Teaching Positive Psychology: Successes and Challenges in Implementing Two Introductory Short Courses at Waseda University, Japan


Diverging from the ‘deficit’ model prominent in much of 20th century psychology, positive psychology may be defined as the scientific study of positive human phenomena - including happiness, hope, and human potentials. Since its emergence in the 1990s, positive psychology has undergone a rapid proliferation in theory, research, and applications. Parallel with this, there has been an ‘explosion’ of taught positive psychology programmes, particularly at tertiary level. Several of these (e.g. at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of East London) are Master’s degree programmes with more extensive curricula, while many others take the form of certificate or diploma courses or ‘short’ courses. This paper reviews the structure, content, and implementation of two 8-week short courses - titled ‘Introduction to Positive Psychology: Theory and Research’ and ‘Introduction to Positive Psychology: Issues and Applications’ - at Waseda University, Japan. As these were the first positive psychology courses to be offered in the university - and among the first in Japan - their implementation provided a number of novel insights in (a) teaching positive psychology with mixed-ability and mixed-background learners at tertiary level and (b) adapting positive psychology curriculum, teaching methods, and learning activities to negotiate ‘clashes’ between the Western sentiment that underlies North American and European positive psychologies and the differing cultural perspectives among learners in Asia. Successes and challenges in the implementation of the courses will be discussed and a series of questions posed regarding the future of positive psychology teaching, particularly in Japan and other Asian tertiary education

Author Information
Elvyra Rombs, Waseda University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2015
Stream: Conflicting perspectives in learning and teaching

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