Understanding the effects of seeking asylum on mental health and well-being Winter 2023

Class Details

Asylum is a specific form of humanitarian relief granted to an individual who can legally establish a history of previous persecution, or fear of future persecution, on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. What are the psychological effects of being physically and emotionally persecuted because of who you are, what you believe, and/or your identity? Using the framework of asylum, we will study the effects of persecution, loss and displacement on mental health and well-being. Through readings, film and journalism, we will consider the psychological outcomes most frequently reported by asylum seekers, as well as the effects of traumatic stress on attachment and interpersonal relationships. We will look closely at interventions aimed at recovery and fostering post-traumatic growth. Asylum work is multi-disciplinary — incorporating human rights, psychology, law, public health, medicine, journalism, gender and historical studies. With this in mind, this class is open to all majors. Each student will produce a final project on an asylum-related topic. This final project may reflect individual academic concentrations other than psychology. Please note, because people who are seeking asylum have experienced persecution and/or fear future persecution, some of the content we will be reading and discussing may be difficult or upsetting for some students.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1381
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Short paper and final project or presentation.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and juniors
Unit Notes: Jennifer McQuaid, PhD, is a clinical psychologist translating research into practice for survivors of trauma: at-risk adults, children and families, refugees and asylum seekers. She is a Visiting Lecturer in the Williams College Dept of Psychology.
Attributes: STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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