Exploring Happiness Series Continues with Stanford Scholar

(Ashland, Ore.) – Are human beings primarily driven by self-interest and individualism? What role does social connection play in our well-being and happiness? Dr. Emma Seppala, Associate Director at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, will address these questions when she visits Southern Oregon University this week as the next speaker in SOU’s Campus Theme series on Exploring Happiness.

Dr. Seppala will give two public lectures. The first, titled The Science of Compassion, Social Connection, and Well-Being, will be given Tuesday evening, February 5, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Meese Room of the Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University. Dr. Seppala will give a second lecture on Wednesday, February 6, at 12:30 p.m. titled The Emerging Field of Yoga and Meditation Research for Mental Health and Well-Being, also in the Meese Room of the Hannon Library at SOU. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

At the root of altruism lie empathy and compassion, explains Dr. Seppala and while some may think we are mostly driven by selfishness, more and more research is showing that social connection is a fundamental human need and that we are wired to experience empathy and compassion. We thrive with greater social connection, resonate deeply with others’ emotions and experiences at the level of our physiology and brain, and experience pleasure and transcendence helping others and observing others being helped.

Dr. Seppala’s visit is sponsored by the SOU Arts and Humanities Council and the Department of Psychology at SOU. In addition to her position at Stanford, Dr. Seppala is a Research Scientist and Honorary Fellow with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. Her areas of expertise are health psychology, well-being, and resilience. She has examined the impact of meditation on happiness, social connection, and compassion. She has also investigated the effects of yoga-based interventions for combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. She received a B.A from Yale University, a Master’s Degree at Columbia University, and a PhD in Psychology at Stanford University. She is the recipient of a number of grants and awards including the James W. Lyons Award awarded by Stanford University for service to the Stanford campus. She helped found Stanford’s first class on the Psychology of Happiness and taught a large number of well-being programs for students. Her research has been cited in television and news outlets such as ABC News and The New York Times. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today, Scientific American Mind, The Huffington Post, and Spirituality & Health. Originally from Paris, France, she speaks five languages: English, French, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

For more information, visit the campus theme website at www.sou.edu/humanities, where you can also find information on other campus theme events this term, or call Prakash Chenjeri (541 552-6034) or Daniel Morris (541 552-6740).

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