PS390 SelTopics in Psychology:

for FA 2004

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COURSE TITLE: Selected Topics in Psychology: Environmental Psychology.

COURSE DESCRIPTOR: “Intensive study of an area of psychology selected by the instructor on the basis of student need or current issues.” (Park University 2004 – 2005, Undergraduate Catalog, 2004, p. 410).


NAME OF FACULTY MEMBER:  Dennis D. Kerkman, Ph.D.

TITLE OF FACULTY MEMBER: Associate Professor.


FACULTY OFFICE HOURS: M: 1:30 – 2:30, T: 1:00-2:00,  W: 10:00 – 12:00, TH: 1:00 – 2:00, or by appt..




FACULTY WEB PAGE ADDRESS: to be announced.

DATES OF THE TERM:   Aug. 23 – Dec. 19, 2004.


CLASS SESSION TIME: 9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

PREREQUISITE(S): PS101: Introduction to Psychology.


CLASS MEETS in Mackay, Room 23.



The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.



Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


COURSE DESCRIPTION: “Intensive study of an area of psychology selected by the instructor on the basis of student need or current issues.” (Park University 2004 – 2005, Undergraduate Catalog, 2004, p. 410).


FACULTY’S EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY: “Philosophy” is the love of knowledge.  “Education” is the process of guiding people out of ignorance into the light of understanding. “The Liberal Arts” are a set of disciplines that enable students to think critically and communicate effectively so they can understand themselves and the world around them, and how they can act for the purpose of serving a global community.  Studying these arts therefore liberates, or frees students from the constraints of ignorance so they can understand and improve the world around them. To understand the Liberal Arts, one must cultivate certain literacies: analytical and critical thinking, community and civic responsibility, scientific inquiry, ethics and values, literary and artistic expression.  In this course, the primary methods used to cultivate the literacies are: (1) learning by inquiry, reflection, and interaction (the Socratic Method of guided questioning in group discussions), (2) learning by experience (readings, lectures, demonstrations, videos, internet and other presentation media), and (3) learning by doing (hands-on interaction with the environment (e.g., collecting of one’s own research observations).  The Socratic Method will be used in the form of “Weekly Discussions” to cultivate the development of analytic and critical thinking, community and civic responsibility, and ethics and values by guided questioning in group discussions of perennial themes and controversies (e.g., nature vs. nurture), and current events (e.g., political campaigns, obedience to authority versus personal conscience, the validity of eyewitness testimony, etc.).  These discussions frequently focus on issues with direct implications for community and civic responsibility. They also highlight cultural diversity issues and ethical and value judgments.  Scientific Inquiry will be directly addressed through reading assignments, lectures, and hands-on assignments for learning how to collect and summarize the student’s own observations of naturally occurring human behavior.

Please note: A major portion of Environmental Psychology is about how people get along with or do not get along with other people.  This topic is inherently controversial.  We all have very dearly held beliefs and attitudes.  No one likes to consider, much less admit, that they might be wrong, especially in the ways that that think and feel and act toward other people.  However, in order for us all to make progress toward being more educated, rational human beings, we must consider points of view other than our own, and we must be willing to dispassionately and objectively consider points of view other than our own, being sufficiently open-minded to acknowledge the fact that we might be wrong. 

A university is first and foremost a place for the free and frank exchange of ideas.  The founding father of Western philosophy, Socrates, the Athenian, devised a method for getting people to examine their beliefs and points of view other than their own, which has come to be known as “The Socratic Method”.  Socrates said that he didn’t know anything for certain, all he had were lots of questions.  He asked his students questions that made them seriously re-consider and even doubt the validity of their most dearly held beliefs about themselves and others.  This can be rather uncomfortable, because no one likes to consider the idea that they might be wrong.  In fact, Socrates’ questions made the citizens of ancient Athens so uncomfortable that they voted to have Socrates stoned to death for allegedly “corrupting the youth of the city” by encouraging the young people of the city to question their parents’ most dearly held beliefs.  Rather than be stoned to death, Socrates committed suicide.  I have no desire to be stoned to death or to commit suicide, but I do want all of us to become more balanced and rational and objective in our knowledge how people do and do not get along with each other.  

So, I am going to tell you in advance that I will intentionally challenge some of your beliefs and you also are free to challenge mine, so long as we all understand that we are doing this for the purpose of helping each other gain a more balanced and rational understanding of ourselves and each other.  No one is perfect, and that from time to time all of us have been wrong.  In this class, we will all have to be open-minded enough to consider the possibility that some of our thoughts and feelings and attitudes toward other people might be wrong, and we have to be forgiving enough to accept the fact that when someone challenges our beliefs, he or she is doing so for the purpose of trying to understand our point of view and helping us to understand points of view other than our own.  This will be much easier said than done, but it is the oldest and still the best way of teaching that I know

Notice: If you do not feel comfortable with the idea of having your beliefs challenged, then you should drop this course immediately.


COURSE OBJECTIVES. On completion of this course, student should be able to:

1. identify and explain the basic vocabulary and concepts of environmental psychology and how these relate to the student’s life.

2.  apply analytical and critical thinking as well as and ethics and values to the concepts and issues of environmental psychology.

3. understand and apply the principles of scientific inquiry to the study of environmental psychology.

4. apply the literacies of analytical and critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and ethics and values to issues of mutliculturalism and diversity in order to prepare students for lifelong learning and serving a global community.


COURSE TEXTBOOKS: (1) Environmental Psychology, Bell, Greene, Fisher, & Baum, 2001. Thompson-Wadsworth. & (2) Mapping Murder, Canter, 2003. Virgin Books.


ACADEMIC HONESTY: “Academic Honesty is required of all members of a learning community.  Hence, Park will not tolerate cheating or plagiarism on tests, examinations, papers or other course assignments.  Students who engage in such dishonesty may be given failing grades or expelled from Park.”


PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism—the appropriation or imitation of the language or ideas of another person and presenting them as one’s original work—sometimes occurs through carelessness or ignorance.  Students who are uncertain about proper documentation of sources should consult their instructors.”


ATTENDANCE POLICY: Instructors are required to keep attendance records and report absences.  The instructor may excuse absences for cogent reasons, but missed work must be made up within the term of enrollment.  Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.  In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of “F”.  An Incomplete will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.  Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance (TA) or Veterans Administration (VA) educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.  Reports of F grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for students receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned above will be reported to the appropriate agency.


LATE SUBMISSION OF COURSE MATERIALS: The instructor will not accept assignments late.  Assignments not submitted on the due date will receive a grade of “zero” (Discussion questions) or as indicated below. 



1. To assess the students’ achievement of Course Objective #1.  Performance on the essay exams and objective, multiple-choice examinations that test their knowledge of these contents will be evaluated.

2. To assess the students’ achievement of Course Objective #2 (to apply analytical and critical thinking as well as and ethics and values …”, students’ resolutions to the Weekly Discussions on these topics will be evaluated.  Each Weekly Discussion Question that students submit is worth 5 points.

3. To assess students’ achievement of Course Objective #3 (to understand and apply the principles of scientific inquiry …, students’ term papers will be evaluated.  The report should be written according the American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual (5e) and submitted via email as a Microsoft Word document.  (See handout for the exact specifications and form for this assignment.) The research reports will be worth a maximum of 100 points and will be scored by the instructor as follows: written proposal = 20 points, written report = 50 points, oral presentation = 30 points.

4. To assess student’s achievement  of Course Objective #4 (to apply the literacies of analytical and critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and ethics and values to issues of mutliculturalism and diversity in order to prepare students for lifelong learning and serving a global community), students’ performance on specific Discussions that directly address these issues will be evaluated.



1. Computers make writing and revising much easier and more productive.  Students must recognize though that technology can also cause problems.  Printers run out of ink and hard drive crash, emails bounce back, and servers go down.  Students must be responsible for planning ahead and meeting deadlines in spite of technology.  Be sure to save copies of your work to disk, hard drive, and print out paper copies for backup purposes.  Make sure your email account saves copies of all sent mail so you’ll have a time-stamped copy of each question you submit, so you can re-send it in case of email failure.

2. The instructor reserves the right to assign student seating as he deems necessary. 

3. Students who arrive late should sit only in the seats designated by the instructor for ‘late arrivals and early departures.”  Remember: those who arrive after their names have been called will be counted as absent.  No one may start to take an exam after the first person is finished and leaves the room.

4. Students who have a serious reason for needing to leave class early must obtain permission from the instructor and sit in one of the late arrival/early departure seats, so as to minimize disruption of the class’s lectures, discussions, or presentations.

5. Make-ups for exams will be given only to those who have notified the instructor BEFORE the regularly scheduled time for that exam.

6. A university must be first and foremost, a place for the free and frank exchange of ideas.  The pursuit of academic excellence can only take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  We all have the right to use logic and evidence to disagree with each other’s positions, but none of us has the right to make derogatory or harassing statements or actions against any other member of this class.  The only thing I will not tolerate in this class is intolerance or disrespect for others.


DISABILITY GUIDELINES: Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance.  These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal.  It is Park University’s policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities and, to the extent of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply.  Additional information concerning Park University’s policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page:


COURSE TOPICS/DATES/ASSIGNMENTS: The Instructor reserves the right to amend this schedule and course policies at his discretion based on the progress of the course and the needs of the students.

The general procedure: On Mondays and Wednesdays we will have group discussions on the reading assignments in the Bell et al. Environmental Psychology textbook.  Fridays will be devoted to Canter’s Mapping Murder.

WEEKLY DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  In general, on Mondays (see schedule, below) you should turn in a Discussion Question based on either this week’s reading assignment.  You should (1) email the question to by 8:00 a.m., and (2) bring a hard copy with you to class.  These should be questions for discussion, not True/False or Multiple Choice.  There should not be a correct answer.  Rather, they should be questions about current events, or important ethical issues.  Each question must be typed on a full sheet of paper with the Heading “Question # (insert appropriate Week #)”.  Questions with spelling or grammatical errors will receive a grade of zero (0) – Use spell-check.  The question must show the page number in that day’s reading assignment where the relevant theory and/or research findings are discussed.  There is no way to “make-up” one of these questions.

Form for Weekly Questions:

Your Name. Environmental Psychology, Text, Author Chapter #.  page number. Your Question.

For example: 

Joe Parkite.  Environmental Psychology, Bell Chapter1.  p. 3.  “Bell’s text notes certain characteristics of urban environments that are associated with crime.  Kansas City has some neighborhoods that are notorious for high crime rates.  Name one high crime neighborhood in the KC Metro area. What characteristics of the physical environment of this neighborhood lead to high crime rates?  What changes in the neighborhood’s physical environment could be made to make this neighborhood safer?” 

In general, these weekly discussion questions are due at the beginning of class on Mondays.  This is to encourage you to read the assignments before you come to class.  These questions will be read in class to encourage class discussion.

On Fridays, we will view and discuss David Canter’s Mapping Murder, to focus on how Dr. Canter applies the principles of environmental psychology to catch criminals. During the first part of the semester, we will view the video program. During the second half of the semester, we will read and discuss the book, Mapping Murder.

The exams will cover each of the chapters that have been assigned since the previous exam, plus lectures, discussions, videos, etc.  Each exam will consist of a one-page essay in which students will be asked to demonstrate their ability to comprehend, integrate and apply of the theories, principles and empirical findings discussed in that week’s assignments. Grammar, spelling, and penmanship count! For example, how do the basic principles in the Bell et al. text relate to the specific cases and investigative techniques applied in Mapping Murder

Term paper and in-class presentations.  We will be covering Bell, Chapters 1-4, and 6-10, and all of Canter’s television series and book.  During the second week of classes, each student will choose topic for a term paper on some topic in Environmental Psychology.  These will be presented in class on the last week of the semester.  You should prepare (1) a one-page summary to hand out in class, (2) a PowerPoint presentation to guide your presentation (about 8 slides, approximately 10 minutes), and (3) a term paper (10 pages, APA Publication Style, at least 5 references other than the Bell or Canter texts) on that topic.  The proposal is worth 20 points, the presentation is worth 30 points, the written paper is worth another 50 points.








Aug. 23 – Aug. 27

Mon.: Introductions, Syllabus, etc.

Wed.: Bell, Chapter 1. Question-Bell Chapter 1 is Due.

Fri.: Canter, Episode 1.


Aug. 30 – Sept. 3

Mon.: Bell, Chapter 2. Question-Bell Chapter 2 Due.

Wed.: Bell, Chapter 2.  

Fri.: Canter, Episode 2.


Sept. 6 – Sept. 10

Mon. No Class (Labor Day).  

Wednesday: Bell, Chapter 3. Question-Bell Chapter 3 Due.

Fri.: Canter, Episode 3.


Sept. 13 – Sept. 17

Mon.: Bell et al. Chapter 4. Question-Bell Chapter 4 Due.

Wed.: Bell et al. Chapter 4.

Fri.: Canter, Episode 4.  Term paper outlines are Due Friday, Sept. 17.


Sept. 20 – Sept. 24

Mon.: Exam 1 (Bell, Chapters 1-4, Canter, Episodes 1-4, class discussions, etc.).

Wed.: Bell, et al., Chapter 6. Question Bell, Chapter 6 Due.

Friday: Canter, Episode 5.


Sept. 27 – Oct. 1

Mon.: Bell, et al., Chapter 7. Question Bell, Chapter 7 Due.

Wed.: Bell, et al., Chapter 7.

Fri.: Canter, Episode 6.


Oct. 4 – Oct. 8

Mon.: Bell, et al. Chapter 8 Question Bell, Chapter 8 Due.

Wed.: Bell et al. Chapter 8.

Fri.: Bell et al. Chapter 8.


Oct. 11 – Oct. 15

Mon.: Catch up, Review for Exam 2.

Wed.: EXAM 2 (Bell, Chapters 6-8, Canter, Episodes 4-6, discussions).

Fri.: Individual consultations re: term papers.


Oct. 18 – Oct. 22



Oct. 25 – Oct. 29

Mon.: Bell Chapter 9.

Wed.: Bell, Chapter 9. Question Bell Chapter 9.

Fri.: Bell, Chapter 9.


Nov. 1 – Nov. 5

Mon.: Bell, Chapter 10. Question, Bell Chapter 10 is Due.

Wed.: Bell, Chapter 10.

Frid.: Bell, Chapter 10.


Nov. 8 – Nov. 12

Mon.: Canter, Chapters 1-4. Question Canter Chapters 1-4.

Wed.: Canter, Chapters 1-4.

Fri.: Canter, Chapters 1-4.


Nov. 15 – Nov. 19

Mon.: Canter, Chapters 5-7. Question Canter Chapters 5-7.

Wed.:  Canter, Chapters 5-7.

Fri.: Canter, Chapters 8-11.


Nov. 22 – Nov. 24

Mon.: Canter, Chapters 8-11. Question Canter Chapters 8-11.

Wed.: Exam 3 (Bell, Chapters 9, 10 & Canter, Chapters 1-11).

No Classes Thursday or Friday (Thanksgiving break).


Nov. 29 – Dec. 3

Mon.: Canter, Chapter 12-17. Question Canter Chapters 12-17.

Wed.: Canter, Chapter 12-17.

Fri.: Canter, Chapter 18-22.


Dec. 6 – Dec. 10

Mon.: Canter, Chapters 18-22. Question Canter Chapters 18-22.

Wed.: Student presentations.

Fri.: Student presentations.


Dec. 13 – Dec. 19

Exam 4 is the FINAL EXAM (The Final Exam in this class is NOT Comprehensive.  It only covers Chapters 12-22 Lectures, videos, etc. that have occurred since exam 3).  The Final Exam for this class is scheduled for Wed. Dec. 15, 8:00 a.m. (Note: No one may start the exam after the first person has finished, so don’t be late!)



Discussion Questions: 14 @ 5 points (minus your 2 lowest scores)  =  60 points.

              Exams: 4 @ 50 points = 200 points.

Term paper: 1 @ 50 points (20 points for proposal, 30 for paper itself) = 50 points.

In-Class Presentation = 50 points

Total Points = 360 points.



360 – 324        A

323 – 288        B

287 – 252        C

251 - 216         D

215 – 0            F

Note: Grades will not be rounded. 288 points is a “B”, but 287 points is a “C”.  I have to draw the line somewhere, so I’m doing it now and telling you in advance.  This will not change.  Please don’t ask.


Behavioral Contract: I, the undersigned, have read the policies and rules stated in this syllabus and agree to abide by them.



_______________________  __________________________  _____ - __ - ______.  __________________.

Signature                                  Name (Please Print)                       month-day-year           Park U. Student Id #