Leadership for well-being and happiness: Positive psychology in an Australian university language centre in the UAE.

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Date: 10th May 2019

Time: 12:10 – 12:55

Room: Parkview 2

Presented By: Dr Debra McDermott

A fundamental aspect of academic leadership is the well-being of students and staff. Well-being and happiness is an important topic in all fields of education as a precursor to successful learning and academic development. It was the focus of a recent global forum of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education in which ways of reconceptualising student success were explored by academics from various corners of the world, including Australia; and in the UAE a general emphasis on happiness has been encouraged by the government with the renaming of customer service centres as ‘happiness’ centres, for example, and with the establishment of a Ministry of Happiness. This presentation describes an initiative implemented at the language centre of an Australian university in the UAE in which models and concepts drawn from positive psychology were used to tackle changing student needs and markets. Involving radical revisions of all aspects of the operation and curricula related to university and public English language courses, an integrated approach constructed around student (and staff) well-being and happiness was introduced. The process of design and implementation will be shared and the results to date in terms of student and staff responses and learning outcomes will be discussed.