You are here


Tom Toleno

Psychology is one of the offerings in the social sciences. Psychology is distinguished from other fields by its emphasis on a person’s individual experience in understanding phenomena. Historically, a number of perspectives have arisen and thus there are many sub-fields in and approaches to psychology.

Psychology is an offering within a traditional liberal arts curriculum; thus it is not necessary to prepare for it as if it were a major. It may be for some, but it is not necessarily for many. Students are encouraged to study broadly, to follow issues, phenomena and problems across disciplines in the social sciences, and even across fields as in interdisciplinary projects. For example, students have combined psychology and the arts, especially theater, dance and the visual arts. Other combinations have included biology and psychology, humanities and psychology—especially literature, history and philosophy.

Those students who choose to prepare for a graduate program find that there are different requirements, depending on the kind of graduate work intended. Those studying to be counselors have a different set of priorities than those studying developmental psychology. Students who want to study education also have different priorities.

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

  • History & theory of psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Perception
  • Developmental psychology
  • Clinical psychology
  • Energy conservation behavior

Starting Points (Basic and Introductory Courses)

A survey of the field of psychology in which its methods, data and language are emphasized. Prerequisite: None    Introductory | Credits: 4

An examination of the family and the emerging adolescent in the family. Prerequisite: None              Introductory | Credits: 4

A course on the developing child, emphasizing current research and theories. Prerequisite: None         Introductory | Credits: 4

This course examines the application of learning, motivation and cognitive theories to educational psychology. Prerequisite: Any social science course     Introductory | Credits: 4

An introduction to the history and theory of psychology, offering a survey of psychology’s major perspectives. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

Pursuing Interests (Intermediate and Thematic Courses)

An analysis of the major approaches to abnormal psychology and the resulting theories of personality. Prerequisite: Child Development or Persistent Problems in Psychology     Intermediate | Credits: 4

A study of the physiology and psychology of perception, the means by which we maintain contact with and obtain knowledge about the environment. Participants will be required to conduct a series of empirical projects throughout the semester. Prerequisite: A year of psychology, sociology or biology, or permission of instructor     Intermediate | Credits: 4

Major theories of personality are discussed and compared. The emphasis is on the underlying assumptions regarding persons and the therapies and psychotherapies which have emerged. Prerequisite: Abnormal Psychology or permission of instructor     Advanced | Credits: 4

An historical and philosophical investigation of the self that examines how social theories make use of the concept. Various approaches are examined, ranging from psychological theory (Freud, James, Skinner, Maslow and Rogers) to sociological theory (G.H. Mead, Erickson, Goffman, Parsons) and to philosophy (S.S. Shoemaker and Ned Block). Prerequisite: Two previous human development classes or permission of instructor     Advanced | Credits: 3

The seminar covers several important areas of cognition, especially memory, language, learning and thinking.     Advanced | Credits: 4

Good Foundation for Plan

If you are just beginning a Plan in psychology, and you have a liberal arts agenda, sample from the list of introductory and intermediate courses, and sample from history, literature, philosophy, biology and any of the other social sciences. If you have some focus, then some combinations will make more sense than others. Do not try to do it all; you will miss too many opportunities to broaden out your interest. Your focus may lead to one of four tracks: counseling, developmental psychology, experimental psychology or education.
If you are thinking of graduate school, you need some basic, intermediate and advanced courses and tutorials. A graduate school will want to see history and theory of psychology, two classes in perception, cognition or linguistics, social psychology and statistics.
Talk to the faculty about your interests. Begin with any basic introductory offering in the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology or psychology). If you want a specific introduction to psychology, consider Persistent Problems of Psychology, an introductory history and theory course focusing on four major perspectives of the field. Otherwise, jump into a specific area of interest at the introductory or intermediate level. Study broadly; you will most likely end up using courses you never thought were connected (e.g., economics, American studies, religion, literature, philosophy and color seminar.)

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Synthesis of Psychological Concepts in the Foreign Language Classroom
  • Classical Phenomenology & Psychopathology
  • Cognitive Therapy of Depression
  • Constructions of Religious Experience
  • Contemporary Critiques of the Social Sciences
  • Current Trends of the DSM-V
  • Dream Work: Freud and Jung
  • Field Research on a Challenged Child
  • Introduction to Neuroscience
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Research in Developmental Psychology
  • Research Methods for Psychology and Psychophysics
  • The Creative & Gifted Mind
  • The Neo-Freudians
  • The Psychology of Attention
  • Wartime: PTSD and the Changing Individual