Keynote Information 

Session Time: 9:00 – 9:25 AM

(Conference Welcome begins at 8:45 AM) 



Character Strengths: What They Are and Why They Matter in Education

Dr. Ryan M. Niemiec, Education Director, VIA Institute on Character

In the early 2000s, something groundbreaking occurred in the psychological sciences: a “common language” of positive personality qualities was uncovered. This research-based system is known as the VIA Classification of 24 character strengths. These strengths are basic parts of the human psyche, found in people across countries, cultures, and beliefs. This includes character strengths such as bravery, curiosity, social intelligence, fairness, self-regulation, hope, gratitude, and creativity. More than 800 scientific studies have investigated this work and revealed numerous benefits of using strengths of character. Teachers and students can enjoy greater happiness, achievement, better classroom climate, physical health, and stronger relationships.

This keynote will highlight these findings, and discuss how character strengths are different from other types of students’ strengths (e.g., talents, skills, interests). Emphasis will be placed on how character strengths are relevant to the “whole student” – socially, academically, physically, mentally, and behaviorally. The keynote will lay the foundation for the workshop to follow.

About Dr. Niemiec:

Dr. Ryan Niemiec is a leading educator, researcher, and practitioner in character science and practice. He’s a popular international speaker, an award-winning psychologist, and education director of the renowned, nonprofit VIA Institute on Character. He’s authored 11 books (including the bestselling The Power of Character Strengths), more than 100 academic papers, and delivered over 1,000 presentations, including a keynote at Harvard, annual presentations at the University of Pennsylvania, a mindfulness tour across Australia, and a global character strengths tour 12 years ago. He was interviewed by the legendary Larry King in 2020. He’s a proud graduate of Michigan State University.