Character Education in Universities: A Framework for Flourishing


This article introduces a new framework that brings clarity to the idea of flourishing in higher education and the importance of holistic character development. It also offers a set of principles and key considerations designed for university leaders.

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Character Education in Universities: A Framework for Flourishing was produced by the Oxford Character Project in partnership with the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham. Developed by Dr Edward Brooks and Dr Tom Harrison, the framework incorporated insights from senior university administrators and academic experts in higher education from universities in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia.

The idea of universities as cut off from society and the equation of 'academic' with irrelevant is long out of date. Listen to graduation speeches or scroll through university websites and mission statements, and it is clear that today’s universities, in all of their diversity, are eager to encourage students to lead flourishing lives as citizens, professionals and human beings.

Universities recognise that the education they provide shapes the lives of their students and many already name specific character qualities they are eager to develop under the heading of 'graduate outcomes'. They are concerned with building autonomous, resilient, clear-thinking, and ethically minded people by introducing them to new possibilities in thinking about ways to live.

What some universities lack, and what this framework seeks to provide, is a philosophically rigorous and practically actionable conceptual framework. It is a flexible and relevant guide to help higher education institutions in seeking to articulate their approach to character development.

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Character Education in Universities: A Framework for Flourishing

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