top of page

Resources and Publications

Image by Bernd Klutsch


Coming Soon!
Leadership Presentation

Papers Presented

Coming Soon!
Resources and Publications: Work

Blogs and Short Summaries

Photo 1 - A Fearless Mind and a Bright Future.png

A Fearless Mind and a Bright Future: Uncovering the Ingredients for Adolescent Flourishing

By Jamie Humphrey, Rebecca Tiessen, Melani O’Leary, Judy White, Carol Henry

What does it mean for youth to flourish? Read about our work in Templeton World's Charity Foundation Blog.

Resources and Publications: Projects
Image by Shane Rounce

Flourishing: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

A Brief Introduction by Rebecca Tiessen and Nnenna Okoli

The conceptual framework known as human flourishing offers immense potential for the examination of wellbeing, resilience, empowerment, and development. In this blog, we explore how human flourishing has been used across diverse fields including psychology, philosophy, economics, sociology, and health studies (Avedissian & Alayan, 2021; Vitterso, 2016). 

Health studies has used the language of flourishing and wellbeing to explore the opportunities and constraints to wellness. Health is defined as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (WHO, 1948). Health experts recognize that  wellbeing is holistic and it is a function of the totality of an individual’s environmental, social, political, economic, and emotional systems rather than the mere absence of diseases as earlier imagined (Prescott et al., 2019). Physical health, in conjunction with mental health, social connectedness, economic security, and favourable environmental conditions are critical to wellbeing (Diener & Seligman, 2004). Moreso, the concept of wellbeing, though not quite prevalent in sociologists’ works, has been relatively theorized by drawing heavily on the work of psychologists (Veenhoven, 2008). Sociology scholarship has focused on the societal conditions that affect subjective wellbeing such as social participation and social connectedness (Veenhoven, 2008). Opportunities for membership and participation in voluntary groups like churches; participation in democratic processes; and possession of social ties have been associated with higher levels of subjective wellbeing in sociology (Veenhoen, 2004; 2006).

Hedonia and eudaimonia serve as the foundation for a holistic wellbeing concept that emerged in positive psychology called human flourishing (Seligman, 2011). The concept was first used by Keyes (2002) to refer to the presence of mental health, and contrasted with languishing, the absence of mental health. It has since become equivalent to a high measure of mental wellbeing among individuals. Overall, a person flourishes when high levels of hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing can be observed (Schotanus-Dijkstra et al., 2016). The parallelism of flourishing and core indicators of positive development has made the construct a suitable scale for assessing subjective wellbeing (de la Fuente et al., 2020). 

In the field of philosophy, wellbeing refers to what is good for an individual or what makes an individual’s life go well. The notion of wellbeing or the good life in philosophy has been understood principally through two traditions: hedonia and eudaimonia (Vittersø, 2004; Huppert and So 2009; Esteban-Gonzalo et al. 2020). On the one hand, hedonic wellbeing propounded by Aristippus refers to individuals’ experience of positive affect (e.g., happiness, pleasure) or negative affect (e.g., pain, anger, sadness) and the association of either feelings with activities or life events (Tesar & Peters, 2020). Eudaimoniac wellbeing proposed by Aristotle, on the other hand, concerns individuals’ feeling of fulfillment in relation to their level of functioning in different aspects of their lives, and it emphasizes personal growth, competence, meaning and purpose in life and self-actualization (Ryan & Deci, 2001).

These philosophical ideas have strongly influenced the conceptualization of subjective wellbeing in psychology. Also known as happiness, subjective wellbeing refers to a multidimensional self-reported evaluation of wellbeing or a measure of how people perceive the quality of their lives based on an affective evaluation of emotions and cognitive evaluation of life satisfaction (Diener, 1984). Ryff (1989) operationalized subjective/psychological wellbeing using a multi-item scale consisting of six (6) dimensions of wellbeing: self-acceptance, positive relations with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth. Subjective wellbeing has also been simply understood to comprise of three elements: life evaluation (e.g. income satisfaction, health satisfaction, work satisfaction), affect (anger, worry, happiness, etc.), and eudaimonia/psychological flourishing (competence, autonomy, meaning and purpose) (OECD, 2013, p. 33). 

Resources and Publications: Welcome

Rethinking the Idea of Prosperity (As Flourishing)

and what it means in the context of V4D and the promotion of the SDGs

Resources and Publications: Text
Resources and Publications: Work

Swipe to Read More from the 2022 Think Piece by Dr. Rebecca Tiessen

The SDGs (or Global Goals) are “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure thatby 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity”. While the 17 SDGs that make up the Global Goals provide detailed information about the 169 SDG targets and tracking across 232 unique indicators, these commitments also warrant closer attention to what prosperity means, to whom, and how it can be measured within the volunteering for development (V4D) sector. 

Human Flourishing: A Review of Conceptual Frameworks

by Rebecca Tiessen and Nnenna Okoli

Overview of Analytical Frameworks

June 2022

Human flourishing and wellbeing convey a complex, holistic, and people-centered concept promoting the ‘good life’, ‘quality of life’, ‘welfare’, ‘prosperity’, ‘life satisfaction’ , etc. (Pinto et al., 2017; Ahanonu & Jooste, 2016). 

While flourishing broadly denotes an individual’s perception that life is going well, the existing literature on the concept is bereft of a unified definition and conceptual framework (Witten et al, 2019). Some of the important conceptual frameworks of flourishing were proposed by scholars like Jahoda (1958); Keyes (2002); Huppert & So (2009; 2013); Ryan & Deci (2001); Ryff (1989); Diener et al., (2010); Lippman et al. (2014); and Orkibi et al. (2018). For instance, Huppert & So’s (2009) operational conceptual framework suggests that the following are core and supplementary features of flourishing: Positive emotions, engagement and interest, meaning and purpose, self-esteem, optimism, resilience, vitality, self-determination, and positive relationships. In a follow up study, their conceptual framework defined flourishing by identifying the symptoms of two mental health disorders and examining the opposite of these symptoms (Huppert & So, 2013). By analyzing anxiety and depression symptoms, they argue that flourishing or positive wellbeing entails ‘positive characteristics’ like emotional stability, vitality, optimism, resilience, positive emotion, and self-esteem, and ‘positive functioning’like engagement, competence, meaning, and positive relationships. Another measure of social–psychological prosperity was presented by Diener et al. (2010). Their Flourishing Scale reflects the priorities of existing theories of subjective wellbeing and it emphasizes social relationships, having a purposeful and meaningful life, engagement, interest, competence, and capability in activities of interest to an individual. 

More so, scholars have suggested that flourishing involves much more than mental health and feelings about life. VanderWeele (2017) argues that extant conceptualizations of flourishing that rest on the hedonia and eudaimonia tradition, and incorporate concepts like self-esteem, meaning and purpose, positive relationships, resilience, etc. may suffice in understanding psychological health but not overall wellbeing. Conceptualizing flourishing as a broader all-encompassing construct, VanderWeele’s (2017) framework defines flourishing as being or performing well in 5 main domains of life: happiness and life satisfaction; health (mental and physical); meaning and purpose; character and virtue; and close social relationships. These domains are interrelated and can be achieved through the pathways of family, work, education, and religious community. 

Similarly, Lippman et al. (2014) developed a broad conceptual framework that measures positive development among adolescents in six areas of flourishing: Flourishing in school and work, personal flourishing, flourishing in relationships, relationship skills, helping others to flourish, and environmental stewardship. Their conceptual framework assesses flourishing among adolescents across the individual, relationship and context domains. The individual domain concerns physical health, development, and safety; cognitive development and education; psychological and emotional development; social development and behavior; and spiritual development and religiosity, while relationship and context domains analyze family, peers, school, community and macrosystems. Orkibi et al. (2018) also emphasize the importance of positive emotions in their conceptualization of flourishing in adolescents. Based on positive psychology literature, they assert that personal flourishing is present among adolescents who have strong self-control skills and high positivity ratio (i.e., the ability to experience more positive emotions than negative emotions), while interpersonal flourishing is indicated by adolescents’ perception of a high availability of social support from parents and peers. Also relying on the positive psychology, Seligman (2011, p. 16) proposed five (5) elements of wellbeing/flourishing including positive emotion (the pleasant life, e.g., pleasure and ecstasy), engagement, meaning, positive relationships and accomplishment. He argued that these elements, also known as P.E.R.M.A have three distinct characteristics: they all contribute to wellbeing; they are pursued for their inherent value; and they are each defined and measured independently.

Resources and Publications: Work


Resources and Publications: Text

Innovations in Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

This book was co-edited by two PhD students, and all chapters were written by students at different levels of study from undergrad to PhD.

Innovations in Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Book Cover
Resources and Publications: Work
bottom of page