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An Interview with Stewart Donaldson

By Scott Donaldson

1. How can students interested in positive psychology in the context of work and organizations get trained in this area?

Positive psychology research has been going on for more than 17 years now, and one of the most popular topics is how to apply positive psychology theories and principles to improving work performance and the quality of work life.  Great strides have been made in understanding how to take basic research findings from the areas of positive organizational psychology, positive organizational scholarship, and positive organizational behavior and turn those into evidence based workplace interventions.  Graduate students are now being trained in these areas at the Claremont Graduate University (CGU), University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and Case Western Reserve University.  CGU has a very large program offering both Master’s and PhD degrees.

2. You are the Director of the positive psychology programs at CGU. Can you tell us about the programs on work and organizations? What inspired the development of these programs?

In addition to the original PhD programs, we have developed research- and evidence-based master’s programs in positive psychology.  Students can get a two-year research-focused M. A. degree in Positive Organizational Psychology with a co-concentration in Evaluation. We also have a new program coming up in which students can earn a concentration in Positive Human Resource Development in the two-year M.S. in Human Resource Management program. The programs offer cutting edge courses taught by experts in application of positive psychology in the workplace.  These offerings promise to give students the tools to make significant improvements in performance and the quality of work life in a wide range of workplace settings.

3. What opportunities exist for alumni of positive organizational psychology?

Some reports suggest that Industrial and Organizational (I/O) psychology is one of the major growth areas in terms of lucrative and meaningful careers in the next decade.  Positive Organizational Psychology provides a distinct specialty within I/O that enables scholars and practitioners to make meaningful contributions in a wide variety of jobs and careers.

To learn more about the CGU programs please visit www.cgu.edu/positivepsych

About the Author

Dr. Stewart Donaldson is a psychologist specializing in evaluation science and optimal human and organizational functioning. He holds appointments as Professor of Psychology and Community and Global Health, Dean of the School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation, Dean of the School of Community & Global Health, and Director of the Claremont Evaluation Center, Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. He is currently serving as President of the American Evaluation Association.