Episode 60
Dec 13, 2021
1 Hr

Remembering Csikszentmihalyi 3: Csikszentmihalyi‘s Grad Students On The Life, Legacy & Impact Of The Founder of Flow Research with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, Barbara Schneider, Dr. Christine Duranso

In this episode:


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Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., is a cognitive scientist and humanistic psychologist exploring the mind, creativity, and the depths of human potential. He is the founder and director of the Center for the Science of Human Potential and is an Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Wellbeing Science. 

He is the author/editor of 9 books, including Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, and is the host of the #1 psychology podcast in the world— The Psychology Podcast— which has received over 20 million downloads. 

Dr. Kaufman received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University and has taught courses on intelligence, cognitive science, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, Yale, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. 

In 2015, he was named one of “50 groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world” by Business Insider.

Barbara Schneider

Barbara Schneider is the John A. Hannah University Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and the Department of Sociology. She uses a sociological lens to understand societal conditions and interpersonal interactions that create norms and values for enhancing human and social capital. Her research focuses on how the social contexts of schools and families influence the academic and social well-being of adolescents as they move into adulthood. In her career, Schneider has also played a significant role in the development of research methods for the real-time measurement of learning experiences. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Academy of Education, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and, most recently, was elected to the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. In 2017, she received an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Helsinki. Schneider is the principal investigator of the College Ambition Program (CAP), a study that tests a model for promoting a STEM college-going culture in high schools that encourages adolescents to pursue STEM majors in college and in their careers. She is also the principal investigator of Crafting Engagement in Science Environments, an international high school study that tests the impact of Project-Based Learning on student academic, social and emotional factors in science classes. Professor Schneider has published 19 books and more than 100 articles and reports on family, social contexts of schooling, and sociology of knowledge. Her latest book published in 2020, Learning Science-The Value of Crafting Engagement in Science Environments, published by Yale University Press, is being translated and published in China by Educational Science Publishing House Limited.

Dr. Christine Danson

Dr. Danson earned her PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA (2017). Her areas of interests include lifespan development and positive contexts for thriving, parenting and family as positive contexts, and the role of movement and nature exposure for well-being across the lifespan.

In the past few years, she has focused more on her love of teaching and mentoring students, and is thrilled to join URI and their commitment to excellence in teaching coupled with our shared commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

She is the mother of four grown children who live in Boston, New York City, Chicago, and Colorado Springs. Her husband is a school psychologist in the Pasadena, California area. She enjoys spending her free time meditating, hiking, trail running, and generally in nature, especially with her ‘pandemic puppy’, Gussie.


Today we continue our series dedicated to remembering The Godfather of Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi through the memories of his grad students, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, Barbara Schneider, and Dr. Christine Duranso.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was born in Fiume, Italy on September 29, 1934, the son of Hungarian diplomat Alfred Csikszentmihalyi (né Hausenblasz) and Edith Jankovich de Jeszenicze. As a refugee in postwar Rome, he attended the Classical Gymnasium “Torquato Tasso,” and later developed an interest in psychology. He moved to the United States in 1956 to pursue that interest, attending the University of Chicago where he wrote a Ph.D on artistic creativity with Jacob W. Getzels. After spending six years teaching at Lake Forest College, he returned to Chicago to join the faculty in 1971. He remained there for three decades before moving to Claremont Graduate University where founded the Quality of Life Research Center in 2000 and taught until his retirement. 

Csikszentmihalyi is best known for his work on the concept of “Flow,” used to describe a state of optimal experience where one’s skills match the challenges of a situation, and also for his role as a founder of the subfield of positive psychology. Underlying this work was his groundbreaking use of pagers and questionnaires to produce a database based on people’s self-reports of their ordinary experience. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience became a bestseller in 1990, introducing conclusions based on his experiential database using warm, humanistic prose. The Evolving Self (1993), Creativity (1996), and Good Business (2003) expanded his theories in a variety of directions. Because his method generated a cross-section of daily experience, his psychology paid more attention to positive states like enjoyment and creativity than many of his predecessors, and formed the theoretical background of his collaboration with Martin Seligman on their influential 2000 article in American Psychologist that introduced positive psychology. This work was recognized by appointment as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and his receipt of the 2009 Clifton Strengths Prize and the 2011 Széchenyi Prize.

In Chicago, Mihaly met Isabella Selega, a graduate student in Russian history, and they were married in 1961 at Saint Hyacinth’s. She was at her husband’s side when he passed away sixty years later. Their two children, Mark and Christopher, followed him into academics, and currently teach at UC-Berkeley and Cornell University. Mihaly was a loving father-in-law to their respective partners Annie Hope and Gemma Rodrigues, and a caring grandfather to Emily Isabella, Henry Stephen, Kinga Jane, Aschalew, Zofia Rose, and Iris Althea Diana Isabella. 

Mihaly had a sharp sense of humor, especially his penchant for making absurd or ironic comments in a deliberately impassive manner. His empathetic nature and low-key style of presentation could also take people by surprise, and were one reason for his popularity and long-lasting friendships with students, colleagues and readers. 


Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman






Barbara Scheider


Dr. Christine Duranso






STEVEN KOTLER is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and Founder and Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective. He is one of the world’s leading experts on human performance.

His books include The Art of Impossible, Stealing Fire, and The Rise of Superman. His work has been translated into over 40 languages and appeared in over 100 publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Wired, Atlantic Monthly, The Harvard Business Review and Forbes.

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