There is now overwhelming scientific evidence that
character strengths are as important as IQ and socioeconomic status to academic
achievement and well-being. Although character strengths are known to be
malleable, surprisingly little is known
about how to cultivate them intentionally.
What is character?
Following Aristotle, we use "character" to refer to all intentions and actions that benefit both the individual and society at large.
Our dream is that all children thrive personally and have a positive influence on the world. To do so requires character strengths of three kinds: interpersonal strengths like gratitude, which enable harmonious relationships with other people; intrapersonal strengths like grit and self-control, which enable achievement; and intellectual strengths like curiosity, which enable a fecund and free life of the mind.
How can we cultivate character?
Character Lab believes that helping all children develop character is an age-old challenge that will yield to a new solution:
world-class scientists working hand-in-hand with world-class educators to iteratively develop, test, and refine new tools and measures that build character.
What, specifically, does Character Lab do?
Our team of scientists and educators pursues four related aims:
Discovering strategies and practices that build character:
We co-design, fund, and implement research in schools. The studies clarify how to intentionally cultivate strengths like gratitude, grit, curiosity, and more.
Translating scientific insights into educational tools:
We create practical tools, including interactive online activities for students and professional development materials for teachers.
Creating next-generation measures for research and self-reflection:
We believe that it is easier to understand and grow something you can measure with precision. To that end, we are creating new measures of character--not for high stakes accountability but instead for learning and growth.
We are changing the conversation by highlighting the importance of character development in K-12 education for all children.
Who leads Character Lab?
Character Lab is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2013 by three individuals: Angela Duckworth, a MacArthur Fellow and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania; Dave Levin, co-founder of the KIPP public charter schools; and Dominic Randolph, Head of Riverdale Country School. In 2016, Character Lab moved its headquarters from New York City to the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. At the same time, Angela Duckworth assumed a co-leadership role as Scientific Director, with Donald Kamentz in the role of Executive Director.
We have an ambitious new three-year strategic plan, through which we will dramatically increase the quantity and quality of applied research on character development, create innovative measures of character for use by both researchers and educators, and create effective and easy-to-use character development tools for educators, among other important initiatives. Be among the first to learn about new insights and resources by joining our mailing list.