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Quote of the week

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein

Deputy Director Gives Keynote at Joint Royal Institute of Philosophy and Open University Conference

23/09/16

Professor Kristján Kristjánsson gave a keynote presentation, titled ‘Awe and Self-Transcendence’, at the Owning Our Emotions: Emotion, Authenticity and the Self conference on 21st September 2016. The conference was organised by the Open University in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Philosophy.  The conference aimed to capitalise on the progress that has been made in recent years in the philosophy of emotion, and to draw on work from a range of philosophical traditions to address questions such as: How do emotions, the personality and the self relate to each other?; Is there an ‘emotional self’?; What do our emotional responses say about us, about our ‘character’? You can find out more about the conference at this link. To view Prof. Kristjánsson’s presentation click here.

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Centre to Welcome Students onto the World's First MA in Character Education

15/09/16

The Jubilee Centre will welcome students onto the world's first MA in Character Education on 19th September 2016. The exciting new programme begins with Induction Week on 19th September, followed by the first module 'Theories of Character, Virtues and Flourishing' led by Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson. This programme will equip students with the latest theory and research in character education, as well as the knowledge and tools for character education practice in more or less formal educational settings. As a distance learning programme it offers both flexibility and an opportunity to debate key questions about the purpose of education with fellow students around the world.

 

Find more about the course, and how to apply, here.

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Jubilee Centre Develops Resources for Marginalised Young People

15/09/16

The Jubilee Centre’s Character and Values Amongst Marginalised Young People project, which aims to challenge the misconceptions around young people who are disengaged from mainstream society (those not in education, employment or training), has developed a bank of character based learning resources. The resources have been developed in consultation with a number of UK youth organisations and are currently being trialled by 480 young people in non-mainstream settings; these include pupils excluded from mainstream schools, those attending youth groups, and individuals on the margins of, or already involved in, criminal activity. The research and interventions aim to contribute to the understanding of character amongst marginalised young people and provide worthwhile interventions that may address some of the difficulties they face.


You can read more about the project and the interventions being developed in this Virtue Insight blog post.

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Centre Director and Research Fellow Visit United States Military Academy, West Point

14/09/16

Professor James Arthur and Dr. David Walker visited the US Military Academy at West Point on 10th and 11th September 2016 as part of the Soldiers of Character project, which is exploring character and virtues among junior officers of the British Army. The purpose of the visit to West Point was to learn how character is developed among officer cadets there and in the US Army more generally. During the visit, Prof. Arthur and Dr. Walker were hosted by Major Scott Parsons and visited the Simon Centre for Professional Military Ethic and the Center of the Army Profession and Ethic. The visit was extremely useful and provided an opportunity to discuss future collaborations between the Jubilee Centre, the Simon Centre for Professional Military Ethic and the Center of the Army Profession and Ethic at West Point.

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Centre Academics Write for Research Intelligence Special Issue

13/09/16

The summer 2016 issue of BERA’s Research Intelligence, a special issue focussing on Character, Values and Ethics, features two articles by Jubilee Centre academics, Dr Tom Harrison and Professor David Carr.  The issue explores different perceptions on the role and importance of character, values and ethics in education.

Dr Tom Harrison's article, written with Matthew Bawden - a teacher who worked on the project at the Jubilee Centre - is titled ‘Teaching Character Through Subjects’ (pg. 15-16) and provides an overview of the Department for Education funded project of the same name. The project worked across England with 29 teachers from 28 state funded schools to create an innovative resource for building character within 14 subjects across the school curriculum.   The resources, and a report about the project, are available to download at this page.

Professor Carr’s article, titled ‘Academic and Theoretical Perspectives on Character Education’ (pg. 19-20) looks at how modern theorisation of character education, with its emphasis on the character and virtues, can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, and in particular, the work of Aristotle. 

View the issue here.

 

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Centre Holds Consultation on Virtue in the Professions at Windsor Castle

12/09/16

On 8-9th September 2016, the Jubilee Centre hosted a consultation on the role of character and virtues in the professions at St. George’s House, Windsor.  The consultation was attended by practitioners and academics across medicine, law, teaching, banking and business, and included a number of consultants to current Jubilee Centre projects, in particular, the Nursing, Business and Finance, and Interventions with Student Teachers, Lawyers and Doctors projects.

The purpose of the consultation was to discuss the place of character and virtues in a range of professional practices, and how they might be incorporated into the training and education of those professions. The output from the consultation is a draft statement on the role of virtues in the professions, which the Jubilee Centre is finalising, and will publish in due course. The statement follows previous similar publications by the Centre; the Framework for Character Education in Schools, the Statement on Youth Social Action and Character Development and the Statement on Teacher Education and Character Education.

 

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Policy Brief: Building Character through the Longer School Day

06/09/16

The Jubilee Centre has published an evidence-informed policy brief on Building Character through the Longer School Day. Informed by the latest research, the paper sets out the evidence base for developing character in young people through extra-curricular activities that form part of a proposed longer school day. Research is presented on four effective tools and methods for developing character, and suggestions about how these methods might be applied to extra-curricular activities are provided. The Centre seeks to further engage with and inform the political debate around character education and will continue to publish briefing papers, providing specific recommendations about the practical implications of research, covering a range of topical issues relating to character and virtue. All briefing papers will be made available on the Centre's website here.

 

 

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Professor Robert C. Roberts Publishes on 'Virtues and Belief in God'

06/09/16

Robert C. Roberts, Professor of Ethics and Emotion Theory at the Jubilee Centre, has published a paper titled ‘Virtues and belief in God’ in The Journal of Positive Psychology. Please find the abstract, and a link to the publisher’s page, below:

Abstract:

“This paper describes a basic psychological mechanism by which beliefs about God affect the structure of virtues in human beings. Iris Murdoch calls it ‘the siege of the individual by concepts’. A premise is that appetites, desires, emotions, pleasures and pains have a conceptual dimension that can be trained by regular exposure to relevant concepts. Theological concepts are among the relevant ones. Another premise is that our virtues and vices are largely dispositions to appetites, desires, emotions, pleasures and pains. The argument is made by way of discussing two virtues, temperance and compassion.”

The article is available at this page.

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Professor David Carr Publishes in British Journal of Educational Studies

30/08/16

Professor David Carr has published a paper titled 'Virtue and Character in Higher Education' in the British Journal of Educational Studies. The paper makes the case for character the general case for character education with particular consideration of the contexts of pre-adult schooling and adult professional and vocational training. Find the abstract, and a link to the publisher's page below:

Access the paper at this page.

Abstract:

Despite much recent concern with the possibilities of moral character education in elementary schooling and professional training, the university and higher educational prospects of such education have only lately received much attention. This paper begins by considering – and largely endorsing – the general case for character education in contexts of pre-adult schooling and adult professional and vocational training. However, it proceeds to argue that the case for intervention in character formation in some educational contexts is not generally applicable to university and higher education. Key points are that there can be no clear normative warrant for such intervention in the case of learners who are: (i) beyond the age of majority and (ii) voluntarily engaged in study wherein significant professional or public implications of personal character development are not a pressing concern. In short, while good moral character is clearly of general human importance, its deliberate or explicit promotion may not be equally warranted in all educational contexts.

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Deputy Director Publishes in Philosophical Explorations

16/08/16

Jubilee Centre Deputy Director Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson has published "A Philosophical Critique of Psychological Studies of Emotion" in the journal Philosophical Explorations.

The article aims to provide a critical review of recent writings about jealousy in psychology, as seen from a philosophical perspective. At a more general level of inquiry, jealousy offers a useful lens through which to study generic issues concerned with the conceptual and moral nature of emotions, as well as the contributions that philosophers and social scientists can make to understanding them. Hence, considerable space is devoted to comparisons of psychological and philosophical approaches to emotion research in general. It turns out that although (Aristotle-style) arguments about the necessary conceptual features of jealousy qua specific emotion, do carry philosophical mileage, they may fail to cut ice with psychologists who tend to focus on jealousy as a broad dimension of temperament. The review reveals a disconcerting lack of cross-disciplinary work on jealousy: the sort of work that has moved the discourse on other emotions (such as gratitude) forward in recent years.

The article is available by clicking the below image.

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Positive Initial Findings from Pilot Study of Interventions in Gratitude and Compassion

15/08/16

A recent pilot study by the Jubilee Centre has shown that a five-week programme of school-based activities promoting compassion and gratitude can have a noticeable effect on pupils’ attitudes and virtue literacy of two key virtues.  

As part of the Gratitude and Related Character Virtues project, which is examining how gratitude relates to four other virtues (generosity, compassion, forgiveness and humility) this pilot study sought to establish whether teaching interventions designed to promote one of these virtues has the effect of increasing the others - with the focus here being on compassion and gratitude in a secondary school setting. 

The wider project seeks to promote a reinvigorated focus on character and virtues development in schools, with particular reference to emphasising the allocentric (other-focused) virtues mentioned above.  The positive results of this initial pilot study, therefore, are extremely encouraging. Individual children’s initial knowledge of compassion and gratitude, as expressed through mind maps, was enriched by the five-week programme, leading to more nuanced diagrammatic representations of the virtues, suggesting wider comprehension and learning.

Dr. Liz Gulliford, Research Fellow on the project, is looking forward to the full-scale research project in the autumn. She says: “Preliminary data shows increasing complexity in young people’s understanding of the concepts of compassion and gratitude. We are encouraged by the early results which appear to show improvements in pupils’ virtue literacy. The pilot suggests the interventions are helping to build a vital bedrock of understanding among young people.”

Read more about the results of the pilot study, and feedback from schools involved, in this blog post.

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Centre's Free Online Course Opens for Registrations

11/08/16

The Jubilee Centre's free online course 'What is Character? Virtue Ethics in Education' begins on 24th October 2016 and is now open for registrations.  This will be the fourth run of the two-week course, for which over 15,000 people have registered since its launch in January 2015. The course, delivered in partnership with FutureLearn, explores how character might be taught in a conscious, planned and reflective way, enabling learners to gain practical knowledge on taking character education into the classroom. Drawing on the insights of leading experts in the fields of character education and virtue ethics, the course introduces the theoretical and philosophical basis for character education, including a background to virtue ethics.  You can watch the trailer below, and register to join the course here.

The course provides an excellent taster experience for those interested in further study in character education following the launch of the world's first distance learning MA in Character Education at the University of Birmingham. Find out more here.  

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Deputy Director Publishes in Philosophia

04/08/16

Deputy Director Prof. Kristjan Kristjansson has published an article titled 'Awe: An Aristotelian Analysis of a non-Aristotelian Virtuous Emotion' in Philosophia. The article defends awe as a virtuous emotion and can be accessed here:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11406-016-9741-8

Abstract:

While interest in the emotion of awe has surged in psychology (especially positive psychology), philosophers have yet to devote a single self-standing article to awe’s conceptual contours and moral standing. The present article aims to rectify this imbalance and begin to make up for the unwarranted philosophical neglect. In order to do so, awe is given the standard Aristotelian treatment to uncover its conceptual contours and moral relevance. Aristotelianism typically provides the most useful entry point to ‘size up’ any emotion – more problematically here, however, as Aristotle did not himself explicitly identify awe. The article critiques and proposes to improve upon existing psychological conceptual analyses of awe, probes the question why Aristotle ignored it and addresses an often-presumed link between awe and humility which bears on its moral status.

 

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Jubilee Centre Publishes New Book: 'Teaching Character and Virtue in Schools'

04/08/16

Prof. James Arthur, Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson, Dr. Tom Harrison, Dr. Wouter Sanderse and Dan Wright publish Teaching Character and Virtue in Schools with Routledge Taylor & Francis. The book addresses the contemporary issues of quantification and measurement in educational settings. The authors draw on the research of the Jubilee Centre at the University of Birmingham in order to investigate the concern that the conventional wisdom, sound judgement and professional discretion of teachers is being diminished and control mistakenly given over to administrators, policymakers and inspectors which in turn is negatively affecting pupils’ character development.

The books calls for subject competence to be complemented by practical wisdom and good character in teaching staff. It posits that the constituent virtues of good character can be learned and taught, that education is an intrinsically moral enterprise and that character education should be intentional, organised and reflective. The book draws on the Jubilee Centre’s expertise in support of its claims and successfully integrates the fields of educational studies, psychology, sociology, philosophy and theology in its examination of contemporary educational practices and their wider effect on society as a whole. It offers sample lessons as well as a framework for character education in schools.

The book encourages the view that character education is about helping students grasp what is ethically important and how to act for the right reasons so that they can become more autonomous and reflective individuals within the framework of a democratic society. Particularly interested readers will be educational leaders, teachers, those undertaking research in the field of education as well as policy analysts with a keen interest in developing the character and good sense of learners today.

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Jubilee Centre Hosts CitizED's 12th International Conference

01/08/16

On 28th – 30th July 2016 the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues was delighted to host CitizED’s 12th International Conference at the University of Birmingham.   Exploring the theme, ‘Citizenship and Character: Clarifying Characterisations and Exploring Collaboration’, the conference aimed to enhance understanding about the relationships between citizenship education and character education.  Centre Director, Prof. James Arthur, gave a keynote speech at the conference, titled 'Citizenship, Character and the Emotion Friendly Zeitgeist'. With prestigious key note speakers, and delegates from all over the world delivering a range of seminar sessions across the three days, the conference highlighted significant academic work in the field and shed light on high quality professional practice that is happening globally.

 

The conference programme, including abstracts of seminar papers, can be downloaded here.

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Dr. Tom Harrison Presents at Teach First Impact Conference 2016

27/07/16

On Monday 25th July 2016, the Centre’s Director of Education, Dr. Tom Harrison, presented at the Teach First Impact Conference 2016.  In his presentation, titled ‘Giving character education the same status as academic subjects’, Tom made the case for character education to be integrated into the curriculum and outlined the merits of this for both teachers and pupils. During the session, Tom also explored what best practice in character education might look like and provided practitioners with the tools needed to replicate this in their schools.  The Impact Conference was attended by over 4,300 leaders in education and explored four broad themes in education; the classroom and school leadership, research and policy, charities and social enterprises and leadership. You can read about highlights from the event here

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Jubilee Centre Poll Features as Top BBC Education Story

21/07/16

A parent poll by the Jubilee Centre, which found that more than half of UK parents think popular social media sites hamper their children’s moral development, recently featured as the top story on the BBC education website on 18th July 2016.  The results of the poll generated a huge amount of media interest across a range of more than 200 different outlets internationally, including coverage in the Birmingham Mail, Economic Times, Business Standard India and the Mail Online.  Read the full press release here.

Research Fellow, Dr. Blaire Morgan, who is researching the 'Influence of Parents and Social Media on Children's Moral Functioning' has also written a piece for The Conversation titled 'Is social media messing with children’s morals?'. 

The Conversation article is available to read below.

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Deputy Director Chairs Keynote Panel at IPEN Festival in Dallas

20/07/16

Professor Kristján Kristjánsson chaired a keynote panel at the first International Festival on Positive Education in Dallas on 19th July. The panel explored the philosophical and conceptual underpinnings of positive education and included presentations by Professors Nancy Snow, Randall Curren and Blaine Fowers. Find out more about the Festival here.

 

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The Jubilee Youth Awards 2016

15/07/16

On Thursday 14th July 2016, the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues held the 2016 Jubilee Youth Awards at the House of Lords. Hosted by Lord James O’Shaughnessy, 14 young people from across the UK were honoured with Jubilee Youth Awards, across three of the Jubilee Centre's awards and contests programmes. 

The Centre celebrated the winners of the Jubilee Youth Awards for Service, the Thank You Letter Awards and Why Virtue Matters: Essay Contest, for 2016. Over 40,000 young people have taken part in the 2016 Thank You Letter Awards, across 200 schools. 600 essays were submitted into the Why Virtues Matters Essay Contest and 100 nominations were received and considered for a Jubilee Youth Award for Service.

The ceremony was introduced by Prof. James Arthur, Director of the Jubilee Centre, and awards were presented by Sir Nick Parker, Chair of Trustees of Step up to Serve, and Lord O'Shaughnessy. Dr. Rania Marandos, Deputy Chief Executive of Step Up To Serve, Dr. Tom Harrison, Director of Education for the Jubilee Centre and Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson, Deputy Director for the Jubilee Centre announced the winners across each of the three categories.

The Jubilee Youth Award Winners are listed below:

Jubilee Youth Award for Service Winners, 2016

Andrew Lees                                     Lanarkshire

Charlotte King                                   West Sussex

Jordan Dixon                                     Central London

Kimarla Johnson                               Greater London

Mary-Beth McFern                           East Lothian

Patrick Cantellow                              Kent

Reece Lunt                                        Tyne and Wear

Yasmin Tyrrell                                   Belfast

 

Thank You Letter Award Winners, 2016

Primary Winner:

Adaeze Ordu                                     St Teresa Catholic Primary School, Greater London

Secondary Winner:

Peace Buraimo                                  King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, West Midlands

 

Essay Contest: Why Virtue Matters Winners, 2016

Primary Winners:

Lucy Snowdon                                   Dame Allan’s Schools, Northumberland              

Mollie McHardy,                               Heversham St Peter’s CE Primary School, Cumbria

Secondary Winners:

Jessica Bonner                                  Highclare School, West Midlands  

Awais Hussain                                  Dixons Kings Academy, West Yorkshire

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Jubilee Centre Poll: Social Media Sites Obstruct Children’s Moral Development, Say Parents

14/07/16

More than half of UK parents think popular social media sites hamper their children’s moral development, according to a poll commissioned by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. The 'parent poll' also reveals only 15% of parents think the popular sites provide a positive influence on young people’s character. A significant number of parents (40%) are “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about the negative and potentially harmful impact of social media. The poll, the first of its type conducted in the UK, provides a unique insight into the way moral values are portrayed on social media. It points to widespread parental anxieties about the influence of online networks on children as young as 11, who are often using the sites despite age limits. Other key findings include:

  • Anger, arrogance and hatred are among the top negative character traits, or vices, reported by parents on social media;
  • A quarter of parents highlight a lack of forgiveness and self-control among users;
  • As an antidote to the negative findings, almost three-quarters (72%) of parents who use social media see content containing a positive moral message at least once a day;
  • The “character strengths” promoted most regularly are humour, appreciation of beauty, creativity, love, courage and kindness.

The full press release is available here. The story became the lead article on the BBC Education pages on 18th July 2016.

You can read more about the virtues and vices of social media in this latest Jubilee Centre blog post.

The project page is available here.

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Research Fellows Present at Eighth European Positive Psychology Conference (ECPP)

11/07/16

The Eighth European Positive Psychology Conference (ECPP) took place in Angers, France, between June 28th and July 1st 2016.  Research Fellows Drs. Blaire Morgan and Liz Gulliford spoke at one of the 24 thematic paper sessions, presenting the findings from their cross-cultural replication of three empirical strands of the An Attitude for Gratitude research project. Liz and Blaire gave a paper based on the Taking 'Thanks' for Granted: Unravelling the Concept of Gratitude in a Developmental, Cross-Cultural Analysis report, which was funded by a Society for Educational Studies (SES) small grant, and presented findings of a cross-cultural study of the understanding of gratitude to an international audience.

An abstract for Liz and Blaire's presentation is given below and the PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Paper Session: Cross-Cultural Differences in Gratitude Experience
Theme: Cross-Cultural Approach
Authors:  B. Morgan (1) L. Gulliford (1) L. Waters (2)
Authors' Address: (1) Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham, UK (2) Centre for Positive Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Australia
Abstract: As is well known, gratitude has been related to a host of intrapersonal, interpersonal and health benefits. However, gratitude research tends to have had the narrow aim of increasing gratitude experience without much opportunity for probing the meaning of the concept itself. We believe a more effective method of fostering moral values, such as gratitude, would be to encourage reflection on what gratitude is, and when and why it is experienced (Morgan, Gulliford & Carr, 2015; Carr, Morgan & Gulliford, 2015). We have developed instruments to shed light on both children’s and adults’ understanding of the concept. We have used these instruments to examine developmental differences in the understanding of gratitude in both the UK and Australia and report the extent to which understandings of gratitude differ cross-culturally. Findings from a prototype analysis of gratitude conducted in Australia will be compared with our UK study (Morgan, Gulliford & Kristjansson, 2014), and the earlier findings of Lambert, Graham and Fincham’s (2009) US study. This cross-cultural comparison of ‘gratitude features’ reveals that, relative to Australia and US, our UK sample demonstrates more negative associations with the construct. We also present findings from a vignette questionnaire probing intuitions about gratitude. The questionnaire was compiled following an extensive literature review on how gratitude is conceptualised (Gulliford, Morgan, & Kristjánsson, 2013). It presents various scenarios to which respondents decide whether (and to what degree) gratitude is appropriate. For instance, if a benefactor has ulterior motives, are you still grateful for the benefit they bestow? Should you be grateful to someone who is doing their job? We compare UK responses to this questionnaire with our Australian sample of young people and adults. Australian adults, for example, deem benefits that do not materialise as more worthy of gratitude than do UK adults, and UK adults report less gratitude in response to non-valuable benefits. Finally we report on the findings from our gratitude stories for children. The stories incorporate themes elaborated in the vignettes, enabling us to examine the way in which different factors that may impact on gratitude differ across the lifespan and between different cultures. Whilst in need of further replication, these results seem to suggest that Australian children may place fewer conditions on when gratitude is due. This research provides important insights into the conception of gratitude, how this might change and develop across the life-span, and the degree to which it differs cross-culturally. Such differences will inevitably impact upon gratitude interventions and gratitude measurement. Furthermore, educational interventions are currently adopted from different countries (primarily from the USA) without appropriate sensitivity to cultural differences. We believe these cross-cultural differences deserve further scrutiny.

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Can You Teach Character? Centre Produce Short Film

11/07/16

As part of the content for the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and University of Birmingham MA in Character Education, the Jubilee Centre has produced a short film titled Can You Teach Character? The film, made by award-winning producers The Moment, includes the voices of staff and pupils from the University of Birmingham School, a school dedicated to the development of character of its pupils. The short film demonstrates the character-led approach that the University of Birmingham School has taken, and the response from pupils on the development of their character. The film is available to view here

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Jubilee Centre Partner Awarded UoB Alumna of the Year

08/07/16

On Thursday 7th July, Charlotte Hill, CEO of Step Up to Serve, was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Birmingham degree congregations, and awarded the title of Alumna of the Year. Charlotte studied Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. Following the 2012 review into youth social action, Step Up To Serve was established in 2013 to coordinate the #iwill campaign. It is run by a small dynamic team of dedicated and experienced staff, supported by secondees from partner organisations. The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues has partnered with Step Up to Serve since its launch, and continues to collaborate on multiple projects, and provide a dedicated academic researcher to work as part of the Step Up to Serve team.

Jubilee Centre Director Prof. James Arthur, and Director of Education Dr. Tom Harrison joined Charlotte and University of Birmingham Chancellor Lord Bilimoria as part of the celebrations. During her acceptance speech, Charlotte spoke to University of Birmingham graduands of the importance of service, character virtues and undertaking meaningful social action.

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Deputy Director Gives Keynote at Joint Royal Institute of Philosophy and Open University Conference

23/09/16

Professor Kristján Kristjánsson gave a keynote presentation, titled ‘Awe and Self-Transcendence’, at the Owning Our Emotions: Emotion, Authenticity and the Self conference on 21st September 2016. The conference was organised by the Open University in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Philosophy.  The conference aimed to capitalise on the progress that has been made in recent years in the philosophy of emotion, and to draw on work from a range of philosophical traditions to address questions such as: How do emotions, the personality and the self relate to each other?; Is there an ‘emotional self’?; What do our emotional responses say about us, about our ‘character’? You can find out more about the conference at this link. To view Prof. Kristjánsson’s presentation click here.

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Centre to Welcome Students onto the World's First MA in Character Education

15/09/16

The Jubilee Centre will welcome students onto the world's first MA in Character Education on 19th September 2016. The exciting new programme begins with Induction Week on 19th September, followed by the first module 'Theories of Character, Virtues and Flourishing' led by Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson. This programme will equip students with the latest theory and research in character education, as well as the knowledge and tools for character education practice in more or less formal educational settings. As a distance learning programme it offers both flexibility and an opportunity to debate key questions about the purpose of education with fellow students around the world.

 

Find more about the course, and how to apply, here.

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Jubilee Centre Develops Resources for Marginalised Young People

15/09/16

The Jubilee Centre’s Character and Values Amongst Marginalised Young People project, which aims to challenge the misconceptions around young people who are disengaged from mainstream society (those not in education, employment or training), has developed a bank of character based learning resources. The resources have been developed in consultation with a number of UK youth organisations and are currently being trialled by 480 young people in non-mainstream settings; these include pupils excluded from mainstream schools, those attending youth groups, and individuals on the margins of, or already involved in, criminal activity. The research and interventions aim to contribute to the understanding of character amongst marginalised young people and provide worthwhile interventions that may address some of the difficulties they face.


You can read more about the project and the interventions being developed in this Virtue Insight blog post.

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Centre Director and Research Fellow Visit United States Military Academy, West Point

14/09/16

Professor James Arthur and Dr. David Walker visited the US Military Academy at West Point on 10th and 11th September 2016 as part of the Soldiers of Character project, which is exploring character and virtues among junior officers of the British Army. The purpose of the visit to West Point was to learn how character is developed among officer cadets there and in the US Army more generally. During the visit, Prof. Arthur and Dr. Walker were hosted by Major Scott Parsons and visited the Simon Centre for Professional Military Ethic and the Center of the Army Profession and Ethic. The visit was extremely useful and provided an opportunity to discuss future collaborations between the Jubilee Centre, the Simon Centre for Professional Military Ethic and the Center of the Army Profession and Ethic at West Point.

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Centre Academics Write for Research Intelligence Special Issue

13/09/16

The summer 2016 issue of BERA’s Research Intelligence, a special issue focussing on Character, Values and Ethics, features two articles by Jubilee Centre academics, Dr Tom Harrison and Professor David Carr.  The issue explores different perceptions on the role and importance of character, values and ethics in education.

Dr Tom Harrison's article, written with Matthew Bawden - a teacher who worked on the project at the Jubilee Centre - is titled ‘Teaching Character Through Subjects’ (pg. 15-16) and provides an overview of the Department for Education funded project of the same name. The project worked across England with 29 teachers from 28 state funded schools to create an innovative resource for building character within 14 subjects across the school curriculum.   The resources, and a report about the project, are available to download at this page.

Professor Carr’s article, titled ‘Academic and Theoretical Perspectives on Character Education’ (pg. 19-20) looks at how modern theorisation of character education, with its emphasis on the character and virtues, can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, and in particular, the work of Aristotle. 

View the issue here.

 

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Centre Holds Consultation on Virtue in the Professions at Windsor Castle

12/09/16

On 8-9th September 2016, the Jubilee Centre hosted a consultation on the role of character and virtues in the professions at St. George’s House, Windsor.  The consultation was attended by practitioners and academics across medicine, law, teaching, banking and business, and included a number of consultants to current Jubilee Centre projects, in particular, the Nursing, Business and Finance, and Interventions with Student Teachers, Lawyers and Doctors projects.

The purpose of the consultation was to discuss the place of character and virtues in a range of professional practices, and how they might be incorporated into the training and education of those professions. The output from the consultation is a draft statement on the role of virtues in the professions, which the Jubilee Centre is finalising, and will publish in due course. The statement follows previous similar publications by the Centre; the Framework for Character Education in Schools, the Statement on Youth Social Action and Character Development and the Statement on Teacher Education and Character Education.

 

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Policy Brief: Building Character through the Longer School Day

06/09/16

The Jubilee Centre has published an evidence-informed policy brief on Building Character through the Longer School Day. Informed by the latest research, the paper sets out the evidence base for developing character in young people through extra-curricular activities that form part of a proposed longer school day. Research is presented on four effective tools and methods for developing character, and suggestions about how these methods might be applied to extra-curricular activities are provided. The Centre seeks to further engage with and inform the political debate around character education and will continue to publish briefing papers, providing specific recommendations about the practical implications of research, covering a range of topical issues relating to character and virtue. All briefing papers will be made available on the Centre's website here.

 

 

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Professor Robert C. Roberts Publishes on 'Virtues and Belief in God'

06/09/16

Robert C. Roberts, Professor of Ethics and Emotion Theory at the Jubilee Centre, has published a paper titled ‘Virtues and belief in God’ in The Journal of Positive Psychology. Please find the abstract, and a link to the publisher’s page, below:

Abstract:

“This paper describes a basic psychological mechanism by which beliefs about God affect the structure of virtues in human beings. Iris Murdoch calls it ‘the siege of the individual by concepts’. A premise is that appetites, desires, emotions, pleasures and pains have a conceptual dimension that can be trained by regular exposure to relevant concepts. Theological concepts are among the relevant ones. Another premise is that our virtues and vices are largely dispositions to appetites, desires, emotions, pleasures and pains. The argument is made by way of discussing two virtues, temperance and compassion.”

The article is available at this page.

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Professor David Carr Publishes in British Journal of Educational Studies

30/08/16

Professor David Carr has published a paper titled 'Virtue and Character in Higher Education' in the British Journal of Educational Studies. The paper makes the case for character the general case for character education with particular consideration of the contexts of pre-adult schooling and adult professional and vocational training. Find the abstract, and a link to the publisher's page below:

Access the paper at this page.

Abstract:

Despite much recent concern with the possibilities of moral character education in elementary schooling and professional training, the university and higher educational prospects of such education have only lately received much attention. This paper begins by considering – and largely endorsing – the general case for character education in contexts of pre-adult schooling and adult professional and vocational training. However, it proceeds to argue that the case for intervention in character formation in some educational contexts is not generally applicable to university and higher education. Key points are that there can be no clear normative warrant for such intervention in the case of learners who are: (i) beyond the age of majority and (ii) voluntarily engaged in study wherein significant professional or public implications of personal character development are not a pressing concern. In short, while good moral character is clearly of general human importance, its deliberate or explicit promotion may not be equally warranted in all educational contexts.

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Deputy Director Publishes in Philosophical Explorations

16/08/16

Jubilee Centre Deputy Director Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson has published "A Philosophical Critique of Psychological Studies of Emotion" in the journal Philosophical Explorations.

The article aims to provide a critical review of recent writings about jealousy in psychology, as seen from a philosophical perspective. At a more general level of inquiry, jealousy offers a useful lens through which to study generic issues concerned with the conceptual and moral nature of emotions, as well as the contributions that philosophers and social scientists can make to understanding them. Hence, considerable space is devoted to comparisons of psychological and philosophical approaches to emotion research in general. It turns out that although (Aristotle-style) arguments about the necessary conceptual features of jealousy qua specific emotion, do carry philosophical mileage, they may fail to cut ice with psychologists who tend to focus on jealousy as a broad dimension of temperament. The review reveals a disconcerting lack of cross-disciplinary work on jealousy: the sort of work that has moved the discourse on other emotions (such as gratitude) forward in recent years.

The article is available by clicking the below image.

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Positive Initial Findings from Pilot Study of Interventions in Gratitude and Compassion

15/08/16

A recent pilot study by the Jubilee Centre has shown that a five-week programme of school-based activities promoting compassion and gratitude can have a noticeable effect on pupils’ attitudes and virtue literacy of two key virtues.  

As part of the Gratitude and Related Character Virtues project, which is examining how gratitude relates to four other virtues (generosity, compassion, forgiveness and humility) this pilot study sought to establish whether teaching interventions designed to promote one of these virtues has the effect of increasing the others - with the focus here being on compassion and gratitude in a secondary school setting. 

The wider project seeks to promote a reinvigorated focus on character and virtues development in schools, with particular reference to emphasising the allocentric (other-focused) virtues mentioned above.  The positive results of this initial pilot study, therefore, are extremely encouraging. Individual children’s initial knowledge of compassion and gratitude, as expressed through mind maps, was enriched by the five-week programme, leading to more nuanced diagrammatic representations of the virtues, suggesting wider comprehension and learning.

Dr. Liz Gulliford, Research Fellow on the project, is looking forward to the full-scale research project in the autumn. She says: “Preliminary data shows increasing complexity in young people’s understanding of the concepts of compassion and gratitude. We are encouraged by the early results which appear to show improvements in pupils’ virtue literacy. The pilot suggests the interventions are helping to build a vital bedrock of understanding among young people.”

Read more about the results of the pilot study, and feedback from schools involved, in this blog post.

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Centre's Free Online Course Opens for Registrations

11/08/16

The Jubilee Centre's free online course 'What is Character? Virtue Ethics in Education' begins on 24th October 2016 and is now open for registrations.  This will be the fourth run of the two-week course, for which over 15,000 people have registered since its launch in January 2015. The course, delivered in partnership with FutureLearn, explores how character might be taught in a conscious, planned and reflective way, enabling learners to gain practical knowledge on taking character education into the classroom. Drawing on the insights of leading experts in the fields of character education and virtue ethics, the course introduces the theoretical and philosophical basis for character education, including a background to virtue ethics.  You can watch the trailer below, and register to join the course here.

The course provides an excellent taster experience for those interested in further study in character education following the launch of the world's first distance learning MA in Character Education at the University of Birmingham. Find out more here.  

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Deputy Director Publishes in Philosophia

04/08/16

Deputy Director Prof. Kristjan Kristjansson has published an article titled 'Awe: An Aristotelian Analysis of a non-Aristotelian Virtuous Emotion' in Philosophia. The article defends awe as a virtuous emotion and can be accessed here:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11406-016-9741-8

Abstract:

While interest in the emotion of awe has surged in psychology (especially positive psychology), philosophers have yet to devote a single self-standing article to awe’s conceptual contours and moral standing. The present article aims to rectify this imbalance and begin to make up for the unwarranted philosophical neglect. In order to do so, awe is given the standard Aristotelian treatment to uncover its conceptual contours and moral relevance. Aristotelianism typically provides the most useful entry point to ‘size up’ any emotion – more problematically here, however, as Aristotle did not himself explicitly identify awe. The article critiques and proposes to improve upon existing psychological conceptual analyses of awe, probes the question why Aristotle ignored it and addresses an often-presumed link between awe and humility which bears on its moral status.

 

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Jubilee Centre Publishes New Book: 'Teaching Character and Virtue in Schools'

04/08/16

Prof. James Arthur, Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson, Dr. Tom Harrison, Dr. Wouter Sanderse and Dan Wright publish Teaching Character and Virtue in Schools with Routledge Taylor & Francis. The book addresses the contemporary issues of quantification and measurement in educational settings. The authors draw on the research of the Jubilee Centre at the University of Birmingham in order to investigate the concern that the conventional wisdom, sound judgement and professional discretion of teachers is being diminished and control mistakenly given over to administrators, policymakers and inspectors which in turn is negatively affecting pupils’ character development.

The books calls for subject competence to be complemented by practical wisdom and good character in teaching staff. It posits that the constituent virtues of good character can be learned and taught, that education is an intrinsically moral enterprise and that character education should be intentional, organised and reflective. The book draws on the Jubilee Centre’s expertise in support of its claims and successfully integrates the fields of educational studies, psychology, sociology, philosophy and theology in its examination of contemporary educational practices and their wider effect on society as a whole. It offers sample lessons as well as a framework for character education in schools.

The book encourages the view that character education is about helping students grasp what is ethically important and how to act for the right reasons so that they can become more autonomous and reflective individuals within the framework of a democratic society. Particularly interested readers will be educational leaders, teachers, those undertaking research in the field of education as well as policy analysts with a keen interest in developing the character and good sense of learners today.

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Jubilee Centre Hosts CitizED's 12th International Conference

01/08/16

On 28th – 30th July 2016 the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues was delighted to host CitizED’s 12th International Conference at the University of Birmingham.   Exploring the theme, ‘Citizenship and Character: Clarifying Characterisations and Exploring Collaboration’, the conference aimed to enhance understanding about the relationships between citizenship education and character education.  Centre Director, Prof. James Arthur, gave a keynote speech at the conference, titled 'Citizenship, Character and the Emotion Friendly Zeitgeist'. With prestigious key note speakers, and delegates from all over the world delivering a range of seminar sessions across the three days, the conference highlighted significant academic work in the field and shed light on high quality professional practice that is happening globally.

 

The conference programme, including abstracts of seminar papers, can be downloaded here.

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Dr. Tom Harrison Presents at Teach First Impact Conference 2016

27/07/16

On Monday 25th July 2016, the Centre’s Director of Education, Dr. Tom Harrison, presented at the Teach First Impact Conference 2016.  In his presentation, titled ‘Giving character education the same status as academic subjects’, Tom made the case for character education to be integrated into the curriculum and outlined the merits of this for both teachers and pupils. During the session, Tom also explored what best practice in character education might look like and provided practitioners with the tools needed to replicate this in their schools.  The Impact Conference was attended by over 4,300 leaders in education and explored four broad themes in education; the classroom and school leadership, research and policy, charities and social enterprises and leadership. You can read about highlights from the event here

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Jubilee Centre Poll Features as Top BBC Education Story

21/07/16

A parent poll by the Jubilee Centre, which found that more than half of UK parents think popular social media sites hamper their children’s moral development, recently featured as the top story on the BBC education website on 18th July 2016.  The results of the poll generated a huge amount of media interest across a range of more than 200 different outlets internationally, including coverage in the Birmingham Mail, Economic Times, Business Standard India and the Mail Online.  Read the full press release here.

Research Fellow, Dr. Blaire Morgan, who is researching the 'Influence of Parents and Social Media on Children's Moral Functioning' has also written a piece for The Conversation titled 'Is social media messing with children’s morals?'. 

The Conversation article is available to read below.

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Deputy Director Chairs Keynote Panel at IPEN Festival in Dallas

20/07/16

Professor Kristján Kristjánsson chaired a keynote panel at the first International Festival on Positive Education in Dallas on 19th July. The panel explored the philosophical and conceptual underpinnings of positive education and included presentations by Professors Nancy Snow, Randall Curren and Blaine Fowers. Find out more about the Festival here.

 

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The Jubilee Youth Awards 2016

15/07/16

On Thursday 14th July 2016, the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues held the 2016 Jubilee Youth Awards at the House of Lords. Hosted by Lord James O’Shaughnessy, 14 young people from across the UK were honoured with Jubilee Youth Awards, across three of the Jubilee Centre's awards and contests programmes. 

The Centre celebrated the winners of the Jubilee Youth Awards for Service, the Thank You Letter Awards and Why Virtue Matters: Essay Contest, for 2016. Over 40,000 young people have taken part in the 2016 Thank You Letter Awards, across 200 schools. 600 essays were submitted into the Why Virtues Matters Essay Contest and 100 nominations were received and considered for a Jubilee Youth Award for Service.

The ceremony was introduced by Prof. James Arthur, Director of the Jubilee Centre, and awards were presented by Sir Nick Parker, Chair of Trustees of Step up to Serve, and Lord O'Shaughnessy. Dr. Rania Marandos, Deputy Chief Executive of Step Up To Serve, Dr. Tom Harrison, Director of Education for the Jubilee Centre and Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson, Deputy Director for the Jubilee Centre announced the winners across each of the three categories.

The Jubilee Youth Award Winners are listed below:

Jubilee Youth Award for Service Winners, 2016

Andrew Lees                                     Lanarkshire

Charlotte King                                   West Sussex

Jordan Dixon                                     Central London

Kimarla Johnson                               Greater London

Mary-Beth McFern                           East Lothian

Patrick Cantellow                              Kent

Reece Lunt                                        Tyne and Wear

Yasmin Tyrrell                                   Belfast

 

Thank You Letter Award Winners, 2016

Primary Winner:

Adaeze Ordu                                     St Teresa Catholic Primary School, Greater London

Secondary Winner:

Peace Buraimo                                  King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, West Midlands

 

Essay Contest: Why Virtue Matters Winners, 2016

Primary Winners:

Lucy Snowdon                                   Dame Allan’s Schools, Northumberland              

Mollie McHardy,                               Heversham St Peter’s CE Primary School, Cumbria

Secondary Winners:

Jessica Bonner                                  Highclare School, West Midlands  

Awais Hussain                                  Dixons Kings Academy, West Yorkshire

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Jubilee Centre Poll: Social Media Sites Obstruct Children’s Moral Development, Say Parents

14/07/16

More than half of UK parents think popular social media sites hamper their children’s moral development, according to a poll commissioned by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. The 'parent poll' also reveals only 15% of parents think the popular sites provide a positive influence on young people’s character. A significant number of parents (40%) are “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about the negative and potentially harmful impact of social media. The poll, the first of its type conducted in the UK, provides a unique insight into the way moral values are portrayed on social media. It points to widespread parental anxieties about the influence of online networks on children as young as 11, who are often using the sites despite age limits. Other key findings include:

  • Anger, arrogance and hatred are among the top negative character traits, or vices, reported by parents on social media;
  • A quarter of parents highlight a lack of forgiveness and self-control among users;
  • As an antidote to the negative findings, almost three-quarters (72%) of parents who use social media see content containing a positive moral message at least once a day;
  • The “character strengths” promoted most regularly are humour, appreciation of beauty, creativity, love, courage and kindness.

The full press release is available here. The story became the lead article on the BBC Education pages on 18th July 2016.

You can read more about the virtues and vices of social media in this latest Jubilee Centre blog post.

The project page is available here.

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Research Fellows Present at Eighth European Positive Psychology Conference (ECPP)

11/07/16

The Eighth European Positive Psychology Conference (ECPP) took place in Angers, France, between June 28th and July 1st 2016.  Research Fellows Drs. Blaire Morgan and Liz Gulliford spoke at one of the 24 thematic paper sessions, presenting the findings from their cross-cultural replication of three empirical strands of the An Attitude for Gratitude research project. Liz and Blaire gave a paper based on the Taking 'Thanks' for Granted: Unravelling the Concept of Gratitude in a Developmental, Cross-Cultural Analysis report, which was funded by a Society for Educational Studies (SES) small grant, and presented findings of a cross-cultural study of the understanding of gratitude to an international audience.

An abstract for Liz and Blaire's presentation is given below and the PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Paper Session: Cross-Cultural Differences in Gratitude Experience
Theme: Cross-Cultural Approach
Authors:  B. Morgan (1) L. Gulliford (1) L. Waters (2)
Authors' Address: (1) Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham, UK (2) Centre for Positive Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Australia
Abstract: As is well known, gratitude has been related to a host of intrapersonal, interpersonal and health benefits. However, gratitude research tends to have had the narrow aim of increasing gratitude experience without much opportunity for probing the meaning of the concept itself. We believe a more effective method of fostering moral values, such as gratitude, would be to encourage reflection on what gratitude is, and when and why it is experienced (Morgan, Gulliford & Carr, 2015; Carr, Morgan & Gulliford, 2015). We have developed instruments to shed light on both children’s and adults’ understanding of the concept. We have used these instruments to examine developmental differences in the understanding of gratitude in both the UK and Australia and report the extent to which understandings of gratitude differ cross-culturally. Findings from a prototype analysis of gratitude conducted in Australia will be compared with our UK study (Morgan, Gulliford & Kristjansson, 2014), and the earlier findings of Lambert, Graham and Fincham’s (2009) US study. This cross-cultural comparison of ‘gratitude features’ reveals that, relative to Australia and US, our UK sample demonstrates more negative associations with the construct. We also present findings from a vignette questionnaire probing intuitions about gratitude. The questionnaire was compiled following an extensive literature review on how gratitude is conceptualised (Gulliford, Morgan, & Kristjánsson, 2013). It presents various scenarios to which respondents decide whether (and to what degree) gratitude is appropriate. For instance, if a benefactor has ulterior motives, are you still grateful for the benefit they bestow? Should you be grateful to someone who is doing their job? We compare UK responses to this questionnaire with our Australian sample of young people and adults. Australian adults, for example, deem benefits that do not materialise as more worthy of gratitude than do UK adults, and UK adults report less gratitude in response to non-valuable benefits. Finally we report on the findings from our gratitude stories for children. The stories incorporate themes elaborated in the vignettes, enabling us to examine the way in which different factors that may impact on gratitude differ across the lifespan and between different cultures. Whilst in need of further replication, these results seem to suggest that Australian children may place fewer conditions on when gratitude is due. This research provides important insights into the conception of gratitude, how this might change and develop across the life-span, and the degree to which it differs cross-culturally. Such differences will inevitably impact upon gratitude interventions and gratitude measurement. Furthermore, educational interventions are currently adopted from different countries (primarily from the USA) without appropriate sensitivity to cultural differences. We believe these cross-cultural differences deserve further scrutiny.

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Can You Teach Character? Centre Produce Short Film

11/07/16

As part of the content for the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and University of Birmingham MA in Character Education, the Jubilee Centre has produced a short film titled Can You Teach Character? The film, made by award-winning producers The Moment, includes the voices of staff and pupils from the University of Birmingham School, a school dedicated to the development of character of its pupils. The short film demonstrates the character-led approach that the University of Birmingham School has taken, and the response from pupils on the development of their character. The film is available to view here

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Jubilee Centre Partner Awarded UoB Alumna of the Year

08/07/16

On Thursday 7th July, Charlotte Hill, CEO of Step Up to Serve, was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Birmingham degree congregations, and awarded the title of Alumna of the Year. Charlotte studied Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. Following the 2012 review into youth social action, Step Up To Serve was established in 2013 to coordinate the #iwill campaign. It is run by a small dynamic team of dedicated and experienced staff, supported by secondees from partner organisations. The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues has partnered with Step Up to Serve since its launch, and continues to collaborate on multiple projects, and provide a dedicated academic researcher to work as part of the Step Up to Serve team.

Jubilee Centre Director Prof. James Arthur, and Director of Education Dr. Tom Harrison joined Charlotte and University of Birmingham Chancellor Lord Bilimoria as part of the celebrations. During her acceptance speech, Charlotte spoke to University of Birmingham graduands of the importance of service, character virtues and undertaking meaningful social action.

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