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Flourishing. The Science and Practice of Well-being - summerschool


Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes. For the latest updates regarding corona virus, please check this link.

Please note: For this class there will be additional costs (about €50,-) for the excursion.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.

Please note: Are you a third-year student and will you graduate this summer? Please check with the education information centre of your bachelor ’s programme what the deadline is for registering your bachelor and honours grades in uSis? If this does not conflict with the schedule of the summer school, you can apply for the summer school.

Topics: Personal reflection, self insight, personal leadership, storytelling, awareness, authenticity, positive psychology, connection, positive impact, fun.
Skills: Personal reflection, self insight, personal leadership, storytelling, awareness, connection.
Disciplines: Positive Psychology.


Many people aspire happiness and a positive impact on the world. But what is happiness? And what can we do to experience it more often, both within ourselves as in our interaction with others? Academic research in the field of human well-being has provided a great number of insights and practical interventions which can be used to increase our well-being on an individual, organisational and social level.

In this intensive summercourse, you will learn how to increase your resilience, how to experience more optimism and meaning in your life and how to have a positive impact on your environment. So, would you like to bring out the best in yourself and others, not only as a student but also as a human being? Would you like to get to know yourself even more? This summercourse provides you with plenty scientifically based techniques that will help you to achieve these goals concretely.

This summercourse consists of a 40 hour online course on positive psychology which provides you with the theoretical background and a 2-week intensive course facilitated by Pieternel Boer and different guests.

The course covers three levels:

I – Personal insight: What do I love? What am I good at? What is meaningful to me? How do I take care of myself?

WE – Interpersonal insight: How do I relate to others?

ALL – What is my contribution to the greater good?

The meetings are largely devoted to mental, emotional and physical exercises, both individually and in groups, such as reflection and insight exercises, sharing experiences, visualization, meditation, creative exercises and mvement.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • be able to reflect on their personal development;

  • have knowledge of scientific theory in positive psychology;

  • have experience with and knowledge of practical interventions to increase their wellbeing;

  • have experience with and knowledge of ways to deal with stress and adversity

  • share and present their own personal story authentically;

  • formulate their own values and mission in life;

  • be able to work constructively and respectfully as a team.

Programme and timetable:

The programme consists of a summerschool during the period of 15 - 30 August 2022.
You have to complete the MOOC The Science of Happiness on EdX to prepare for this course.

Online course in positive psychology: The Science of Happiness, MOOC by Berkeley University
Time: 5 Hours a week. Total of 40 hours.

Summerschool week 1:

Monday, August 15 - Independent study

Prepare first class by reading.

Tuesday, August 16 - Introduction KOG, room A0.14 (10.00 – 14.30)

  • Introduction to positive psychology and the wellbeing model we'll use;

  • Getting to know each other;

  • Introduction in mindfulness.

Wednesday, August 17 - Independent study and practice

Read and practice.

Thursday, August 18 - Emotional wellbeing KOG, room A0.14 (10.00 – 14.30)

  • Discuss what you have read and share what you have practiced;

  • Cultivate positive emotions;

  • Dealing with difficult emotions;

  • Mindfulness.

Friday, August 19 - Independent study

Read and practice.

Summerschool week 2:

Monday, August 22 - Intellectual wellbeing Old Observatory, room C005 (10.00 - 14.30)

  • Discuss what you’ve read and share what you’ve practiced;

  • Learn to fail or fail to learn: dealing with perfectionism and your inner critic;

  • Cultivating self compassion and kindness;

  • Mindfulness.

Tuesday, August 23 - Relational wellbeing Old Observatory, room C005 (10.00 - 14.30)

  • Discuss what you’ve read and share what you’ve practiced;

  • Building positive relationships;

  • Cultivating gratitude;

  • Strengths and challenges: learning from your allergy;

  • Mindfulness.

Wednesday, August 24 - Independent study

  • Read and practice;

  • Prepare group assignment.

Thursday, August 25 - Spiritual wellbeing Old Observatory, room C005 (10.00 - 14.30)

  • Discuss what you’ve read and share what you’ve practiced;

  • Cultivate meaning and mindfulness in your life;

  • Workshop by Jeroen van der Heijden.

Friday, August 26 - Independent study

  • Read and practice;

  • Prepare groupd assignment.

Summerschool week 3: Two day Retreat in Schoorl

Monday, August 29 & Tuesday, August 30

During these 2 days we will have enough time and space to practice and explore deeper the different topics of the past two weeks. The programme consists of students’ personal presentations, mini workshops facilitated by the student groups and different kind of exercises and experiences facilitated by the course teacher. More information on the programme and practicalities will follow.

Leiden University Kamerlingh Onnes building, room A014, Old Observatory, room C005 and Schoorl

Reading list:

  • Book: Happier. No matter what. Cultivating hope, resilience and purpose in hard times – Tal Ben-Shahar

  • Articles and videos will be made available online

Teaching method:

  • Blended learning: the course is a combination of an online MOOC and real time group sessions;

  • Experiential learning: all exercises are experiential-based, so learning takes place through experiencing and sharing. Theoretical background is supplied in the online course and through independent reading;

  • Applied approach: the course is practical and hands-on;

  • Integral approach: we look at human flourishing from a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual perspective.

Course load:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours:

  • Online lectures and assignments: 40 hours;

  • Workshops: 40 hours (attendance is mandatory);

  • Individual written reflection: 20 hours;

  • Personal presentation: 10 hours;

  • Group assignment: 30 hours.

Assessment methods:

  • Participation and attendance (students can’t miss more than 1 session);

  • Reflection report of MOOC Science of Happiness Berkeley University (pass/fail);

  • Individual written reflection on your personal process (pass/fail);

  • Personal presentation during retreat (pass/fail);

  • Group assignment (pass/fail).

Students could only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.
The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.

We chose to not grade this class to consciously focus on learning, growing, trying, failing, experimenting and enjoying. It’s about understanding oneself a bit better, getting to know yourself and others in a different way and challenging yourself in a personal way, whatever that means to you.

A separate course syllabus will be provided with more information on the readings and assignments.

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Registration process:

Please note: For this class there will be additional costs (about €50,-) for the excursion to Schoorl.

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 1 November 2021 up to and including Thursday 11 November 2021 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.

Pieternel Boer