Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 500874-M-6
Positive Institutions
Course info
Course module500874-M-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryMA (Master)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences; TSB: Developmental Psychology; Development Psychology;
Is part of
M Psychology & Mental Health: P P & W
dr. M. van Woerkom
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksCaution: this information is subject to change
Registration openfrom 12/10/2020 up to and including 20/08/2021
After following this course students will be able to: 
  1. Apply positive psychology theories (e.g. regarding positive states and positive traits) to the context of work organizations, education and health care (APPLY).
  2. Analyze to what extent real life cases in the context of education, health care and work organizations can be seen as examples of positive institutions (ANALYZE).
  3. Give a critical opinion on the research literature on positive organizations, positive health care and positive education (EVALUATE).
  4. Give a reasoned opinion on the value of positive institutions for society (EVALUATE)
This course will broaden the scope to institutional and organizational factors that may impact the well-being and flourishing of individuals and communities, in line with the third pillar of positive psychology that focuses on positive institutions or communities. We will discuss the implications of positive psychology and well-being principles for institutions such as education, care, and work organizations. Regarding health care, the effectiveness of the so-called strength-based approach (see Rapp & Goscha, 1997) will be discussed. This approach is based on the belief that clients are most successful at achieving their goals when they identify and utilize their strengths, abilities, and assets. Clients are therefore assisted in recognizing and utilizing the strengths they may not recognize within themselves, thereby regaining power over their lives (Greene, Lee, & Hoffpauir, 2005). We will also discuss the definition of positive health as "The ability to adapt and to self manage, in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges” (Huber et al., 2011) and its implications for the organization of health care. Regarding education, we will discuss the state of affairs regarding the well-being of children and adolescents around the globe and its inter-relatedness with effective learning. Furthermore, we discuss positive education referring to initiatives to teach children and adolescents both traditional skills and ‘happiness skills’ (Seligman et al., 2009). Bringing about changes in institutions such as health care and education should be based on systemic changes in the organizations that are involved. In other words, to deliver positive education it is not sufficient to implement a course on happiness skills in the curriculum. In order to secure the well-being of both teachers and students, the management of the school, and the relations between teachers need to change as well. Therefore, we will address phenomena such as positive leadership, positive relationships, and inclusive talent management in work organizations. For instance, studies have indicated that when leaders enact the features of psychological capital (i.e., hope, optimism, resilience, and self-esteem), follower positivity, performance and trust in the leader is enhanced. Positive institutions also need to be based on inclusive talent management. In contrast to exclusive talent-management approaches that are directed at a small, elitist percentage of the workforce only, inclusive talent-management approaches are directed at the whole workforce and assume that employee and organizational flourishing can best be achieved by focusing on the positive qualities residing in every individual. Talent is seen as universal, meaning that everyone possesses certain positive traits, and defined in broad terms, considering various forms of talent even if they might seem atypical for the working context. We will discuss evidence-based practices in the area of work and organization that may contribute to the development of positive institutions. In this course students will be provided with both theoretical and practical perspectives on positive institutions in the context of work organizations, education and health care. Several lectures will be provided by practitioners.

The course consists of 7 lectures and 6 seminar groups. The lectures will be given by Marianne van Woerkom (department of Human Resource Studies). In addition, multiple guest lecturers from (clinical) practice will be invited. In the practicals, students will present and facilitate a group discussion on a positive institution related to work, education or care. The presentation/ discussion need to be based on at least 2 research articles and at least one real life case. When not presenting, students are expected to participate actively in the group discussion. In line with the university policy regarding COVID-19, at this moment all lectures and practicals are expected to take place online.

The examination of the course consists of two assignments. The team assignment (50% of the grade) consists of a presentation/ facilitation of group discussion on a positive institution (see above). The individual assignment (50% of the grade) consists of a report about the cases of positive institutions that have been presented in the lectures. In this report students need to analyze to what extent the cases that have been presented can indeed be seen as examples of positive institutions, connect the cases to relevant theories from the field of Positive Psychology (e.g. relatedness, autonomy, hope, strengths, etc.), give a reasoned opinion on the societal value of the positive institutions that were presented in the case studies and make suggestions for further research on the impact of these institutions. 
Contact person
dr. M. van Woerkom
Timetable information
Positive Institutions
Required materials
The course literature will consist of journal articles (to be announced) and the lecture slides.
Recommended materials
Team assignment

Individual Assignment

Kies de Nederlandse taal