Every person is unique, yet we all face similar questions when it comes to human behavior. What makes for a happy life? How do friendships and romantic attraction work? What are the best ways to address violence, prejudice, climate change, and other social problems? In a course designed especially for Semester at Sea, we’ll explore these and other questions through a cross-cultural introduction to classic and contemporary social psychology: the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. For example, we’ll cover topics such as decision making, persuasion, group behavior, personal attraction, and life satisfaction. Throughout the semester, our focus will be on surprising, entertaining, and intriguing research findings that are easy to apply in daily life. As part of this focus, several assignments will encourage you to experiment with your life, observe the results, and analyze what took place. The course will also consider the role of culture in shaping human behavior and will include opportunities to integrate your cultural experiences off the ship with topics discussed in class.
Field WorkCountry: Vietnam
Date: February 8, 2018
The Vietnam War—known as the "American War" in Vietnam—took the lives of 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese people. How are peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness possible after so much killing, and what can we learn from the Vietnam War today? To explore these questions, we'll begin with a behind-the-scenes tour of the War Remnants Museum (one of the most frequently visited museums in Vietnam) and view the Vietnam War from the perspective of people critical of the United States and its allies. In the words of LonelyPlanet.com, "There are few museums in the world that drive home so well the point that war is horribly brutal and that many of its victims are civilians." After visiting the museum, we will watch an excerpt of the 2017 PBS documentary series The Vietnam War and discuss the war with Ho Dang Hoa (Vietnamese co-producer of the documentary) and Ivan Tankushev (director of an award-winning documentary on the effects of agent orange). Following this film screening and discussion, our group will have a private dinner at acclaimed Hum Vegetarian Café and Restaurant. Throughout the field class we'll examine the psychological dimensions of forgiveness and reconciliation, not only in an extreme case such as the Vietnam War, but in day-to-day conflicts that all of us experience.
1. Learn about the Vietnam War from the perspective of Vietnamese people
2. Examine the psychology of forgiveness and reconciliation using the Vietnam War as a case study
3. Apply insights about forgiveness and reconciliation to domains other than the Vietnam War