliberal society that regards people as privatized, competitive selves who feel compelled to meet their needs through the market and constantly improve their personal brand, instead of social beings.

This seminar will look at some conventional mindfulness practices in K-12 schools that risk adjusting students to social inequities, rather than working collaboratively to identify, resist, challenge, and transform them. It will explore whether the purpose of mindfulness to adjust people to “the way things are” in society, increase personal happiness, reduce stress, and promote conventional success and productivity? Or is it for the transformation of ourselves and society, to help us recognize our social nature, strive for moral, universal development, and overcome social injustices and end suffering?

In this seminar, I will describe some psychological, social, and moral foundations for an alternative critical social mindfulness in schools and then suggest ways we can address these issues in more transformative ways. As an emergent perspective and practice, a critical social mindfulness sees personal development as inseparable from identifying and challenging social and educational inequities with others, and through the commitment to both personal and social transformation may help us create an evolved, compassionate, equitable society for all.


David Forbes, PhD, is an Emeritus in the Urban Education Doctoral Program at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. He teaches and writes on critical and integral approaches to mindfulness in education and consults with New York City schools on developing social mindfulness programs.

As a counsellor educator David taught School Counselling in the School of Education at Brooklyn College/CUNY for nineteen years. While there he wrote about his experience teaching and practicing mindfulness with a Brooklyn high school football team in his book, Boyz 2 Buddhas: Counselling Urban High School Male Athletes in the Zone (2004) and was a co-recipient of a Contemplative Program Development Fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.

His latest book is Mindfulness and its Discontents: Education, Self, and Social Transformation (2019). He co-edited the Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context, and Social Engagement (Springer, 2016) with Ron Purser, with whom he co-produced the podcast, The Mindful Cranks.

David is a member of the UK-based Mindfulness and Social Change Network  from which he is featured on a website, “Being Mindful of our World: A Collection of Social Mindfulness Voices.” He has written and co-written articles in their series on Open Transformation: Mindfulness and Social Change. He is a member of the multidisciplinary academic network, Popular Psychology, Self-Help Culture, and the Happiness Industry.

Professor David Forbes
Hosted by
Centre for Global Development
Online - Zoom (hyperlinked directly to Zoom invite)

Booking not required. Join on the day using the Zoom URL. Alternatively, email for the calender invite.