International Healing-Centered Education Conference

Hosted by the Acosta Institute, the International Healing-Centered Education Conference is being held virtually on October 6-8, 2023. Building on the success of our previous Healing-Centered Education Summits, this gathering aims to continue exploring and advancing the emerging restorative and healing-centered paradigm in educational research and practice.

The theme of our inaugural conference is "Building Thriving Classrooms, Cultures & Institutions." As communities around the world continue to experience tumultuous political, environmental and social challenges, it is more important than ever to develop practices, policies, and approaches that support the flourishing of children and adult learners. We firmly believe that taking a healing-centered approach to classroom instruction, culture-building and institutional management provides a foundation for creating the necessary conditions for human flourishing.

The Acosta Institute is building this conference on the momentum and popularity of the last three Healing-Centered Education Summits. Each year, our summits explored unique themes in relation to the temper of the times, while aiming to promote the healing-centered and restorative paradigm in education. 

In 2021, our inaugural Healing-Centered Education Summit created space for us to coalesce around the emerging restorative and healing-centered paradigm in education research and practice. As we have continued to face political polarization, economic inequality, racial and gender violence, and health disparities, the need for practices, policies, experiences, and communities for collective recovery and restoration remain crucial. Our 2021 summit focused on “Pedagogies for Collective Recovery” and activated a generative social field that inspired a new generation of scholarship and pedagogical practices that influence K-12 and professional education. 

During 2022, as we continued to navigate the lingering pandemic and wrestle with multiple crises in our communities, the summit was a call to slow down by embracing the slow work movement and explore the benefits of engaging in a sense of playfulness. This allowed us to continue to seed the field of healing-centered education as a paradigm encompassing restorative justice, social-emotional learning, mindfulness, trauma-sensitive teaching, decolonizing education, and much more. We created a generative container for deep practice and a robust community prepared to hold space for “Play, Slow Work & Collective Flourishing”.

Earlier this year, we began recognizing the healing needs of those who have dedicated their lives to creating spaces for others to thrive, flourish, and heal, the Wounded Healers. This concept finds its roots in both Carl Jung’s work and in Greek mythology. For Jung, the wounded healer represented the sensitivity and understanding of one’s own wounds and how this informs helping others heal. As wounded healers, they use their deep understanding of trauma to create conditions for collective flourishing and know the importance of engaging in their own personal healing work to authentically be of service to others. They embrace the challenge of often working and teaching in systems that perpetuate violence and inequality, yet they are resolute in navigating the challenges to build a better world with wholeness, joy, and resilience. Thus, the theme of our 2023 Summit was “Wounded Healer Leadership & Pedagogy”. 

Our summits provided the foundation and confidence to grow our community and pivot to providing this larger offering in the form of an international conference. We have designed this convening to provide a platform for new voices to be heard and new practices to be witnessed in a global context. We shall address the following questions:

  • How can we build on existing healing-centered approaches such as social-emotional learning, mindfulness-based and contemplative education, trauma-informed care, restorative justice, and decolonizing education to create classrooms, cultures and institutions that thrive?
  • What are the best practices for cultivating a healing-centered environment and culture in classrooms, educational institutions, and organizations? What do thriving institutions, classrooms, and cultures look and feel like? What can they produce? 
  • How can we use healing-centered practices to support justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility work in education and within organizational development?

Over the upcoming three day period, we are offering 21 workshops and panel discussions led by a diverse and dynamic collection of scholars, educators, researchers, activists, therapists, artists, and practitioners. We will apply the healing-centered framework to peace education, mentorship, leadership, embodiment practices, and the arts. We invite all who would like to learn and help us continue building the field of healing-centered education. Registration is free and all sessions are virtual. We hope you will join us.