Senior Seminars for 2024 - 2025

The descriptions of Senior Seminars appear below. In order to enroll in a Seminar, you MUST do Two things:

  1. Talk with the professor teaching the class you are interested in, and make sure you receive explicit permission to enroll.  
  2. Complete the Preference Form when you receive the email to do so.  

Fall 2024

Controversial issues in Psychology 
Professor Jeff Holmes
MW 1:00 - 2:40
This is a capstone course for psychology majors, in which we will discuss a variety of debated and misunderstood topics in psychology. Early in the semester we will discuss cognitive biases that interfere with the ability to critically evaluate information. Next, we will address several specific controversial issues. The final portion of the course will consist of student presentations on specific topics. The priority of the class is for students to integrate acquired expertise in areas such as cognitive, social, abnormal, behavioral, and biological psychology, as well as research methods and statistics. Students will be expected to challenge themselves by critically examining topics about which they may already have established opinions. The overall objectives of the course are increased knowledge of a variety of psychological issues, and refinement of critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skill.

Psychiatric illness and Episodic Distress: Support systems, Society, & Pharmacology
Professor Hugh Stephenson
MW 3:00 - 4:40
In this seminar, students will review current and debated topics in the area of clinical psychology, psychopharmacology, and mental health. Guest speakers will share their experiences as patients/consumers, as therapists, or in advocacy roles. There will also be a focus on social media and the internet and its role in shaping mental health in contemporary culture. The course includes weekly readings & reflections, class discussions, student presentations, and focused in-depth papers. Topics covered include controversial mental health diagnoses and treatments, placebo effects in treatment, over prescription, commercial impact on treatment and clinical research, the impact of social media on mental health, the role of AI in creating filter bubbles, online polarization, and many others. Students will discuss a range of topics and also will explore in depth two specific topics of their choice via a major presentation and paper.
Advanced topics in neurodegenerative disease 
Professor Benjamin Zemel
MW 1:00 - 2:40
In this course we will review the different types of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. These diseases can be studied at multiple levels, from the molecules that cause neuronal malfunction to system level changes in brain circuit function. We will track progress in both the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases from both historical and contemporary perspectives. This will include an exploration of current animal models used to research disease mechanisms and novel therapeutics. Finally, this course will examine the societal impact these diseases have at the level of financial cost to taxpayers and families, allocation of medical resources, and burden on caretakers. Students will complete writing assignments based on course content, participate in class discussions based on assigned readings, and craft oral presentations.

Spring 2025

Queer-ying Psychology: The Use and Abuse of Sex Research in Psychology and Beyond (SPRING 2025)
Professor Natasha Bharj
Time TBA

In this class we will learn about the history of sex research in Psychology. We’ll examine the historical and social trends driving research, past and present. We will track how sex research travels outside of the lab and into social life, and what happens to it along the way.
Each week we will read & discuss a piece of sex research, examining the methodology and underlying assumptions in their historical context. We will also compare famous historical studies to contemporary psychological research. By examining sex research across multiple domains and time periods, we will think critically about the ethics of research and the role of psychologists in challenging (or promoting) inequality. In addition to weekly readings and short writing assignments, you will do a term paper and a class presentation on a topic of your choice.