Senior Seminars

Senior Seminars for 2016 - 2017

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

1. Complete the Preference Form. You can access it here after you receive login information from Judy Smith.

2. Receive permission of the instructor. You should talk to the professor teaching the class and make sure you receive explicit permission to enroll. 

Fall, 2016

Mental Health Topics: Consumer and Provider Perspectives

Professor Hugh Stephenson
Mondays 4:00-6:30

In this seminar we address the experience of having and seeking treatment for different psychological disorders. A range of topics are covered, from treatment modalities, to historic practices, to outcome evaluation and current debates and controversies within Psychology and Psychiatry.

Guest speakers include people who have received specific diagnoses, family members and treating professionals as well as experts in particular clinical interventions all of whom offer their perspectives on what promotes recovery and what barriers may be encountered.


Controversial Issues in Psychology

Professor Jeff Holmes
Wednesdays 2:00-4:30, Williams 119M

In this seminar, students will address an array of controversial and frequently misunderstood topics in psychology through class discussion and debate, student presentations, and individual exploration. Potential topics include controversial mental health diagnoses and treatment approaches, false and repressed memories, gender differences, self-esteem, forensic issues, intelligence testing, learning styles, and many others. Students learn about many topics but also have the opportunity to examine in depth one relevant topic of their choice. The single weekly class meeting allows us to thoroughly explore these contemporary areas of debate within our field.


The Story of Psychology

Professor Barney Beins
Wednesdays 4:00-6:30, Williams 012

The story of psychology is filled with interesting and surprising people and ideas. This seminar will help you understand how psychology ended up looking like it does. Psychology has involved people with unusual personalities, like Sigmund Freud whose family dynamics influenced his model of sexual energy associated with hysteria; and like B. F. Skinner, who proposed using pigeons to help the war effort in World War II and who didn’t raise his daughters in a Skinner Box, as some people have thought. In addition, you will read about why some psychoanalysts concluded that the story of Little Red Riding Hood was really a sexual adventure and why, centuries ago, animals were put on trial for crimes and why psychologists have used animals as extensively as we have.

You will also learn about the practices leading to confinement in psychiatric facilities, particularly of women, throughout psychology’s history. Finally, it will become apparent that psychological ideas do not develop in a vacuum. Culture and society shape the people who develop the ideas, so the ideas result from the combination of the person, the culture, and the issues that society deems important.

In this seminar, you will have interesting weekly readings that provide material for extensive class discussions and writing assignments. There will be a final presentation in class and paper or poster (you choose which one) at the end of the semester. Posters will be considered for submission to EPA for presentation at the convention in Boston in the spring.





Spring, 2017


Senior Seminar in Social Cognition

Professor Leigh Ann Vaughn

Thinking is for doing, and much of what humans do involves navigating our social worlds. For example, it often involves managing multiple, sometimes conflicting goals within ourselves and between ourselves and other people. Each week, we will read and discuss a mix of current research to better understand how social situations, emotions, personality, and cognitive processes influence our social thoughts, motives, and behavior. Additionally, you will analyze, summarize, and integrate each topic's readings in weekly writing assignments.  Your term paper will be a research proposal for an experiment related to one or more of the topics we have discussed, and that you personally find most interesting.


The Contribution of Epigenetics to Human Nature

Professor Nancy Rader

We will consider how the environment functions to influence gene expression through readings and discussion. In Block 2 students will select a human trait or pathology to research, reporting on their findings through an oral presentation and an APA paper.


Senior Seminar in Feminist Psychology

Professor Carla Golden

This seminar will examine the intersections of gender with race, class, and sexuality on people’s everyday lived experience.  We examine how people’s social positions affect how they are treated and how they experience the world.  We will be reading a book each week; texts are contemporary and generally about 200 pages in length. Readings from Spring 2015 included Paying for the party: How college maintains inequality; Feminism, Inc: Coming of age in girl power media culture; The heart of whiteness: Confronting race, racism, and white privilege; Girls like us: Fighting for a world where girls are not for sale; Arrested justice: Black women, violence, and America’s prison nation; Performing sex: The making and unmaking of women’s erotic lives; Men speak out: Views on gender, sex, and power; and Black girl dangerous: On race, queerness, class and gender (these are just examples of the kinds of books we might read).  Students who are admitted to the seminar engage in a democratic collective process of choosing the books, thus they can and do change each year.  The two and a half hour class meeting will be discussion based and provide the opportunity to engage in spirited exchanges regarding the issues raised in each text. The final paper is based on an integrative understanding of the books we’ve read during the semester, no additional reading required. Preference will be given to students who have taken Psychology of Women, and who love to read!


Seminar in Psychology: Adolescence - Stress, Drug Addition, and Psychopathology

Professor: Tammy Fitzwater

Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by profound neural, hormonal, and behavioral changes. While many adolescents successfully navigate the transition to adulthood, others struggle during this window of vulnerability. Throughout this course, we will explore the adolescent transition from a neural, physiological, and social/emotional standpoint. We will then discuss stress systems and how they may contribute to the onset of psychopathology and/or drug addiction during this developmental phase. Course material will focus on research from both human studies and preclinical (animal) models of adolescence. Students will read and critique research papers related to these topics, and actively engage in discussion during class. Team debates will also take place in order to critically consider both sides of two controversial topics in the field. Throughout the course, students will also give class presentations on a relevant topic of interest, with a review paper on this topic due at the end of the semester.  



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