Educational Values for a Sustainable Society

Head, Hands, Heart, and Happiness in Bhutan and Beyond

A project generously funded by the Toyota Foundation (D17-R-0362; 2018–2020)

A typical sight at Bhutanese schools is the display of the ‘Ten Core Life Skills’. The question for us is whether schools actually embody these values, and how they can better promote them.

A typical sight at Bhutanese schools is the display of the ‘Ten Core Life Skills’. The question for us is whether schools actually embody these values, and how they can better promote them.

About this project

In modern discourse, education tends to be primarily viewed as human capital development: a means to better financial and social gain for individuals and nations. However, education can also contain self-cultivation as a holistic good, which includes kindness and compassion towards others, social and environmental conscientiousness, and recognizing global inter-relatedness. One alternative vision to education is the ‘3Hs’ model of Head, Hand and Heart. This project aims to advance ‘Happiness’ as a fourth ‘H’ in education, and as a new value for society. We argue that happiness – including sustainability and inclusiveness – are new values in considering the role of education to advance them. This project will provide a deep exploration and examination of the advances and obstacles Bhutan has encountered in attempting to locate ‘Happiness’ and ‘Heart’ in education through its Gross National Happiness philosophy. Recent Bhutanese educational reforms have not occurred without difficulty against an entrenched culture of schooling focused on competition and achievement. By studying the Bhutan case in-depth and on the ground – particularly in comparing rural and urban educational experiences – this project can support countries around the world to emulate what Bhutan has managed to achieve, and recognize difficulties they may face, in reconceptualizing education.

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Project Personnel

Primary Investigator: Dr Matthew Schuelka, University of Birmingham

Co-Investigators: Dr Kezang Sherab, Royal University of Bhutan ; Dr Akiko Ueda, Nagoya University