Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Catalog

Introduction to Psychology

What do your dreams mean? Do men and women differ in the nature and intensity of their sexual desires? Can apes learn sign language? Why can’t we tickle ourselves? This course tries to answer these questions and many others, providing a comprehensive overview of the scientific study of thought and behavior. It explores topics such as perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, religion, persuasion, love, lust, hunger, art, fiction, and dreams. We will look at how these aspects of the mind develop in children, how they differ across people, how they are wired-up in the brain, and how they break down due to illness and injury.

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European Civilization (1648-1945)

This course offers a broad survey of modern European history, from the end of the Thirty Years’ War to the aftermath of World War II. Along with the consideration of major events and figures such as the French Revolution and Napoleon, attention will be paid to the experience of ordinary people in times of upheaval and transition. The period will thus be viewed neither in terms of historical inevitability nor as a procession of great men, but rather through the lens of the complex interrelations between demographic change, political revolution, and cultural development. Textbook accounts will be accompanied by the study of exemplary works of art, literature, and cinema.

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Introduction to Political Philosophy

This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.

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Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600

This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

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Human Emotion

What are our emotions? What purpose do they serve? How do emotions relate to our thoughts, memories, and behaviors towards others? What happens when our emotional responses go awry?

Although these questions date back to early philosophical texts, only recently have experimental psychologists begun to explore this vast and exciting domain of study. The course will begin by discussing the evolutionary origins of distinct emotions such as love, anger, fear, and disgust. We will ask how emotions might color our cognitive processes such as thinking and memory, the relationship between emotions and the brain, development of emotions in childhood, and how emotions shape our social relationships. We will also consider how these methods can be applied to studying mental illness in both children and adults. The course will conclude by studying the pursuit of happiness and well-being, trying to understand what makes us happy.

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