International Positive Education Network: New Global Campaign Group Challenges Narrow, Exam-driven Approach to Education

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IPEN launches with support from Live Happy LLC.

A new global organization, the International Positive Education Network (IPEN), has launched, with support from Dallas-based Live Happy LLC. IPEN’s campaign calls for a radical shift in how young people are educated.

IPEN’s campaign is built around evidence showing that developing pupils’ character strengths and wellbeing are as important as academic achievement to their future success and happiness [More details on key research here ].

With a rising epidemic of young mental health problems and a narrowing of the school experience, the need for a new approach to education is urgent.

IPEN is calling on like-minded individuals and organizations to sign our Manifesto for Positive Education and demonstrate the strong desire for change we believe exists around the world.

Commenting on the launch, James O’Shaughnessy, chair of IPEN and former director of policy to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, said:

“Young people are crying out for a new approach to education, one that prepares them to live a good, meaningful life that is full of purpose.

“That is where positive education comes in. It supports intellectual development and the cultivation of the mind, but it places equal value on the development of character strengths to help young people flourish.

“We are calling on everyone who supports this broader approach to education to sign our Manifesto and make their voices heard.”

Martin Seligman, Senior Adviser to IPEN and the Zellerbach Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, said:

“The high prevalence worldwide of depression among young people, the small rise in life satisfaction, and the synergy between learning and positive emotion all argue that the skills for flourishing should be taught in school.

“There is substantial evidence that students can be taught good character, resilience, positive emotion, engagement and meaning, in such a way that also supports and amplifies their academic studies.

“By taking this broader approach – which I call positive education – we can give our young people the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.”

Angela Duckworth, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and IPEN board member, said:

“Positive education reminds us that our students are our children. Their character and wellbeing matter as much as their ability to read, write and solve problems.

“In life, their success and satisfaction will depend as much on their honesty, kindness, gratitude, grit, self-control, and curiosity – to name just a few of the priorities of a positive education. There is no trade-off in terms of academic achievement, because students who excel in these qualities also excel in learning.

“Educating the whole child is a victory for all concerned.”

Notes to editors

Contact Us:

  • E-mail author James O’Shaughnessy: james(at)floreat(dot)org(dot)uk
  • E-mail us: PosEdNet(at)gmail(dot)com
  • Follow us on twitter @PosEdNet
  • Like us on facebook at Positive Education Network

Full list of our steering committee members:

James O’Shaughnessy
Chair of the Steering Committee of IPEN
Founder of Floreat Education

Martin Seligman
Senior Advisor to IPEN
Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology
Director, Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania

Ilona Boniwell
Director, Positran and Visiting Principal Lecturer
Anglia Ruskin University

Angela Duckworth
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Hector Escamilla
Universidad TecMilenio

Kristján Kristjánsson
Deputy Director
Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

Lim Lai Cheng
Senior Advisor & Fellow
School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University

Simon Murray
St Peter’s College, Adelaide

James Pawelski
Director of Education and Senior Scholar
Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania

Kaiping Peng
Chair, Department of Psychology
Tsinghua University

Dominic Randolph
Head of School
Riverdale Country School, New York

Christopher Stawski
Director for Strategic Program Initiatives
John Templeton Foundation

Jeff Olson
Owner of Live Happy

Deborah K. Heisz
COO and Co-Founder of Live Happy

Stuart Johnson
CEO Success Magazine

IPEN would like to thank Live Happy ( for its ongoing financial support.

About Live Happy - Live Happy LLC is dedicated to promoting and sharing authentic happiness through education, integrity, gratitude and community awareness. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, its mission is to impact the world by bringing the happiness movement to a personal level and inspiring people to engage in living positive, healthy and meaningful lives. For more information, please visit

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Alessandra Carriero
Krupp Kommunications
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