The goal of this project was to develop an integrative activity tracing the influence of William James’s ideas as articulated in The Principles of Psychology on contemporary psychological theory and research. This activity involved students from the Fall 2010 History, Systems, and Theories (PS 230) class at Moravian College working in pairs doing critical reading and writing on historical ideas, as well as library and Internet-based research. The project goal was to create and launch a web site aimed at elucidating the influence of James’s ideas within contemporary psychology.
Each pair of students selected one chapter from Psychology: The Briefer Course (an 18 chapter condensed version of the monumental Principles that James himself prepared). They then wrote a brief description of their chapter’s topic explaining James’s argument(s) regarding the topic, describing relevant behaviors in everyday terms, and indicating the importance of the topic to psychology. Following the chapter descriptions, the students appended a selective annotated bibliography of relevant sources, many of which demonstrate either direct or arguable connections to Jamesian ideas as portrayed in The Briefer Course. Visitors to this web site may be interested is learning how James’s ideas on consciousness, habit, will, and other psychological ideas have evolved across time.
I wanted to create a more engaging and integrative pedagogical activity that involved students across the duration of the History, Systems, and Theories course—one that allowed them to work together towards a final group project, a web site that can help other students and faculty interested in the impact of James’s ideas.
I am grateful to Moravian College’s Committee for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) for funding the development of this project in Summer 2010. I am also grateful to my students for undertaking the work necessary to bring the William James Project to fruition.
Dana S. Dunn, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
William James Project Participants – Fall 2010