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NSLC College Credit Program        School of International Service

NSLC College Credit Program        School of International Service
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016-8071

NSLC Program—Psychology and Neuroscience

Course for Program at American University: Topics in Psychology and Neuroscience (1 credit)

Course Description: Students interested in medicine, the behavioral sciences, or life sciences will learn how the structure and function of the nervous system relates to human memory, learning, emotions, and sensations;and how psychologists understand normal and abnormal behaviors in terms of these processes. Over the last twenty years, knowledge of the brain has been greatly enhanced by the development of new neuroscience tools and techniques to examine neuroanatomy, neuropharmacology, and neurophysiology. Students will see how to interpret results of brain imaging and neuropsychological tests, which are used to probe the functioning of the human brain in both normal and abnormal states. Students will also learn about the value of animal models to understanding brain structure and function. They will dissect the brain and spinal cord of sheep;and study the structure of nerve cells (neurons) and nerve pathways that connect our extremities to the central nervous system via the peripheral nervous system. The neurons of these systems are able to conduct signals based both on electrical current and chemically-mediated neurotransmitter-receptor mechanisms. Students will perform self-designed experiments to test their own hypotheses and predictions on how changes in neurotransmitter levels affect behavior and nervous system development. Students will be able to apply what they learn to what is known about psychological conditions such as addiction, schizophrenia, and depression.

Course Outline

Professors: Wade Kothmann, Ph.D., is a Professorial Lecturer in the
Department of Biology at American University. He earned his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where his dissertation examined the signal transduction cascades responsible for regulating gap junction proteins which form direct electrical synapses between subsets of neurons. He subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and his research
interests continue to focus on how the synaptic physiology and circuitry of the retina adapt to the ever-changing visual environment. Dr. Kothmann’s teaching interests span human anatomy & physiology, molecular and cell biology, and all aspects of neuroscience, and are connected by an emphasis on using empirical processes to solve problems. In addition to teaching, Dr. Kothmann is passionate about improving pedagogic approaches to STEM education and general
understanding of science in the population at large.

Laurie Stepanek, Ph.D., is a professional lecturer in the
Biology Department. In addition to teaching, she is designing curricula for new lab courses in neurobiology and behavioral neuroscience. Prior to her arrival at American, she was an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Engineering Education and Centers, where she conducted evaluations of programs in engineering education research. She also worked on projects to promote STEM education, scientific literacy, and student-led innovation. Dr. Stepanek’s thesis work at the University of Miami examined the role of receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases in axon outgrowth. She went on to do a postdoc at the University of California,
San Francisco, where she studied the neural basis of vocal learning and plasticity in songbirds. In her spare time, Dr. Stepanek enjoys hiking, going to museums, dining out, and reading. She is on the planning committees of the AAAS Neuropolicy Affinity Group and the D.C. Mini Maker Faire.

Maria Gomez-Serrano, Ph.D., was born and raised in Madrid where she obtained her veterinarian degree specializing in animal husbandry and genetics. Right after obtaining her degree, Dr. Gomez-Serrano moved to Washington, D.C. and started working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the field of stress-immune response interactions. After four years in NIH, Dr. Gomez-Serrano decided to go back to school for her PhD. She received her PhD in behavioral neuroscience from American University. She focused on the effects of environmental factors on drug susceptibility. After receiving her PhD, Dr. Gomez-Serrano worked for a year at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She has been teaching at American University since 2009. Her interest ranges from drug susceptibility to learning and aging.

Course for Program at Harvard: Global Public Health (1 credit)

Course taught primarily online. Students will attend introductory classes on campus and access instructional materials upon returning home at hours that suit their own schedules. This instruction may include lectures recorded by their professor, podcasts, documentaries, and group work. Readings and assignments will be available via AU's Blackboard platform. Professors remain accessible to student questions 30 days after the on-campus segment.

Course Description: This course approaches health care as much more than an individual- or local-level activity. Rather, it is embedded in a complex global system of health threats and responses. This arena, global public health, brings together scientific, economic, and political issues, and the outcomes eventually affect billions of lives. We will discuss the historical development of the field, the state of public health around the world, and the prospects for combating current and future health threats. The politics and advocacy movements around certain important issues (like HIV/AIDS) will be a particular focus. Finally, this course is designed to be a college experience and will emphasize the critical analysis and other skills that are required for university-level work.

Course Outline

Professor: Laura Bosco is a PhD student at American University's School of International Studies. She holds a MA in international security studies from George Washington University and BA in economics and political science from University of Florida. She has previously worked on projects in gender and health, international development, and post-conflict reconstruction with USAID, CFR, and Gender Action. Her current research is on UN peacekeeping and the protection of civilians in South Sudan. This will be her second year teaching Global Public Health with NSLC. She has also taught World Politics at AU, International Development with NSLC, and high school math in North Carolina.