Find out how measuring and promoting wellbeing can make people, organisations and society more focused, considerate and effective.

11,629 enrolled on this course

Social Wellbeing
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

Since the financial crisis, there has been an increased interest in moving away from GDP and wealth as measures of national and individual performance. Instead, more explicit attention is being paid to wellbeing around the world, and how we can promote it at individual, local, national and international levels.

Join a global community of wellbeing practitioners

This free online course will help you engage constructively in the wellbeing movement, and use wellbeing considerations to make important transformations to your work and your ways of planning, learning and justifying your decisions.

The course aims to create a global community of wellbeing practitioners, who can inspire and learn from each other, including:

  • human resources (HR) professionals, who are keen to embrace wellbeing and purpose, to improve staff satisfaction and productivity;
  • social planners from the public and third sector, who want to address the social and economic factors that affect wellbeing at a community level;
  • and policy makers and civil servants, who wish to measure wellbeing or understand the life outcomes that matter most to people when developing policy.

Look at the world through a wellbeing lens

On the course, you will find out how careful consideration of wellbeing – looking at the world through a wellbeing lens – can make everyone more focused, motivated, considerate and effective.

We will ask: could your work, and your organisation, become more effective by making wellbeing a core theme? What does it mean, in practice, to use a wellbeing lens? And beyond this general label, what more specific aspects of life enhancement can we usefully highlight in our organisational aims and performance targets?

Explore wellbeing from individual to international levels

Finally, we will consider the factors that contribute to wellbeing at different levels:

  • Personal and interpersonal: what are the main ways of thinking about wellbeing as a whole? What are the key domains and components of personal wellbeing?
  • Organisational and community: how do communities and organisations facilitate wellbeing? What is community vitality? What is a healthy organisational climate?
  • National and international: What is national wellbeing and how can we measure and promote it?

Learn with wellbeing researchers and practitioners

The course has been developed by the University of Edinburgh, with support from the Scottish Universities Insight Institute and Scotland’s Futures Forum, and contributions from a range of organisations, including Oxfam, Carnegie UK Trust, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Volunteering Scotland.

The course team has a wealth of experience on the national and international wellbeing debate, having researched topics such as happiness and subjective wellbeing, and the impact of the welfare state on them.

Re-use license

Except where otherwise stated, all course content is licensed by the University of Edinburgh under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds You’re probably already an expert in wellbeing. You know it matters more than anything else in life. You’ve pursued it all your life. And hopefully, you’ve also made it happen for other people too. We’re all, in our private lives but also in our public roles co-responsible for one another’s well being. However, how many organisations do you know that really do the best possible job at making people’s lives go really, really well? Well in this course we’re going to help you realise the radical potential of wellbeing as a socially transformative concept. We believe that all individuals and all organisations can learn to converse and to think more intelligently about well being.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Increasingly, people are recognising the importance of paying attention, not just to individual well being, and the things we can do to look after ourselves, but also paying attention to things that happen at wider societal levels. So social goods that can only be produced collectively, but which are really important in contributing to well being. Each week we will offer a simple introduction to concepts and research on well being, and its rule for both planning and learning. The main emphasis of the course is on real world experiences. You will not just from academics, but in particular practitioners and organisations involved in the advocacy of well being.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds If you can imagine a better society in which collective action is directed towards well being, then this course is for you. So we’re really looking forward to welcoming you onto this course.

What topics will you cover?

  • Personal and interpersonal: what are the main ways of thinking about wellbeing as a whole? What are the key domains and components of personal wellbeing?
  • Organisational and community: how do communities and organisations facilitate wellbeing? What is community vitality? What is a health organisational climate?
  • National and international: What is national wellbeing and how can we measure and promote it?

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect upon diverse understandings of wellbeing
  • Use a "wellbeing lens" to assess what organisations or governments say and what they do
  • Explore approaches to including wellbeing criteria in evaluation of policies and services
  • Collaborate on achieving better outcomes and debate the moral and practical implications of wellbeing

Who is the course for?

The course is primarily designed for policy makers and practitioners from both the public and private sectors, whose professional work requires them to think and talk about wellbeing. However, the course is open to everybody and we welcome learners who want to improve their lives by looking through a wellbeing lens.

Who will you learn with?

Neil Thin is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. His research, teaching, and public work is on social planning for wellbeing.

I'm a Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh. Much of my research on welfare and wellbeing is from an international comparative perspective.

Dr Jan Eichhorn is a lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh specialising in challenging orthodox economic conceptions of wellbeing and exploring new forms of civic engagement.

Who developed the course?

The University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.

Endorsers and supporters

funded by

Scottish Universities Insight Institute

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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