Culture and Human Development: The African Diaspora

Course Description

Situating the study of human psychology in the context of culture has gained tremendous momentum over the past few decades. This course is designed to explore this movement. We will cover topics such as cross-cultural research (both in child development and across the life span), but the focus is neither on cross-cultural appreciation nor on developing taxonomies of cultural difference. We will consider methodological issues pertaining to research across cultures, and different theories important in cultural psychology research. The course will include an exploration of how recent approaches to the study of psychology have offered new insights into the relationship between sociocultural contexts and human functioning.

The class meetings will be divided between lectures, guided discussions and student directed activities.

A major objective of the course is for students to gain exposure to the rich body of research and scholarship in this area. As such, reading for the course is critical. Students are expected to read and be prepared to discuss all of the required readings before the date each is scheduled for discussion.

Course Outline

  1. Cognition: Here, around the world and around the block.
  2. “What the cock knows how to do, he does. What I know, I say, and nothing beyond that!”
  3. On truth and/in context.
  4. The smallest meaningful unit of study is child-in-activity-in- context.
  5. Exactly what is culture?
  6. Focus on research
    1. Individualism and Collectivism
    2. Culture & Language
    3. Culture of/in Education
    4. Culture and Morality/Emotions

Course Requirements

Exams: There will be 3 in class essay exams during the semester. These cover
all lecture and reading material.

Reading Group Presenations: Reading groups will make 5 brief presentations to the class. These will be short summaries of research articles that will be assigned to each group.

Class Participation: Will be based on participation in class discussion and on attendance.