This course aims at offering an overview of the prominent theories and intervention areas of Positive Psychology. This approach to the study of human functioning has represented a substantial theoretical and empirical shift from the traditional outlook of psychology, focused on compensation of deficits and neutralization of problems. Positive psychology instead investigates the components of well-being, the resources, potentials, competences and abilities that individuals and communities can mobilize or develop in order to enhance their quality of life and to successfully accomplish their process of growth and empowerment. A specific attempt of this course will be the contextualization of positive psychology in time and space, taking into account its historical roots and its cultural aspects.
The promotion of happiness has been a concern for every human society throughout the millennia, and the solutions that have been offered in the past and today can differ according to the social and cultural milieu. In particular, societies today face the crucial challenge of guaranteeing equal rights and an adequate quality of life to citizens showing diversity at multiple levels: culture, religion, education, physical and mental health, social roles, personal goals and expectations. For this reason, the identification of substantial dimensions of well-being, that can be acknowledged and shared by the most diverse individuals, represents the overarching challenge for this young research domain.