Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

August 2008


If a crisis of character is eroding values in our communities, schools, and families, how do we construct a more positive reality for ourselves, and our future? Social-Emotional Leadership is an emergent, socially constructed, positive intervention designed to build character within groups. My hypothesis is that positive social/cultural change is possible but must emerge from within a group and from the ground-up. Social-Emotional Leadership occurs when at least one member of a primary network raises consciousness, urgency, and agency within his own network, which is defined as an established group of people with traditions and histories— a family, small business, school, or even book club. The task is to mobilize the group, leverage other Social-Emotional Leaders (potentially everyone), then find and then use the tools to help the network recognize individual and collective strength inherent at its core.

For my graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, I am piloting a social experiment in Social-Emotional Leadership with my own family and our family business—to build character strength and reconstruct value systems within an appreciative paradigm. Goals: (1) to create positive social-cultural growth for our network and (2) to develop a replicable model for other networks to consider. This paper will include theoretical underpinnings of the project, initial data collected from both the family case study and interviews from a US independent school, and offer future directions of the project. Ultimately, I envision bringing a large-scale effort in Social-Emotional Leadership to a school district interested in holistic character education.


positive intervention, social transformation, change processes, school, character education



Date Posted: 05 November 2008