- Psychology of Personality
- Positive Psychology
- Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park
- Culture & Place in Psychology
- Clinical & Counseling Psychology
- Personality Assessment
are described briefly below. For more information you can also see the St. Olaf College Catalog. Because not all of these courses can be offered each year, please check the St. Olaf College Class and Lab Schedule to see which ones are currently scheduled.
Psychopathology (Psychology 247, this course is also known as Abnormal Psychology): This course focuses on psychological disorder and mental illness. We ask, “Why are certain experiences or patterns of behavior considered psychologically “abnormal?” We investigate a wide array of psychological disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. We examine models used to conceptualize abnormal behavior, as well as current evidence and theories regarding the etiology and treatment of these important and sometimes devastating disorders. Prerequisite: Psych 125 (Principles of Psychology); because of its difficulty level, Psych 247 generally should not be one of your first psychology courses.
Psychology of Personality (Psychology 244): This course asks questions such as “What are important aspects of personality?” and “What factors shape personality?” We sample a wide range of psychological theory and research done over the past 100+ years, including Freud and Jung, behaviorism (e.g., Skinner), humanistic psychology (e.g., Rogers and Maslow), self-determination theory, cognitive psychology, and trait psychology (e.g., the Big Five). In this course some degree of private self-examination almost inevitably happens; it is hard to encounter the concepts, theory, and research within personality psychology without applying it to yourself and the lives around you. If you want to study what psychology has to say about understanding others, or you want to “know thyself” better through the lens of psychology, this course may be a good choice for you. Prerequisite: Psych 125 (Principles of Psychology).
Positive Psychology: The Science of Optimal Human Experience (Psychology 342): What does any person need, psychologically, in order to thrive? This seminar explores the latest research and theory regarding psychological well-being, happiness, meaning, and satisfaction with life. We investigate “the good life,” exploring what psychology can tell us about human flourishing and psychological well-being. Empirical evidence is examined to understand some of the best aspects of life, such as the function of positive emotions, the role of traits in well-being, sources of meaning and life satisfaction, and character strengths and virtues. Personality and sociocultural factors are emphasized in this exploration of the positive potentials of human life. This is an upper-level seminar for juniors and seniors and is primarily discussion-based. Prerequisites: Psych 230 (Research Methods) and Psych 244 (Personality) OR Psych 247 (Psychopathology).
Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park (Psychology 227; counts not only towards the Psychology major but also toward the Environmental Studies major/ concentration as a social science course): This course investigates the human relationship with the natural world, examining ways in which the natural environment is important psychologically to human beings. Integrating aspects of theoretical and empirical psychology, environmental studies and literature, we explore meanings, values and questions such as: How are we affected by nature? What affects people’s attitudes and behaviors toward the environment? How can psychology help us deal with the environmental challenges that face us? This is an off-campus course in Colorado offered during Interim. Prerequisite: Psychology 125 (Principles of Psychology) or Environmental Studies 137.
Culture and Place in Psychology (Psychology 254): Many psychological processes once assumed to be similar around the world are actually powerfully influenced by culture. This course explores ways in which cultural contexts affect psychological experience, including cognition, emotion, personality, values, social behavior, and psychological well-being. Students study the methods, constructs, and findings of cultural psychology, and students reflect on their own cultures and experiences. This course is particularly helpful for study-abroad students, including those who have returned from study abroad, are currently studying abroad at St. Olaf, or are preparing to study abroad.
Clinical and Counseling Psychology (Psychology 375, also counts toward the Management Studies concentration): This course examines several major theoretical perspectives on psychotherapy. Students review empirically supported treatments for specific clinical disorders, as well as “nonspecific” factors that affect the therapeutic process. Students explore ethical and legal challenges related to psychotherapy delivery, as well as multicultural and other diversity issues. Course format is primarily discussion-based. Prerequisite: Psych 230 (Research Methods) as well as either Psych 244 (Psychology of Personality) or Psych 247 (Psychopathology).
Personality Assessment (Psychology 344): In this course, students explore methods that psychologists use to develop meaningful, nuanced understandings of individual persons. The richness and complexity of personality is seen as students get first-hand experience interviewing a hired subject, interpreting personality tests, analyzing personal narratives, and applying theories and concepts used in personality and clinical psychology. Integrating information about unique personal history, personality dynamics, and life story, students learn to develop coherent conceptualizations of the signature-like features of another’s personality.