Friday, April 11, 2014

Free online course: The Science of Happiness

We all want to be happy, and there are countless ideas about what happiness is and how we can get some. But not many of those ideas are based on science. That’s where this course comes in.

“The Science of Happiness” is a free, eight-week online course that explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Students will engage with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from this science, discovering how cutting-edge research can be applied to their own lives.
Created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the course zeroes in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good. Students will learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.
What’s more, “The Science of Happiness” will offer students practical strategies for nurturing their own happiness. Research suggests that up to 40 percent of happiness depends on our habits and activities. So each week, students will learn a new research-tested practice that fosters social and emotional well-being—and the course will help them track their progress along the way.
The course will include:
  • Short videos featuring the co-instructors and guest lectures from top experts on the science of happiness;
  • Articles and other readings that make the science accessible and understandable to non-academics;
  • Weekly “happiness practices”—real-world exercises that students can try on their own, all based on research linking these practices to greater happiness;
  • Tests, quizzes, polls, and a weekly “emotion check-in” that help students gauge their happiness and track their progress over time;
  • Discussion boards where students can share ideas with one another and submit questions to their instructors.
Instructors Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner Instructors Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner
The course will be led by two celebrated teachers from the Greater Good Science Center: Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., the GGSC’s science director, and GGSC founder Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., who is a psychology professor at UC Berkeley and author of the best-selling book Born to Be Good. It will also feature guest presentations by some of the world’s leading authorities on positive psychology, including Rick Hanson, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Students will be able to proceed through this course at their own pace. However, students who participate between September 9 (the course’s launch date) and November 4 will have more opportunities to interact with instructors and fellow students. “The Science of Happiness” is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), hosted on the edX platform, meaning that it will enroll students from all over the world. Though there are many opportunities for students to interact within the course, the opportunities for live interaction with the instructors are limited.