U-M online learning opportunity to focus on thriving in difficult times

April 13, 2020

How are you surviving? This is the question friends and family have asked one another many times over the last few weeks as COVID-19 has dramatically changed life as we know it. 

Now, a new teach-out from the University of Michigan encourages a change in the conversation, focused on how individuals, families and organizations can thrive, and not just survive, during this challenging time.

“The coronavirus crisis touches everyone. There’s nowhere to hide or escape, and all of us are being called to study, work and live in new ways,” said Monica Worline, a faculty affiliate at the Center for Positive Organizations and lecturer at the Ross School of Business. “A disruption of this scale will have an untold number of consequences, many of them dire. But some consequences will be opportunities for breakthroughs, for new ways of coordinating and sharing, and for realizing new forms of connection.”

Now through May 25, learners can take advantage of a free online “Thrive in Trying Times Teach-Out,” presented by the Ross School’s Center for Positive Organizations and the U-M Center for Academic Innovation. This six-week learning event, which includes approximately four hours of content, is accessible via Michigan Online on learning platforms Cousera and FutureLearn.

“This teach-out is a vehicle for offering the science and practice of thriving organizations to a large audience,” said Wayne Baker, the Robert P. Thome Professor of Business Administration and faculty director of the Center for Positive Organizations. “It is one of the many ways the Center for Positive Organizations is responding to our current crisis.”

The research-based teach-out will focus on the tools, practice, and knowledge from academic literature that can help people look at the current challenges through a lens of possibility, the organizers say.

“Research in our field has demonstrated that organizations and communities often experience generativity and generosity in the middle of such disruptions to everyday life,” Worline said. “People can realize more resiliency for themselves when they deliberately focus on using their strengths and calling on what’s best in themselves and others at times like this.”

More than 15 experts in positive organizational scholarship, a field of study started at the Center for Positive Organizations, present theories that help scientists explore thriving and offer hands-on tips for how to tap into our oft-hidden capacity to thrive.

“We have created new resources that speak directly to this moment and make research practical and usable now,” Worline said. “This learning experience would be good for any person feeling challenged by the changes in life since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.”

The teach-out may particularly resonate with students who are now seeking new ways to find engagement in their studies, celebrate with friends, and move on in life plans, organizers explain. Additionally, many organizations, like those in the Center for Positive Organizations Consortium, want to help their team members and leaders find new ways to thrive in adversity.

The videos and other learning content that make up the teach-out will help people understand what it means to thrive, how to make small changes using positive practices, find their purpose and craft meaning into small moments, manage their energy, make connections while remote, learn the importance of asking for help, awaken compassion, and more.

The Center for Positive Organizations also created an expanded set of resources, housed on their website, to further help people thrive during these trying times.

This story was originally published by the University of Michigan News Services.