Dr Kerry Howells is a thought leader, researcher and teacher educator. As a philosopher, she is passionate about deepening the concept of gratitude – while attending to the underlying complexities and contextual influences – and translating gratitude research into practices that are accessible to everyone. Kerry has a particular interest in cross-cultural lenses of gratitude and their implications for communication and has studied this in Australian indigenous and African indigenous cultures.
Kerry has published academic papers that report on her findings in the areas of school leadership and teaching, pre-service teacher education, indigenous education, early childhood education, PhD supervisor and student relationships, and academic learning. Her many publications have been cited widely both in book and digital publications, and are influencing thinking around the concept and application of gratitude in various fields, including positive psychology.
Her decades of research on the role of gratitude in education have shown that a student’s learning is influenced both by their own practices of gratitude and by the gratitude expressed and modelled by their teachers and school leaders. Dr Howells’ book, Gratitude in Education: A Radical View, which has been hailed by reviewers as ‘groundbreaking’, is the first comprehensive text ever written on the ways in which gratitude can influence teaching and leadership. This book has encapsulated many case studies and has been used to guide educational programs, pedagogy and many professional book clubs.
Kerry has presented on the topic of gratitude to multi-faceted audiences around the world, in the form of keynote addresses, conference presentations and a TEDx presentation – “How thanking awakens our thinking” ,podcasts and radio national interviews. She has also given a presentation to an NGO group at the United Nations in New York on the relationship between gratitude and human dignity. While in South Africa as a visiting scholar, she gave several keynote addresses in Pretoria and Durban. In Australia, Kerry has given invited presentations at several Principals conferences, the Happiness and its Causes conferences, the Australian Institute of Sport Now-Best-Next Summit, and several Positive Schools conferences.
In her role as a teacher-educator at the University of Tasmania, Kerry has designed a very popular and highly evaluated unit on Gratitude in Education, which is taken by leaders, researchers, teachers and students, who report deep transformation in their thinking and practice.