Conferences and Symposia

Interdisciplinary conferences on human flourishing

As part of its mission, the Human Flourishing Program hosts annual conferences and workshops that bring together scholars in the humanities and social sciences to integrate knowledge on topics central to human flourishing. Conference topics are selected based on the current research interests of the program.

On April 19th - 20th, 2019 we hosted a international interdisciplinary conference on the meaning of life. If you would like to see some of the talks from that conference, you may view them on the Human Flourishing YouTube Channel.

The Program's Flourishing Network also hosts events on related topics, such as "The Economics of Wellbeing & Global Human Flourishing (2022)" and "Education as Regenerative Space (2021)".

From April 8th-10th, 2021 the Human Flourishing Program co-hosted, in collaboration with Harvard Divinity School and the Catholic Project of the Catholic University of America, and more than 50 other international partners, a Symposium on Faith and Flourishing in the Face of Childhood Sexual Abuse. This program brought together health care and public health providers, religious and spiritual leaders, and lay leaders of diverse faith traditions to explore best practices for providing a holistic approach that integrates psychological and spiritual care into the prevention and healing of childhood sexual abuse. 

Likewise, in April 2018, the Human Flourishing Program hosted an interdisciplinary conference on the measurement of well-being, whose proceedings have been gathered into an edited volume, Measuring Well-Being: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Social Sciences and Humanities (eds. Matthew Lee, Laura Kubzansky, and Tyler VanderWeele), which have been published in March 2021 by Oxford University Press.

Past Events

2021-2022: Kierkegaard and Love Workshop

The subject of love is central to the Program’s research on well-being and flourishing. It is part of “The Construct and Assessment of Love” grant funded by the John Templeton Foundation. Our hope with the “Kierkegaard and Love Workshop” is to explore Kierkegaard’s rich insights on themes concerning love in his thought and beyond. We are especially interested in receiving submissions that explore the unitive and contributory aspects of love. When we speak of the unitive aspect of love we have in mind that dimension of love that seeks unity of some kind with the beloved. When we speak of the contributory aspect of love we have in mind that dimension of love that seeks to contribute to the good of the beloved in some way and for the beloved’s own sake.

Visit the workshop website under this link                  


2021: Faith and Flourishing Symposium

On April 8-10, 2021, the Human Flourishing Program co-hosted a virtual “Symposium on Faith and Flourishing: Preventing and Healing Child Abuse,” which opened a dialogue between religious leaders and public health experts on the role of religious communities in preventing and healing child sexual abuse. This event was co-sponsored by 45 NGOs and interfaith organizations on national and international levels, including the Vatican, the United Nations, and the World Council of Churches. It gathered more than 1600 participants to listen to 73 speakers from around the world, including the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Rev. Dr. Denis Mukwege. After her visit with the Pope Francis in 2018, Symposium co-organizer and HFH Research Associate Jennifer Wortham has dedicated her life to the creation of the Global Collaborative to establish November 18th as a U.N.-recognized Annual Day of Observance for Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Prevention, Healing, and Justice.

Full April 8 Program 

2019: Meaning of Life

In April, 2019, the Human Flourishing Program hosted an interdisciplinary conference on the Meaning of Life in the Tsai Auditorium on Harvard's campus. The conference featured over 200 attendees and a distinguished list of international speakers. As a result of the conference, the Human Flourishing program has launched a new comprehensive measure of meaning and purpose in life. 

Conference Presenters
Conference presenters included Roy Baumeister, Thaddeus Metz, Crystal Park, Michael Steger, Samantha Heintzelman, Frank Martela, Joshua Hicks, Joshua Seachris, Jeffrey Hanson, and Charles Taliaferro.

meaning of life conference

2018: Well-Being Workshop

Interdisciplinary Workshop on Happiness, Well-Being and Measurement

Dates: April 5-6, 2018
The Human Flourishing Program, in conjunction with the Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, hosted an interdisciplinary workshop on the topic of well-being measurement. Rather than focusing on the eudaimonic versus hedonic measurement debates of the past, the conference participants focused principally on how best to provide thoughtful guidance on ways that approaches to measurement might vary by context: e.g., government surveys vs. psychology well-being studies vs. an employer vs. large public health cohorts. Participants also discussed how to make progress in knowledge in the face of the proliferation of measures. In addition to sessions being led by leading sociologists and psychologists, the conference included panels led by philosophers and theologians on the ways that perspectives from these disciplines can inform well-being measurement.

Workshop Presenters
Workshop presenters included Paul Allin, Anne Baril, Colin Farrelly, Guy Fletcher, Corey Keyes, Matt Killingsworth, William Lauinger, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Seth Margolis, Neil Messer, Susanna Rinard, Carol Ryff, Louis Tay, Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, Tyler VanderWeele,  and Mark Wynn.

2017: Conference on Suffering

Interdisciplinary Conference on Suffering

Date: January 3-6, 2017

The Human Flourishing Program hosted an interdisciplinary conference on suffering in Rome, Italy. The conference brought together philosophers, theologians, clinicians, and empirical researchers on the topic of suffering. The conference papers will be published in an edited volume.

2016: Religion and Health Symposium

Symposium on Religion and Health

Date: December 2, 2016

The Human Flourishing Program hosted a one-day symposium in Boston, MA at Harvard’s Medical School and T.H. Chan School of Public Health on “Religion and Health From Public Health to the End of Life: Current Research and Critical Issues of Practice.” More information about the conference program including videos is available on the conference site: