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International Day of Happiness: New Research Topic on wellbeing in the era of climate catastrophe

By Jodie Birch, Frontiers in Psychology

International Day of Happiness, held March 20th, is a global celebration which recognizes the relevance of happiness and wellbeing as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world.

To shed light on this international event, Frontiers in Psychology launched the Research Topic “International Day of Happiness: Happiness and Wellbeing in an Era of the Climate Catastrophein the journal’s Emotion Science section. 

Happiness and wellbeing are two concepts that are frequently discussed and misunderstood. Definitions of happiness now expand beyond positive emotions, encompassing individual happiness, wellbeing of others, and sustainability of the planet. According to social ecological models of wellbeing, individuals are viewed in the context of the communities and settings in which they live. The primary purpose of this special collection is to answer whether these definitions are sufficient for achieving happiness and wellbeing in an era of climate catastrophe.

As we approach International Day of Happiness, it is interesting to consider whether the celebration of happiness is a thing of the past, given that society is confronted with several serious issues such as loneliness, the rising burden of chronic disease, inequality and inequity, the threat of nuclear war, and climate devastation. There is an increasing body of research that shows spending time in nature improves health and happiness. Yet, some would argue that it is ethically dubious to focus on nature to improve wellbeing while ignoring the looming climate catastrophe. Therefore we are left pondering several questions:

Leading this article collection is Professor Andrew Kemp, from Swansea University. Kemp’s research interests span from cognitive and affective neuroscience through to epidemiology, bridging the gap between biological mechanism and public health. His research activities and contributions to the literature have been recognized internationally including the award of Doctor of Science (DH-SC Melb) degree from the University of Melbourne in Australia (2019), Fellow from the British Psychological Society Fellow (FBPsS) (2019) and also from Association for Psychological Science (FAPS) (USA) (2017) for sustained outstanding contributions to psychological science.

The specialist team further comprises:

Debates about how far we’ve missed the chance to improve our social, political, and economic structures to better manage the expected climate-related disasters lead to interesting questions over whether we are sufficiently prepared to cope with challenges that await us as individuals, communities and nations. If you are interested in answering these questions, Frontiers in Psychology welcomes contributions to the Research Topic that include climate psychology, environmental psychology, clinical psychology, social ecology, environmental theology and eco-philosophy. Please find the topic here if you would like to explore this further.

Research Topic included in this post:

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