PSA x CASA Conference 2022

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Join us on October 29th, 2022, 12:00PM to 4:30PM EST at Bahen Centre (BA1160)

You are invited to join the first-ever joint CASA and PSA conference, where we will explore the intersections of wisdom, consciousness, and mindfulness! Our speakers in attendance are Michel Ferrari, Mark Miller, and Norman Farb, who have conducted in-depth research into the unconscious mind and other related topics. A ticket grants you access to the entire day’s events, including informative talks, interactive discussions, and a catered lunch with alternative food options.

The conference will take place on October 29th (Saturday) from 12:00pm to 4:30pm at BA 1160 (Bahen Centre). Attendees can only purchase ONE ticket per person, and you cannot purchase for someone else. You must have your ticket ready upon entry, as well as student ID if purchasing a UofT student ticket. Tickets cost $5 for UofT students and $10 otherwise.

Important note for attendees: if you purchase the wrong ticket, or do not have your student ID and ticket with you, you will not be able to attend. You may show a digital copy of the ticket.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us at the following emails: and


Our presenters will engage with what it means to be wise and how we cultivate wisdom (Dr. Michel Ferrari, OISE), the emerging field of positive psychotherapy (Dr. Tayyab Rashid, UTSC), the role of emotions such as awe and compassion in our continued well-being, (Dr. Jennifer Stellar, UTM) and the psychology of transformational and aspirational growth (Dr. John Vervaeke, UTSG). In additional to their individual presentations, there will be a panel discussion featuring engaging audience questions.

We hope to see you there!



Dr. Mark Miller

Dr. Mark Miller is a philosopher of cognition. His research explores what recent advances in neuroscience can tell us about happiness and well-being, and what it means to live well in our increasingly technologically-mediated world. He is currently the senior research fellow at Monash University’s Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies, a visiting researcher at Hokkaido University’s Center for Human Nature, Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience, and is a research fellow at the University of Toronto.

“On the Variety of Selflessness”
Disruptions in our ordinary experience of selfhood produce both pathological and ‘enlightened’ states of consciousness. For example, people suffering from depersonalization often experience the loss of self as devastating, while meditative contemplatives associate selflessness with enduring peace and joy. In this talk, I will propose a unified account of these selfless-experiences using the active inference framework. In particular, I will explore: how unconscious (inferential) processes give rise to our sense of self; how alterations in these processes produce the challenging phenomenology experienced by people suffering from dissociative disorders; and how contemplative training programs are capable of both rendering these unconscious processes more accessible to our conscious mind, and why doing so may allow for beneficial selfless experience to arise.

Dr. Michel Ferrari

Dr. Michel Ferrari is a professor in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development in the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). As the Director of the Wisdom and Identity Lab, he explores the meaning of personal wisdom in people at different ages (from children to the elderly) from different nations. Currently, he is leading a study of the relationship between wisdom and successful acculturation in Islamic immigrants and refugees to Canada from Iran and Syria. In applied practice, he and his students have studied wisdom and personal identity in marginalized populations—for example, of people diagnosed with autism.

“Cultivating Wisdom through Personal Growth”
This presentation will discuss wisdom development in terms of personal growth. I will use research from my lab to illustrate a general theoretical model in which wisdom development can be understood as ego development that is ultimately self-transcendent and culturally transformative. I hope to convince you that wisdom development engages a variety of coping and learning mechanisms that manifest in a variety of ways, from actively reflecting on metaconscious experience to enacting examples of personally known and historical wise exemplars whose power to transform society and ourselves resides in a mythopoetic and narrative unconscious. I will consider the implications of this view for therapy and classroom education that cultivates wisdom.

Dr. Norman Farb

Dr. Norman Farb is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where he directs the Regulatory and Affective Dynamics laboratory. He studies the psychology of well-being, focusing on mental habits, such as how we think about ourselves and interpret our emotions. He is particularly interested in why people differ in their resilience to stress, depression, and anxiety. He is currently exploring online training to support wellbeing, and neuroimaging to understand how emotional reactions predict mental health over the lifespan.

“Wellbeing as a Balance between Comfort and Growth: Insights from Neuroimaging”
Fascinating research on ‘decoding’ brain patterns to reveal the qualities of mental life will be discussed. It becomes clear that human beings shift between states of sensory exploration and knowledge exploitation, seemingly at the whim of external circumstances and personal habits. Recent research suggests that mindfulness training cultivates both the ability to explore the senses, free from conceptual overhead, and the ability to remember and make use of our hard-earned wisdom. More advanced meditators seem to learn to keep their ability to notice and describe experience active even in a quieter space of sensory exploration, allowing them to integrate new experiences and update their models of self, world, and future. The ability to ‘toggle’ between valued states of ignorance and knowing may help us get unstuck in life, affording a sustainable climb from states of suffering to flourishing.