MA IDS Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences


International Development and Service

Degree Name

International Development and Service, MA

First Supervisor

Reed Mueller, Ph.D.


The purpose of this culminating comprehensive project is to advise adult empowerment focused NGOs on the importance of identifying and leveraging the strengths of the individuals they serve. Given the evidence that all individuals innately have strengths, it is important to be aware of them in order to properly engage such assets. Character strengths are studied in this paper as one of the main pillars in the field of positive psychology. This culminating comprehensive project reviews the literature on positive psychology to best understand how empowerment can be achieved. Accompanying this research is a sample resource guide that was designed to advise adult empowerment‐focused NGOs on the importance of understanding individual strengths as well as to equip them with tools to help individuals’ access and leverage these strengths. While conducting research for this project it was identified that there is a major gap in positive psychology programming in social change (organizations whose services support the well-being of their constituency). This cumulative comprehensive project seeks to bridge the gap and to further continue dialogue of the incorporation of positive psychology with social change.