PERS 2002: Brain, Self, and Society

Description Over the past two decades progress in the mind sciences – psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral genetics – has re-shaped many of our views about our selves. For instance, the role of nature and culture in shaping who we are, what choices we make, and what things we do. Our expanding knowledge of the brain not only provides insight into why we do what we do, but also how others can influence our consumer choices and political views. By studying the brain we gain a new understanding of its connection to the mind, romantic love, affection, happiness, beauty, sexuality, gender, empathy, memory, morality, responsibility, pain, and mental illness. And new brain modification techniques are promising better ways to treat mental disorders, to help people recover from stroke and traumatic brain injury, to reduce criminal recidivism, and to improve our ability to think, learn, and remember.

Learning Outcomes Students will develop a deeper appreciation for how the human condition is illuminated through scientific discovery. Students will also learn how to discern, reason about, and evaluate potential novel problems – some for the individual, some for society, and some for the world at large – brought about through advances in science, technology, and medicine. Lastly, this course requires no prior knowledge of psychology, neuroscience, or behavioral genetics, though we hope that by learning something about these fields students might develop a passion for and interest in these disciplines.

Topics and weekly readings are indicated on the Class Schedule of the Course Syllabus. Note that you will not need to purchase a text book since all material will be provided on BrightSpace.