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December 15, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

12 Big Ways Psychology Can Fundamentally Transform the University Curriculum and Culture

How can psychology change the University or inspire innovation in the University curriculum?

Here are the core concepts which could be covered. This set up gives 2 class sessions to cover each core concept (or chapter) if you will. Ideally, I would like to focus as many as 3 on creativity–and perhaps allow other classes to cover the neuro-biology issue.

1. Emotional Intelligence-Personal Relationships
2. Emotional Intelligence-Leadership
3. Personal Motivation
4. Positive Psychology movement & science
5. Meaning making (what is self-actualization & how do we get there)
6. Creativity and problem solving (science & education literature–along with mental models &, collective unconcious, and storytelling and archetypes–what makes epic stories?)
7. Innovation and entrepreneurship
8. Neuro-biology (how our brain works? how that interacts with our daily lives?)
9. Career (this is a huge area, which could be broken down more)
10. Communication (science of persuasion and marketing)
11. Coaching (performance improvement & one to one)
12. Literature on “Success” and “Happiness”

And beyond in many ways….for instance:
1. learning how to learn/education psychology/the issue of reflection which could fit in any category–and I’m not sure the sense in which it can be taught, except by doing.
2. organizational psychology/small groups
3. Intercultural psychology (a bit of a stretch, but important in the context of a globalized & multi-cultural world and workplace)
4. psychology of design (process & visual)

The classes’ core content boils down to four core areas (as I see it):
1) EQ/Success/Positive Psychology
2) Meaning & Careers & Identity (reflection & wisdom)
3) Leadership/Change (motivation)
4) Creativity (mental models &, collective unconcious, and storytelling and archetypes as well)

Another possible breakdown for Career, Creativity, Culture, and Change class would be the following:
1. Design thinking/creativity/problem solving
2. Success principles
3. Career education & reflection (meaning & identity & reflection)
4. Other topics (Presenting, psychology in organizations, EQ)

The name of the course would be Designing Y(our) Future: Career, Creativity, and Change. (you could perhaps insert words like intrapreneur, entrepreneur, or innovation instead, but I think this initially works to get the idea across. I think Career, Creativity, and Change is sufficient for the course catalog.) I think you could add the word culture too….especially the way technology and innovation are influencing how we think….and what success looks like in the 21st century. (The class could be something like “21st Century Success Principles from Culture, Communication, and Science)

It might sound ego-istic, but I think this would be the most important class at the university (I think persuasion (really well done), public speaking, english composition, or a communications based writing course for mass media) might be the only one that comes close. Certainly chemistry and calculous don’t come close to the importance of psychology for success in the 21st century.

If you have other ideas…or would like to challenge mine….feel free to leave a comment about this “Career, Creativity, Culture, and Change”. Or what you think could help provide the 21st Century skills for our college graduates.

Its possible that non-humanities students could opt out of this….but arguably the hard sciences and engineering students might need it the most.

Shift which justify the addition of Career, Creativity, Culture, and Change class to the humanities curriculum:
1. Over-abundance of college degrees (particularly in the humanities)
2. Shift toward innovation.
3. Maslow (1954), the Positive Psychology Movement (2000’s), and the Emotional Leadership movement (2000’s)
4. Shift toward 21st century skills like agility, creativity, and innovation.

Suggested form for the Career, Creativity, Culture, and Change class:
1. Seminar/Group Project
2. Individual Presentations
3. Guest Lecture/Interview (perhaps a panel or 20 minutes with each person)
4. Not traditional lecture, unless its short (less than 20 minutes) and modular (ie Khan academy like). It could be socratic…but there is still a risk there.

Educational Goals for the Class:
1. Presentation
2. Research
3. Application of Communication Skills
4. Reflection on self and career goals (access to career counselors)
5. Students building cool stuff with their mind
6. Learning success principles

Caveats and concerns:
There is a certain extent to which:
1. this needs to be a stand alone class
2. it perhaps needs to be across the curriculum. (although increasingly i’m less sold on this)

The question remains what other department might this be married to besides psychology, business, or the career center (and would topics of cultural trends be relevant). Arguably I can see it being co-listed in all 3 areas–but really housed in business in the same way organizational psychology might be housed in business (because it doesn’t seem to require a large depth of understanding about the larger field of psychology). Even if thats the case, I think the most logical positioning from an external or internal actor is the business department.

Possible projects: business idea/consulting idea (this is broken and needs fixing), interviews with people in your field, etc.

Here is a summary of the research in positive psychology.


Leave a Comment
  1. Nathan Ketsdever / Dec 15 2011 7:58 am

    1. Organizational psychology/small groups
    2. Intercultural psychology

  2. Nathan Ketsdever / Dec 20 2011 5:56 am

    I’m curious how the above would relate to this:

    This methodology also looks interesting:

    This is an interesting visual–on 21st century skills (even if it leaves out the full list by Tony Wagner of Harvard):

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