Senior Seminars

Senior Seminars for 2019 - 2020

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, 2019

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 1:00-3:30

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.

Spring, 2020

The Credibility Revolution in Psychology

Professor: Leigh Ann Vaughn

Replication - doing a study again - is a way to establish the credibility of research findings. The Many Labs replication projects are international research projects that have been a major part of the credibility revolution in psychology. These projects have tested over 50 effects from cognitive and social psychology, in over 150 labs around the world. About half of the original findings occurred again in Many Labs. What do the authors of the original effects think of the Many Labs replication of their effect? Reading the authors' commentaries on the Many Labs replication of their effect, as well as the original article, is a fascinating way to learn about changing research standards in psychology and the people and personalities involved in the credibility revolution. The answer to the question, "Is this effect real?" often is not simple, because no research is perfect, including Many Labs.

In this seminar, we will read and discuss the Many Labs 1, 2, and 3 papers. We also will read and discuss the 13 commentaries that original authors wrote about the Many Labs replication of their effect, and the original article about each of these 13 effects. You will choose which of the 13 effects is most interesting to you, and this will be the topic of your term paper. This 9-12 page paper leads up to your answer to this question: "If you were an author of a 300-level psychology textbook and you were in charge of deciding what to say about your chosen effect in the textbook, what would you say?" The term paper is about the three articles we all read about your chosen effect, plus four additional articles that you find in order to provide more context for your answer. In the last few weeks of the semester, each student will give a 12-15 minute "lesson" to the class about their chosen effect and what they would say about it in a textbook.

This class meets twice a week.

Intersectional Feminist Psychology

Professor: Carla Golden

This seminar will introduce students to the exciting field of feminist psychology as we explore how our various social positions affect how we are treated and how we experience the world. Specifically we will look at the intersections of gender with race, ethnicity, social class (and other social categories we belong to) on people’s everyday lived experience. We’ll read different articles each week, covering topics of particular interest to students enrolled in the seminar. Among the topics to be covered (and questions we might ask) are these:

FEMALE EMBODIMENT (how do girls and women experience their bodies?); FEMINISM (what exactly is it?); GENDER DIFFERENCE (why do people say men are from Mars and women are from Venus?); GENDER IDENTITY and EXPRESSION (does gender identity develop early and remain fixed, and how do we understand the increasing visibility of diverse identities and expressions including trans, non-binary, queer, etc.); GENDER PERFORMANCE (What does it mean to say gender is a performance?): GENDER ROLES (do they make sense in our contemporary world?); GENDER SOCIALIZATION (how do cultural messages and socializing agents shape who we become); MASCULINITY (is it toxic?); SEXUAL VIOLENCE (What is rape culture, and how is the MeToo movement shaping our understandings of sexual consent?); SEXUALITY (what is sexual desire, and how fluid or changeable is it?). Threaded through every topic listed above is INTERSECTIONALITY, as we will ask how our various social positions impact our gendered experiences in the world. Also, note the questions above represent only a sampling of the many questions we could raise related to each topic.

Students who are admitted to the seminar will have a say in which topics we choose to explore in greater depth. Our class meetings will be discussion based and provide the opportunity for us to engage in spirited exchanges regarding contemporary issues. The final paper is based on an integrative consideration of the articles and books we’ve read during the semester, no additional reading required.

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

Professor: Tammi 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.

Williams Hall