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Education for Flourishing

Education for Flourishing is a project of the Consortium for Human Flourishing at Saint Louis University. This project uses an interdisciplinary approach to promote individual and community flourishing in K-12 and higher education settings by connecting research to practice. 

Why We Do This Work

A strong education system is the foundation of a flourishing society. ​Flourishing, or what is also referred to as complete wellbeing, is considered to be the ultimate aim of life (Keyes, 2002).

Governments and policymakers around the world have started to measure flourishing as a marker of national progress. While fields like public health have started to investigate ways to promote individual and community flourishing, the field of education has yet to adopt flourishing as one of its primary goals. 

Any education is, in its forms and methods, an outgrowth of the needs of the society in which it exists."

Dewey (1934)

Given that one of the primary challenges of the 21st century is the wellbeing of children and youth, education systems around the world will have to revisit their purpose and the way they are structured to meet the needs of the societies in which they exist.

Poor mental health and languishing are related to poor academic and behavioral outcomes, it is vital for the field of education to actively promote the flourishing of children and youth (Witten, Savahl, and Adams, 2019). 

Instead of approaching mental health from a reactive and deficit lens, schools will have to adopt an approach that promotes individual and community flourishing.

​Flourishing as a goal of education is not a new concept. Many education philosophers have proposed this in the past (Wolbert, de Ruyter, and Schinkel, 2015). Even though there is no agreed upon definition of flourishing,

Vanderweele (2017) states there is broad census that for an individual to flourish they must do well in at least the following five domains:

  • Mental and Physical Health
  • Meaning and Purpose
  • Close Social Relationships
  • Character and Virtue
  • Happiness and Life Satisfaction

Flourishing Standards

(Larson, Chaturvedi & Lee, 2020)

The standards below can be applied to promote flourishing within curriculum content, process, and product.

Standard I: Happiness and Life Satisfaction

HF1.1: Define happiness and life satisfaction.
HF1.2: Identify factors that promote happiness and life satisfaction.
HF1.3: Apply tools of flourishing to increase happiness and life satisfaction.
HF1.4: Analyze resources and draw connections between actions and happiness/ life satisfaction.
HF1.5: Evaluate various strategies that contribute to happiness and life satisfaction.
HF1.6: Create an action plan to increase happiness and life satisfaction.

Standard II: Mental and Physical Health

HF2.1: Define mental and physical health.
HF2.2: Identify factors that promote mental and physical health.
HF2.3: Apply tools of flourishing to increase mental and physical health.
HF2.4: Analyze resources and draw connections between actions and mental/ physical health.
HF2.5: Evaluate various strategies that contribute to mental and physical health.
HF2.6: Create an action plan to increase mental and physical health.

Standard III: Meaning and Purpose

HF3.1: Define meaning and purpose.
HF3.2: Identify factors that promote meaning and purpose.
HF3.3: Apply tools of flourishing to increase meaning and purpose.
HF3.4: Analyze resources and draw connections between actions and meaning/purpose.
HF3.5: Evaluate various strategies that contribute to meaning and purpose.

Standard IV: Character and Virtue

HF4.1: Define character and virtue.
HF4.2: Identify factors that promote character and virtue.
HF4.3: Apply tools of flourishing to increase character and virtue.
HF4.4: Analyze resources and draw connections between actions and character/ virtue.
HF4.5: Evaluate various strategies that contribute to character and virtue.
HF4.6: Create an action plan to increase character and virtue.

Standard V: Close Social Relationships

HF5.1: Define close social relationships.
HF5.2: Identify factors that promote close social relationships.
HF5.3: Apply tools of flourishing to increase close social relationships.
HF5.4: Analyze resources and draw connections between actions and close social relationships.
HF5.5: Evaluate various strategies that contribute to close social relationships.
HF5.6: Create an action plan to increase close social relationships.

Standard VI: Financial and Material Stability

HF6.1: Define financial and material stability.
HF6.2: Identify factors that promote financial and material stability.
HF6.3: Apply tools of flourishing to increase financial and material stability.
HF6.4: Analyze resources and draw connections between actions and financial and material stability.
HF6.5: Evaluate various strategies that contribute to financial and material stability.
HF6.6: Create an action plan to increase financial and material stability.

References

Dewey, J. (1934). Individual psychology and education. The Philosopher, 12. 

​Keyes, C.L.M., (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 207-222.

​Witten, H., Savahl, S. & Adams, S. (2019). Adolescent flourishing: A systematic review. 

Wolbert, L. S., de Ruyter, D.J. & Schinkel, A. (2015). Formal criteria for the concept of human flourishing: the first step in defending flourishing as an ideal aim of education. Ethics and Education, 10(1), 118–129.

VanderWeele, T.J. (2017). On Promotion of Human Flourishing. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States America.

Larson, K.E., Chaturvedi, A., & Lee, M. (2020). Education for Flourishing Standards. Presented at the Harvard Human Flourishing Program’s Community of Practice Meeting, September 29, 2020. Adapted from Bloom’s Taxonomy and Human Flourishing Index.