Our History, Vision, and Mission
Holistic Education Lab
Hello and welcome!
Our mission is to provide people of all ages with transformative learning experience through which they can increase the wellness of their bodies, hearts, minds, and souls, so that they can become a force of collective well-being. To this end, we creatively combine social science, mindfulness practice, and design thinking under the leadership of our founding director Hiro Saito.
The holistic education project was first started as a capstone-seminar called "Mindfulness and Social Science" that Hiro taught for graduating social-science majors at Singapore Management University (SMU). In this seminar, Hiro and his students examined the benefits and challenges of mindfulness practice in the contemporary world, mainly in the secular-scientific tradition of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and the Plum Village tradition of engaged mindfulness. While reading and discussing various academic research on mindfulness, ranging from MBSR interventions to critiques of McMindfulness, they also practiced mindfulness on our own, both formally and informally.
This resulted in eight blog posts in 2019 and another eight in 2021. These blog posts aimed to support the well-being of the SMU community, and beyond, by providing insights and tips on how various mindfulness practices could be incorporated into our daily life.
As his understanding of the connection between mindfulness practice and social science deepened, Hiro began to systematically incorporate mindfulness practice into his introductory course "Understanding Societies" in 2021. On the one hand, mindfulness practice helps social scientists become aware of emotional reactivity, automatic thoughts, and other habits of their minds; and this awareness helps them minimize the risk of introducing biases into their own research. On the other hand, social science provides mindfulness practitioners with theories and methods for understanding and responding to the systemic causes of suffering that impinge on both individuals and collectives.
Hiro thus asked first-year social-science majors to create video presentations that would illustrate the uses of sociological theories in helping us critically and deeply understand various issues in the contemporary world as well as their potential solutions. These sociology videos aimed to spark the sociological imagination among younger generation (e.g., students in secondary education), but they were also intended to inform the general public about how social science can help us understand how the world works -- and how it might be different.