AEMS research agenda goes beyond “Mapping the terrain” of education in Muslim societies. It begins with evidence-based generation of knowledge on the four major constructs selected: empathy, forgiveness, moral reasoning, and community mindedness. Further studies will take place to expand on the results of “mapping the terrain” to promote further documentation of important values in Muslim schools and contexts. The above constructs are foundational to many others that are important for learning and success in life. They are also important for the well-being of Muslim youth, families, and education institutions. In this case, well-being is the goal and outcome of the “mapping” study.
Well-being has been defined by many as the most important aspect of life because broadly defined it encompasses health, faith, socio-emotional and psychological aspects of the person. Philosophers and thinkers from distinct ages and civilizations suggested that education can and should mold the whole human being to achieve her/his highest potential in all domains of life – that it should teach character and well-being (Palmer, Bresler, & Cooper, 2001; Sherman, 1989).
As AEMS research initiative is interested in the holistic approach to education, setting well-being as a long-term goal aligns with the approach. We do though put our effort and methodology in the socio-emotional and spiritual/ religious aspects of well-being in Muslim societies as these are critical in the developmental trajectory of students and others in the education system. We define well-being as:
“Having effective social and emotional functioning, positive affect, and the perceived ability to self-regulate and feel a sense of fulfillment. It is to pursue virtue, meaning and purpose, and doing good/making a difference.”