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Flourishing, The Science and Practice of Well-being


UPDATE: 14-02-2022 - start of the class has been moved by one week. First session will take place on February 22

Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes. For the latest updates regarding corona virus, please check this link.

Topics: Personal leadership, self-insight, authenticity, connection.
Personal development, social relations and societal impact.
Disciplines: Integral and applied approach on positive psychology.
Skills: Self-insight, stress management, dealing with difficult emotions, compassion and kindness, empathy, savouring, mindfulness, building positive relationships and cultivating strengths.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.

Note: In this course and the Honours Classes 'Effectief Besturen door het vergroten van je persoonlijke vaardigheden' we will discuss similar topics and you will develop similar skills. Therefore we advise students to attend only one of these courses.


“Flourishing is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” – Aristotle

No matter what you are studying, you are likely being challenged academically on a regular basis. But what is needed to thrive in today’s complex world, both professionally and personally? Modern-day organisations look beyond academic achievements when hiring new colleagues. Increasingly, they look to willpower, self-reflexivity, empathy, discipline, proactivity, cooperativeness, resilience and self-confidence.

Fortunately, such skills are trainable. During this project, you will experience and explore these personal and interpersonal domains, cultivating a set of important life skills and engaging in personal growth.

Researchers Ready, Conger and Hill argue that, if you wish to flourish as a young adult, it is essential to: 1. Increase self-insight; 2. Healthily manage stress and 3. Utilise your potential.

During this project, we will experiment with various techniques to help you develop these skills. The learning is based on academic rigor and research whilst simultaneously practical and experience-based.
It focuses on:

  • improving mental resilience and emotional stability;

  • learning to cope with adversity through relaxation, meditation and perspective-shifting;

  • increasing empathy and compassion towards self and other;

  • exploring your passions, talents and meaning in life.

You will engage in a group project focused on improving education. You will ask: how might we re-imagine education to (more significantly) enable students and staff to flourish? Beyond expanding your imagination, you will also be challenged to put your ideas into action. As a result, you will enhance your own wellbeing and of those who surround you in daily life.

The learning activities of this project are structured along three levels:
1. The I – Increasing one’s own wellbeing by reflecting and acting on three core questions: What do I love doing? What is meaningful to me? What am I good at?
2. The WE – Strengthening interpersonal relationships within and outside the classroom. Gain insight in other people’s perspectives, preferences, personality traits and worldviews. Reflect on the impact of personal growth on academic performance.
3. The ALL – Reflecting on the role and responsibility of academia in increasing the wellbeing of students and staff. What is/should/could be the role of education in improving human flourishing?

Students are asked to be open-minded towards new ways of learning, which includes a variety of experience based exercises and sharing personal experiences amongst each other.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Reflect on their life and personal development;

  • Apply techniques to increase their own wellbeing and resilience and that of others;

  • Share and present their own personal story authentically;

  • Formulate their own values and mission in life and act accordingly;

  • Work constructively and respectfully with others to make a positive contribution to society.

Programme and timetable:

The course will start on Tuesday, February 15 at 13.15 - 15.00 and will take place on the following dates:

Class 1: February 15, 2022 CANCELLED

Class 2: February 22, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Starting the journey: Introduction and practicalities. Getting to know each other. Setting intentions. The most important (mis)understandings about happiness.

Class 3: March 1, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Positive emotions. What brings you joy and energy?

Class 4: March 8, 2022 CANCELLED

Class 5: March 15, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Strengths. What are you good at? What are pitfalls and challenges?

Class 6: March 22, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Social connection. Building positive relationships. Reaching out, asking for help.

Class 7: March 29, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Meaning. What makes your life meaningful? What shaped you?

Class 8: March 30 at 17.15 - 19.00 (Old Observatory, room C005)
Resilience. Practicing compassion and kindness. Getting to know your inner critic.
Guest lecture by Robert Wolfe

Class 9: April 5, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Keys to wellbeing. Experiencing awe. Nature walk.

Class 10: April 12, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Individual presentations

Class 11: April 19, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C006)
Individual presentations

Class 12: April 26, 2022 (Old Observatory, room C003) CANCELLED

Class 13: May 3, 2022 (Location TBA)
Final session: Presenting group work on Flourishing within Education

Old Observatory, room C006, C005 and C003

Reading list:

For every week a set of articles is provided on Brightspace. Please pick and read at least 2 reads per week. Make your choice based on your personal and/or academic interest.
Also it is recommended to read ‘Happier’ by Tal Ben-Shahar.

Examples of a small selection of articles and books that will be used in this course:

  • Empathy and Compassion – Tania Singer

  • Gratitude and Relationships in everyday life – Sara B. Algoe

  • Happier – Tal Ben-Shahar

  • Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life – Emmons & McCullough

  • Flourish, a new understanding of wellbeing – Seligman

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours:

  • Seminars: 10 seminars of 2 hours (participation is mandatory)

  • Literature reading: 2 hours/week = 20 hours

  • Practical work: 4 hours/week = 40 hours

  • Assignments & final product: 60 hours

Assessment methods:

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • 10% Participation assessed continually through participation in seminars

  • 30% Two personal reflections of 700 words (15% each)

  • 10% Individual presentation (not graded)

  • 50% A group assignment consisting of 3 parts: written vision statement (1500 words), intervention, presentation

Students can only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Registration process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 1 November 2021 up to and including Thursday 11 November 2021 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.

Pieternel Boer: