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From a self-help craze to government funded scientific research, the pursuit of happiness has become a ‘hot topic’ in both popular culture and multiple fields of social science inquiry and research. In particular, the field of positive psychology is the study of positive emotions, positive experiences, character strengths, and the practices that facilitate their development. In this course, we will research and analyze varied perspectives on happiness from some of the major theorists in the field highlighting concepts such as gratitude, optimism, mindfulness, resilience, and creativity. We will also engage in experiential learning and practical exercises to increase well-being as a means of understanding both the theories and ourselves.
Positive psychology has developed concepts and methodologies to understand potential sources of happiness, conducted research to determine if it is possible to increase happiness, and surveyed multiple cultural contexts to see how the pursuit of happiness may be defined and applied. In addition to introducing this field, we will critically explore and evaluate its roots in Greek philosophy and Eastern religions as well as within the current atmosphere of commercialization and commodification of happiness as a fashionable trend.
This course takes an interactive approach to learning as a classroom community, with small group activities, presentations, videos, lectures, discussions, and in-class research. Together we will review psychological surveys, research studies, and personal responses to weekly happiness exercises and explore them alongside websites, ted talks, and documentary films.
Enrollment/Payment Deadline: April 30, 2019