The fall start of the traditional academic year has come to mark my new New Year – highlighted by the celebrations welcoming new students to our community. Happy New Year to the Champlain community!
This year, however, fall really began in June, when almost 50 Champlain faculty, staff, students and trustees traveled with me to Fort Worth, Texas to attend the World Positive Education Accelerator. Thanks to an anchor gift from the Stiller Family Foundation to our David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, Champlain College and the International Positive Education Network co-convened the event, hosting over 800 people from 30 countries.
The event allowed Champlain to take a leadership role in accelerating a world movement around positive education. I was personally inspired by the opportunity to learn what organizations around the world are doing to help equip the next generation of global citizens with the skills they need to thrive. Presentations highlighted the science and benefits of a positive approach to education, by leaders such as Marty Seligman, David Cooperrider, Angela Duckworth (author of “Grit”), Héctor Escamilla (President, Tecmilenio) and Laurie Santos, teacher of the most popular course in Yale history (The Science of Wellbeing).
Most meaningful for me was the chance for our Champlain delegation to spend time together exploring the implications of these learnings for Champlain and how we can support more of our students in achieving personal and professional success. This fall, we will continue this momentum and come together as a whole Champlain community to collectively envision Champlain’s future. This is exciting work, as it will result in new opportunities for serving our students, and it is also an important step towards the creation of a new Strategic Plan for the College.
This represents the next phase of the work begun when I came to Champlain in 2014 and launched the Futures Initiative. We held more than thirty “Spyglass” sessions designed to foster an organizational culture and climate that builds collaboration, flexible structures, and a foundation of trust. The Champlain delegation at the WPEA was a great example of this culture in action as it included students, faculty and staff across institutional departments and divisions, sharing ideas, opportunities and concerns.
Our fall event will again take this to the next level, as we empower our community to collectively reimagine our vision for the College and our students. Our goal is to enhance a community where all faculty and staff may flourish and support our efforts to help students thrive. We build on our distinctive strength in professional education and connect these efforts to help more of our students connect their professional success with their meaning and purpose in life. I look forward to see where our discussions take us.
For those of you interested in learning more, I share my reading list from the summer, along with organizations and people working in this space. Enjoy.
- Evidence-Based Approaches in Positive Education: Implementing a Strategic Framework for Well-being in Schools
- The Positive Organization: Breaking Free from Conventional Cultures, Constraints, and Beliefs
- Practicing Positive Leadership: Tools and Techniques That Create Extraordinary Results
- Future Directions in Well-Being: Education, Organizations and Policy
Examples of Positive Education in Action
- Universidad Tecmilenio
- University of Buckingham
- George Mason University
- Geelong Grammar School
- St. Peter’s Adelaide
Reports and Articles
- The State of Positive Education, 2017 World Government Summit Report
- Global Happiness: Policy Report 2018 – See Chapter 4: Positive Education
- Adler, Alejandro, “Teaching Well-Being Increases Academic Performance: Evidence from Bhutan, Mexico and Peru,” University of Pennsylvania, January 2016.
- White, M. A., & Kern, M. L., (2018). Positive education: Learning and teaching for wellbeing and academic mastery. International Journal of Wellbeing, 8(1), 1-17. doi:10.5502/ijw.v8i1.588
- White, Mathew A. & Kern, M. L. (2017). Wellbeing- if you treasure it you will measure it. Independence Journal of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, 42(2), 50–54.