Brain and Behavior – Jen Cummings
Ever wonder how that gelatinous blob in your head controls everything you do and think? What exactly are neurons? How do they talk to each other? And to the rest of your body? Have you ever wondered about things like: how does stress affect your body? Is exercise really that good for your brain? What happens if you miss a few nights of sleep? It makes sense that your brain affects your experiences- but can experiences actually change your brain?? We will answer these questions (and more!) in Brain and Behavior, as we explore the amazing field of behavioral neuroscience. We will begin with a section on the basic functionality of the brain and nervous system, and then will go on to investigate how the system can be affected by things like stress, learning & memory, hormones, and neuropsychiatric disorders. We will leave some time for a session on student-selected topics in behavioral neuroscience, so if there’s something else you’ve been pondering with respect to the brain, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.
Data Science of Happiness – Dina Gohar
This course is an introduction to positive psychology-the study of positive experiences, positive traits, positive relationships, and the institutions and practices that facilitate their development–a rapidly expanding area of study that is of great interest and benefit to students. The course will use an active and experiential approach that encourages reflective learning in combination with lively lectures, seminar style discussions, interactive technology and collaborative activities to creatively and critically examine the major topics of concern in positive psychology, such as pleasure, engagement, and meaning in life, as well as a critical source of these experiences: positive interpersonal relationships, and areas of controversy (e.g., what is happiness and how do you measure it?). To get first-hand experience, students will complete several empirically supported wellness-enhancing exercises and reflect on their experiences in class, such as planning an ideal day and having it, doing a secret good deed, and writing a letter of gratitude to someone who hasn’t been properly thanked. As a capstone project, students may also design their own hands-on activities to teach younger students about positive psychology and possibly demonstrate them to students at a nearby community center or summer camp