The Basics of Character Education for Educators


  • Venue: Online
  • Date: Self-paced; Registration opens Wednesday January 27, 2021
  • Price: $49

Course Curriculum

This brief course is designed for people who are either new to character education or would like to brush up on the latest happenings in the field. Participants will have the opportunity to experience character education practices, consider different approaches to how character can be taught and integrated into many aspects of school, and learn about character education programs along with current opportunities and challenges in the field.

We also offer mini-courses on the Basics of Social-Emotional Learning and the Basics of Mindfulness. You can enroll in all three at once with our Basics Bundle

Course components include (1.5 hours): 

  • A Sampling of Different Cultures’ and Religions’ Views of Morality
  • A Brief History of Character Education in the United States
  • How Character is Defined Today in the West
  • Approaches to Teaching Character, Including Sample Frameworks and Programs
  • Current Opportunities and Challenges in the Field of Character Education

Course Logistics

Course Cost

Registration for the Basics of Character Education Mini-Course is $49. 

The Greater Good Science Center is funded entirely by donations and grants—we do not receive any financial support from the University of California, Berkeley. However, we are able to offer many of our GGSC resources for free because we charge for some of our courses. We do our best to make our courses and events affordable for everyone, but realize that “affordable” can mean vastly different things depending on individual or geographic circumstances.

If the cost of this mini-course is prohibitive due to your personal circumstances, you can use the discount code MINIDISC at checkout to recieve $20 off the cost of the course.

Course Access

Participants will have access to the course for 100 days after registration. 

Who Should Take This Course?

  • Pre-K through 12 classroom teachers, paraeducators, and out-of-school-time providers
  • Pre-K-12 school mental health professionals and counselors
  • Pre-K-12 school and district-level administrators
  • Pre-K-12 teacher and administrator educators
  • Other higher education lecturers or professors are welcome to register, but please be aware that the course is geared primarily towards Pre-K-12 educators

Cancellation Policy

Course users can cancel their enrollment or ask for a refund up to 14 days after the payment or 14 days after the course starts (whichever comes later). In order to qualify for a refund, users must not have completed more than 25% of the course modules or content. To cancel course enrollment, please contact ggsceducation@berkeley.edu. Qualified refund requests may take up to 30 days to process.

Course Features

  • Pre-recorded videos featuring talks and practices.
  • Discussion guide for participants who want to engage in group learning (e.g., a school cohort)
  • An introduction to over 200 free research-informed classroom practices that help cultivate character 
  • Downloadable journal pages to capture your reflections, a-ha moments, and great ideas

Course Outcomes

Participants will:

  • Learn how morality is defined in several cultures and religions, including Chinese culture, Hinduism, Islam, and sub-Saharan African culture
  • Consider the challenge of “whose values do we teach” in a pluralistic world
  • Learn a brief history of character education in the United States
  • Review several definitions of character
  • Examine different curricular and pedagogical approaches to teaching character, along with the “hidden curriculum”
  • Learn practices for teaching character, including the four types of character, that use a variety of methods
  • Explore three character education frameworks for integrating character into the DNA of school, along with sample character education programs
  • Consider the research and latest opportunities and challenges in the field of character education
  • Explore what it looks like when character education, social-emotional learning, and mindfulness are woven together in classrooms and schools, including practical examples
  • Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D.

    Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D.

    Vicki Zakrzewski (zahk-shef-skee), Ph.D., is the founding education director of the Greater Good Science Center. As an international thought leader on the science of well-being in education, Vicki writes articles (Greater Good, ASCD’s Educational Leadership, Edutopia, and Huffington Post), gives talks and workshops all over the world, and leads the GGSC’s Summer Institute for Educators—an annual multi-day event in which education professionals learn how the science of compassion, empathy, gratitude, mindfulness, and other social-emotional skills can enhance their own lives and the lives of their students.

    Vicki also sits on several advisory boards and consults and collaborates with organizations on how to incorporate the science of well-being into education. Sample collaborations include the EASEL Lab and Making Caring Common within the Harvard Graduate School of Education; CASEL’s California Collaborating States Initiative; the Learning and Policy Institute at Stanford University; UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development; Facebook; Science for Monks and Nuns in Dharamsala, India; the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai, UAE; the Mind and Life Institute (of which she is a fellow); the Jim Henson Company on a new television show for preschoolers; the International School of Brussels on the Common Ground Collaborative curriculum; several social-emotional learning programs, including Second Step, MindUp, Open Circle, Facing History and Ourselves, and Inner Resilience; and Pixar/Disney on The Emotions Survival Guide—a follow-up book for children based on the movie Inside Out.

    A former teacher and school leader, Vicki earned her Ph.D. in Education and Positive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. In her doctoral research, Vicki spent two months in India at a school awarded the Peace Education Prize by UNESCO and the Hope of Humanity Award by the Dalai Lama, researching their methods for developing teachers’ ability to create caring relationships with students.