Founder of Positive Psychology Martin Seligman awarded RCSI Honorary Doctorate

Professor Martin Seligman has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences at the 2021 School of Medicine conferring ceremony.

Professor Seligman, who is the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, is recognised as the founder of Positive Psychology as a field of scientific study.

Through his pioneering work, he shifted the focus of psychology from the elimination of misery to the more empowering practices of gratitude, resilience and hope. He is also a recognised authority on interventions that prevent depression, and build strengths and well-being.

He has written more than 350 scholarly publications and 30 books and his methods have been adopted widely across the world in education, healthcare and public policy. His most recent book The Hope Circuit, published in 2018, is an autobiography and memoir of his ideas, described as A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism.

RCSI established an Annual Honorary Doctorate Award in 2011 to recognise excellence and to provide inspiration to graduating students on their conferring day. The Honorary Doctorate of Science is the highest academic award given by the university and awardees are exceptional people who have made a difference to the world through education, research or service.

Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI CEO, said: “It is a great honour and privilege for RCSI that Professor Martin Seligman has accepted this Honorary Doctorate. Professor Seligman is a pioneer. As the founder of the field of positive psychology, he has dedicated his distinguished 55 year-long career to building our understanding of how our strengths, positive emotion, good relationships, meaning and flourishing shapes our lives and our health”.

“His influence permeates the culture of RCSI and inspired by his work we launched the world’s first academic centre for positive psychology and health in 2020. He is a most deserving recipient of this Honorary Doctorate”, added Professor Kelly.

Led by Professor Ciaran O’Boyle, the RCSI Centre for Positive Psychology and Health applies the scientific principles of positive psychology and lifestyle medicine to enhance the health and happiness of people in Ireland and around the world. The Centre reflects RCSI’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 3, good health and well-being.

Next Tuesday (1 June) Professor Seligman will deliver an RCSI MyHealth guest lecture on Positive Psychology, Agency and Human Progress. The lecture airs at 2pm (Irish time). There is further information here.

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