SEE Learning: Outline of the Key Points

Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning, Emory University, Abridged Framework


Personal Domain

Attention and Self-Awareness

Attending to our body and its sensations

  • Paying attention to what is happening inside our bodies
  • Noticing states of hyper- and hypo-arousal (anxiety, anger, lethargy, depression, etc.)
  • Understanding what a balanced body feels like

Attending to our emotions and feelings

  • Paying attention to our minds with practices such as mindfulness

Following a map of the mind

  • Being able to identify emotions, their features, and what gives rise to and promotes them
  • Learning how to recognize and deal with destructive emotions before they turn into unmanageable emotional states


Understanding emotions in context

  • Using critical thinking to see how our emotions relate to our values, needs and expectations
  • Appreciating our own value and cultivating a sense of self-worth and inner confidence


  • Having a realistic perspective regarding our own limitations and potentials
  • Cultivating inner fortitude, resilience, humility and courage
  • Understanding that disappointment and distress is a natural part of life


Balancing the body (bringing our physical selves to an active, resilient and balanced state) by:

  • Resourcing, where we access resources such as a friend, a favorite place or pleasant memories
  • Grounding, where we hold an object that makes us feel supported or grounded
  • Activities, such as yoga, tai-chi, listening to music, drawing or meditation

Cognitive and impulse control

  • Improving our attention skills, so that we can sustain attention without getting caught up in distractions

Navigating emotions

  • Developing emotional discernment to recognize which emotions are helpful and which are harmful
  • Allowing this discernment to transform into a sense of courage and self-confidence that we can take control of our emotion states rather than let them control us

Social Domain

Interpersonal Awareness

Attending to our social reality

  • Understanding that we are social beings
  • Exploring how others play an important role in our lives

Attending to our shared reality with others

  • Understanding that others have emotional lives just as we do
  • Seeing that we are all similar in that we have wants, needs and fears
  • Respecting the fact that the wants, needs and fears vary from person to person

Appreciating diversity and difference

  • Looking at how we all have unique life experiences that shape us
  • Understanding that differences can bring us together rather than push us apart

Compassion for Others

Understanding others’ feelings and emotions in context

  • Understanding that other people’s actions are spurred by emotions, which arise from underlying needs
  • Reacting to people’s actions with compassion, rather than anger and judgment

Appreciating and cultivating kindness and compassion

  • Exploring what compassion is and is not
  • Valuing compassion as something that is beneficial and so wishing to cultivate it

Appreciating and cultivating other ethical dispositions

  • Seeing that material possessions alone can’t satisfy all of our needs
  • Exploring other inner qualities that bring benefit to our lives
  • Reflecting on the disadvantages of a self-centred attitude
  • Generating empathy and forgiveness toward others

Relationship Skills

Empathic listening

  • Listening to others with an open mind
  • Practicing “deep listening” exercises, where we listen to others without comment or judgment

Skillful communication

  • Developing the ability to communicate in a way that is productive and empowering to ourselves and others
  • Debating topics with friends, and taking the side we would normally oppose

Helping others

  • Engaging in community service, volunteer work and random acts of kindness

Conflict transformation

  • Learning to navigate conflict successfully
  • Developing inner peace, which is the foundation for outer peace

Global Domain

Appreciating Interdependence

Understanding interdependent systems

  • Understanding that interdependence is a law of nature and a fundamental reality of human life
  • Seeing that we cannot survive without others

Individuals within a systems context

  • Generating a genuine sense of gratitude for others
  • Developing a deeper awareness of our potential to shape the lives of others
  • Building an aspiration to take actions that ensure wider well-being

Recognizing Common Humanity

Appreciating the fundamental equality of all

  • Realizing that humans everywhere are fundamentally equal in wanting happiness and wanting not to suffer
  • Expanding the scope of our empathy to include those outside of our “in-group”

Appreciating how systems affect well-being

  • Analyzing the cultural, political and social systems that affect us by promoting positive values or by perpetuating problematic beliefs and inequalities

Community and Global Engagement

Our potential for effecting positive change in the community and the world

  • Understanding that while we do have limitations, we also have great capabilities
  • Seeing that small individual changes can contribute to larger global shifts

Engaging in communal and global solutions

  • Recognizing the systems that we live in, and their complexity
  • Assessing the short- and long-term consequences of actions
  • Minimizing the influence of negative emotions and bias
  • Cultivating an open-minded, collaborative and intellectually humble attitude
  • Considering the pros and cons of any particular course of action

If you would like to go deeper, read the full version of the SEE Learning Framework and learn about the other programs of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics.