Reviewed Books & Films

« Drug Companies, Developing Countries, and Psychiatric Neocolonialism | Main | Does Forensic Science Lack a Scientific Basis? »

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Psychology Among the Liberal Arts and Sciences


In textbooks and classrooms psychologists proclaim our discipline’s standing as a science. In his review of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, Tom McGovern asks whether psychology could “become a ‘hub discipline’ in undergraduate education in the [liberal] arts and sciences” (para. 7). I understand the liberal arts to be the humanities disciplines including literature, history, and philosophy. As a “hub discipline” then, Michael Roth (book author) “affirms the scientific paradigms of critical inquiry in tandem with the wider narratives of human interdependence created by arts and humanities scholars” (para. 8). McGovern’s (2007) own work in multicultural life narratives is an exemplar of this paradigm.

Except for the History of Psychology course and sporadically offered special topics courses, it is unusual to find the humanities explicitly represented in psychology curricula. There is no shortage of material in the psychology literature from which to draw to present psychology as a humanity (Korn, 1985). Perhaps a stronger link to the humanities would be seen as weakening psychology’s status as a science, which would in turn lead to lower academic standing.

If we can put status seeking aside, how could we make this stronger humanities link? Two possibilities come to mind: one, recognition in textbooks of psychology’s “hub discipline” position; two, acceptance of thesis topics based in literature and philosophy. What are some others, or should we discourage this sort of thing?


Korn, J. H. (1985). Psychology as a humanity. Teaching of Psychology, 12, 188-193.

McGovern, T. V. (2007). Memory’s stories: Multidisciplinary readings of multicultural life narratives. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Read the Review
ReviewWhat Can I Do With a Degree in . . .?
By Thomas V. McGovern
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(4)


Tom McGovern

Welcome to a conversation about the psychology curriculum, the most recent APA Guidelines for the major that Jane Halonen and our colleagues composed, and liberal education's long history and tradition.

My thanks to Jim Korn for asking me to review Michael Roth's thought-provoking text and launching this blog. I can still remember reading his ToP piece back in the "last century". ; > )

And thanks to Bill Buskist for widening the circle of possible interest in adding some ideas to the interaction.

Tom McGovern

The comments to this entry are closed.

Note: We are experiencing issues with legitimate comments sometimes being marked as spam by the system. If you post a comment and are wondering why it isn't showing up right away, please know we are checking the spam filter frequently and will publish your comment as needed.

Thanks for your comment, and for your patience as we work on this issue.

Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

Related Links

Bookmark and Share

Send Feedback

rss Subscribe to the Blog

rss Subscribe via FeedBurner

Subscribe to Blog Updates via Email Here…