Examines the historical foundations, theory, methods, and practice that constitute the interdisciplinary field of community psychology. Students build upon an existing empirical knowledge base, including effective modes of community intervention, and examine the relevance of community psychology for addressing social problem.
This course will introduce you to the goals, methods, and theories of Community Psychology. Many of the ideas and strategies covered may seem unusual for psychology because the focus is on person-environment interactions, including interactions with particular settings (e.g., schools, community groups). Put another way, there is an assumption that “personal” problems are often not understandable apart from, and sometimes may be the result of, environmental factors or person-environment mismatch. Other important concepts include prevention, empowerment, social change and a strengths perspective (instead of an emphasis on deficits or a problem-focus). The focus is reciprocal in nature. That is, we will examine the implications of engagement with communities and problems for the knowledge base and methodology of clinical and community psychology. But, further, we will explore the utility of the field’s conceptual tools for understanding and being useful to communities. Exploration of topics will take the form of theoretical and empirical readings, lecture, class discussion, and the opportunity for fieldwork.
Student learning goals
Students will understand the main characteristics of the field of community psychology. They will be particularly articulate about its ecological orientation.
Students will be able to improve their writing skills through completing assignments that require reflection, analysis, and interpretation.
Students will understand more about the complexity of social problems as they have opportunities to think critically about social issues in discussions and assignments that are focused on case studies, documentaries, and research findings.
Students will be able to identify practices that create healthy communities and work to create such a community in the class itself. We will look, for example, at effective small group practices.
Students will be able to conduct an environmental audit and conduct an interview or carry out a survey as methods of gaining understanding about a community and its members' well being.
Students will have a chance to do research around a shared community project in the class. We will take up programs/organizations on the UWB campus to see how the campus is functioning as a community.
General method of instruction
Lecture, class discussion, small group analysis, and project-based learning.
Some background in social science (e.g., Intro Sociology or Psych, Developmental Psych) or social theory is strongly recommended, but not required. Education, business, health or policy studies would also be highly relevant.
Class assignments and grading
Students will be graded on two exams, weekly reflection papers about the reading designed to increase the quality of class participation, and a community participation project that documents their investigation of a particular issue within the community.
Grades are based on the quality of engagement and understanding as reflected in test performance, class participation and reflection papers about the readings, and project outcomes.