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What makes people happy?


In 2014 The University of Berkeley launched a MOOC called The Science of Happiness. It is still going strong in 2016 because people are, well, happy with it. Over 300,000 students have registered for the free online course, which explores the roots of a happy, meaningful life via the perspectives of psychology, evolutionary biology and neuroscience. The next session begins in September 6, 2016.


The Science of Happiness is run by the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley, and consists of 8 one-week segments presented by Instructors Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner. Students are invited to discover how cutting-edge research into happiness can be applied to their own lives. The fundamental finding from positive psychology is that happiness is inextricably tied to having strong social ties and a sense of self-worth springing from willingness to contribute to the greater good. This fundamental finding is explored from various cross-disciplinary perspectives.


Each week, students learn a new practice that has been tested and shown by research to foster social and emotional wellbeing. They will track their own happiness levels over the duration of the course and beyond, thus generally cheering up as well as providing the researchers with new data all the time.


The Science of Happiness offers further materials for Continuing Education, which earn CE credits for psychologists, therapists, social workers, counselors and nurses, as well as marriage and family therapists and chemical dependency counselors.


At the end of the course everybody is invited to complete a Satisfaction Survey, which should be off the scale if the course has done its job. It ought to be, literally, the happiest bunch of students ever.