The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote: Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence
Historically, the pursuit of happiness has preoccupied peoples across the globe. For most of us, the pursuit of happiness is a lifelong quest. What happiness really is and what really makes humans happy has been a source of inspiration and contentious debate throughout history. With the goal of both celebrating the richness and diversity of answers and gaining newer insights and understanding into mankind’s pursuit of happiness, the Arts and Humanities Council proposes that SOU adopt the theme of Exploring Happiness as its Campus Theme during the 2012-13 academic year.
For centuries, philosophers, religious people, artists, and writers have pondered the question of happiness. More recently, research in the biological sciences, in particular evolutionary biology, genetics and neuroscience, and cognitive psychology are shedding new light on the subject with huge implications for our understanding of what happiness is, what makes humans happy, and why. Social scientists are examining the issue from a socio-economic-political perspective. Throughout the year, we will explore this fundamental human experience from a variety of disciplines.
Happiness touches all facets of our lives and therefore nearly all disciplines on campus can participate and contribute their knowledge of the subject in a truly multidisciplinary spirit. The relationship and potential conflict between individual happiness and the happiness of others can stimulate lively debate as well as have serious public policy implications. Towards covering the wide reach of the subject, as in the previous years, the different school areas will be invited to take the lead in helping us in our explorations. We will begin with the arts and humanities taking the lead in the fall followed by the natural sciences in winter, and conclude with the social sciences in the spring.
In this connection, we are pleased to note that next April our theme will coincide with a national initiative called the Pursuit of Happiness Day. We will join campuses and communities across the country and celebrate the Pursuit of Happiness Day to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday and the phrase “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence document.
As with our previous themes, the goal is for the campus and our larger community to engage in rigorous intellectual conversations about this important subject, informed by the latest research, scholarship, and insights from a wide variety of perspectives.