PEX Human Behavior

GenEd Human Behavior courses address the relationships between individuals and
communities. Courses may focus on the relationship between individuals and communities in general or may engage those relationships from specific perspectives (such as art, music,
education, religion, economics, politics or education), or look at them within specific themes
(such as food & eating, crime, crisis, sexuality, adolescence).

Human Behavior courses are intended to teach students how to:

  • Understand relationships between individuals and communities;
  • Understand theories or explanations of human behavior used to describe social phenomena;
  • Examine the development of individuals’ beliefs, behaviors, and assumptions and how these affect individuals and communities;
  • Apply one disciplinary method to understand human behavior or explain social phenomena;
  • Access and analyze materials related to individuals, communities or social phenomena; and
  • Compare and contrast similar social phenomena across individuals or communities.


Criminal Behavior

Although we like to think differently, committing crime is an extremely common human behavior. From the extremes of armed robbery or serial murder to the ordinary failure to declare Income on tax returns or the tendency to speed on the highway, nearly everyone has broken the law and committed a crime at some point. Considering physiological, psychological and pharmacological factors, we explore the influences of family, peers and the effects of alcohol and drugs on the incidence of criminal behavior. And we examine how the urban and social environment encourages (or inhibits) opportunities to commit crime.

Disability Identity

Odds are that each of us will encounter disability at some point in our lives, either directly or indirectly through family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. What is it like to live with a disability, and how does disability intersect with other aspects of personal identity, like gender, race and culture? Is disability socially and culturally defined? Join us as we examine historical perspectives of disability marked by fear and discrimination and fueled by media portrayals. We will then explore most recent indicators of personal, social, and environmental change that support disability identity and result in a more accommodating environment for us all.

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Using an interdisciplinary approach that looks at the theory of emotional intelligence and the leadership process in diverse personal, cultural, political, and business contexts, you will enhance your own leadership capacity. Develop conceptual thinking, self-awareness, self-management, personal motivation, social skills, and your capacity for empathy within a globalized and interconnected world. Engage in personal reflections, class discussions, small group experiential activities, and collaborate on a case study project as you observe and interview Philadelphia community leaders.

Guerrilla Altruism

According to the UN, more than one billion people do not have adequate shelter and more than 100 million people live in conditions classified as homeless. More than two billion people do not have access to safe drinking water or sanitation, including 400 million children. Almost four thousand of these children will die every day as a result. This course invites you to change these statistics. We will look to renowned thinkers and makers, strategists and guerrillas who have used grassroots strategies to help underrepresented populations affect change, including: Adbusters (Kalle Lasn), Architecture for Humanity (Cameron Sinclair), Pierre Bourdieu, Design Corp, Che Guevara, Michel Foucault, Heavy Trash, Jersey Devils, Kick Start International, Light (Jae Cha), Mad Housers, Carlos Marighella, and Rural Studios (Samuel Mockbee). You will use this research to realize a small-scale project, movement or intervention to aid a disadvantaged person or community group around Temple University, creatively offering your distinct talents to those who need them most.

Interpersonal Communication

In a reflective, supportive environment, enhance your ability to develop successful interpersonal communication with your family, friends and work colleagues. Assess your own communication skills, develop and set personal goals and an action plan to create the change you wish to see. Investigate how interpersonal communication needs and effectiveness change throughout life, from early childhood, to adolescence, through young adulthood, middle age, and old age. There will be frequent small group discussions, and opportunities to learn through direct observation of real-life situations.

Kids, Community and Controversy

Why does Philadelphia have a dropout rate of roughly 50%? Why have students brought weapons to school and plotted to kill their classmates? Why, despite decades of progress in race relations, do schools remain largely segregated institutions? These questions are derived from three pressing social problems in American society that play out in our schools; high school dropouts, school violence, and segregation. Using these questions and the larger issues to which they are related, explore the multiple and often competing explanations for these and other social problems in American society. Learn about the search for creative solutions at the individual level as well as within our social structure. Guest speakers, observations within the Philadelphia school system, and analysis of films depicting these issues will enrich the course experience.

Language in Society

How did language come about? How many languages are there in the world? How do people co-exist in countries where there are two or more languages? How do babies develop language? Should all immigrants take a language test when applying for citizenship? Should English become an official language of the United States? In this course we will address these and many other questions, taking linguistic facts as a point of departure and considering their implications for our society. Through discussions and hands-on projects, students will learn how to collect, analyze, and interpret language data and how to make informed decisions about language and education policies as voters and community members.

Philosophy of the Human

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What is a human being? How do we become fully human, and how might that humanity be diminished or compromised? This course examines a range of answers to these questions from ancient, romantic, modern, postmodern, and postcolonial sources. Including the thought of Plato on the meaning of love, Emerson on our genius, Freud on our neuroses, and Fanon on our liberation, discussion turns to some of the most influential literary, historical, and cinematic treatments of the human condition as it appears in our own time.

The Photographic Image

Is there more to photography than that single “decisive moment” in the hunt and capture of an image? How do photographers comment on issues that are important to them? How can photographs tell a story? Is there a way one can use the art of photography to elicit change? We will look at photography in its historical context–at the advent of documentary photography and photojournalism, and at narrative photography in its more contemporary form, as photographers use it to chronicle their own lives. Through looking at and making—with your digital camera–photographic images, you will learn several core concepts of social work and human behavior theory. You will learn about the place photography holds in our culture, and about our culture itself, and your place in that culture. We will critically analyze published photographs, as well as photographs you and other students have made. The semester will culminate in a class exhibition.