ES.S60 | Spring 2013 | Undergraduate

The Art and Science of Happiness


Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week; 2 hours / session

Experimental Study Group (ESG)

ESG sponsors 5–10 six unit pass/fail seminars each spring on a variety of innovative subjects not covered in the regular curriculum, including psychology, chemistry, social networking, mathematics, and physics. These seminars are open to all MIT students as well as ESG students and are intended to be hands-on and experiential in nature.



Course Overview

In the seminar we will look at current theories on happiness and positive psychology as well as practical implications of those theories for our own lives. We will explore the concept of happiness, different cultural definitions of happiness, and the connection between happiness, optimism, and meaning. Practical strategies for creating more opportunities for happiness in our lives and for learning how to deal more effectively with sources of unhappiness will be explored. Weekly class discussions will be supplemented with speakers, movie clips, in-class exercises, and student presentations about their interviews with others about views on happiness. Every student will choose a different type of meditation to present each week as part of the hands-on focus of this class.

Course Requirements

  • Completion of readings
  • Three (3) two-page reaction papers on class material
  • One (1) two-minute videotaped / audio interview with one grandparent or someone from of a different culture about their views on happiness
  • One (1) mini-autobiography
  • Class participation

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2013
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Activity Assignments