Bill Altman, Instructor
In this course, we'll explore nearly every part of the science of psychology. Students will engage in experiments, demonstrations, and many other hands-on exercises. We’ll stress the practical applications of the things we learn, and look at how psychology can contribute to many different aspects of life. Starting with a definition and description of psychology, and the richness of its various fields and applications, we’ll also look at the history of psychology, and the different research methods that psychologists use in our work. Then we’ll cover topics such as how the brain and nervous systems work, how we understand the world around us, and how we learn and remember. We'll also take a close look at the nature of intelligence and creativity, and how we can increase our own capabilities. Along the way, we'll study what motivates people, how to persuade them to do things (and how to shield ourselves from being persuaded!). Rounding out the course will be units on our emotions, personality, and how people interact with each other in social situations.
Students will be able to engage in experiments to understand the brain-body connection. For instance, they may use an electroencephalograph to measure each other’s brain activity while engaging in various tasks or an electrocardiograph to measure heart activity during a stress-relief exercise.
About the professor...
I’m an educational psychologist who does research on effective teaching and learning, creativity, and intelligence. I believe in the Renaissance ideal of a cultured, well-educated person. This requires a broad range of interests, an open and trustworthy nature, strong listening skills, and the ability to identify and solve problems. But to truly inspire, I think an educator needs to surprise students—to connect seemingly disparate bits of information in meaningful and beautiful patterns, weaving together the humanities and sciences in novel ways, with intellectual rigor and a sense of playfulness. I have worked and taught in the arts, the social sciences, and the physical and natural sciences. I am a historian, an actor, a computer technologist, and a psychologist. I am a photographer and a storyteller. I encourage my students to think critically, and to fearlessly explore the rich cultural and intellectual opportunities presented by their college. I encourage students to delve into unfamiliar subjects and different perspectives, so they can envision the familiar in new ways, to discover their passions, to enhance their skills and understanding, and to contribute to their own growth and to the betterment of our world.