COBE Administrative Director Marcie Walsh presented on COBE Research in Action: Thrive, Fit and the Science of Happiness at the September COBE Connect lunch lecture.
During her presentation Walsh explored how COBE collaborates with researchers at VCU to translate work on mental health, substance use and a variety of other topics into coursework, programming and policy that improves behavioral and emotional health for people on and off campus.
While there are many examples of research translation from COBE, Walsh specifically cited the Thrive and Fit living-learning communities and the Science of Happiness as two main examples of the work she oversees as administrative director.
The Science of Happiness course examines the state of college student mental health and wellness on a personal and systemic level. Students look at how individuals can create positive change by reinterpreting their goals and identifying steps towards having a successful experience in college and beyond. The course was created by COBE researchers from around the university and is co-taught by those researchers as a way of connecting students directly with experts in different fields.
Thrive and Fit are a partnership between COBE, VCU RecSports and VCU Residential Life and Housing that provide a select group of freshmen with a living-learning experience focused on well-being. Thrive and Fit help students learn how to make the most out of their college years and lead healthy, prosperous lives through coursework, programming and events that connect students to researchers across campus and promote general health and wellness.
At the end of the presentation, former Science of Happiness student Muneera Hassan discussed her experience with the class and how it changed her perspective on research.
“I found out that I really liked research through the Science of Happiness class,” Hassan said. “For me, COBE really put research back into real life.”
Hassan continued studying with COBE collaborators in the Spit for Science Research Bootcamp this summer and now runs her own spin-off research project as an intern with the EDGE Lab.
“I learned research isn’t this thing where there are people in white coats who talk to people in suits and we don’t apply anything to real life for five or ten years,” Hassan said. “It is informed by real life, and your experiences are what inspire us.”