Teaching

I teach courses on evolutionary psychology, critical thinking, critical issues in psychology, and philosophy & sociology of science. I typically teach four courses per year (2-2 load), some of which are in psychology and some of which are in the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts & Science program (to which I am cross-appointed). Syllabi for the courses in my current course rotation are available by clicking on the course names.

PSYC*3100 Evolutionary Psychology: this is a large lecture-based course which first introduces the tenets of evolutionary theory, and then applies them to a number of topics including kinship, non-kin cooperation, conflict, mating, parenting, personality, and cultural evolution. For the “toolbox” lectures at the start, I have gone “back to the blackboard” instead of using PowerPoint, and this has received many positive comments from students. I am very demanding, but students always say it’s a fun course.

PSYC*3000 Historical and Critical Perspectives on Psychology: this is a discussion-based course on historical issues in psychology and on critical issues that continue to apply today. In addition to covering major historical schools of thought, we cover such topics as universality vs. generalizability, nature-nurture interactions, determinism and free will, philosophy of science, behavioural algorithms, science & politics, and applying psychological knowledge. This course has a heavy emphasis on participation, critical thinking, and creativity.

ASCI*1120 Society & Inquiry II: this lecture-based course is part of the Arts & Science program core. In it, we examine how we know what we know, and what social and psychological forces cause us to sometimes believe things that are not correct. It incorporates philosophy of science and the sociology of science, and it functions very much as a course in bullshit detection, um, I mean critical thinking.

ASCI*4010 BAS Honours Research Seminar: this functions as the thesis course for students in the Arts & Science program. Under my supervision, students research and write a 10,000 word paper that integrates their two areas of focus (i.e., a natural science and an arts/humanities/social science). We also explicitly focus on skill-building, including how to conduct research, write effectively, and present both orally and with academic posters. Yes, this does mean that I function as a supervisor for more than a dozen thesis students on topics ranging from food addiction to youth criminality to the depiction of the environment in sci-fi stories to the Catholic Counter-Reformation. I think I learn almost as much as the students do.

ASCI*4020 (or 4030) Topics in Arts & Sciences Research (“Implications of Darwinism”): this course is different for every professor who teaches it. I teach it as a fourth-year discussion-based seminar on Implications of Darwinism. First, I cover the basics of evolution by natural selection, a gene’s eye perspective, nature-nurture interactions, and non-human behaviour. Then, students research and lead discussions on topics of their choice, including but not limited to Darwinian medicine, morality, memes, cultural evolution, male-female interactions, art & aesthetics, sustainability & overpopulation, misuses of evolution, and Darwin & God. Lots of fun, with heavy emphasis on participation, critical thinking, and creativity.

I also supervise a number of independent studies, including psychology honours theses (parts 1 & 2) and 3rd– and 4th-year projects in psychology and 3rd– and 4th-year projects in Arts & Science. Previous topics include moral condemnation, political polarization, derogation of “do-gooders”, fairness at different stakes, the effects of eye images on generosity, the long-term effects of punishment, risk-taking, conformity, emotional expression, fertility rates across countries, and perceptions of environmental scenes. Please see my lab page for information on my current and previous graduate students.