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Tyler J. VanderWeele

Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Tyler J. VanderWeele, Ph.D., is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program and Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality at Harvard University. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance, and biostatistics. His methodological research is focused on theory and methods for distinguishing between association and causation in the biomedical and social sciences, and, more recently, on measurement theory and the importance of incorporating ideas from causal inference and analytic philosophy into measure development and evaluation. His empirical research spans psychiatric and social epidemiology; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health, including both religion and population health and the role of religion and spirituality in end-of-life care. He is the recipient of the 2017 Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS). He has published over three hundred papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is author of the books Explanation in Causal Inference (2015) and Measuring Well-Being (2020), both published by Oxford University Press.

>Presentation Topic: Human Flourishing and Education

Human flourishing might be understood as a state in which all aspects of a person’s life are good, inclusive of happiness and life satisfaction, physical and mental health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, and close social relationships. Assessments of flourishing from self-report can be helpful for purposes of reflection, identifying potential areas for growth, and for understanding patterns and trends over time. Various aspects of flourishing can be enhanced by simple activities such as practicing gratitude, or acts of kindness, or working towards forgiveness and these could be incorporated into educational settings. However, to improve other domains of flourishing such as purpose or character or relationships, longer-term commitments and institutional involvement may be critical for the promotion of flourishing. Empirical studies suggest that education is one such crucial pathway for enhancing well-being. Empowering high-quality education for all could powerfully transform societal flourishing. Bringing existing flourishing resources, assessments, and activities into schools and universities could both enhance individual flourishing but also promote the broader communal well-being of educational institutions.

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