World-renowned expert on ‘happiness’ to visit Purdue Honors College

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Just in time for the season of love and warm feelings, a pioneer and world-authority on the scientific study of happiness is headed to Purdue. 

Ruut Veenhoven, Emeritus Professor of Social Conditions for Human Happiness at Erasmus University Rotterdam

What is happiness?  What makes us happy? Why does happiness matter? Ruut Veenhoven, Emeritus Professor of Social Conditions for Human Happiness at Erasmus University Rotterdam will share his insight on the subjective enjoyment of life during a week-long stay at the Purdue Honors College. Veenhoven’s campus visit will include a public research talk, guest lectures, receptions with Purdue faculty and a Valentine’s Day celebration with students. 

The Dutch sociologist is the founding director of the World Database of Happiness and has shown happiness can be used as a reliable measure to assess the progress of societies.  His work at Erasmus University Rotterdam has contributed to a renewed interest in happiness as an aim for public policy.  Veenhoven is also the founding editor of the Journal of Happiness Studies and a longstanding member of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, which recognized his contributions with the 2012 Distinguished Service Award, 2001 Distinguished Quality-of-Life Award and the 1997 Research Fellow Award.

“Governments should aim at greater happiness for a greater number of citizens, not only for better health, but also because of the other benefits of happiness, such as better citizenship,” Veenhoven says.

“While topics like well-being, happiness, and love have been around for ages, Professor Emeritus Veenhoven’s empirical approach is fascinating, timely and enlightening,” said Rhonda Phillips, dean of the Honors College.  “We are truly fortunate to have a scholar of his caliber visiting Purdue.  This will be a great interdisciplinary learning opportunity for students and faculty.”

Veenhoven’s public talk “Greater Happiness for a Greater Number: How Can This be Achieved” is set for Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 4:00 p.m. in the Honors Hall of Honors College and Residences North.  Those interested in the topic can also join Veenhoven in a Q&A session Thursday, Feb. 16 in room 1151 of Honors College and Residences North.

Media contact: Lindsay Perrault,, 765-427-1923