Incivility, harassment, academic bullying and even violent behavior are problems influenced by U.S. culture, college/university culture, and a student peer culture. Each culture has unique and often long-standing norms, values, assumptions and beliefs; thus, culture is difficult to change.

However, culture change is possible when we identify positive deviants. Within every culture, an individual or even individuals exist who counter the norm with positive behavior and even prosocial strategies. These positive deviants must be empowered to influence others and shift their own culture, whether its the small culture of their friends or the broader university and community culture. When prosocial behavior counters the norm, it is challenging but also critical for creating cultural and eventual social change. 

By encouraging positive deviance, we hope new prosocial norms and behaviors emerge, flourish and sustain throughout the culture. 

In a time of great uncertainty with scarce resources and online competition, Higher Education institutions must reinvent themselves by considering the value proposition of the institution -- the development of the whole student with academic and students' social-emotional competencies.  

More specifically, collaborative efforts among academics and non-academic (student affairs) professionals should focus on intentionally developing positive deviants (e.g., prosocial student leaders who counter the norm). The COR prosocial co-curricular approach* includes academic courses, programs, and training in order to:

  •    Develop student competencies, increase student belongingness, increase retention of existing students, and increase recruitment of new students

  •    Counter negative and destructive student organizational norms

  •    Facilitate university-community relations

service learning

This "Pay-It-Forward Teaching" service learning project aims to develop prosocial competence for the college/university students who mentor and educate the high school students, who in turn pay-it-forward by delivering prosocial curricula to middle school students.  Additionally, materials are available for professors and student affairs professionals as well as student mentors. 

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high influencers training

This research-based training is based on the most innovative frameworks and models for effectively creating and sustaining organizational change. Training is delivered to high influencers in Greek Letter Organizations (GLO) to more effectively change their student organizational climate and culture. Training materials include facilitator and participant guides. 

*COR is currently developing additional training and courses relevant to the co-curricular college/university approach.