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Grant number like: AQ-50033-09

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Scripps College (Claremont, CA 91711-3948)
Nathalie Rachlin (Project Director: November 2008 to June 2012)

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants
Education Programs

$21,000 (approved)
$21,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 12/31/2011

What Is Happiness?

The development of a course that explores the question, What is happiness? by taking a historical overview of its changing interpretations from Greek antiquity to the present day.

Most people seem to agree that happiness is one of life's most important goals, yet they do not know how to achieve it. What is it about happiness that makes the concept and perhaps its reality so elusive? In the last two decades, social scientists, mostly psychologists and economists, have done much research on the topic that was once primarily the domain of philosophy, ethics, and religion. The "hard" science of happiness is still in its infancy, but neurobiologists are starting to understand the chemistry of happiness. Yet, for all our scientific findings, the concept of happiness remains as mysterious and contradictory as it was for the ancient Greeks. Through an exploration of the ways in which thinkers across time, across cultures, and across disciplines have tried to answer the question "What is happiness"?, this course aims to provide students with a set of conceptual tools and research findings that informs their own reflections on what it means to be happy.