Undergraduate Courses

Psychology 510: Critical Issues in Child Psychopathology
Course Type: Undergraduate depth (typical enrollment: ~125)
Instructor: Professor James Li
Requisites: Psych 405 or 460 (or Psych 509 or 560 prior to Fall 2017)
Course Credits: 4 credits
Normally taught: Every fall semester

This course provides an introduction to the scientific study of child psychopathology. Students will not only learn about the basic phenomenology and treatments for the most common mental disorders of childhood, but they will also have the opportunity to disentangle some of the more controversial issues in the field. For instance, what factors have led to the rise in ADHD diagnosis in this country, and around the world? What are evidenced-based treatments, and why aren’t they more widely used in mental health settings? We will use a variety of learning approaches (e.g., demonstrations of evidenced-based treatments for children and families, debates and discussions, guest lectures) to help students appreciate the challenges inherent in the study (and treatment) of child psychopathology.

Psychology 601: Nature and Nurture of Mental Illness
Course Type: Undergraduate capstone (typical enrollment: ~25)
Instructor: Professor James Li
Requisites: Psych 225 and Psych 285
Course Credits: 3 credits
Normally Taught: Every spring semester

What’s more important: genes or how you were raised? The question of nature versus nurture has been debated for centuries and has often ignited heated debates and controversies. Today, the issue is no longer a question of nature versus nurture (nearly all experts agree that both are important) but has shifted to: how does nature interact with nurture? For instance, how do your genes affect the way you respond to stressful life events? If a disorder is highly heritable (e.g., schizophrenia), what can we do to prevent its course for happening? Answers to these questions will have profound implications on public policies and mental health treatments down the line. In this capstone course, you will learn about how genes and environments interact to make us who we are by following the journey of Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, identical twins who were separated at birth and met for the first time as adults. Using their stories as backdrops, you will learn more about how genes and environment independently and interactive influence the development of major mental illnesses. You will be exposed to perspectives and methods from across disciplines, including philosophy, sociology, epidemiology, medicine, and psychology, to learn about how modern advances in genetics have led to a promising future for mental health, but one that is also fraught with ethical dilemmas and potentially perilous repercussions.

Graduate Courses

Psychology 740: Developmental Psychopathology
Course Type: Graduate only (typical enrollment: ~8)
Instructor(s): Professor James Li
Requisites: Consent of instructor
Normally Taught: Even year spring semesters

The objective of this seminar is to introduce the history, theories and concepts, research methods, and clinical applications of the developmental psychopathology perspective. Note that this course will focus primarily on how the developmental psychopathology perspective informs our understanding of the etiology, assessment and treatment of child and adolescent psychological disorders. A separate course in this series (PSY 741) focuses on adult psychopathology.