The Wellbeing Series

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Since 2012, the University of Minnesota's Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing has hosted wellbeing thought-leaders to inspire and educate the community, organizations, and life-long learners through the Wellbeing Lecture Series.
Past speakers like Brene Brown, Atul Gawande, Dessa, Celeste Headlee, Rhonda Magee, and Jon Kabat-Zinn have explored a range of topics including purpose, vulnerability, food and wellbeing, gratitude, technology, and mindfulness, among others.
Discover more about your own wellbeing with us through the Wellbeing Series, an opportunity to engage, learn, and experience what wellbeing means to you. 

 The Clinical and Public Health Importance of Social Wellbeing featuring Julianne Holt-Lunstad

Julianne Holt-Lunstad

Wednesday, April 21
12 to 1:30 p.m. Central
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Social relationships are both adaptive and crucial for survival, yet in light of the current pandemic we have limited means of fulfilling this biological need. Indeed, evidence suggests social isolation and loneliness were prevalent prior to the pandemic and may be exacerbated. Social connections have powerful influences on our wellbeing, health and longevity and lacking social connection qualifies as a risk factor for premature mortality. Growing evidence also points to the short-term effects on biomarkers of health and health relevant behaviors, guiding understanding of both the causal mechanisms by which social connection influences physical health and the ways in which this influence can inform potential intervention strategies. The current pandemic has shown us how integral social contact is to every aspect of our lives, and thus each of these sectors can play an important role in solutions.

About Julianne Holt-Lunstad

Julianne Holt-Lunstad is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University; an adjunct professor at Swinburne University of Technology; Melbourne, Australia; and the founding chair of the scientific advisory committee for the Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness. Dr. Holt-Lunstad’s research is focused on understanding the long-term health effects, biological mechanisms, and effective strategies to mitigate risk and promote protection associated with social connection. Her work has been seminal in the recognition of social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for early mortality.

AfroSoul: Dreams of Freedom, Racial Reconciliation, and Healing Justice featuring Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams

Wednesday, October 20
12 to 1:30 p.m. Central
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Inspired by his African American ancestor’s heroic efforts to attain freedom and racial justice, Andrew Williams will invite us to enter a conversation about the shifting cultural, spiritual, and political meanings of blackness across the Americas. Drawing from his work with diverse African diaspora communities, Andrew will highlight the beauty and power of a comparative perspective and transnational solidarities in mapping a path forward toward Black freedom, transformative justice, individual and collective healing, and racial reconciliation.

About Andrew Williams

For over twenty-five years, Andrew has worked at the intersections of cultural anthropology, educational equity leadership, community-based learning, and global education as a teacher, advisor, college administrator, and non-profit leader. As a cultural anthropologist, Andrew’s teaching and research have focused on the cultural politics of blackness within the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean. His applied anthropological work has included projects focused on climate change, environmental justice, and health equity in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. As Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Success, Engagement, and Equity, Andrew currently provides strategic leadership for the University of Minnesota Rochester’s efforts to center equity and holistic public health as crucial elements in the university’s vision of undergraduate and graduate health sciences education.