Linking Education in the Arts and Humanities to Life-Long Well-Being and Health

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Ryff CD

Year of Publication:

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Publication Type:


The report discusses the place of arts and humanities in liberal higher education programmes in the United States, which are seen as being under threat. Ryff argues that education in the arts and humanities may have an important role in supporting individual well-being across the adult life course.

The essay is structured in three parts. Part 1 outlines key features of Ryff’s model of well-being and reviews the evidence supporting the validity of this model. Part 2 considers the role of a liberal arts education in the early adult years in ‘nurturing multiple aspects of psychological well-being. A key claim is that arts and humanities education serves to ‘cultivate the sensibilities that attune individuals to appreciate (…) what the arts (…) have to offer in the pursuit of a full, meaningful life…’ Part 3 proposes a research agenda for exploring the value of arts and humanities education for well-being.

Four directions for research are suggested: 1) studying the links between higher education and well-being through prospective and retrospective designs 2) exploring the links between higher education and life-long participation in the arts 3) linking cumulative exposure to the arts to well-being and health outcomes, and 4) examining social inequalities in access to higher education and the implications this has for the well-being and health of ‘advantaged versus disadvantaged individuals.’

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Education

Participant Group: Young People (16-25)

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Ryff, C.D. (2019).Linking Education in the Arts and Humanities to Life-Long Well-Being and Health. USA: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.