Development as Freedom

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Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

climate justice, climate policy and politics, political ecology, environment and development

What does it mean to live a fulfilling life? What factors contribute to a greater quality of life, assuming this is a desirable goal for all human societies? What are some of the prevailing theories and practices within the social sciences about human well-being and how best to attain it, at the individual and international scales?

This program will tackle these questions, focusing on perspectives from the subdisciplines of health psychology, critical development studies, and environmental justice. We will be studying applications of sociocultural, psychosocial, somatic, and behavioral knowledge relevant to health and wellness from diverse cultural perspectives. We will critically examine perspectives in mainstream economic development theory and their implications for social and environmental justice. We will consequently explore alternative conceptualizations of development, considering those that draw on ideas of freedom, capabilities, and sustainable livelihoods.

This interdisciplinary program will include a variety of approaches to learning, including seminars, theoretical assessments, films, expressive arts workshops, somatic practices, and reflective and analytical writing. Students will read literature from psychology, integrative health, critical development studies, and environmental justice. Some of the authors we will read include Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Helena Norberg-Hodge, and Joanna Macy.

There's no better way to explore the range of activities and topics that psychology offers—and to learn of cutting-edge research in the social science field—than to attend and participate in a convention of psychology professionals and students. To that end, our program will take a one-day field trip to attend the annual convention of the Western Psychological Association, the western regional arm of the American Psychological Association . This year's convention will take place April 26–29, 2018, in Portland, Oregon.

Program Details

Fields of Study

health international studies political economy psychology sustainability studies

Preparatory For

international development, environmental/sustainability studies, psychology, and integrative health


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning 25 - 49% Delivered Online


$80 for expressive arts workshop supplies and registration for the Western Psychological Association convention.