Keynote speakers

Professor Ronald Purser -San Francisco State University

PurserHeadShot-277x300_edited-1Ronald Purser, Ph.D. is a professor of management at San Francisco State University where he has taught the last eighteen years in both the MBA and undergraduate business programs. Prior to moving to San Francisco, he taught at Loyola University of Chicago. He received his doctorate in organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Purser is former chair of the Academy of Management’s Organizational Development and Change division.

Co-author of five books including, 24/7: Time and Temporality in the Network Society (Stanford University Press, 2007), and over 60 academic journal articles and book chapters, his recent writings critically examine Buddhism’s encounter with modernity, capitalism and individualism, particularly in corporate settings.

Dr. Purser began his Buddhist training beginning in 1981 at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute in Berkeley. In 1985, he was a student at the Cleveland Zen Center under Koshin Ogui Sensei who had been Shunryu Suzuki’s personal assistant in the early 1960’s. He has studied with numerous Zen teachers and Tibetan lamas, is now an ordained Dharma instructor in the Korean Zen Buddhist Taego order. His recent articles include Mindfulness in the Boardroom (Tricycle), White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement, Confessions of a Mind-wandering MBSR Student: Remembering Social Amnesia; Clearing the Muddled Path of Traditional and Contemporary Mindfulness; Revisiting Mindfulness: A Buddhist-Based Conceptualization (with J. Milillo at Harvard); Zen and the Art of Organizational Maintenance; Zen and the Creative Management of Dilemmas (with Albert Low); Deconstructing Lack: A Buddhist Perspective on Egocentric Organizations; and A Buddhist-Lacanian Perspective on Lack. His articles Beyond McMindfulness (with David Loy), Mindfulness’ Truthiness Problem (with Andrew Cooper), and Corporate Mindfulness Is Bullsh*t (with Edwin Ng) went viral in the Huffington Post and in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He is co-editor of the forthcoming volume Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Content and Social Engagement which will be published by Springer in 2016.


Associate Professor Suvi Salmenniemi  – University of Turku

salmenniemi suvi

Suvi Salmenniemi is associate professor of sociology at the University of Turku, Finland. Her research interests include therapeutic engagements and wellbeing, political sociology, cultural studies, feminist research and social inequalities. She is currently leading two research projects looking into therapeutic practices and knowledge: “The Puzzle of the Psyche: Therapeutic Knowledge and Selfhood in a Comparative Perspective” (funded by Kone Foundation, 2014-2016), and “Tracking the Therapeutic: Ethnographies of Wellbeing, Politics and Inequality” (funded by the Academy of Finland, 2015-2019). Her ongoing research is an ethnographic project examining therapeutic engagements in the fields of complementary and alternative health, coaching and self-improvement. More specifically, she is interested in how these therapeutic engagements  are experienced and signified; the conceptions and strategies of politics and wellbeing articulated in these engagements; and the processes of inequality at play in them.
She is the author of Democratization and gender in contemporary Russia (Routlegde, 2008). Her work has also appeared in Sociology, British Journal of Sociology, International Sociology and European Journal of Cultural Studies.

Lecturer Steven Stanley – Cardiff University


Steven Stanley, Ph.D., works as a Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, Wales, United Kingdom. He is a social psychologist interested in the critical and qualitative study of social life, and teaches mindfulness and Qigong courses and retreats, both inside and outside of the university. He has practised meditation since 2000. He is particularly interested in the potentials of early Pāli Buddhist ideas and practices, as well as modern retreat practice, for potentially reorienting our relationship to life in capitalism. In his research, he has investigated historical changes in meanings of mindfulness and meditation, ethics and politics of the mindfulness movement, mindfulness meditation as a psychosocial research methodology, interactional aspects of ‘inquiry’ sequences in mindfulness courses, rhetoric of promotion in mindfulness self-help books, and pluralism in mindfulness-based mental health care interventions. His teaching explores mindfulness and socially engaged Buddhism as styles of contemplative education for social science and Social Work.

Associate Professor John Williams – Yale University

at-the-last-bookstore1John William’s academic work so far has focused on international histories of technological/media innovation and the perceived difference of racial and cultural otherness.  He recently published book, The Buddha in the Machine: Art, Technology, and The Meeting of East and West (Yale University Press, 2014), examines the role of technological discourse in representations of Asian/American aesthetics in late-nineteenth and twentieth century film and literature.  The book won the 2015 Harry Levin Prize from the American Comparative Literature Association.Williams also just published a new essay in Critical Inquiry titled “World Futures” (see video and other links about this article here) which forms part 1 of a manuscript I am working on titled The Oracles of World Time.


Special invited speakers:

Dr Catherine Wikholm  – Clinical Psychologist, National Health Service (NHS), UK

Dr Catherine Wikholm is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the Health Care and Professions Council (HCPC) and a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS). She completed her undergraduate degree in Philosophy 11169815_1416681895315539_1129924271435415090_nand Theology at Oxford University, before embarking on her psychology training and gaining a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology, Masters in Forensic Psychology and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Catherine was previously employed by HM Prison Service where she worked with young offenders on reducing re-offending behaviour. She went on to work alongside Dr Miguel Farias at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University, on a randomised controlled trial that looked at the psychological effects of yoga and meditation with prisoners. The findings of this research study sparked the idea for the book ‘The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?’, which she co-wrote with Miguel while completing her doctorate. Since publication, their exploration of the science of meditation and its potential to bring about personal change has gained considerable national and international media attention. Catherine works as a Clinical Psychologist in a NHS child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) in London, UK.

David Forbes – Associate Professor in the School of Education at Brooklyn College/CUNY

David Forbes, PhD (U.C. Berkeley), LMHC, is Associate Professor in the School Counselingprogram in the School of Education at Brooklyn College/CUNY and affiliate faculty in the David2   Urban Education doctoral program at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.  He is co-editor of Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context, and Social Engagement (in press, Springer, 2016).  He was a co-recipient of a higher education program grant from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and wrote Boyz 2 Buddhas: Counseling Urban High School Male Athletes in the Zone (Peter Lang, 2004) about counseling and practicing mindfulness meditation with a Brooklyn high school (American) football team. Forbes teaches critical and integral approaches to mindfulness and writes on the social and cultural context of mindfulness in education including the online articles, “Occupy Mindfulness” and “They Want Kids to be Robots” on neoliberalism in education. He consults with schools on developing integral mindfulness programs and practices meditation with a group from the New York Insight Meditation Center.

Image courtesy of Timo Klemola