Social Justice, Mindfulness and the Law: Reflections on "the Self"

Featuring Professor john a. powell and comments by Tirien Steinbach. 12:45-2 pm, Tuesday, March 5 in Room 240

john a. powell
Professor john a. powell

 Professor john a. powell is an internationally recognized scholar, practitioner, and teacher in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice. He currently directs the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, has served as the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, and has written, litigated, and taught extensively on structural racism, corporate power, implicit bias, concentrated poverty, affirmative action, racial identity, spirituality & social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society.

Professor powell has also had a mindful practice since the 1970s. He will share his perspective on the prevailing conception of “self,” as isolated and disconnected from others, as a root cause of both social injustice and individual unhappiness.  A practice of mindfulness, reflection, or spirituality – with roots in an expansive array of traditions and beliefs – offers one approach to transforming this limited sense of “self,” at both the individual and societal levels. The everyday work of social justice advocacy and the practice of mindfulness each have a recursive and crucial role, both historically and presently, in transforming the structures that marginalize and oppress members of society viewed as “others.”  Professor powell will discuss his experiences, and the broader potential for this transformative work to create more a more fair and inclusive society, and to re-imagine a sustainable and healthy approach to our lives as students and practitioners.

Commentator: Tirien Steinbach

In March 2007, Tirien Steinbach became the third executive director of EBCLC.  Tirien joined EBCLC in 2001 in the Income practice where she incubated Clean Slate practice, which she directed. In 2006 Tirien served as EBCLC’s Director of Clinical & Program. Tirien is currently a Lecturer at Boalt Hall School of Law (UC Berkeley), and co-teaches "Community Law Practice at EBCLC," the companion seminar for Boalt students enrolled in EBCLC’s clinical program. In law school, Tirien was active in the public interest and student of color communities, where she served as co-president of the Berkeley Law Foundation Student Steering Committee and Vice President of Recruitment for Law Students of African Descent. Upon graduating from Boalt, Tirien is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including an Equal Justice Works fellowship sponsored by the California Appellate Project, a Berkeley Law Foundation grant for her work at EBCLC, and the inaugural Thelton E. Henderson Social Justice Prize.