by Lori Tuominen

The Wholebeing Institute will be represented at the inaugural IPEN Festival in Dallas, Texas, July 18­–20.

What is IPEN, you ask?

IPEN is the International Positive Education Network. Unlike most academic endeavors, which value academic achievement over all else, positive education is a double helix, two strands of equal importance, intertwined together. The first strand is academics, or the traditional form of education, focused on developing one’s mind and intellectual skills—skills that are necessary in life. The other strand is equally important but has been lacking in most of our education systems in the past and today: a focus on character strengths to develop well-being. Combining the two is a much richer way to educate young people and help them develop.

James O’Shaughnessy is the chair of the International Positive Education Network, which came into being after a discussion he had with Martin Seligman about what education would look like if it contained both the academic and the character virtues components. In 2013, a small summit of about 30 people from around the world gathered to ask two questions: Was there a common understanding of what positive education means? And was there a need for an organization to bring together those interested in that agenda so they could collaborate? This is how IPEN was born.

Martin Seligman says, “I believe from my experience with movements, that when you have massive interest in a common goal, like educating young people to life’s satisfaction, education for happiness, it’s very important to construct a big tent in which all the different researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders are comfortable coming together. So IPEN is a network, a big tent network, for exactly the purpose of promoting the best practices and best research in positive education.”

IPEN has three purposes:

1. To change education policy so that it promotes character strengths for well-being in addition to academics
2. To provide research and best practices to interested people
3. To bring people together so they can network and collaborate around positive education.

The Festival is all about that third purpose, which might just be the most important component. WBI will be at Booth #107. Come visit us and enter a drawing to win full tuition to the West Coast Certificate in Positive Psychology course beginning this fall—worth $5,500!

Our CiPP alumni presence at the festival also includes the following:

  • “How much is enough? Short positivity practices to raise resilience and well-being in teenagers,” presented by Ruth Pearce, founder of ALLE4You and WBI’s Director of Special Events and Conferences.
  • From Strength to Strength, an organization created by Australian CiPP alum Fiona Trembath, who will be displaying strengths cards and other products to support strengths work.
  • Instituto de Bienestar Integral, created by Arlen Solodkin and Eitan Kleinberg, and represented at the booth by Margarita Tarragona. Come to the booth to find out more about the first-ever Spanish-language CiPP course, launching in 2017.
  • Strength ClustersTM, created by Giselle Segura, who will present the company’s new product, the Strengths ClustersTM Mat.
  • If you plan to attend the event, and would be willing to join me and Ruth at the WBI booth for 30 minutes, contact us to sign up. You can also fill out this simple survey to be in the communication loop for booth and group activities. Join the conversation online with the hashtag #IPENFest16. We look forward to seeing you there!

    Lori Tuominen, a senior teaching assistant for the Certificate in Positive Psychology, is a coach and educator whose practice is steeped in positive psychology. She trained with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and is an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation. Lori is a master’s candidate in Positive Organization Development and Change at Case Western Reserve University, and teaches a first-year seminar class on positive psychology for students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.