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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Psychology (PSYCH)

PSYCH 083S (GS) First-Year Seminar in Psychology (3) Scientific, societal, and individual implications of contemporary psychological theory.

PSYCH 083S First-Year Seminar in Psychology (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Modern science provides perspectives on human beings that may conflict with our intuitive and conventional views of ourselves as individuals capable of free choice and responsibility. These perspectives raise important questions for how we understand ourselves and others: Does brain chemistry govern our moods and motivations? Do our genes determine our abilities? Is the human mind just a kind of computing machine? Views based on the biology of behavior and on the computer metaphor for the mind can be found both in a wide range of academic disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, sociology, biology, neuroscience, medicine, and computer science. Perhaps more important, these perspectives are apparent in the news media, entertainment, and other aspects of popular culture. Biological and technological views of what it means to be human are thus shaping our common-sense understanding of our selves and others.

The goal of this course is to help students to understand the basis of these contemporary scientific views of human beings, and to think critically about the ways in which these views shape human experience. We will read three scholarly but accessible paperbacks (listed below), two that present biological and technological perspectives, and one that provides a critical counterpoint. We will also consider selections from popular media, including news stories, movies, and fiction, to examine the appearance of these perspectives in our contemporary culture. On a more pragmatic level, we will consider ways in which scientific perspectives can help students understand their own learning processes, leading to more effective academic skills.

The class format will be open discussion, and students will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. Evaluation will be based on 10 short writing assignments, a term paper or take-home final, an in-class presentation, and class participation. Writing assignments will generally require that students apply concepts discussed in class to particular topics, or that they use library and Web resources to find relevant material. In addition to the academic topic and issues of this course, students can expect to gain a general introduction to the University as an academic community and have the opportunity to explore their responsibilities as members of that community. Students will develop an understanding of the learning tools and resources available to them including the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty and other students who share their academic interests. This course fulfills the first-year seminar requirement as well as a general education or Bachelor of Arts social/behavioral science requirement.

General Education: GS
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Spring 2007

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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