About the Greater Good Science Center
The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.
Based at the University of California, Berkeley, the GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: not only do we sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, we help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. Since 2001, we have been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life. And we have been without peer in our award-winning efforts to translate and disseminate this science to the public.
We have pursued this mission through the following activities, which are supported by people like you:
Greater Good magazine is home of our rich array of award-winning media, from articles to videos, quizzes, podcasts, and newsletters—all for free, for everyone. In the process, it provides a bridge between social scientists and parents, educators, community leaders, and policy makers.
Fellowships to UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students are the foundation of the Center’s scientific initiatives. The GGSC’s fellowship program supports scholars whose work relates to our mission, from across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. Previous GGSC fellows have gone on to top research and teaching positions at universities nationwide, providing a significant boost to the science of compassion, resilience, altruism, and happiness.
The GGSC Education Program provides regular coverage of new trends in social-emotional learning and contemplative practice in education and focuses on fostering the well-being of students, teachers, and school leaders. It also runs an annual Summer Institute for Educators, which equips education professionals with social-emotional learning tools that benefit both students and teachers, and cultivate a positive school climate.
Our free online course is called “The Science of Happiness.” For eight weeks, the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas lead students through the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Students 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.
GGSC events bring together leading scientists, educators, and members of the public to discuss concrete strategies for promoting the greater good. Most recently, our Science of a Meaningful Life seminar series has included presentations by luminaries like Paul Ekman, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Barbara Fredrickson, and Philip Zimbardo, many of which can be watched in our video archive.
The Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project supports the scientific research and promote evidence-based practices of gratitude in schools, workplaces, homes, and communities. This initiative is supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation and run in collaboration with the University of California, Davis.
The Raising Happiness blog, created by Christine Carter, Ph.D., the director of the GGSC’s Greater Good Parents program. In her award-winning, one-of-a-kind blog (formerly named Half Full), Carter offers science-based tips for more joyful kids and happier parents. She combines her work as a sociologist and happiness expert with her experiences as a mother, producing a rich, humorous, and credible guide to raising kids in the 21st century.
These programs are supported by donors large and small—and we hope you’ll consider signing up as a member.
Our Core Beliefs
- Compassion is a fundamental human trait, with deep psychological and evolutionary roots. By creating environments that foster cooperation and altruism, we help nurture the positive side of human nature.
- Happiness is not simply dependent on a person’s genes. It is a set of skills that can be taught, and, with practice, developed over time.
- Happiness and altruism are intertwined—doing good is an essential ingredient to being happy, and happiness helps spur kindness and generosity.
- Science should do more than help us understand human behavior and emotion in the abstract; it should be applied toward improving people’s personal and professional lives.
- Studying the roots of good, healthy, and positive behavior is just as important as studying human pathologies. To promote individual and social well-being, science must examine how people overcome difficult circumstances and how they develop positive emotions and relationships.
- Individual well-being promotes social well-being, and social well-being promotes individual well-being. The well-being of society as a whole can best be achieved by providing information, tools, and skills to those people directly responsible for shaping the well-being of others.
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