Susan L Mcnabb
B CUSP 110
Examines an important social issue such as ecology, the role of technology in society, bioethics, or global and local health concerns through interdisciplinary investigation, and the disciplined scientific study of the natural world. Offered: A.
Good habits help us keep moving in the right direction. Bad habits can be a distraction or even derail us from a positive lifestyle. How do habits form? How can we change them? When does a habit become an addiction? Addiction is a major feature of contemporary life. Easy access to addictive substances and habit-forming activities cause a range of problems for individuals, their families, and society. How can we see the causes and effects of addiction in the brain? This course takes up the study of human habit from the neurobiological perspective. We will examine how the brain works, from the neuron to neural circuits, addictive behavior and recovery, including the protective role of positive habit formation.
Student learning goals
Students will have acquired and practiced learning and communication skills needed for individual success at the university level, including critical reading, writing, and speaking, visual and oral presentation skills, and basic research techniques.
Students will have developed productive collaborative skills that are key to success at the university, such as communication, planning, active listening, fulfilling different key roles in groups at different times (facilitator, resource monitors, product monitor, or equity monitor), peer review and appreciating diversity.
Students will have critically examined both positive and negative habits, developed an appreciation for the role of good habits in positively shaping their own lives, and learned some approaches to changing habits.
Students will have developed a basic understanding of neurobiology and basic scientific literature, and be able to communicate about them orally and in writing. Students will learn that the brain is composed of cells called neurons that communicate with each other to regulate behavior. They will learn neurons release chemical signals that enhance good feelings and create positive feedback loops to reinforce behaviors.
Students will have developed an understanding of addiction, how addictive substances or activities can be attractive because they cause massive release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, that repeated use can lead to addiction, and why recovery can be challenging.
Students will have learned about how organizations, religious and otherwise, aid in developing and reinforcing positive habits, and diminishing the effects of potentially harmful behaviors.
General method of instruction
This course will use approaches that include lectures and interactive exercises.
While there are no specific prerequisites, some expectations are listed below. A brief survey will be administered on the first day of class to assess student preparation.
Biology: Students will be expected to have taken a course in high school biology. Writing: Be prepared to write paragraphs, brief essays and summaries as we evaluate scientific figures. Math: The ability to create or interpret basic graphs and tables is expected. Participation: Be ready to participate!
Class assignments and grading
Assignments will include readings and quizzes, keeping a journal, short and long writing assignments, oral presentations, meeting with the instructor, in-class exercises, and exams.
Grades will be assigned based on the assignments, participation and exams.