PSY 4906 Special Topics:

Consciousness Studies



Consciousness: An Introduction Susan Blackmore, Ph.D.

Course readings packet

One additional book from a list of suggested titles, or a book approved by instructor.



[Weekly 3-hour block] [Room that accommodates 30 students]



  1. Adopt a daily practice (to be approved by instructor and carried out for 10 consecutive weeks) aimed at enhancing your own consciousness. Sign contract, keep log and brief diary/journal and write a paper about your experience. (eg. any form of meditation, yoga which includes mental/spiritual practice, not simply physical exercise; self-hypnosis; bio or neurofeedback; HRV practice; light/sound machine entrainment; lucid dreaming, dreamwork etc.)
  2. Contribute extensively to class discussion on your field (ie. psychology, physics, religion etc.) and how it relates to consciousness literature/research.
  3. Present and write a literature review of one of the listed topics for class discussion.
  4. Write a book review of your chosen book and present to the class.
  5. Attendance and participation
  6. Choose 1:
    1. Take a final comprehensive essay exam given during finals week
    2. Conduct a relevant research project (pilot study acceptable) and write it in a style compatible for publication in a specific (identified) journal


Instructor: Barbara B. Welsch, DVM, Ph.D.

231 SHCC


This course will constitute a review of selected topics in the field of consciousness studies and research. It is expected to appeal to students from multiple disciplines including: psychology, sociology, physics, engineering, religion, philosphy, health and spirituality, and neuroscience, among others. STUDENTS WILL ASSUME MAJOR RESPONSIBILITY FOR INTRODUCING THE CLASS TO SELECTED TOPICS.


The fundamental aims of this course are:


1. To introduce students to the emerging panorama of consciousness studies:

Questions and History of Consciousness Studies

Epistemology: Variety of Current Paradigms, Frameworks

Theory: Survey of Main Hypotheses and Theories

Research: Review of Existing Methodologies and Findings

2. To stimulate constructive debate

3. To encourage consultation of existing literature and expertise on contemporary schools of thought and investigation

4. To facilitate original student contributions to the field, that may develop into a senior thesis or a journal publication.

5. To provide flexibility on choice of sub-topic to study in-depth.

6. To exercise scholarly thought, writing, and research (survey, bibliography, interviews, or experimental)

7. New ideas, non-conventional methods and paradigms, intriguing studies, and conflicting scientific observations inevitably lead students to refine and deepen their experience of the scientific spirit, inquiry, method, criticism, and responsible scientific speculation.

8. To challenge students to simultaneously employ a high degree of open-mindedness coupled with rational skepticism and logic .



General Education:

Social & Behavioral Sciences: 3

Humanities: 3

Gordon Rule: 6000 words (will be looked into as possibility)



Topics covered will, in part, be selected by the students enrolled in the class. The schedule below will be altered on a weekly basis as needed. Assignments will always be due when listed on this schedule, however.




Lecture & Discussion Themes

Assignments Due


The course; the enigma of consciousness; related problems; history



Knowledge; scientific method; epistemology: paradigms and frameworks

Contract for daily practice due


Neurobiology and neuropathology of consciousness

IRB form if research elected


Neurofeedback and lab

Final research plan if elected


Varieties of anomalous experiences



Survey of Anomalous Processes; Princeton Engineering Anomalies Lab



Animal consciousness?



Death & dying; hypotheses of survival after death



Near-Death experience; Out-of-Body Experience



Survey of meditative and other first person approaches



Interdisciplinary Implications of consciousness studies

Be fully prepared to discuss your field


Healing, spiritual healing, prayer, distant healing and shamanism



Sleep, dreams, and lucid dreaming



Bioenergy and consciousness

Daily practice paper due


Does the heart have a mind? HRV lab.

Book review due


Presentations of projects, practices, and literature reviews

Literature review paper due

Finals week


Final essay exam if elected;