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Russell Sage College was one of 11 nonprofit organizations selected to work with graduate students in the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Arts in Positive Psychology program in spring 2021. 

Penn’s MAPP program and Center for Positive Psychology are internationally recognized for conducting research in strengths-based approaches to well-being and resilience 

Four students from the MAPP program served as consultants to thrive @ Russell Sage. 

Thrive @ Russell Sage is a signature program that emphasizes individual, social and environmental well-being for all students and employees. 

Since launching in 2020, Thrive has hosted an outstanding online panel on mass vaccinations, with more than 500 views; collaborated on curricular initiatives with the college’s general education and first-year experience programs; formed a working group to pursue a sustainability credential from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education; and collaborated with Human Resources to offer incentives to employees for wellness-related activities. 

The partnership with MAPP has helped Sage enhance and expand thrive programming, said Kathleen Kelly, Ph.D., MPH, MS, FNP, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Sage and co-chair of thrive

Positive Psychology offers a model for organizational and personal growth that starts from a positive premise, emphasizing what is going well, said Ellen Cole, Ph.D., professor of psychology, member of the thrive task force and MAPP graduate.

Cole said a Positive Psychology approach will help Sage leverage its existing strengths — like its supportive culture and respected health sciences programs — to increase well-being throughout the Sage community.

The MAPP students produced an in-depth report with concrete suggestions for curricular interventions and branded events to support positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment among members of the Sage community. (Known by the acronym PERMA, these are the central elements of well-being according to Positive Psychology.) 

Plans that have emerged from thrive’s work with the MAPP program include a college-wide book club to discuss Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin E. P. Seligman. Seligman, a best selling author and founder of the Center for Positive Psychology, will speak at Sage on October 4. 

Thrive will host activities connected with the book Mindset:The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck in spring 2022.  

In addition to Positive Psychology expertise, the MAPP candidates brought professional experience from the military, education, human resources, technology startups and nonprofit leadership to the thrive project. Their service to Sage was the culminating project for their Applying Positive Interventions in Institutions class. 

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