Undergraduate Courses

Mass Incarceration and Public Health (HSEM 2719V)*

Mass incarceration is one of the major public health challenges facing the United States. Each year, millions of people cycle through the criminal justice system. Justice-involved people experience far higher rates of chronic health problems, substance use, and mental illness than the general population. Further, our country's prisons and jails are often ill-equipped to handle these complex health conditions, perpetuating health inequities. Mass incarceration contributes to powerful health disparities in the United States, affecting the health of entire communities and across generations. This course will examine the intersections of mass incarceration and public health. We will explore individual and community-level health impacts of incarceration, with a focus on the relationship between mass incarceration and health disparities, particularly in communities of color. This course will consider specific populations at particularly high risk, including detained youth, pregnant incarcerated women, and the elderly. Students will have an opportunity to tour local correctional facilities and hear directly from experts in the field, including formerly incarcerated people.


* will be taught in Fall 2021

Incarceration and the Family (HSEM 3308V)

It is now estimated that more than 2.7 million children have a parent currently behind bars, and more than 5 million children have experienced a parent’s incarceration in their lifetime. When parents are incarcerated, there are collateral consequences for children, families, communities, and society. Children of incarcerated parents are at risk for a number of adverse outcomes, including behavior problems, academic difficulties, substance abuse, and criminal activity. As a liberal education course with an explicit focus on Diversity and Social Justice in the United States, we will use an interdisciplinary perspective to explore the issue of mass incarceration, focusing on the impact of incarceration on children and families. This class will include opportunities to visit local correctional facilities and engage with community-based programs serving families impacted by incarceration. Topics will include parent-child contact during incarceration, intersections between incarceration and child welfare, systemic disparities by race and class, and intergenerational cycles of incarceration.


Grand Challenges (GCC 3042/5042)

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have just 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners. Since 1970, the number of incarcerated persons in this country has increased by 700%. Of the 2.3 million people currently in prison or jail, however, just 6 percent have access to higher education. Indeed, contemporary higher education policy and infrastructure disregards incarcerated individuals as potential postsecondary students. Even as colleges and universities across the country champion diversity-driven and inclusivity-oriented mission statements, and look to create viable postsecondary pathways for systemically underserved students, only a handful include incarcerated and justice-impacted individuals in these efforts. The University of Minnesota is not currently among them. This course will explore the intersection of higher education and mass incarceration in the United States with a focus on the role of higher education in disrupting the collateral consequences of incarceration and justice involvement. In particular, we will examine the potential for the University of Minnesota to play a pivotal role in disrupting what we call the “ripple effect” of incarceration and justice involvement on individuals and communities in Minnesota. Students will have an opportunity to tour local correctional facilities and both hear from and present to experts in the field, including formerly incarcerated people.


Directed Research in Developmental Psychology (CPSY 4994)

Serve as a Research Assistant in an Institute of Child Development faculty lab. Help plan/implement/document scientific studies and gain experience in research methodology. Duties vary based on lab and faculty projects that term, and are individually arranged with corresponding faculty and lab representatives.

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Graduate Courses

Social and Emotional Development (CPSY 5303)

Course Summary: What are the roots of becoming who we are, as individuals in society? What roles do others –parents, siblings, peers, teachers, and communities -- play in the socialization of an individual, and how stable are the forces and outcomes of these influences? This course focuses on social development throughout the human lifespan, with an emphasis on how biology, culture, and relationships influence that development. Throughout this course, we will discuss how knowledge about social development can inform our interpretation of social issues and guide our reaction to them, in terms of behaviors, practices, and public policy. Among the many possible applications of social development, we focus in particular (but not exclusively) on positive psychology, widespread social problems such as poverty and social disparities, and prevention science. We emphasize individual differences in social development, and attend to the interplay between social development and cognition, learning, and biological development.