Psy 4930- Special Topics

Consciousness Studies

Mondays 1:55 – 4:55 (periods 7-9)

Flint Hall 117


Barbara B. Welsch, DVM, Ph.D.

Staff psychologist, Student Health Care Center, UAA, and College of Veterinary Medicine

Office: 231 SHCC (Infirmary, 2nd Floor); 392-1171


Office Hours: by prior arrangement M 10-12 and F 1-3 (or whenever my office door is OPEN; please do not knock if door is closed). I am not at SHCC on Wed. afternoon OR Thursday morning.


Purpose: this course will constitute a review of selected topics in the recently energized field of consciousness studies and research.  It is expected to appeal to students from multiple disciplines including (but not limited to) psychology, sociology, engineering, religion, philosophy, health and spirituality, pre-medicine, and neuroscience among others.  STUDENTS WILL ASSUME MAJOR RESPONSIBILITY (VIA SELECTIONS OF BOOKS THEY WILL READ) FOR INTRODUCING THEMSELVES TO A MORE COMPLETE OVER OF THIS BROAD FIELD THAN POSSIBLE DURING CLASS TIME, AND MANY WILL ASSUME SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR INTRODUCING THE CLASS TO SELECTED TOPICS NOT COVERED BY THE INSTRUCTOR OR GUEST LECTURERS.


Fundamental aims:

  1. To introduce students to the history and methods of consciousness study and research.
  2. To stimulate constructive debate
  3. To encourage consultation of the plethora of existing literature and expertise on contemporary schools of thought and investigation
  4. To facility original student contributions to the field
  5. To provide flexibility on choice of related discipline and subtopic to be studied in some depth
  6. To encourage students to exercise scholarly thought, writing, research and/or communication in the field
  7. To challenge student’s existing beliefs and mindsets, potentially producing discomfort and unease (with student’s prior understanding that this is likely to occur for them)
  8. To challenge students to simultaneously employ a high degree of open-mindedness which is coupled with rational skepticism and logic.


Course Grade:

NB:  ALL of the work which is handed in (with the obvious exception of in-class assignments) must be typed and must be free of your name.  Put your ID number on the reverse side of the last page. I prefer to grade papers with no bias as to the identity of the writer when this is possible (which is not always!).


A. 20%  Essay exam on the 2 texts you chose (see attachment), plus class material. Open

book, only 45 min. allotted. November 8 (later if necessitated by presence of guest lecturer)

B. 10%  Book report on the 3rd text you chose. Two to three  pages is adequate.  Include:

a.       Xerox copy of book cover (black/white or color)

b.      Short summary of what book was about

c.       Insightful information on how the book affected you personally in your study of consciousness, your “consciousness practice”, and/or your life.

C. 20%  The effort expended by you on your consciousness practice (see attachment), as

            well as the paper, log and diary you turn in.  The paper should include:

a.       Summary of what you did such that any reader could duplicate your practice

b.      Insightful information on how the practice affected your life and your understanding of consciousness

c.       A calendar log documenting the date and times (exact, eg. 3-3:30 pm) in which you did your practice.  This should be written in pen or pencil, NOT computer generated. Xerox calendar pages or print from Word or other program and write in the times.

d.      Include your journal/diary with notations about the practice each time you did it.  If it is quite personal and you prefer I do not read it, I will not, but I want to see it so that I know you kept a journal.

D. 20%  Attendance, class participation (including value of what you say in class and

            evaluation of your demeanor [do you appear interested, do you ‘hog’ discussion

            time, are you tolerant of and open to opposing opinions, are you courteous to

            guests], direction-following (ie. Did you put your name on a paper?,  and random,

            in-class assignments.

E. 30%    Choose only one:

a.       Class presentation (group or individual), time allotted to be determined by

number of students who choose this option; topic chosen from list (see

attachment- first through third choice guaranteed.)

b.      Literature review paper on the contributions of the area chosen to the field of

Consciousness Studies.  Should have extensive bibliography and be around 15 pp.  (first or second choice likely).

c.       Original research project written up in journal format.  Must be approved by instructor and possibly the IRB.

d.      Paper in which you defend a strongly held view of consciousness and willingness to participate in class debate on the issue if time allows.

e.       View movie “What the bleep do we know?” and give class presentation on what it was about; may be a group effort.  Submit paper regarding your feelings about this movie. (Requires trip to Orlando during the week of Sept. 16 or thereabouts. See internet site for description and for specific times/theater.)



*This course is sponsored by the University of Florida’s Center for Health and Spirituality through the cooperation of the Department of Psychology and The Student Health Care Center