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Overview & Mission


The concept of flourishing can be approached through the discipline of philosophy, which helps us define, understand, and evaluate what it means to flourish. It can be approached through the discipline of psychology, which enables us to measure the traits that underlie the ideal of flourishing and to understand the nature of human well-being. It can also be approached through the field of education, which teaches us how to cultivate the virtues in our students and in ourselves. Clearly, the greatest opportunity to study flourishing lies at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and education.

Yet despite growing interest in virtue theory, positive psychology, and character education, there has never been a program that integrates the definition, measurement, and cultivation of the virtues. We aim to fill that gap.

Our Vision

The Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing (ISHF; the Institute) is revitalizing and renewing the study and cultivation of virtue in higher education, advancing the study of virtue through leadership in virtue research, and improving the flourishing of students and of all people in Oklahoma and beyond through effective and inspiring outreach programs.

Our Mission

As a new academic center at the University of Oklahoma, our mission is to:

  1. Improve the flourishing of OU students by revitalizing both the study and cultivation of virtue as part of the mission of higher education;
  2. Advance the science of virtue both by promoting virtue research at OU and by serving as a central hub for other institutes to facilitate international research initiatives;
  3. Improve the flourishing of all Oklahomans through our outreach programs in a variety of areas: to business, education, civic engagement, and parents.

Strategic Plan

The Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing has developed a strategic plan for 2020-2025.  The detailed plan can be accessed by clicking below.

Strategic Plan 2020-2025

Early Successes

Since its founding in September 2015, the Institute has experienced tremendous support and interest from OU faculty, staff and students, from the local community, and from other institutions of higher education. The Institute has already made great strides on all three aspects of its mission.

  1. The Institute has collaborated with University College on integrating the OU virtues into their Gateway to College Learning Course, both in the existing curriculum and with a new "Common Read" program. The Institute also funds "Camp IMPACT," an intensive 4-day spring break program, organized by University College, that leads students through a service-oriented, social, cultural and civic experiences that help facilitate an in-depth exploration of the role of character in their lives. Learn more about our OU programs
  2. The Institute has worked to advance the science of virtue through a variety of means, including postdoctoral fellowships that have attracted both domestic and international researchers, dissertation fellowships for OU graduate students, research conferences and more. Learn more about our research
  3. In service of the third branch of the Institute’s mission, outreach programs are underway to assist local schools, community organizations and parents. Serving as a bridge to connect academic resources to the broader community, the Institute helps to improve the flourishing of Oklahomans by equipping leaders in existing organizations with virtue and character concepts and research, and facilitating discussions on how virtue can be integrated into the work of these organizations. Learn more about our outreach


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The Institute is made possible by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation and by Templeton Religion Trust and by support from The University of Oklahoma and the Kirkpatrick Foundation . Learn how you can support this important endeavor by clicking below.

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