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?
By Thomas V. McGovern
PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(4)