The picture we get of today’s youth may seem bleak: they are disengaged from civic life, engage in risky behavior, display confused moral reasoning, and have materialistic goals. Despite these challenges, they have the potential to be engaged, contributing members of society if provided with appropriate supports. Character development programs that help youth identify and reflect on positive values and transform these into meaningful sustained action hold promise for helping youth thrive in today’s world. The Inspire>Aspire poster program, grounded in Sir John Templeton’s Laws of Life, is one such program.
The Big Questions we address are: 1) Can lessons learned from Inspire>Aspire: Global Citizens in the Making be applied to the development and refinement of the next iteration of Inspire>Aspire? and 2) Can reflecting on and writing about virtues espoused in the Laws of Life improve adolescent character?
In the Inspiring Purpose study, together with Character Scotland we are implementing and evaluating the Inspire>Aspire poster program, and providing research evidence that has implications for character education writ large.
The specific project AIMS are: 1) Refine, implement, and disseminate the next iteration of Inspire>Aspire based on results of the process evaluation; and 2) Conduct an outcome evaluation to assess outcomes identified in the programmatic theory of change.
Scholarly publications and program materials will enable broad dissemination of this program. This will result in professional consensus on the relation between positive youth development and character development as essential for the development of youth aspiration and contributions to society. We expect additional schools worldwide to adopt Inspire>Aspire to enhance youth character. We also expect that having evaluation evidence will help Character Scotland attract additional funding from other sources.