Welcome to ‘Virtue Insight’, the Jubilee Centre blog. On this blog, we, the staff of the Jubilee Centre, will be posting reflections on issues that are close to our hearts and to the work that we are undertaking across the field of character and virtues. We will also regularly take the temperature of the public, social-media and academic discourse on character and character education and respond to it when necessary. We look forward to the active involvement of you, the readers, in response to what we write.At the time of writing this blog, we are one year into our current grant, which forms our second phase of work. As one does at such milestone points, we are taking the opportunity to both reflect on what we have achieved to date, and re-focus on our goals and targets for the coming months. Our current research projects are now well under way, with resources and interventions being piloted, surveys beginning to be completed and participants being recruited, the Centre is a hive of activity. Not that we have been particularly passive previously, of course! The growing reach and scope of the Centre’s influence and impact is being seen every day. For example, the Lucas & Hanson (2016) report on ‘Learning to be Employable: Practical Lessons from Research in Developing Character’, published at the end of February, references the Centre’s work, particularly highlighting the Centre’s definition of character and the virtue typology found in our Framework for Character Education in Schools. Whilst misappropriating the use of the word ‘trait’ in respect to character virtues to the Centre (p.19) (the Centre has never intentionally referred to virtues as traits through its work), the report is an example of the practical applications of the Centre’s philosophy and research conducted to date.
As part of the reflections and taking stock at this point in our current grant schedule, we have also looked to our website, as the primary medium for correspondence with the wider public, and are delighted that we have received more users in the 12 months of this grant (1/3/15-29/2/16) than the whole of the previous period since the website launched in December 2012. Our free online course ‘What is Character?’ recently ended its third iteration, with over 15,000 learners having subscribed to one of the three versions over the past 13 months. We are delighted with the debates that take place on the message boards around matters of character and virtues, and reporting figures show that our courses are engaged with by ‘social learners’ at a rate which far exceeds industry averages for online courses of this type.
Looking forward to the immediate future, we continue to develop the network of schools that we work with. We have a number of current projects which are currently developing important resources designed to cultivate the character and virtue literacy of pupils in schools, which are underpinned by robust academic research. These resources, once published, will appear online and are free to download and use (just let us know that you’re using them!). We continue to explore and advance our international partnerships; our work with UNICEF in Montenegro and the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia have both published recent reports.
I hope this first offering has been of interest, and do stay tuned for much more.
We have also begun this blog, which we hope will become both informative and a source of great debate. New posts will be published on a weekly basis, and readers are encouraged to engage, react and contribute as much as possible. Posts will be provided from all members of the Jubilee Centre team, which will hopefully provide an insight into the scope and range of interests held both professionally within the Centre, and beyond.
Aidan Thompson, Jubilee Centre Manager