PSYC 409
Growing Up Fall 2023
Division III
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Class Details

Growing up is a universal human experience, yet humans are shaped by distinct forces as they navigate infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This seminar will zoom in on five key inflection points in the human lifespan (times when our environment or the choices we make may have an outsized impact on our life’s trajectory): 1) birth/infancy, 2) school entry, 3) adolescence, 4) emerging adulthood, and 5) death/dying. We will discuss popular media depictions of humans in each of these transition points (such as the film Babies, and the book Being Mortal). We will then compare, contrast, and evaluate these popular depictions of “growing up” or “growing old” with accounts from empirical research from all sub-disciplines of psychology. The empirical evidence will take the form of journal articles that match the themes of the media depiction but use the scientific method to try to characterize the cultural and personal forces that most affect the human experience and shape a person’s identity in key moments of the lifespan. The course will be guided by broad questions such as — To what extent do humans shape their own destiny versus being shaped by cultural, environmental, or genetic forces beyond their control? Are there some types of experience that are stronger predictors of long-term outcomes than others? Are there any human experiences that are truly universal? What can psychology, as a field, tell us about “growing up” as a human on this planet, and where might it fall short?
The Class: Format: seminar; Class will only meet 2 of the 3 possible days each week, determined by the instructor.
Limit: 14
Expected: 14
Class#: 1346
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students are expected to co-lead discussions several times during the semester, choose empirical readings, participate in discussions, and write a total of three 5-7-page evidence-based argument papers.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Open only to senior psychology majors
Distributions: Division III

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