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President, CEO and Member of the Board of Trustees

Who We Are

CSE’s founding president is Dr. Lisa Miller, Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Miller is a foremost scientist on spirituality across the human lifespan with her work published in leading research journals. She created the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, the first Ivy League graduate program in spirituality and psychology.  She is the author of The Spiritual Child; The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, which sets forth the insights and broad vision that guide CSE.

Dr. Miller launched this educational change project in collaboration with a team of leading academics, master practitioners, and activists. CSE is housed at Teachers College and was founded in partnership with the Fetzer Institute and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.  CSE’s research hub is housed at Teachers College.

An Urgent Priority

There is a growing national understanding that success and well-being require a “whole child” approach to education. Social emotional learning, mindfulness, character education, values education, restorative practices, and other related programs seek to address the needs of children in a more holistic way.

Still, national data on youth reveal increasing rates of personal suffering and pathology. Collective understanding of citizenship wanes as does care of the environment. Within the leading whole child movements, in recent years, a question intensifies: How do we strengthen the deep inner core of the child? How do we help children access this inner core to support their sense of meaning and purpose, responsibility for others, and concern for the natural world?

The vast majority of efforts to date hinge on implementation of curriculum. Yet, our recent two-year study of 21 highly successful schools found that culture is as essential to learning as curriculum. In fact, culture is the hidden curriculum in all schools. The question is whether it is examined, or not and whether it is explicitly designed, or not.

The schools we studied have a deliberate blueprint for internal practices that support a culture of whole child development. To our surprise this was shared whether schools were resource-rich or under-resourced, public or private.

We call these internal practices the ABC’s of Transformative School Culture:

  • Awareness – Cultivating wonder and an understanding of self and world
  • Belonging – Welcoming all children into a community of caring and growth
  • Connectedness – Promoting respect, responsibility, and compassion in relation to other people and nature

11 Drivers of Transformative School Culture:

How Schools Can Build Awareness, Belonging, and Connectedness

Our research further uncovered 11 Drivers that were used in various ways to support these ABCs.   We now have a systemic, concrete, and detailed method through which any interested school can make this kind of culture come to life.