Psychology of the Black Experience

Course Description

Designed to facilitate students’ understanding of the African- American psychological experience, the course begins with a critical review of historical and traditional approaches to the psychological study of Black people. We will next examine the careers and contributions of the first three generations of Black psychologists who set the foundations for the current (4th) generation. From there, we will focus on the themes, models and research currently being generated by psychologists attempting to redefine the study of African American people. Finally, we will examine the literature and variety of approaches to the study of fundamental psychological processes as they operate in the context of the Black experience.

The class meetings will be divided between lectures and guided discussions.

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 intensive. All 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. Race in historical perspective
  2. Pioneering Black psychologists
  3. Draptomania?
  4. Genetic Models
  5. Quest for a Black psychology
  6. Foundational themes in a Black psychology
  7. Focus on topics in Black psychology:
    1. Identity and Self
    2. Mental Health
    3. Cognition and Language
    4. Culture of/in Education

Course Requirements

Exams: There will be 2 in class essay exams during the semester. Students
will be expected to critically examine specific issues drawing evidence from lecture and reading materials.

Critical Research Papers: There are 3 writing assignments. Each paper will be a 4-6 page analysis of a critical issue facing society in general and African Americans in particular. Except in length, papers will be in the style and format of a term-paper. Find detailed instructions on the syllabus page titled Critical research Papers.

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