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An undergraduate course on how to be happy? Cheers to that

An undergraduate psychology course titled “psychology and the good life”, which aims to teach students how to lead a happier life, has seen enrolments of 1,182 undergraduates – the largest enrolment in a single course ever in Yale’s 316-year history

editorials Updated: Feb 02, 2018 23:13 IST
Hindustan Times
Yale,Yale happiness course,psychology and the good life
In the rat race of college admissions, as we have seen very often in India, many teenagers sacrifice everything from sleep to sanity and even sometimes, their lives(Praful Gangurde/ Hindustan Times)

Indian students can take heart. Even students in Yale are unhappy. An undergraduate psychology course, titled “psychology and the good life”, which aims to teach students how to lead a happier life, has seen enrolments of 1,182 undergraduates – the largest enrolment in a single course ever in the Ivy League institution’s 316-year history. The professor teaching the course, Dr. Laurie Santos, has said to the New York Times that she thinks it will be “the hardest class at Yale” because it will require students to make a real change in their lives, and hold themselves accountable. For some students. the size of the class may hint at an easy grade and perhaps hold the promise of some useful life hacks.

The fact that one in every four undergraduates on campus has signed up for a course on positive psychology is being seen as proof of the mental health crisis in institutes of higher education. Just as in India, students in high school in the US, according to Dr. Santos, have had to prioritise their careers and work pressures over their own personal happiness in order to be able to get into Yale in the first place. In the rat race of college admissions, many teenagers sacrifice everything from sleep to sanity and sometimes even their lives. Seen in that light, an undergraduate course that can teach those born after Y2K to be happier is a welcome move. A generation plagued by boredom and trapped in a screen-mediated world of snapchat filters and fake news could well use some effective tips on how to lead a fulfilling life that is not all about a big car, a large penthouse, and a corner office.

Interestingly, Yale doesn’t plan to offer the course again next year. The logistics of conducting a course on this scale – with teaching assistants, finding a space that can fit the number of students who have signed up, even the reduced subscription for courses running in parallel – is not something that the university can afford. However, Dr. Santos has been reported to be readying the course material for a massive open online course (MOOC), and perhaps those who don’t have the privilege of being undergraduates at Yale might still be able to benefit from the course.

First Published: Feb 02, 2018 19:16 IST