Addresses the ways that cultural traditions and social practices both reflect and transform psychological experience. Examines both new theoretical and empirical work in cultural psychology and the intellectual roots of cultural psychology. Explores the implications of a cultural perspective for the larger projects/concerns of the field of psychology.
Cultural psychology examines the ways that cultural traditions and social practices both reflect and transform psychological experience. The central concern of cultural psychology is how persons and cultures create each other. Through theory development and empirical research, cultural psychology explores local understandings of self, mind, and emotion. While universal features of human experience are not ruled out, generalizations about the richness of this experience are built from the close comparative study of people thinking and acting in specific contexts.
Student learning goals
Have basic foundational knowledge of the emerging interdisciplinary field of cultural psychology
Be able to critically examine new theoretical and empirical work in cultural psychology
Be familiar with the intellectual roots of cultural psychology
Understand the implications of a cultural perspective for the larger projects/concerns of the field of psychology
Be able to analyze how the findings of cultural psychology impact the way psychologists think about human development, intelligence, emotional experience, and identity
Critically examine one's own cultural identity
General method of instruction
Lecture, small group discussions, projects, and presentations as well as individual research project and presentation.
Lower level (100, and 200) psychology courses will be very helpful as a way to prepare for more complex ideas/concepts.
Class assignments and grading
A. READINGS and CLASS PARTICIPATION (60 points). Preparation and participation in class discussions are required. In order to participate fully in the course, you are expected to read the required reading assignments before coming to class. The readings for each class session are noted in the class outline. You should be prepared to discuss the topics in the readings, to answer and ask questions, to engage ideas presented in class, and to attempt integrating ideas presented in class discussion. The Socratic method will be used to engage in the classroom discussion.
B. INDIVIDUAL PROJECT 1 (60 points total)
The project requires you to examine a developmental practice or psychological construct in a cultural community other than your own and to complete a 5-6 page research paper. Suggested topics follow, but you are not limited to the following examples: Meanings and Practices related to Oral or Written Narratives/Storytelling (e.g., role in moral development, identity, or sense of community) Meanings and Practices associated with Life Course Transitions (e.g., birth, beginning school, adolescence, becoming an adult, aging, death) Meanings and Practices associated with Developmental Contexts (e.g., child care, schools, churches, community role in caregiving) Meanings and Practices associated with Gender and Family Roles (e.g., parenting, role of extended families, becoming a mother, becoming a father) Meanings and Practices related to Emotions (e.g., anger, grief, guilt, pride, shame, etc…) Meanings and Practices Related to Selfhood (e.g., identity, agency, relatedness to others)
A successful paper will do the following: a. Describe fully and clearly the practice/construct of interest in the cultural community that you have chosen. b. Describe how the practice/construct of interest connects to a larger constellation of meanings and practices within the cultural community that you have chosen. c. Reflect meaningfully and creatively upon similarities and differences between the practice/ construct of interest in that cultural community and in the cultural community with which you are more familiar. In other words, think carefully about how an understanding of this other cultural community helps to illuminate, or perhaps challenge, the notion of universals in human thought, feeling, and behavior. d. Connect explicitly to larger concerns of the course. e. Accurately and appropriately cite sources in a consistent style. f. Present material in a clearly organized format (with well-structured sentences and paragraphs, clear transitions, and useful introduction and conclusion).
Process and deadlines for Individual project. You should start reading about and exploring literature on a topic that interests you early in the quarter. On May 8, you will need to turn in a 1-2 page proposal for your chosen topic, including a brief description of the construct of interest and how it relates to the concerns of cultural psychology. For the annotated bibliography, at least five scholarly sources are required. By scholarly, I mean articles in peer-reviewed journals or book chapters that report research findings or apply theories that have been developed in research literature. Newspaper or popular magazine articles may be used to help lead you toward scholarship, but they will not count as scholarly sources. The annotated bibliography should contain the full citation of each source in a recognized style (e.g., APA, MLA, or Chicago) and a 1-2 paragraph description written by you of the scholarly reference source. In writing your description, pay particular attention to information that is most relevant to your proposal in your annotation. Your description should answer the question, “Why do you think this is a useful resource given your proposed topic?” (20 points) The final paper is due on June 12. Papers must be typed, double-spaced, and approximately 5-6 pages in length. The proposal and annotated bibliography, along with my comments, must be turned in with the final paper. If this is not included, a 25 point penalty will be assessed. (40 points)
C. GROUP PROJECT (60 points total)
The project requires you to examine a “clinical/healing” practice or psychological construct in a cultural community other than your own and to organize a creative presentation. Suggested topics follow, but you are not limited to the following examples: Meanings and Practices related to the healing process (training, qualifications, and role in community) Meanings and Practices associated with concepts of healing (e.g., biological, spiritual)
Process and deadlines for Group Project. You should start discussing and exploring literature on a topic that interests you as a group early in the quarter. On May 8, you will need to turn in a 1-2 page proposal for your chosen group topic, including a brief description of the construct of interest and how it relates to the concerns of cultural psychology. This project is meant to be creative and does not have to follow the academic rigors such as providing annotated bibliography, etc… In writing your description, pay particular attention to how much of an original idea this is, and how best you can creatively communicate/deliver the message to your peers (20 points)
On June 5 and 10, students will present their group projects. Students will be encouraged to be very creative with this project. You need instructor approval to proceed with your proposed topic. Additional instructions will be provided in class (40 points). D. EULOGY PAPER (60 points total)
Process and deadlines for Eulogy paper (individual). You should start exploring how end of life is conceptualized in various cultures, and pay particular attention to how funerals and eulogies are conducted cross-culturally early in the quarter. On May 29, you will bring the Eulogy to class and discuss with your peers, and present your 2 page eulogy to a small group (more details to be provided in class).
E. EXAMINATIONS (1st exam 60 points, 2nd exam 60 points)
Two take-home exams will be given. These will be focused on mastery and applications of key concepts and issues from lectures and discussion, as well as important points in the readings not covered in class. The first exam will be in essay format, and the second exam will be short/answer/reflection paper. The exam should be typed and double spaced.
see above ("nature of assignments section)