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Course Information

Instructor Info:Peter Gilford
TA Info:Kate D'Onofrio
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Wednesday
02:30 PM - 05:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108

Students often approach the field of psychology with a desire to both understand themselves and to help alleviate the suffering of others. Many are also motivated by a desire to work towards social justice. Yet psychology and the mental health disciplines, along with their myriad forms of inquiry and intervention, are inextricably entangled with current social and political arrangements. This course will survey the vast field of psychology from a critical perspective, problematizing and inquiring about psychological methods, practices, and philosophical assumptions with the intent of coming to understand how psychology has come to be such a potent and undetectable sociopolitical force. By inquiring about how psychological knowledge shapes and defines how we come to self-understanding and what we believe it means to be properly human, we will explore how these understandings support or challenge existing arrangements of power and privilege. A prior college-level course in psychology is a prerequisite for enrollment. Students should be committed to submitting twice-weekly commentary on assigned readings, reaction papers, a mid-term paper, and to initiate and complete a final paper project of their own design by the end of the course.

Evaluation Criteria:

You will be expected to engage with the readings and to demonstrate that engagement through weekly integrated responses/reactions to assigned readings, 3 (or more)  short reaction papers; regular contributions to class discussions; preparing a mid-term paper (8 pages), and the self-initiated final paper or video presentation (15 pages/15 minutes). The form and focus your final project takes will require approval by the professor.

Many readings will be fairly dense and will require a persistent willingness to think theoretically and abstractly. Engagement with the readings will be evidenced by class comments, the on-line weekly integrated response-reactions you post, other discussion posts via the discussion forums on the course website, and the evolution of your critical thinking and analysis. Remember, it is your responsibility to continuously demonstrate your engagement with the course material throughout the semester through the above-mentioned pathways.

 1.         Attendance:  Please make every effort to attend class.  Students absent more than 2 times from the class without a legitimate reason will not receive a final course evaluation.  

If you are unable to attend class, please send an email ahead of time informing the professor why you will not be in attendance. Email any work that may be due (including the integrated comments). If you are too ill to complete any work, please note this in your email.

Please make every effort to arrive in class on time out of courtesy and consideration to others.

 2.         Reading Assignments: This class will require significant reading time (6-10 hours weekly). Please complete all of the assigned readings prior to class and be prepared to share and discuss your questions and reactions to them. The amount of assigned reading will vary depending on its level of difficulty, (i.e., when the reading is particularly difficult there will usually be less). Given the variability in class discussions and dynamics, more often than not we will not have time to cover all the specific readings assigned for a given class.

 3.         Integrated response-reactions:You will be responsible for posting your integrated response-reactions to the assigned readings, no later than  9:30PM the Monday evening before class.  Post your response-reaction to the forum on the website titled “Response-Reactions Here!” Please put the class date in the subject heading and make sure it is a new thread (as opposed to posting to an existing one). In the subject heading of the email to our TA and in the forum post, list your first name and the class date (e.g., Sam’s 9/16).

 Written Assignments:

Written assignments must be turned in as hard copy on the day they are due. Late papers will be accepted only under extenuating circumstances and by prior permission of the professor. Late papers will not receive written comments.

 **The quality of your writing is extremely important in your final evaluation for this class. If your writing has significant issues it may be returned to you for revisions.**

 The entirety of your written work should be included in the class portfolio that you hand in at the end of the semester.

 All written work must follow APA formatting and citation criteria or it will be returned to you. Following APA (American Psychological Association) criteria is essential to academic work and will help you to understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. In short, this involves citing other scholar’s research, statements, ideas, concepts, vocabulary, theories, etc., and doing so according to APA criteria. This will also inform you of when and how to use quoted excerpts as well as the appropriate way to format and put together a reference section.


Also: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th or 8th Edition) which is in the library.

 In addition: See also: which is a website that will correctly format entries for your reference section if you provide an ISBN number (international standard book number).

 All Hampshire College students and faculty, whether at Hampshire or at other institutions, are bound by the ethics of academic integrity. The entire description and college policy can be found in Non Satis Non Scire at under Academic Policies/Ethics of Scholarship. Plagiarism is the representation of someone else’s work as one’s own. Both deliberate and inadvertent misrepresentations of another’s work as your own are considered plagiarism and are serious breaches of academic honesty and integrity. All sources used or consulted in the process of writing papers, examinations, preparing oral presentations, course assignments, artistic productions, and so on, must be cited. Sources include material from books, journals or any other printed source, the work of other students, faculty, or staff, information from the Internet, software programs and other electronic material, designs and ideas.

All cases of suspected plagiarism or academic dishonesty will be referred to the Dean of Advising who will review documentation and meet with student and faculty member. Individual faculty, in consultation with the Dean of Advising, will decide the most appropriate consequence in the context of the class. This can range from revising and resubmitting an assignment to failing the course. Beyond the consequence in the course, CASA considers first offenses as opportunities for education and official warning. Multiple or egregious offenses will have more serious consequences. Suspected instances of other breaches of the ethics of academic integrity, such as the falsification of data, will be treated with the same seriousness as plagiarism and will follow the same process.

 5.         Short Papers: Up to 4 short reaction papers (3 pages max). You will receive a prompt for the reaction papers unless otherwise noted. These papers will hopefully serve to assist you in determining a focus for your final paper or project. Reaction papers should be well-thought out, organized and be proofread out loud to yourself before you hand them in (truly, this really does work to catch errors and to make edits).

 6.        Mid-term paper: (8 pages minimum-maximum): This paper is intended to provide the background and theoretical/critical rationale for your final paper project. Specific instructions for the mid-term paper will be emailed to you in late October. Many students choose to incorporate elements of their midterm paper into their final paper project.

 7.         Final Project: (15 pages minimum-maximum or 15-20 minutes of video): The final paper project or video presentation is intended to reflect both your learning and critical thinking about psychology. Potential topics might be about the self, how a particular issue, subfield, set of assumptions or practices in the field of psychology reflects or reproduces the status quo, or conversely how they might be reconstructed to challenge or resist it. Projects may include/involve some aspect of a cultural study in which psychological assumptions or ideas transparently show up; might provide examples of the relationship of psychological knowledge and power, or explore the impact of psychological understandings on different forms of human being.

 Final papers and projects in the past have been research papers or critiques of a concept, theory, or mainstream method, practice, or behavior, but your final project could also be a small interpretive, qualitative or ethnographic research project, cultural study, etc. All ideas are encouraged and can be discussed in the consultation meeting dates you will be able to sign up for after Thanksgiving Break (individual meetings will be scheduled). You will need approval for your final paper.