Sharpe Seminars

Fall 2015 Course Descriptions

PSYC150W  Families, Law, and Psychology (Dr. Danielle Dallaire)

In this freshman seminar students will examine the psychological development of children within the context of families and the legal system. Core psychological domains that will be represented and foundational to the course include: (i) The Psychological Development of Children: How biological aspects of development, including brain development, from the prenatal period through adolescence, impact cognitive, language and social development. (ii) Socialization within the Family Context: How experiences within the family impact children’s biological, cognitive, language, and social development. (iii) Intersections between Child Development, Families and the Legal System: How children’s psychological development and experiences within the family interact with our legal system. Particular topics that will be addressed include children and adolescent’s ability to participate in and testify in court procedures, parental divorce, and children’s experiences with parental incarceration.

1.            Core discipline: PSYC

                Related Field:  PubPolicy, SOC

2.            We will consider how families interact with the court system and engage with agencies that support familial connections during incarcerations and helping families dealing with extreme stress and poverty.  

3. Students will be expected to develop an action plan for community-based research (either individually or with a group) that addresses the needs of these youth and families. Students will carry out their planning and research during the fall and spring semesters. 

CMST150W:  Communities and Neighborhoods:  Class, Race, and Space  (Dr. David Aday)

 This seminar will focus on lived experiences of disparity, seen from the perspective of neighborhoods and communities through ethnographic methods.  We will read original studies of selected neighborhoods and communities in the U.S. and in other countries.  We will focus on disparities in health and health care and in access to other resources needed to survive and thrive.  Among other sources, we will read Venkatesh, S. A. (2006). Off the books. Harvard University Press; Gregory, S. (2006). The devil behind the mirror: Globalization and politics in the Dominican Republic. Univ of California Press; and, likely, one of the Elijah Anderson books.

Students will be introduced to theories, concepts, and methods for community-engaged research and community based participatory research (CBPR) by considering how they might take on aspects of issues described in the ethnographic studies.  They will work individually or in small groups to imagine, design, and propose community-engaged research focused on disparities in health, employment, housing, education, or security (crime).  Students (individually or in small groups) will be responsible for developing, writing, and defending final proposals for community-engaged research.

CMST150W:  Living with the Environment (Dr. Dennis Taylor)

The seminar Living With the Environment builds a broader conceptualization of community interests through establishment of the ethical and moral underpinnings of the human place in nature, and the teaching of practical knowledge needed for both policy-making and scientific understanding directed at solutions that build strong environmentally grounded communities where humans can benefit from the natural capital of their surroundings. Student projects are focused and issue driven, intended to provide direct practical benefits for community partners, opportunities for expanded scope and diversification, and to act as vehicles for teaching important principles and concepts applicable to the problem of human impacts on natural systems. Restricted to Sharpe Scholars. 

CMST 150W:  Culture, Identity, and Social Change (Dr. Monica Griffin)

This seminar will focus on culture and identity in society, how both concepts are used to explain social inequality and create social change.  Course readings will introduce students to sociocultural frameworks for understanding contemporary issues such as racism, poverty, and gender discrimination, while assignments and discussions will challenge students to critically examine social movements that are intended to address inequality.  In this Community Studies course, students will be guided in designing a community-based research proposal to address inequality, according to theories, concepts, and methods that they learn in class, through volunteerism or internships, and social action with and within communities.

CMST 150W:  The Holocaust and Representation: Jews, Americans, and Germans (Dr. Jennifer Taylor)

In this seminar we will be reading a wide range of texts depicting both the destruction of European Jewry during the Holocaust as well as postwar identity crises faced by Jewish German survivors after the war. A number of critical questions will inform our reading of historical, literary and cinematic texts such as Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, Jurek Becker’s Jacob the Liar, Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Steve Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful.