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TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY I:
BACKGROUND AND CENTRAL CONCEPTS
This is an online graduate course I teach at Naropa University. A survey of transpersonal psychology, it is required for students in Naropa's low-residency MA program in Transpersonal Psychology. It is followed by a second semester course. While a one-semester course cannot cover the entire field of transpersonal psychology, this course is intended to introduce the fundamental orientation of the field, some of its main concepts and issues, and some of its high points.
TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY I:
BACKGROUND AND CENTRAL CONCEPTS
Course Number: PSYT 670e, section A
Department: Transpersonal Psychology / MATP
Title: Transpersonal Psychology I: Background and Central Concepts, 3 credits
Term and Year: Fall 2007
Instructor: John Davis, Ph.D.
Contact Info: 303-245-4654, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Location TCP Dept, Paramita Campus, Boulder Colorado
Time and Location of course: Online course
Extra Expense: Online technology fee is required to take this course.
METHODS OF INSTRUCTION
This course is delivered online. Weekly units open on Saturday mornings (except Week 1 which opens on Monday) and stay open the remainder of the semester. Most weeks include readings, lectures (in both written and audio formats), and threaded discussions. Discussions are based on readings, lectures, and contemplative exercises described in class. In three of the course’s weekly units, students submit papers online and discuss each others’ submissions online.
Students are expected to put in as much time for this online course as they would for a three-credit on-campus graduate course, i.e., an average of 9 hours per week. Percentage of total class time:
- 30% Readings
- 20% Lectures
- 50% Exercises and online discussions
This online course is the first of a two-course sequence, although it can stand alone. Transpersonal Psychology I introduces the central concepts, approaches, and practices of transpersonal psychology (TP). It includes examination and evaluation of the core themes of transpersonal psychology, its research methods, and its application in meditation, ritual, spiritual emergency, and ecopsychology.
The course is organized in four parts:
The context of TP (its assumptions and core themes, relationship to diversity and inclusivity, ways of knowing, and the dynamic between science and romanticism);
The content of TP (transpersonal states and experiences including peak experiences and spiritual emergency);
The process of TP (practices including meditation, nature-based practices, ritual, and council); and
Integration of the material.
By the end of the course, students will be able to define transpersonal psychology and describe its development, core themes, and examples of its theories and applications. As important as the definitions and theories, however, is the opportunity for direct exploration and experience of the subject matter. We will work to integrate these two threads of the course—the academic and the experiential—so they complement and further each other. Students are encouraged to approach this material with critical thinking, creativity, and self-reflection. Class formats include audio and written lectures, online and off-line readings, experiential exercises, online threaded discussions, and online sharing of written assignments.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Goal: This course introduces transpersonal psychology.
Objectives: Upon completing this class, students will be able to:
- Define transpersonal psychology and understand its basic concepts and themes;
- Identify and evaluate the importance of several dimensions of diversity in transpersonal psychology, including culture, ways of knowing, and definitions of health and pathology;
- Demonstrate a familiarity with issues in the relationship between transpersonal psychology and science, and think critically about these issues;
- Discuss and evaluate applications of transpersonal psychology in several areas including meditation, ritual, spiritual emergency, and ecopsychology;
- Integrate theoretical understanding of transpersonal psychology with moment-to-moment awareness and self-exploration;
- Demonstrate graduate-level writing skills, critical thinking, contemplation, and application of the class material.
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REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED READING
Selected articles and book chapters will be available online each week of the course. In addition to required readings, other readings will be recommended. Readings are posted online in the course for access by registered students. There are no required textbooks for this course.
Students are expected to participate fully in class exercises and threaded discussions. Grades are based on class participation and written work.
1. Participation. Class participation accounts for one-third of the grade. The primary requirement is making timely and thoughtful contributions to the threaded discussions each week.
2. Written Assignments. Three papers are designed to help students articulate, integrate and evaluate transpersonal concepts and practices. The combination of these papers accounts for two-thirds of the grade.
A. Definition of transpersonal psychology in your own words, due at the beginning of week 7. In your own words, and free of jargon, define transpersonal psychology. Imagine that you are communicating this to someone who is generally familiar with psychological theory or spiritual work but knows nothing about transpersonal psychology. Length: 400-600 words. This paper will be graded on its clarity, thoroughness, and accuracy. You will be asked to read the other papers in your discussion group that week and share feedback with each one, as well as commenting on feedback on your own paper. Use APA format.
B. Definition, evaluation, and application of transpersonal psychology, due at the beginning of week 14. In this paper, revise and deepen your definition of transpersonal psychology, evaluate transpersonal psychology, and add a discussion of a specific application of transpersonal psychology. Your evaluation should comment on the strengths, weaknesses, contributions, and needs in the field. For the application, choose a topic which meets three criteria: (1) it is relevant to transpersonal psychology, (2) it is important to you, and (3) we have not studied it in depth in the course. Show how transpersonal psychology contributes to a better understanding of this topic and how the topic might enhance transpersonal psychology. Excellent papers will give a clear and concise definition of transpersonal psychology and draw specific links between your definition and your application topic. They will also demonstrate a high level of critical and creative thinking by examining assumptions and implications within the application topic. Discussion of your own contemplation and personal relationship to the topic is strongly encouraged. Three to five references are recommended to help you discuss your application of transpersonal psychology. Good writing mechanics are important. Length: 800-1200 words. Again you will be asked to post your paper and comment. Use APA format.
C. Self-reflection paper. Due at the beginning of week 15. Reflect on your learning, growth, struggles, and process with the course and the material. Reflect on your understanding of the field of transpersonal psychology now and your personal relationship to it. You are encouraged to present both your on-going questions about transpersonal psychology and the fruits of your studies this semester. You are especially encouraged to reflect on how your understanding has changed through the semester. This paper is to be written in a journal style (not APA format), but it should still demonstrate graduate-level writing mechanics, thoughtfulness, clarity, and openness.
A point system is used to compute final grades. Use the Grading tool in the course website to track your progress.
Total possible = 100 points.
A = 93-100
B = 90-92
B+ = 87-89
B = 83-86
B- = 80-82
C = 79 or less (no credit)
Final grades in this course are based on four components (weekly participation, two definition papers, and a reflection paper).
Participation in the threaded discussions is worth a possible 45 points. Each week, your contributions to the discussions will be graded on a 0- to 3-point scale. Minimal participation, below expectations in depth or frequency, is worth 1 point; adequate participation at expectations for both depth and frequency is worth 2 points; exceptional participation beyond expectations for depth is worth 3 points. Your participation should demonstrate that you are engaging the material in a thoughtful and sincere way. The basic expectation is that you make at least two thoughtful posts each week, but you are encouraged to do more. As you get involved in certain discussions some weeks, you may make more posts.
Two definition papers are required in the course. Each paper is graded on a 20-point scale. Points will be assigned for accuracy, thoroughness, clarity, writing quality, and use of APA format. Papers that are late up to 2 days will be reduced by 2 points. Papers that are 3-4 days late will be reduced by 4 points. Papers more than 4 days late will be reduced by 6 points.
A self-reflection paper is due at the beginning of Week 15. It is worth a possible 15 points. Points will be assigned for a sense of personal engagement and sincere self-reflection, thoroughness, and clarity. Papers that are late up to 2 days will be reduced by 2 points. Papers that are 3-4 days late will be reduced by 4 points. Papers more than 4 days late will not be accepted, and a 0 will be given for this assignment.
To receive a grade of I/F (Incomplete), the student must complete the form, “Incomplete/Failure Student Faculty Contract,” available at www.naropa.edu/registrar. Present this to the instructor before the end of the course. This is to ensure that both students and instructors have clearly agreed to the incomplete, to demonstrate mutual agreement on due dates for the work to be completed, and so that the work left to complete is outlined. No grades of I/F will be given without this form.
Attendance in this online course is primarily in the threaded discussions each week. You should participate regularly. At a minimum, you should post a response in the weekly discussion by the end of Tuesdays and again by the end of Thursdays. However, I encourage you to participate more fully than this.
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PART I: CONTEXT
Unit 1 Introduction to the course; Overview of transpersonal psychology; Content, context, and process.
Unit 2 Definitions and core themes of transpersonal psychology; History and background of transpersonal psychology; Relationship of transpersonal psychology to the other approaches in psychology.
Unit 3 The key concepts in transpersonal psychology: ego-transcendence; nonduality; translation-transformation; reductionist and elevationist errors.
Unit 4 Diversity, inclusivity, and pluralism in transpersonal psychology: culture, states of consciousness, models of health, and ways of knowing.
Unit 5 Ways of knowing and research in transpersonal psychology: approaches and findings.
Unit 6 Science and romanticism in transpersonal psychology.
Unit 7 Paper One: Students’ definitions of transpersonal psychology.
PART II: CONTENT
Unit 8 Transpersonal states, peak experiences, mystical and shamanic states of consciousness.
Unit 9 Spiritual emergency and transpersonal psychotherapy.
PART III: PROCESS
Unit 10 The psychology of meditation: theory and research.
Unit 11 Transpersonal ecopsychology: psyche, nature, and spirit.
Unit 12 Ritual and council as transpersonal practices.
Unit 13 Discussion of transpersonal practices.
PART IV: INTEGRATION
Unit 14 Paper Two: Definition, evaluation, and application of transpersonal psychology.
Unit 15 Paper Three: Self-reflection. Course integration, reflection, evaluation, and closure.
THIS SYLLABUS IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. I will post any changes in the Announcements on the Course Home Page.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION. If you have any special needs that may require accommodations or if you will miss a class because of a religious holiday, please contact the instructor by the third week of class.
Naropa University will provide accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. To request an accommodation, or to discuss any learning needs you may have, contact the Office of Student Affairs. You may contact Bob Cillo, the Dean of Student Affairs, at 303-546-3506 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
ONLINE ETIQUETTE AND DECORUM
You are expected to treat others in the course with respect and openness. This respect includes room for disagreement and debate, and at the same time, calls each of us to listen deeply to different points of view. “Guidelines for Contemplative Discussion” are posted on the course’s website and are highly recommended for guidance. Confidentiality regarding all posts and discussions in the course is expected.
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