December 1, 2022

Catalyst Awards Blog Series: The secret to happiness: how a Brazilian university managed to impact 450,000 lives with one innovative course

The Catalyst Awards program recognizes innovation and excellence in our global community of practice. In this blog series, a selection of 2022 award-winning institutions from across the globe share their success stories and best practices.

This post was guest authored by Tiago Stachon, Vice President of Market and Continuing Education at Vitru Educação (a leading distance learning group in Brazil’s digital education market and owner of the brands UNIASSELVI and Unicesumar).  

UniCesumar is a Catalyst Award winner in the Community Engagement category. 

About Unicesumar 

For over 30 years in the educational market, and since 2022 as one of the brands integrated into Vitru Educação group, UniCesumar has more than 400,000 students across over 1,000 learning centers throughout Brazil and in four international centers in Dubai (Arab Emirates), Geneva (Switzerland), Yokkaichi (Japan), and London (England). 

In face-to-face teaching, one of the major highlights is the Medicine course, offered at the Maringá (PR) and Corumbá (MS) campuses. Besides these, there are three other campuses located in Curitiba, Londrina, and Ponta Grossa. For the tenth consecutive year, UniCesumar was awarded grade 4 in the General Course Index (IGC) on an evaluation scale of one to five, according to the Ministry of Education. It also got a maximum grade in the Institutional Concept, placing the institution in a position of excellence and among the 10 largest private education groups in the country. 

The science of happiness 

The thing the happiest countries in the world, according to the UN Sustainable Development Network, have in common is the quality time their residents spend with the people they love. Brazil currently sits 35th in the global happiness ranking and has dropped significantly in recent years. Given this number, we understood the relevance of creating a project that would somehow address this worrying picture. As an educational institution, one of our options was to provide the population with a free course that would form happiness multipliers. In other words, the institution decided not only to encourage smiles, but to actually invest in happiness and allow people to learn more about the subject, thus positively impacting more people and transforming lives. With the launch of the Science of Happiness course, our challenge became how we would disseminate the necessary information and impact the greatest number of people who could then become multipliers of happiness.  

The initial goal was to provide knowledge to the population with free live broadcasts, open to the public, and then to offer 500 scholarships for the Science of Happiness degree. More than 12,000 people applied for the scholarships to attend the undergraduate course; they went through a selection process and, taking into account the number of interested people, the institution increased the number of available spots and enrolled 1,000 people.  

A purpose divided into stages 

Using CampusNexus CRM, we contacted those interested in the Science of Happiness. EAD UniCesumar created a landing page with information about the subject. During the process of disclosure and contact with those interested in the course, they received a relationship ruler that introduced the course and brought data about happiness and exclusive content curated by professionals, such as Gustavo Arns (creator of the first Happiness Congress in Brazil and coordinator of EAD Unicesumar’s Science of Happiness course) and Tal Ben-Shahar (professor and creator of Harvard’s Science of Happiness course). During this period, over 2 million e-mails were sent and 450,000 people were reached.  

In the last stage of the process, communication became even easier, using Whatsapp and SMS. At this point, the main objective was to reach the people enrolled in the Science of Happiness entrance exam and share with them the results and edicts, and conclude the enrollment process. In this way, 12,789 people received our communications. The main objective of these communications was to generate attraction and lead them to enroll in the course. All in all, more than 123,000 people opened at least one of our communications, for an open rate of 27%, and 9,000 clicked on our call to actions. Of these, only 1,000 people won a place to take the Science of Happiness course. We emphasized that this course is offered by UniCesumar free of charge. 

A happier future 

In the long term, our objective is that this knowledge will be multiplied by these scientists of happiness, thus providing more motivated people who know their purpose and are increasingly happier.  

For more information on the program, visit Catalyst Awards. Learn more about our 2022 Catalyst Award winners and their stories.