Course Description

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


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This course is only available as part of a specialized residency program listed under "Applies to the Following Residencies" at left. You are required to submit an application to be admitted to the program.

If you have been accepted to the residency, please navigate to the program description page via that link to complete enrollment and payment.

Section Title
Pursuing Happiness: From Buddha to Positive Psychology
On Campus
T, W, Th
9:00AM to 12:30PM
May 28, 2019 to Jun 27, 2019
Course Fee(s)
Tuition credit (3 units) $2,700.00 Click here to get more information
Available for Credit
3 units
Section Notes

If you are a current CalArts student interested in taking a summer Critical Studies course, please proceed to The Hub for registration.

Students must have some college essay writing experience in order to fully participate in this class.