A New Eden: Increasing Global Well-Being through Positive Psychology and Social Capital

Fleming, Carl J.
MAPP Capstone Project
Martin E. P. Seligman
August 1, 2010

The international development community has embraced social capital as a conceptual innovation with the potential to solve a diverse array of global problems. The movement toward social capital has been driven by recent literature on sustainability, which indicates that purely economic aid should be complemented with assistance that actually improves the quality of people’s lives. Well-being in development is therefore not solely about money, but also about meaning, positive relationships, engagement and healthy institutions. At this juncture, the social sciences can play an important role in international development by improving the well-being of global communities. Modern psychology has shifted from the study of dysfunction and disorder to psychological well-being, placing its focus on the realization of human potential. There is now a serious science, positive psychology, that is dedicated to building psychological well-being and social capital by measuring and providing interventions for human “flourishing.” Given the current focus on the need for improving the well-being of developing nations, there is an evident need for the formation of what this author calls the Flourishing Initiative for New Economies, or FINE for short. The initiative will create, measure and operationalize “well-being social capital,” and provide an innovative approach to enhancing or protecting the myriad of programs and investments currently being implemented by international development agencies, regional development banks, and nongovernmental organizations.

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