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UC Berkeley Press Release

UC Berkeley peace and well-being center launches new "Greater Good" magazine

– Everyone's always saying there isn't enough good news out there.

Well, now there's "Greater Good," a new magazine launched by the Center for the Development of Peace and Well-Being at the University of California, Berkeley.

The magazine provides a forum for academic research that investigates the roots of positive emotions and peaceful relationships, as opposed to research that focuses on pathology and aberrant behavior.

"Greater Good combines the academic rigor and experience in the community that the authors bring, along with a particular orientation that looks at what one might call the higher possibilities of human nature," said editorial board member Charles Garfield.

"Greater Good's authors are seasoned researchers, professionals and leaders of community-based organizations who are committed to making their articles serious contributions. The magazine is far from a pop psychology attempt at cheerleading for human nature and behavior," added Garfield, the founder of Shanti, a community-based health services agency, and a clinical professor of psychology at UC San Francisco Medical School.

The biannual publication launched in May with a 38-page issue dedicated to the topic of compassion. The fall 2004 issue, due in November, will focus on forgiveness, and future issues will also take a thematic approach.

Co-editors Dacher Keltner, director of the center, and Jason Marsh note in the inaugural issue that the magazine will present scholarly research and, in addition, essays and articles from people from various walks of life to discuss their own experiences with that issue's topic.

"Greater Good will not only present new research and theories on positive human behavior, it will highlight people and community-based programs that bring these theories to life," reads the editors' note. "Their ideas and actions defy our conventionally pessimistic view of human nature."

Although most of the articles draw on current academic research, Greater Good looks and feels like a popular magazine, with sharp photos and design, and is written in a straightforward, jargon-free way meant to attract a general readership.

The May issue, for example, included an interview with Illinois Governor George Ryan about his decision to commute the sentences of 167 death row inmates, reviews of books on compassion, and articles on how students do better in a caring classroom community, how compassionate spouses have more fulfilling unions and how people can be altruistic in the midst of war.

"The magazine is meant to serve as a bridge between the research community and the general public, especially practitioners in education, health care, and the social services generally, who can make particular use of it," said Marsh, who is also a student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. "All of this research has great relevance to the way ordinary people lead their lives."

The contributors and editorial board members for the magazine include faculty and authors from a range of disciplines, primarily psychology, education and sociology. The ad-free magazine is $4.95 an issue, or subscriptions are $7.95 a year and $10.95 for two years through the center at http://peacecenter.berkeley.edu.

The Center for the Development of Peace and Well-Being, founded in 2002, is part of the UC Berkeley Psychology Department's Institute of Human Development.