Students Travel Abroad to Immerse Themselves in Psychology's History

Psychology professor Jerry Bockoven admits his “History and Systems” class may sound a little boring to students.

In fact, Bockoven calls it “death on a cracker boring” and encourages his students to get up and walk around the classroom if they start to feel sleepy during the three-hour course.

But for the past two summers, he has brought the class to life. Rather than read a textbook about the history of psychology and it’s contemporary schools of thought, students got their passports and boarded a plane for Dublin, Ireland and London, England so they could experience psychology’s history firsthand.

“The material was much easier to relate to after seeing it firsthand,” said senior Michaela Baker.

In fact, the once-boring class sounded so intriguing to Baker that she asked her mother and grandmother to join her.

“I thought it would be a cool experience for them too,” said Baker. “I wanted them to see the kind of doors that have been opened up for me here.”

The international field trip was Baker’s second opportunity to study abroad as a Nebraska Wesleyan student. She spent part of her sophomore year at the University of Tartu in Estonia. Her mother, grandmother and sister paid her a visit while there as well.

In Dublin, students took a walking tour of the city and visited Guinness Brewery, where the t-test — used to measure statistical significance — was invented. In London, students visited the home of Sigmund Freud and saw his infamous couch; toured a museum with a medicine man exhibit and saw the Galton Collection of scientific instruments, papers and personal memorabilia of Sir Frances Galton. They toured Stratford-upon-Avon, where William Shakespeare was born, raised and buried and enjoyed the old-fashioned English gardens of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. The London trip also included a Jack the Ripper walking tour to the sites where he killed his victims.

“The trip was not necessarily about the specific sites we visited, but about experiencing countries with so much history,” said Baker. “The history really speaks to you.”

The experience was a special opportunity to bond with family too, said Baker. Her grandmother has traced their family history to Ireland. And it was an opportunity for the family to travel abroad together.

“When I first came to Wesleyan, my mom and I tuned out the information about studying abroad,” she said. “I never thought it was something I would do but then some of my friends and I said we should look at the possibility.”

Following the nine day trip, students returned to the classroom for the more traditional lectures and textbook readings.

“We had the hands-on experiences so it definitely made class more interesting,” said Baker. “No one can take those kind of experiences away from you.”

 

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NWU students visited the home of Sigmund Freud and saw his infamous couch.
In Dublin, students visited Guinness Brewery where the t-test was developed.
Senior Michaela Baker and her mom tour St. Patrick's Cathedral in Ireland.
NWU students stop in front of Buckingham Palace while in London.
Michaela Baker was intrigued by the study abroad opportunity and asked her mother and grandmother to join her.