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Charter Education Institute

How To Become A Compassionate Citizen For Groups

Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

How to Become a Compassionate Citizen:
Strategies and Tools to Activate your Community Groups

Who is this course for?

  • This course provides a systematic way for an individual or groups to deepen their experience of compassion and experience its impact on both an individual and community level. It helps people to become acquainted and to establish common ground, and a shared vision.
  • By learning about compassion through this course, an individual or groups can begin to think about broadening their scope of compassion to their community and thrive. Your work together can be shared with other groups, such as:
    • Start-up compassion community groups
    • Book clubs or libraries 
    • Community service groups such as Rotary, Lions, United Way etc.
    • Faith-based groups
    • Parent and teacher groups
    • Compassionate Schools
    • And other community coalition groups of activists working to make their communities healthier and safe
  • This course establishes a common language to explain how compassion works which can be communicated to Community leaders and influencers, as well as team building for local non-profit and profit organisations.

What is the course about?

Each of us has the raw materials to be a compassionate citizen but in the turmoil of modern living it is all too easy to succumb to indifference, and self-interest. This course invites participants on a journey of exploration to discover how to manifest our natural tendency for compassion as sustainable compassionate action.

We look into the habits that get in the way of us treating other people as we would like to be treated ourselves. Taking meditation as the foundation, we explore how to transform these tendencies into a natural compassionate response—and to make that response part of our lives.

Throughout the course participants will engage in exercises and meditations that develop compassion and help community members to work well together. We will share current scientific research about the validity of these methods.

What will you learn as an individual and as a community group?


Each member of a community group that takes this course will explore what it means to be a compassionate citizen and how to realize their potential to become one.

They will have the opportunity to:

  • investigate their habits that can get in the way of exercising compassion
  • experience the importance of meditation
  • develop self-compassion
  • use everyday challenges to inspire compassion
  • learn techniques for developing compassion
  • build a tool kit of exercises and meditations that they can immediately apply to their own life


Do you want to start a compassionate community group but don’t know where to begin?

  • The process of working through this course will provide your group with a way of building trust and confidence.

 Is your group having a difficult time finding cohesion and needs to define compassion in order to get into action?

  • Members of your group will learn how to work with their own resistance and stress

Is your group needing some deeper conversations on compassion to spark your next steps?

  • Deepening your hands-on understanding of compassion will help to inspire ideas of where and how you want to implement your ideas

Is your group looking for strategies to get going with your project?

  • With a hands-on way of addressing challenges as they arise, it will be easier to keep your group focused on what you want to achieve.


The Charter for Compassion has developed the Charter Tool Box: A framework for getting started to guide your process as a compassionate community group.  If this is of interest, you will find it is designed to be adapted to the unique circumstances of any community that seeks to become a Compassionate Community.  

  • Each of the four broad phases includes more specific steps along with stories and examples that you may find helpful and inspiring. 
  • An introduction to the Tool Box is embedded in the course.

How does the course work?

  • The course is designed as a self-directed course over four main topics. Each topic is divided into small, practical activities—making over thirty in all.
  • As all the materials are available as soon as you register; you arrange your own timeline to go through the materials.
  • It is up to you whether you want to go straight through all the sessions, or spread them out over months, or even a year.
  • The course does not close and there is no pressure to go at a certain pace. Therefore, go at the pace that is right for your own journey towards being a compassionate citizen.
  • In addition, individuals can access the course on their own devices.

Downloadable User-Friendly Participants Manual

There is a 60-page manual that can be downloaded and printed out for each member of the group. It gives guidance on how to follow the course together as a group, and how to do homework assignments in between sessions.

In addition, the manual is also embedded in small sections throughout the course itself.

It is highly recommended that you meet regularly to study and discuss ways to apply what you are learning through the course as a group.

The instructor, Maureen Cooper, reads all postings and is also available by email for discussion.


Topics covered in the course

INTRODUCTION: Getting started with the course

  • Welcome
  • What we understand by a compassionate citizen
  • How the course works

Session 1: Everyone has the raw materials to be a compassionate citizen
PART ONE: What are we working with

  • Happiness and suffering as part of everyday life
  • Chasing happiness
  • How stress works
  • The need for a compassionate society

PART TWO: We are all in the same boat

  • We have enormous capacity
  • We are built to be kind
  • Helping other helps you

Session 2:  How we can develop our raw materials to be a compassionate citizen
PART ONE: What gets in the way—the intensity of our surroundings

  • Our wandering mind
  • Our old brain habits
  • Starring in our own movie

PART TWO: How we can work with our habits—neuroplasticity

  • Getting down to meditation
  • Meditation anytime, anywhere
  • The benefits of meditation
  • The Golden Rule
  • The bridge from meditation to compassion

Session 3: Making compassion our natural response

  • An overview of self-compassion
  • A simple exercise that could end your suffering
  • Practicing kindness in everyday life
  • Loving Kindness Meditation
  • The Kindness Formula
  • What scientific research tells us about kindness
  • Empathy
  • The benefits of forgiveness

Session 4: Your compassionate citizen toolkit

  • Training our minds
  • Scientific research and building our confidence
  • Review of the exercises we covered
  • Making these techniques part of your life
  • Some useful materials
  • Some useful resources from Awareness in Action


What people say about the course

This course presented a thorough introduction to the skills needed to develop a compassionate mindset to our busy modern lifestyles.

Eric Spencer

Although I already know a lot of the scientific research the course made it very clear and structured it well. I found it very inspiring.

Christine Brandt-Leeb

The photos and videos in the course, along with the exercises helped me to see my daily experiences in a fresh way.  This is the first step to employing the meditations and formulas in a spontaneous way as needed.  I would like to try to keep this going every day. 

Lennine Occhino USA

While doing this course I gradually realised that even the most difficult situations and emotions can be turned into ways of increasing kindness and compassion.  I've adopted many of these practices on a regular basis, and feel I'm definitely developing a more positive and altruistic outlook as a result.

Susan Burrows, London. UK

This course made me realize that everybody, like me, just wants to be happy and everyone, like me does not want to suffer. And therefore, we all have the same right to be happy and to avoid suffering. This was a big change in my perception of others, opening myself to do something for their happiness and do something to prevent their suffering.

Juan Broullhet. Valencia, Spain

What is the cost?

  • For individuals $25.00
  • Groups of 2 to 4 people $45 (total group cost)
  • Groups of 5 to 10 people $95 (total group cost)
  • Groups of more than 10 people $125 (total group cost)


How do people enroll?

If you have any questions, email Maureen Cooper


Your course facilitator


Maureen Cooper is the founding director of Awareness in Action, an organization dedicated to showing people how to combine well-being and excellence in the work environment. Drawing on more than thirty years of experience as a professional educator, senior manager in a non-profit organization, an entrepreneur and as an experienced practitioner of Buddhist meditation, she leads workshops and training programs in the UK and Europe.

Her book, The Compassionate Mind Guide to Reducing Stress  brings together the best of modern science and the wisdom of the world’s ancient contemplative traditions into a practical manual for thriving in today’s insanely fast-paced world.

Maureen lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with her husband.

You can read her LinkedIn profile here

Read some of her blogs on the Charter for Education Institute blog page.