Forgiveness course inspires Greek student to start a national movement

When Peli Galiti moved from Greece to Madison with her family in 2012, she was looking for meaningful ways to practice in her field of educational psychology. She took the University of Wisconsin–Madison course Forgiveness: A Pathway to Emotional Healing and found her path, influencing thousands of teachers and students back in Greece to practice the life-altering act of forgiveness.

Forgiveness: A Path to Emotional Healing is offered in person November 11, 2019. Students can also take the class online anytime. They learn the psychology of forgiveness and how to bring it to families, schools, the workplace, and other communities for better emotional health. The class is for social workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists, and anyone wanting to introduce the life-giving qualities of forgiveness to clients and others.

Teaching forgiveness

Peli Galiti sitting in a chair holding papers
Peli Galiti translated a curriculum on forgiveness from English to Greek.

Now a visiting scholar at UW–Madison with the Department of Educational Psychology, Galiti translated a curriculum on forgiveness from English to Greek, adapting it for Greek heritage, values, and educational systems. In 2014, she established the Greek Forgiveness Education Program. She also wrote two books on forgiveness in Greek that are used by kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Three times a year, Galiti travels to Greek cities giving workshops and educating educators. During the rest of the year in Madison she oversees the program via online group discussions and Skype sessions.

In 2017, Galiti was awarded a fellowship from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation as part of a cross-cultural collaboration between the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and UW–Madison.

“We have had great feedback from teachers, students, and families that directly or indirectly felt the effects of the program,” she says. “It has helped with conflict resolution, anger and bullying management, and academic achievement.”

Forgiveness offers healing

Galiti found Forgiveness: A Path to Emotional Healing a perfect cultural match for her partly because course creator Robert Enright based it on the theory of Greek philosopher Aristotle.

“Professor Enright is the leading expert on forgiveness and very experienced with deep philosophical and scientific knowledge,” Galiti says. “His passion for teaching makes us love this subject. His support, guidance, and encouragement was a determining factor in my endeavor.”

Enright’s course addresses four questions for anyone interested in bringing emotional healing to individuals, families, and communities: What is forgiveness? Why forgive? How do people forgive? And how can we bring forgiveness to families, schools, the workplace, and other communities for better emotional health?

“This course is unique because it helps people learn about the pathway of forgiveness and then how to assist others in forgiving those who have hurt them deeply,” Enright says. “Forgiveness offers healing from resentment or unhealthy anger that can remain in a person for years. That anger, if not confronted and lessened, too often is transferred to others in the family, especially the children who then grow up with excessive anger.”

Galiti wholeheartedly recommends Forgiveness: A Path to Emotional Healing.

“I have learned that people who forgive are healthier physically and emotionally, more hopeful, and less depressed,” she says. “I have also learned that forgiveness can be a major tool for helping people live peacefully and be productive in many environments.”

For more information, see the forgiveness course website or contact Barbara Nehls-Lowe at barbara.nehlslowe@wisc.edu or 608-890-4653.