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  • Discipline(s): Education Psychology Sociology
  • Available: Fall Semester Spring Semester
  • Course Type: Courses with Service Learning
  • Taught in: English
  • Credits: 3
  • Course Travel: Yes

EDUC / PSYC / SOC 430: Human Development in Culture

Important Note: This course was formerly PYHD 430.

Course Description and Objectives

This course provides students with an understanding of how people grow, develop, and adapt at different life stages. Students will be introduced to theories related to human development (i.e., normative physical, intellectual, cognitive, emotional, and social development of personality) and the impact of culture on it. Developmental psychology aims to research how humans learn, mature, and adapt to their environment to promote the expression of their potential. Students will be encouraged to carry out academic social research to apply theoretical knowledge in a natural environment.

In studying this subject, students will be given the opportunity to reflect on the notion that even though individuals and groups of individuals differ from each other, some ideas, values, and behaviors may be universal and shared by all humans in all cultures (e.g., the capacity to learn a language, raise children, and fall in love). They will apply this reflective process to their own cultural experiences and personal development while in Italy.

The course will expose students to the main cross-cultural theoretical models and challenge them to relate theoretical concepts to their everyday experiences. Students will learn about human psychology in other cultures, focusing particularly on Italy. They will challenge their own experiences and ideas on human psychology. Students will reflect on human universals as well as learn to appreciate cultural similarities and differences across cultures. Finally, during the course, the instructor will challenge stereotypes of Italy, and help students understand Italian ways of thinking, behaving, and acting.

Course Objectives
In this course, you will:

  • Relate theoretical models to real life-examples
  • Develop Critical Thinking Skills
  • Measure differences in Culture
  • Learn ways to integrate different cultures
  • Gain a deeper knowledge of the Italian Culture
  • Understand the implication of living in a multicultural society

Service Learning Project
Students will investigate the principles and psychological outcomes of the Italian, Montessori, and American education systems through theoretical and direct experience in the Italian classroom setting. Students will prepare and lead cultural-based English language activities in a middle school class at the Scuola Media Statale San Paolo. This will allow students to collect data on students’ responses and interactions while teaching a language. Afterwards, students will visit a Montessori elementary school in Perugia to observe classroom organization, style, and activities as well as interactions among students and teachers, which will be used as a method of gathering data for observation as a research method.

Course Materials
Mandatory course reader including:

  • Heine, S.J. (2008), Cultural Psychology. New York: W.W. Norton & Company
  • De Vijver, F.J.R., Chasiotis, A. & Breugelmans, S.M. (2011). Fundamental questions of cross-cultural psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. New York, US: Oxford University Press
  • Matsumoto, D. & Juang, L. (2004). Culture and Psychology, 3rd Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning
  • Gannon, M.J. & Pillai, R. (2012). Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys Through 31 Nations, Clusters of Nations, Continents, and Diversity. Thousand Oaks, US: SAGE Publications, Inc.]