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1: General Information 1a Unit title Gross National Happiness
1b Unit number 8933
1c Teaching Period and year offered Semester 1, 2014
1d Credit point value 3 credit points
1e Unit level G
1f Name of Unit Convener and contact details (including telephone and email) Professor Mark Turner Assistant Professor Jit Tshering
1g Administrative contact details Ms Yan Wang Contacts at RIM to be advised by RIM
UC Bruce Campus
61 (0)2 6201 5711
2: Academic Content 2a Unit description and learning outcomes This unit explores the origin, development and current application of the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan in particular but also in other developing countries. GNH is located within the history of development theory and practice, especially in terms of the search for alternatives to mainstream theories and approaches to development. GNH is also examined in relation to the growing body of work on satisfaction and happiness and the increasing international concern with these aspects of life.
On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:
Understand criticallydifferent development theories and practices;
Understand and utilise different perceptions of happiness;
Locate GNH in the history of development theories and practices;
Understand the philosophical basis and components of the concept of GNH;
Appreciate the complexities and challenges inherent in planning and managing development utilising the concept of GNH;
Compile, present and interpret statistical and other data relating to development policy and management
Research, identify, organise and present relevant materials and arguments in a range of modes
2b Generic skills On the successful completion of this unit, students will have developed skills and attributes in:
The ability to present knowledge, ideas and opinions effectively and communicate within and across professional and cultural boundaries
2. Analysis and inquiry
The ability to gather information, and to analyse and evaluate information and situations in a systematic, creative and insightful way
3. Problem solving
The ability to apply problem-solving processes in novel situations; to identify and analyse problems then formulate and implement solutions
4. Working independently and with others
The ability to plan their own work, be self-directed, and use interpersonal skills and attitudes to work collaboratively
5. Professionalism and social responsibility
The capacity and intention to use professional knowledge and skills ethically and responsibly, for the benefit of others and the environment
2c Prerequisites and/or co-requisites No pre-requisites or co-requisites are required for this unit
3: Delivery of Unit and Timetable 3a Delivery mode There will be 5 days of intensive workshops for this unit. Classroom hours are 9.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4.30pm each day.
3b Timetable of activities Workshop 1: Tuesday morning (4 March 2014): What is happiness? In this introductory session we look at the concept of happiness as it has evolved from the time of Aristotle to the present. We examine different meanings attached to happiness and try to make sense of the competing concepts of happiness and their implications for individuals and societies.
Required Reading Stearns, P. (2012) ‘The history of happiness’, Harvard Business Review, January-February: 104-109.
Kesebir, P. and Diener, E. (2008) ‘In pursuit of happiness: empirical answers to philosophical questions’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3: 117-125.
Workshop 2: Tuesday afternoon (4 March 2014): How do we measure happiness
This session focuses on the ways in which happiness has been measured and what conclusions we can draw from the various ‘scientific’ approaches to happiness. The methodological strengths and weaknesses of happiness studies are evaluated.
Required Reading Diener, S. and Biswas-Diener, R. (2002) ‘Will money increase subjective well-being?’ Social Indicators Research, 57(2) 119-169
Sachs, J. (2012) ‘Introduction’, in J. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs (eds) World Happiness Report. New York: United Nations, pp.3-9.
Workshop 3: Wednesday morning (5 March 2014): Development’s Origins and the Post-war Development Project This session commences by considering the notion of social change and how it has been understood through history. Of particular concern are the idea of progress and the concepts of modernity and development. We move from these basic conceptual matters to consideration of colonialism and imperialism and how they impacted on developing countries as preparation for critical analysis of the post-second world war ‘development project’. Of particular concern are modernisation theory and how it affected development thinking and practice, and dependency theory as modernisation’s radical critique. Familiarity with all these topics will assist us in locating GNH in development theory and practice.
Greig, A., Hulme, D. and Turner, M. 2007. Challenging Global Inequality: Development Theory and Practice in the 21st Century. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapters 4 and 5.
Hopper, P. (2012) Understanding Development. Cambridge: Polity. Chapter 1.
Workshop 4: Wednesday afternoon (5 March 2014): The Framework of Early 21st Century Development and its Discontents This workshop continues the historical review of development we commenced in the morning. We pay special concern to the neoliberal agenda for development, its rationale and implementation. The leading developmental institutions including the World Bank and IMF are also scrutinised. In contrast to the neoliberal agenda we will look at the critiques of development coming from environmentalists, feminists and writers on post-development.
Greig, A., Hulme, D. and Turner, M. 2007. Challenging Global Inequality: Development Theory and Practice in the 21st Century. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapters 6 and 9.
Workshop 5: Thursday morning (6 March 2014): The Millennium Development Goals and the Measurement of Development In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly agreed on a set of goals that would guide global development. These were the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of measurable goals that all countries promised to aim for by the year 2015. The eradication of poverty topped the list of the MDGs but others included health, education, gender, environment and aid. In this workshop we will examine these goals and the progress made in achieving them. In doing this it is necessary to look at the ways in which development is measured, the implications of using certain measurements and the relationship of these standard measures to happiness. We will also consider the options for global development after the expiry of the MDGs in 2015.
Required Reading Greig, A., Hulme, D. and Turner, M. 2007. Challenging Global Inequality: Development Theory and Practice in the 21st Century. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 3.
Melamed, C. and Scott, L. 2011. ‘After 2015: progress and challenges for development’, ODI Background Note, London, ODI.
Workshop 6: Thursdayafternoon (6 March 2014): GNH 1―Origin, History, Content and Rationale 1 In this workshop we move our focus to GNH, looking specifically at the origin of the concept and how it has evolved over the years into what it is today. Also under examination is the rationale of GNH and how it fits in with or challenges mainstream and radical views of development. Links with Buddhist economics and elements of Bhutanese culture are also explored.
Required Reading Thinley, J. (2007) ‘What is Gross National Happiness?’ In Centre for Bhutan Studies (ed.) Rethinking Development: Proceedings of Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness. Centre for Bhutan Studies: Thimphu, pp.3-11.
Thinley, J. (1998) ‘Values and development: “Gross National Happiness”’, Speech delivered at Millennium Meeting for Asia and Pacific, Seoul, 30 October – 1 November.
Workshop 7: Friday morning (7 March 2014): GNH 2― Origin, History, Content and Rationale 2 This workshop continues the task of exploring the meaning of GNH and the examination of its component parts using a variety of writings and speeches in the subject.
Required Reading Rinzin, C., Vermeulen, W. and Glasbergen, P. (2007) ‘Public perceptions of Bhutan’s approach to sustainable development in practice’, Sustainable Development, 15(1) 52-68.
Rinzin, C. (2006) On the Middle Path: the Social Basis for Sustainable Development in Bhutan, Netherlands Geographical Studies 352. Utrecht: Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development.
Workshop 8: Friday afternoon (7 March 2014): GNH 3― Translating Theory into Practice 1 While GNH has been applauded across the world as a novel and noble way of conceptualising development, a leading question is ‘how can the ideas of GNH be put in to practice?’ How do policymakers and implementers translate philosophy into development projects and programs? Using case studies, this workshop will examine some of the ways that GNH has been put in to practice and some of the difficulties that confront those trying to make GNH a practical guide to action. We will also examine the institution, the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), set up to oversee the implementation of GNH
Required Reading GNHC (2009) Tenth Five Year Plan. Thimphu: GNHC.
Planning Commission (1999) Bhutan 2020: A Vision for Peace, Prosperity and Happiness, Part II. Thimphu: Planning Commission, Royal Government of Bhutan.
Ura, K., Alkire, S. and Zangmo, T. (2012) ‘Case study: Bhutan: Gross National Happiness and the GNH index’, in J. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs (eds) World Happiness Report. New York: United Nations, pp.108-158.
Workshop 9: Saturday morning (8 March 2014): GNH 4―Translating Theory into Practice 2 This workshop continues to look into the ways in which GNH is being translated from theory into practice in Bhutan. Special attention will be paid to the national development strategy and to the relationship between GNH and business. Also, the way in which GNH can be measured will be reviewed.
Required Reading GNHC (2011) ‘Protocol for policy formulationfor the Royal Government of Bhutan’. Thimphu: GNHC.
GNHC (nd) ‘Methodology of GNH screening tools’. Thimphu: GNHC.
Kuensel (2010) ‘Mineral development policy’, Kuensel, 29 July.
Workshop 10: Saturday afternoon (8 March 2014): GNH 5―The Challenge of Societal Change This final workshop considers the socioeconomic changes that are occurring in Bhutan today, especially the undesirable effects of those changes such as depopulation of some rural areas, urban crime and delinquency, social problems and unemployment. Consideration will be given to how these challenges of societal change can be addressed and what role GNH can play.
Required Reading Eisenstadt, S. (1970) ‘Breakdowns of modernization’, in S. Eisenstadt (ed.) Readings in Social Evolution and Development. Oxford: Pergamon, pp.421-452.
Various articles from Bhutan newspapers presented in Moodle.
4: Unit Resources 4a Lists of required texts/readings There is no prescribed text for this unit. Required readings are specified under item 3 above. These and additional readings have been placed on the Moodle site for this unit. There are numerous other readings on the topics covered in this unit that students should research for themselves especially when undertaking the esay assignments. Teaching staff will be available to give further guidance.
Link to search page for Unit Readings (print materials)
Link to search page for eReserve (electronic materials)
4b Materials and equipment There are no special materials needed for this unit. Students will need access to a computer and the internet to utilise the unit’s Moodle site.
4c Unit website To find your unit site online, login to LearnOnline(Moodle) using your student ID.
Note that your unit site has a profiles page that displays your name and email address for the benefit of other students. If you prefer to hide your email address, click here for instructions.
5: Assessment 5a Assessment overview
Assessment item (including exams held in the exam period)
Due date of assignments
(total to equal 100%)
UC Generic Skills
1 - Communication
2 - Analysis and Inquiry
3 - Problem Solving
4 - Working independently and with others
5 - Professionalism and Social Responsibility
5b Details of each assessment item Assessment 1: Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Happiness in General Answer ONE of the following questions
Have the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) been a more successful approach to development than previous approaches? Use examples when explaining your response to this question.
How reliable are measures of happiness and how can we use them to improve the human condition?
Your answer should be presented in academic essay format drawing evidence from recognised sources. This evidence will be used to demonstrate and illustrate your argument in the essay. The sources should be referenced in accordance with academic conventions. The essay should be 1500 words in length. The deadline for submission is 21 March 2014.
The answers to the questions will be assessed using the following criteria:
Clearly addressing the question
Identification of key issues
Structure of essay
Use of appropriate examples
Demonstrated understanding of the literature
Demonstrated independent research
Presentation (including referencing)
Assignment 2: Essay Answer the following question:
Is GNH a practical approach to addressing the developmental needs of Bhutan? Your answer should be presented in academic essay format drawing evidence from recognised sources. This evidence will be used to demonstrate and illustrate your argument in the essay. The sources should be referenced in accordance with academic conventions. The essay should be 1500 words in length. The deadline for submission is 6 April 2014.
The criteria for evaluating this assignment are:
Identification of key issues
Structure of essay
Use of appropriate examples
Demonstrated understanding of the literature
Demonstrated independent research
Presentation (including referencing)
Exam Details of the exam will be provided by the Lecturers during the classes for the unit at the Royal Institute of Management. It will be comprised of 5-6 essay questions of which you will be expected to answer 3.
5c Submission of assessment items
All assessment items will be submitted online via the unit Moodle site. The first page of each assessment submission should include the following information:
Students have a responsibility to uphold University standards on ethical scholarship. Good scholarship involves building on the work of others and use of others’ work must be acknowledged with proper attribution made. Cheating, plagiarism, and falsification of data are dishonest practices that contravene academic values. Please see UC's Academic Integrity Policy.
To enhance understanding of academic integrity, it is expected that all students will complete the LearnOnline Academic Integrity Module (AIM) at least once during their course of study. The module is automatically available as a listed site when students log into LearnOnline.
5g Use of text-matching software
The University of Canberra has available, through LearnOnline (Moodle), text-matching software that helps students and staff reduce plagiarism and improve understandings of academic integrity. Known as URKUND, the software matches submitted text in student assignments against material from various sources: the internet, published books and journals, and previously submitted student texts. Click here for further information on the URKUND text-matching software.
6: Student Responsibility 6a Workload
The amount of time you will need to spend on study in this unit will depend on a number of factors including your prior knowledge, learning skill level and learning style. Nevertheless, in planning your time commitments you should note that for a 3cp unit the total notional workload over the semester or term is assumed to be 150 hours. These hours include time spent in classes. The total workload for units of different credit point value should vary proportionally. For example, for a 6cp unit the total notional workload over a semester or term is assumed to be 300 hours.
6b Inclusion and Welfare
Students who need assistance in undertaking the unit because of disability or other circumstances should inform their Unit Convener or Inclusion and Welfareas soon as possible so the necessary arrangements can be made.
6c Participation requirements
It is expected that students attend all the intensive classes for this unit
If you are planning to withdraw please discuss with your unit convener. Please seeWithdrawal of Units for further information on deadlines.
6e Required IT skills
It is expected that students have basic word processing skills and are able to use the internet for gathering information and for managing participation through the Moodle website for this unit.
6f In-Unit Costs
Fees are as set out by RIM and organised by RIM.
6g Work placements, internships or practicums
There are no work placements or internships involved in this unit.
6h Additional information
Any additional information will be supplied as necessary by the Unit Conveners as required either face-to-face, via email or through the Moodle site.
7: Student Feedback All students enrolled in this unit will have an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback on the unit at the end of the Semester via the Unit Satisfaction Survey (USS) which you can access by logging into MyUC via the UC homepage: http://www.canberra.edu.au/home/. Your lecturer or tutor may also invite you to provide more detailed feedback on their teaching through an anonymous questionnaire.
8: Authority of this Unit Outline Any change to the information contained in Section 2 (Academic content), and Section 5 (Assessment) of this document, will only be made by the Unit Convener if the written agreement of Head of Discipline and a majority of students has been obtained; and if written advice of the change is then provided on the unit site in the learning management system. If this is not possible, written advice of the change must bethen forwarded to each student enrolled in the unit at their registered term address. Any individual student who believes him/herself to be disadvantaged by a change is encouraged to discuss the matter with the Unit Convener.
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