News, Academics

BC To Offer New Psychological Humanities Minor This Fall

Coming this fall, the Lynch School of Education and Human Development (LSEHD) will offer a new minor in psychological humanities, open to all students.

“I’m constantly surprised by just the brilliance of the students at BC and how they bring these disciplines together, the types of questions that emerge for them, and the types of new ideas that come into play,” said David Goodman, the director of the psychological humanities minor.

Matthew Clemente, an adjunct professor in the Woods College for Advancing Studies, said LSEHD created the minor to broaden traditional understandings of psychology and integrate different disciplines into its study.

“Part of the goal of the minor is to … broaden how we understand psychology, such that it’s able to converse with other disciplines, the kinds of disciplines with long rich histories and traditions that have to do with what it means to be a human being and how we understand human consciousness,” Clemente said.

Christopher Higgins, chair of the formative education department within LSEHD, said he wanted to be involved with the minor because it guides students to learn through multiple disciplines.

“There are ethical questions, for example, that you just really can’t get at with philosophy alone, or theology alone, or psychology alone,” Higgins said. “But once these disciplines are in dialogue, you could have a much richer reflection on who we are as human beings, what we’re striving to become, and how we get there.”

Likewise, hopes of establishing interdisciplinary relationships between psychology and other fields led Goodman to establish the minor, he said.

“I often worry [psychology is] becoming increasingly sort of one dimensional,” Goodman said. “So I was excited to help build a minor that can help, I think, create some of those other dimensions and bring them into relationship with the discipline of psychology.” 

The minor will have four components—one foundational course, three electives, one formative seminar, and one capstone course, totaling 18 credits. Electives are separated into categories of the good, the beautiful, and the true, according to Clemente.

“These are the ancient philosophical categories for how we think about the kind of essential aspects of human life,” Clemente said. “So ethical questions, the good; aesthetic questions, questions of art, the beautiful; and then questions of reason, rationality, how the mind works and functions, epistemological questions, the truth.” 

Some of these electives include psychology and politics, madness in literature, global mental health, and aesthetic awakenings.

The minor will require an application consisting of one short essay explaining the student’s interest and fit for the minor, Clemente said. 

“It’s going to be the type of thing that we want to be expansive and open to Boston College students,” Clemente said. “We’re hopeful that lots of people will be interested in it.”  

Classes that will count towards the minor are still being developed, so students can request specific approval for courses or credit from a class they have already taken, Clemente said. 

“Right now we’re in the process of both compiling a list of courses which we would accept and approve,” Clemente said. “But students who want to be in the minor, we’re open to kind of on a case-by-case basis, having them write us and getting approval for classes that they’ve already taken.” 

Higgins said he hopes students within the minor will learn to better understand the complexity of human life.

“I would hope that students in this minor would start to appreciate how rich and complex the human experience is, and therefore they become impatient with that canning of human experience that goes on with slogans and checkboxes,” Higgins said.

Ultimately, Higgins said he is excited for students to find their voice in psychology through the humanities.

“I’m excited about the moments where people just make that connection and realize that they’re not alone with those experiences,” Higgins said. “And that making sense of them doesn’t only take the form of empirical studies, and they could find their voice, along with the great novelists, the great philosophers, the great theologians.”

March 24, 2024