About the Greater Good Science Center



image Berkeley alumni Thomas and Ruth Ann Hornaday

Founded in 2001, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley (originally called the Center for the Development of Peace & Well-Being) sprang from the generosity and inspiration of Berkeley alumni Thomas and Ruth Ann Hornaday (pictured at left). The Hornadays found synergy between their personal interests and the research of UC Berkeley psychologists Dacher Keltner, Phil and Carolyn Cowan, and Steve Hinshaw. Believing that “you can’t have peaceful institutions without peaceful people,” the Hornadays wanted to create an interdisciplinary research center that would promote the science of inner peace and well-being.

Together with the Center’s founding executive committee, the Hornadays imagined an organization that would identify the roots of healthy relationships and flourishing individuals, exploring qualities such as compassion, altruism, respect, trust, tolerance, and wisdom. Such a center would not only sponsor academic research but also disseminate that research to parents, teachers, and other practitioners, helping them apply scientific findings to their personal and professional lives.

The Hornadays’ initial gift established the Center, its fellowship program, and a series of public events. Since its inception, the Center’s fellowship program has supported dozens of undergraduate and graduate research fellows, fostering the next generation of experts on the science of a meaningful life. And its public events have included workshops, conferences, and talks by figures such as Jonathan Kozol, Arlie Hochschild, and Robert Reich. Distinct from traditional academic conferences, the Center’s events have brought together leading authors, scientists, educators, and the public to discuss concrete strategies for promoting empathy, heroism, and family well-being.

The Hornadays’ gift, together with funding from The Herb Alpert Foundation, also enabled the Center to launch Greater Good magazine, combining science and storytelling to report on groundbreaking new research into compassion, happiness, and altruism. The magazine was designed to offer a unique service to readers, providing a bridge between science and practice.

The Center published the first issue of Greater Good in 2004, and the response was overwhelming. The Utne Reader named it one of the best new publications of the year, and it nearly sold out of its first few issues. With additional funding from The Herb Alpert Foundation, Greater Good grew from a semi-annual to a quarterly magazine in 2007 and rapidly increased its circulation.

In 2007, the Center also launched a new project, again with seed funding from The Herb Alpert Foundation, Half Full: Science for Raising Happy Kids, a one-of-a-kind blog that offers research-based tips for promoting joy, gratitude, and other positive behaviors in children. Written by sociologist and happiness expert Christine Carter, Half Full quickly attracted a large and dedicated readership nationwide.

In an effort to expand the reach of Greater Good and ensure its long-term sustainability, while also better integrating Greater Good and Half Full, in 2009 the Center decided to shift Greater Good to an online-only format. With funding from the Quality of Life Foundation, the Center also launched its Science of a Meaningful Life event series, featuring talks by some of the world’s experts on the science of social and emotional well-being.

The Center has relaunched Greater Good in its new online-only format, complementing the magazine’s articles and the Half Full blog (now renamed Raising Happiness) with many multimedia features, including videos from the Science of a Meaningful Life series, Greater Good podcasts, and discussion forums for the large (and growing) Greater Good Science Center community. It has also recently seen its work reach a wider audience through several GGSC books, including two anthologies of Greater Good articles, The Compassionate Instinct (WW Norton, 2010) and Are We Born Racist? (Beacon Press, forthcoming), along with the best-selling Born to Be Good (WW Norton, 2009), by GGSC founding director Dacher Keltner, and Christine Carter’s Raising Happiness (Random House, 2010).

Growing the Greater Good

As the Center continues to expand its activities and cultural impact, it is looking to people like you to help it grow even further. Click here to learn more about how you can help the Center nurture and disseminate cutting-edge research. And if you would like to contribute to the Greater Good Science Center, please click here, or contact us at 510-642-2490 or by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Join Us

Become a member of the Greater Good Science Center to enjoy exclusive articles, videos, discounts, and other special benefits.




Greater Good Events

The Science of Happiness

Register for the acclaimed online course through the end of May

The Science of Happiness

A free online course exploring the roots of a happy, meaningful life. Co-taught by the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas. Up to 16 CE credit hours available.


Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!


Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.


Greater Good Resources


Book of the Week

The Moral Molecule By Paul J. Zak A look at the hormone oxytocin's role in trust and how that may be the basis of a well-functioning economic system.

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"Greater Good offers a first-rate service to those who want to track new and important research findings in social and emotional intelligence."  
Daniel Goleman

Best-selling author,
Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence

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