Dr. Michael Steger

Dr. Michael F. Steger is the Director for the Laboratory for the Study of Meaning and Quality of Life at Colorado State University, and has spent close to 15 years researching the factors that promote health, flourishing, and well-being. He is internationally recognized for his research on the benefits of finding meaning in one’s life and in one’s work. He is the developer of the most widely-used measure of meaning and purpose in the world, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and his published works include Designing Positive Psychology and Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace, as well as the forthcoming Handbook of Positivity and Strengths-Based Approaches at Work. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Psychology of Well-Being, and on the editorial boards of numerous other journals. He enjoys providing keynote speeches, workshops, trainings, and consulting around the world on the topics of meaning, purpose, meaningful work, and well-being.

Dr. Steger will be giving the following keynote lecture and pre-conference workshop, as well as participating in the panel on Second Wave Positive Psychology (2.0) – Meaning for the 9th Biennial International Meaning Conference, July 28-31, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Keynote Title

Making Up our Minds about Meaning: An Examination of the Common Thread Among the Many Uses of Meaning in Human Life

Scheduled for Saturday, July 30, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM


We can play a mean riff on a guitar (and play it like we mean it), calculate a mathematical mean, explore hidden meanings, have a meaningful conversation, and provide mean people with the means to harm without meaning to. Clearly, uncovering the meaning of “meaning” is not always straightforward. This talk takes a lighthearted look at the word “Meaning” through the lens of its long history in European languages, with the intent of uncovering the common thread woven through all of its uses. Consideration is given to whether the semantic history of meaning has any bearing on the rapidly advancing empirical research of meaning, including key research findings. I will argue that, at least in English, “meaning” is essentially about creating a common fabric among disparate elements with a specific intent in mind. If this is true, meaning would provide a very different foundation for positive psychology than the foundation positive psychology was initially built. This talk concludes with a comparison between positive psychology as usual and a meaning-centered second wave of psychology.

Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize the many uses of the word “meaning” in the English language
  2. Identify one common thread running throughout definitions of the word “meaning.”
  3. Articulate the general findings in meaning in life research.
  4. Compare a meaning-centered positive psychology with the current state of positive psychology

Pre-Conference Workshop Title

Meaningful Work: 3 Steps to Help People Find & Activate their Purpose at Work

Scheduled for Thursday, July 28, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM


Just at the same time that we have seen steady increases in workplace productivity, we have seen stagnant or declining salaries for the typical worker. Most of us are working harder than ever, with no clear-cut boundaries between “work life” and “personal life” as mobile communications brings work everywhere with us and global commerce envelopes us in a 24-hour business day. This presentation starts with one simple question: “If work asks more of our personal lives, how can our personal lives gain more from our work?” Beginning with pointing out that there are multiple stakeholders in every organization, the case is made that organizing businesses and corporations to provide meaningful work would provide benefits at the individual, organizational, and societal levels. We will use research on meaningful work and calling as our springboard to learning about the qualities and potential benefits of meaningful work. The presentation uses two research-driven frameworks to provide a practical overview of fostering meaningful work. CARMA identifies the qualities and behaviors of leaders who empower workers to achieve meaningful work, and SPIRE identifies the attitudes and behaviors individual workers use to make work more meaningful. This workshop concludes by teaching a three-step process for helping people identify meaning and purpose in their work.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify pressures on so-called “work-life balance”
  2. Articulate a model of meaningful work and key research findings about the potential advantages of meaningful work
  3. Understand the CARMA and SPIRE models of meaningful work for leaders and individuals
  4. Gain the ability to lead clients through a three-step process for identifying meaning and purpose in work

Interested in learning more about pre-conference workshops? Find out more here.

Panel Title

Second Wave Positive Psychology (PP2.0)

Scheduled for Saturday, July 30, 11:15 AM – 1:15 PM


  • Paul T. P. Wong
  • Gordon Medlock