Scene on Campus

Better Living 101

In record numbers, students flock to a psychology course on the good life.

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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What can psychology tell us about living a better life? The students shown here, getting ready for their first quiz in Psychology 157, are going to find out. Professor Laurie Santos (on stage, right) hit a nerve with Psychology and the Good Life, which she offered for the first time (and, she has said, the last) in this term. According to the course description, the class will provide “insights into how to live a better life and build a better world,” including “scientifically validated strategies for becoming happier, achieving behavior change, handling cognitive biases, and picking a meaningful career.” The course comes at a “zeitgeist moment,” says Santos, head of Silliman College. “In the last few years, research into positive psychology and behavior change has given us lots of new insights.” After nearly a quarter of Yale’s undergrads enrolled—some 1,200, a record for Yale College—the course was moved to Woolsey Hall. It has been written up by news outlets from the New York Times to China’s Xinhua News Agency and will be available online through Coursera starting in March.

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