The Future of Positive Psychology at Home and Overseas

With the success of Action for Happiness, national indexes of well-being as well as a growing number of MAPP programmes within Europe, it seems as if positive psychology is here to stay. This year, we had the largest application numbers on record and hope to continue this trend whilst continuing to provide quality instruction and learning environments.  Even in these uncertain economic times, people are investing in their future, knowledge and personal development through education.

From a postgraduate perspective, in January 2012, Bucks New University launched its intention to offer the 2nd Masters in Applied Positive Psychology here in the UK. Led by Professor Piers Worth, the course will be similarly run over a part time, 2 year basis. Students are required to take 6 modules based on positive psychology, in addition to 2 research methods and their final dissertation.

In the first year, students focus on ‘The nature of positive psychology’ which covers the fundamental topics in positive psychology including: ‘happiness, flourishing and well-being, Strengths, flow, positive emotion’. In year two, the programme focuses more on change and change models, (pathways of change/journey of change), as well as more challenging topics such as hope and resilience (adapted from

The addition of a 2nd MAPP within the UK, creates exciting opportunities for collaboration and development of the two programmes, thereby enhancing the credibility and visibility of positive psychology within the UK.


Positive psychology across the pond- a Canadian Perspective

Just over a week ago, I was sent an excitable email by my mum stating that Canada had now created a positive psychology association and was hosting its 1st conference in Toronto, Ontario. The Canadian positive psychology association (CPPA) ( is a major step in the development of positive psychology in North America.

Canadians have been making headway in the research and applications of Positive psychology, however they may have been mistaken for their American counterparts. These include: Veronica Huta (University of Ottawa), Dr. Tayyab Rashid  (University of Toronto) Dr. Paul Wong (Tyndale University- Toronto), Kate Hays (Toronto), John Abela (McGill University), Joan Wood (Waterloo University) and many more.

Probably the most ground breaking progress towards the acceptance of positive psychology in higher education in Canada, occurred this January when one of the oldest and most prestigious Universities, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, offered its undergraduates a module option on positive psychology. ( .

This was shocking to me on two levels: First of all, I was raised in Kingston so this was exciting that my old stomping grounds were considering positive psychology and secondly, they were offering it at a university I specifically declined as they were too ‘traditional’ and here they were offering something so far ‘left field’ as positive psychology! In July, on a trip home, I made sure I met with the module leader, Professor Dean Tripp. I had to meet the man who turned Queens’s psychology on its head. Professor Tripp, an academic not afraid to take chances, was a delight to meet and after several hours of conversation, I invited him to come this spring and talk about his experiences of getting positive psychology on the syllabus and actual teaching of it.[1] (


Future of MAPP at UEL

Although we are only into the start of 2012, we are already confirming our class list for September 2012 intake. This intake will represent the 7th cohort, and 6 and a half years of positive psychology at the university of East London, founded by Dr. Ilona Boniwell, in February 2007. Also commencing this September 2012 is a Distance Learning MAPP option, which will be lead by Dr. Joan Painter.

In January 2012, MAPP introduced its first ever internship programme aimed at enhancing students’ experiential knowledge real-world experience to add to their cv’s. Based on a rolling structure, students have the opportunity to work with individual team members, one day a week, focusing on research, data collection/data entry, writing, programme development and much more. With the development of the resilience initiative (see Chris Jones’ article below), The young foundation has also created opportunities for current  MAPP students, most recently with regards to the Bounce Back programme and its implementation in the UK. We hope to continue this trend of offering students with some real world experience before going out into the workplace.

Next year, we hope to re-instate an alumni event, which will enable students and staff to catch up with former and current students. This links with the concept of PPQ and enhancing communication between positive psychology alumni and current MAPP attendees. Any students wishing to help with this please contact a member of the MAPP team to discuss.

As a final point,  with the changes to higher education funding and staffing shortages across the schools, we hope that staff and students continue to work together to create the dynamic educational environment (both within class and without) that has been at the heart of MAPP’s success thus far.

[1] Please come to our lecture on ‘Positive psychology across the pond’, Saturday, April 14th, 1-3, in room CC101. All current and former students welcome.


Dr Kate Hefferon PhD

Senior Lecturer/Programme Leader, MAPP UK


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