Behavioural Studies as a humanistic alternative to APS accredited Psychology courses: Escaping the Skinner box

Year: 2003

Author: Hasen, Maurie, Collins, Francesca

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper reviews the establishment of the Behavioural Studies discipline at Monash University as a scholarly alternative to traditional Australian Psychological Society accredited university Psychology courses. Starting out in 1998 with two first year subjects offered as alternatives to Introductory Psychology, Behavioural Studies has grown into a discipline in its own right having generated sufficient student demand for 10 subjects to be run on three campuses, attracting over 1000 enrolments annually. Administered through the Faculty of Arts, Behavioural Studies shares many subject areas with, but is independent of, the science-based Psychology discipline. The disciplines can be seen as differing in two important ways: while Behavioural Studies promotes a humanistic approach to the study of the mind and its content is driven by staff interest and student demand, the traditional Psychology discipline promotes a predominantly scientific approach and its content is prescribed by the Australian Psychological Society. Given these differences, the two disciplines should be seen as complementary rather than in competition with one another for enrolments. The authors conclude that the evolution of the academic teaching of psychology has created space for a humanistic approach to the study of the mind and that this has been eagerly received by students.