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National Pursuits of Happiness

Economy! Environment! Education! What are the most important factors that make citizens happy and contribute to their well-being? This module examines how governments prioritize factors that contribute to the well-being of citizens. In this module, students will look at traditional economic factors to determine country’s wealth, and more modern measures that look at additional factors such as education, environment, freedoms, community, and happiness to show how successful or healthy a society is.

The module opens with a Reflection &Connection performance task that challenges students to provide a list of recommendations to governments interested in finding the “magic formula” for happiness and well-being. Students will conduct a field study where they interview people to collect data and write an article entitled “Well-Being, and What Our Governments Should Do about It.” Students will use the information in the module and their own research to create a magic formula for governments to achieve maximum well-being for their citizens, starting with their own simulated government in the Civic Mirror.The performance task provides students with a relevant scenario in which to apply the curricular content, one that they own and about which they, therefore, care.

The curricular content opens with an examination of the question “What makes us happy?” While examining the core content, students will look at various interpretations of well-being and happiness throughout the world, through a microcosmic and macrocosmic view. The module explores focus concepts such as basic economics, sustainable development, the importance of freedoms, and how governments make decisions. It will also help students develop research and evaluation skills used by social scientists in the real world (for example, surveying, plotting results on social continuum, and so on).

The greatest strength of this module is in that students are, with the Civic Mirror, given an opportunity to reflect on how individuals and societies need to (or choose to) make decisions to make their society thrive.