Culture and Cognition: Flourishing Mind, Flourishing Society
The brain struggling to understand the brain is society trying to explain itself. - Colin Blakemore
What goes on inside your head, and why? To what degree is thought an individual act, and how is it influenced by the social contexts in which we live? In program we will utilize the twin lenses of psychology and sociology to examine both functional individual psyches and thriving social structures. We will explore how our brains and cognitive processes create perceptions, language, memories, and values; how our choices impact our brains and thought processes; and the ways in which these processes and choices are conditioned by cultural and social factors. Well-being itself is a cognitive construct whose definition and experience varies across time and place. Through an integrative examination of cognitive psychology, sociology, and positive psychology, we will learn and practice how to intentionally, mindfully curate resilient cognitive and social structures. We will cultivate foundational skills that are relevant across all careers and fields of study—observation, analysis, critical thinking, and writing—but that may be particularly helpful in social and human services, health care, and education.
Our program’s guiding questions include:
- How does the brain work? How does brain function influence human behavior, and vice versa?
- How do internal processes such as perceptions, attention, language, memories, and values work, and how are they conditioned by the social and cultural contexts in which the brain operates?
- How do we build a flourishing society through developing personal, relational, and community well-being?
This program can be completed 100% remotely . Class activities may include lectures, workshop activities, book seminars, films, fieldwork exercises, regular autoethnographic and expository writing, collaborative projects, and independent work. We will utilize class structures that maximize students’ engagement, agency, and well-being. For example, to reduce the time spent in front of computers, students will have several opportunities to apply their learning in field observations and analyses. All field observations will be completed using proper safety and social distancing protocols.
To successfully participate in this program, students will need access to a computer (preferred) or smart phone, the internet, required texts, and writing and note-taking supplies. A printer may be helpful. Students can expect our remote teaching to be a 70%/30% blend of asynchronous (self-paced) and synchronous (real-time) work using Canvas and Zoom.
If conditions allow and with appropriate safety protocol, students may have the option to gather in very small groups to form communities of practice around well-being goals. This work can also be completed remotely. Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous participation if conditions require.
Course Reference Numbers
psychology, sociology, social work, health care, education