my life is a mess ~ Valerie

hey guys guess what?? I’m a political science and psychology double major now……….

Yes my Plan coming into college was to double major in sociology + women’s, gender and sexuality studies, but I shopped a sociology course the second day of classes and hated it. Since then I’ve decided I want to double major in psychology and WGSS, and then in psychology and political science, and for a while I was considering pysch and global affairs but now I’m back to pysch and polisci.

~

But anyway, at Yale we take completely different classes every semester, so I’ve decided to make this bl0g-about-the-classes-i’m-taking thing a semesterly thing:

Social Psychology

I love this class so much–in a nutshell, we learn about the social reasons for our attitudes and motivations and behavior. We go into all these different aspects of social psychology: why stereotypes exist, where morality comes from, how inaccurate our judgment of others can be, how easily we conform, how egotistical we all are, how our physical sensations affect psychological judgment, why we’re attracted to people (did you know that extremely superficial similarities like a shared birthday, or shared initials, increase how attracted you are to another person??). Every time I step out after lecture, I feel like I have the tools to pick apart the reasons I behave the way I do and become a lot more introspective.

Introduction to International Relations

ceebs to explain so here’s the course description:

“We will cover the basic visions of world politics yielded by each of the main theories in the scholarly field of International Relations, the causes and conduct of the two World Wars, the forces favoring peace among the great powers since 1945 (nuclear weapons, globalization, democratization, international institutions, evolving norms on the legitimate use of force), as well as key debates in contemporary world politics, including the North/South divide; peripheral wars, occupations, and counterinsurgency; the causes and consequences nuclear proliferation; the spread of democracy and its impact on world politics; the evolution of the Middle East and Arab Spring; the future of the European Union; and the evolution of civil wars. We conclude with a prospective analysis of the major challenges in world politics over the next few decades, such as the rise of China and climate change.”

TL;DR: we learn about theories of international politics (realism/liberalism/constructivism), causes and conduct of war, how to maintain peace, and key debates in world politics such as human rights, the EU, climate change, and the rise of China. We went through the causes and practices of World War I and World War II, and you’d think having gone through IB History that it would be a piece of cake, but we had to look at historical events through a whole different lens and analyze it with different frameworks hrciedjlkwchoiwljk it’s complicated but also super interesting. This was the class that made me interested in the Global Affairs major (SO MUCH INNER TURMOIL).

Globalizing Gender and Sexuality

“This course offers a framework for understanding debates about gender and sexuality that ‘go global’ as they cross borders, languages, and histories. Through readings, discussions and film screenings, we will consider the relationships—and disagreements—that characterize academic and activist work in transnational queer and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. The main themes to be considered in this seminar include: feminist critiques of liberal rights paradigms, the globalization of particular models of gender/queer advocacy, and the role of NGOs in global debates about gender and sexuality.”

THIS CLASS IS THE MOST FRUSTRATING BUT MIND-ENRICHING CLASS I’VE TAKEN. It took my perspective on working for international NGOs (which was my career goal) and completely turned it upside down. It’s a seminar, so there are about 15 of us. We do readings before class that go towards answering a framing question that we work through during discussions. Here are some framing questions we’ve had in past weeks:

  • How can and should we understand the potential relationship between globalization and gender and sexuality studies and feminist thought?
  • What openings and constraints are revealed when thinking across borders (conceptual, disciplinary, national, linguistic etc.)?
  • How can and should the paradox of rights inform scholarship on gender and sexuality?

It’s essentially an everything-is-problematic-and-there’s-little-we-can-do class, and it’s always challenging thinking about how to make things less problematic and white savior-y but balancing that with making a real, tangible impact. I love it.

Religion and Politics

I’m getting really ceebs so here’s the course description again:

“This lecture is a systematic, historically grounded, and comparative investigation of religion and politics focusing on the world’s two major religions, Christianity and Islam, with occasional comparisons to other religions. “Historically grounded” does not mean years and events, but a long-term civilizational perspective that enables one to think about religion and politics in a deeper fashion than most dinner table discussions about the topic, and to spot patterns and identify underlying principles. To this end, the course will trace the less obvious and often counterintuitive ways in which religion and politics interact, build some basic bridges from the past to the present, identify recurring patterns and principles across denominations and religions, and equip you with an analytical toolkit to continue exploring these connections in the future. Questions we will investigate include:

  1. Is God Dead, or is the 21st century God’s Century? Does the significance of religion decline, as the secularization paradigm implies? Or, does it increase, as a result of an intensifying “clash of civilizations” between Christian and Islamic societies?
  2. Are religion and democracy compatible? What is the proper role of religiously motivated participation in modern democracies? How have different religions and denominations understood this role? What happens if religious liberty and freedom of thought are in conflict? What if religious beliefs and democratic values are at odds?
  3. How have societies defined the spheres of the sacred and the secular? Is the American principle of a Wall of Separation between church and state (and, implicitly and explicitly, the free exercise of religion for all) exceptional? Why is there so much variation in state-church/mosque regimes?
  4. How does religion affect political and economic development? How does religion shape public policies such as the welfare state, marriage and divorce law, and the regulation of abortion?”

the course description really does this course justice so I’m not going to explain further

Women in Modern America

“This course examines recent U.S. women’s and gender history with a focus on social, cultural, political, and economic developments. Themes include the changing meanings of femininity, masculinity, sex, gender, and sexuality; the intersections of class, race, ethnicity, and gender; women’s labor in industrial and postindustrial economies; women’s participation in politics and social movements; trends in sexual expression, gender presentation, reproduction, and family formation; and feminist and other gender-equity movements.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve exclaimed ‘I LOVE THIS COURSE’ in this blog post but I honestly fucking love this course too. Being a feminist without knowing enough feminist history is kind of substance-less and I genuinely think this course has added a lot to my life. It feels so important to learn about women in the past who have dedicated their lives to shaping the world into what it is today, and to understand the degree to which women’s positions in today’s society are shaped by history.

~

I highly doubt anyone got to the end of this post; I just wrote it so I’ll have something to look back on. ANYWAY. All my classes are amazing and once again, as messy as changing majors every time I blink gets, and as uncertain as I still am about what my career path is going to look like, I still feel so unbelievably lucky that I have three more years and an endless variety of classes I still get to take.

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