Steven E.F. Brown
Jun 30, 2014San Francisco Business Times

A free online course called “Science of Happiness” at the University of California, Berkeley, has attracted 50,000 students so far, and it doesn’t start until September.

The Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, is being taught by Cal psychologistDacher Keltner and neuroscientistEmiliana Simon-Thomas, through the edX platform.

Most of the 50,000 who’ve signed up since Jan. 1, UC Berkeley said, “belong to the Millennial Generation” aged 18 to 33. More than 60 percent of them are women.

“It’s become clear that millennials are seeking a new model of the meaningful life,” said Keltner. “Our course will be a science-based platform for the lives they are creating. Indeed, the course description begins, “We all want to be happy, and there are countless ideas about what happiness is and how we can get some. But not many of those ideas are based on science.”

In speculating about interest from millennials, Cal suggested that they’d been profoundly affected by the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

Steven E.F. Brown
Jun 30, 2014San Francisco Business Times


The course comes out of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, which Keltner started and where Simon-Thomas is science director.

“People are hungry for the science of happiness because they’ve hit a wall — in that they’ve obtained all the things they thought would make them happy, and found themselves still disenchanted,” she said.

The Greater Good Science Center said it gets 350,000 monthly unique visitors to its website.

Keltner teaches a traditional offline class called “Human Happiness,” which usually has 400 people on its waiting list, UC Berkeley said. This online course evolved out of that class.

And what’s the secret? You can sign up for the class here, or meditate on this conclusion in the course description — “the course zeroes in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself — the greater good.”

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