Senior Capstone Descriptions

The Capstone Experience, completed near the end of baccalaureate studies, integrates liberal learning with specialized knowledge. Each Capstone emphasizes sharing of ideas, synthesis, and critical, informed action and reflection, and each includes student initiative in defining and investigating problems or projects.

Capstones may be completed in or outside student's majors; in some departments, for psychology majors, the Capstone Experience is a requirement. All Capstones presume a significant scholarly background of specialized study in a major as well as in liberal education course work. In other words, a Capstone does more than culminate years of baccalaureate study: it culminates a student's liberal education.

Ordinarily, a Capstone Experience is taken at Miami and completed in the senior year (minimum of 96 hours registered or earned). Students who plan to transfer any course to meet the Capstone requirement must obtain permission from the Office of Liberal Education before they take the course.

Senior Capstone/Senior Course Titles and Descriptions

Spring Semester 2020

PSY 410C Section A 

Mindfulness in Clinical Psychology: A Focus on Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga in Clinical Psychology Interventions

Instructor: Dr. Terri Messman-Moore

Tuesday/Thursday 1:15 PM - 2:35 PM

This capstone seminar focuses on numerous forms of mindfulness-based practice that can be utilized in the context of clinical intervention. Participants in the course will learn about various contemplative practices that incorporate mindfulness, including several different types of meditation and yoga, self-compassion and loving kindness meditation, contemplative movement such as Tai Chi, mindful practices including mindful walking and eating, and other experiential practices. The course will expose students to the theory, research, and practice of mindfulness in various forms, with an emphasis on evidence-based practice. Seminar topics include: theory & conceptualizations of mindfulness, cognitive & emotional benefits of mindfulness, meditation tools (attention, sensory awareness, and body movement), neurobiology of mindfulness meditation, application of mindfulness meditation & yoga for stress/depression/anxiety/addiction/trauma, empirical evidence for mindfulness-based practices.

*Please note this seminar will involve a significant experiential component. Participants will be encouraged to engage in a daily practice in additional to in-class exercises. Students are encouraged to dress comfortably and bring mats or cushions to class if desired*

PSY 410D Section A 

Psychology of Medical Decision Making

Instructor: Dr. Christopher Wolfe

Wednesday/Friday 10:05 AM - 11:25 AM

This course explores the psychology of medical decision making. Medical decisions are among the most important that a person will ever make in his or her lifetime, and the decisions made by physicians and other health care providers can be matter of life and death. Thus, efforts to understand and improve medical decision making are potentially valuable to medical practice and to the broader society. Moreover, medical decisions provide an excellent real-world domain to rest psychological theory. We will explore the professional medical decision-making literature, and consider a number of issues related to medical diagnosis and the comprehension and communication of medical risk in the context of shared medical decision making between patients and health care providers. This course draws on basic research in cognitive psychology with an emphasis on judgment and decision making.

*Please email for a list of weekly topics*

PSY 410D Section B 

Mirror Neuron System

Instructor: Dr. Carrie Hall

Tuesday/Thursday 10:05 AM - 11:25 AM

This course focuses on the mirror neuron system. Specific topics covered in the course include empathy, autism, language development, emotion recognition, emotional contagion, the self, free will, intersubjectivity, and also implications for counseling, advertising, sales, and politics. At the end of this course, you should be able to explain the role the mirror neuron system plays in development and social behavior and discuss a number of unresolved issues in the research.

*The STA 261/PSY 293/PSY 294 sequence is a prerequisite for the course. PSY 251 is NOT required for the course. *

PSY 410F Section A 

Stigma and Its Consequences

Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Hunger

Wednesday/Friday 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Individuals often contend with stigmatized attributes that are both visible (e.g., gender, race, and weight) as well as concealable (e.g., mental illness and sexual identity). In this capstone seminar, we will address classic and contemporary theory and research on the psychology of stigma, primarily from the perspective of the “target” of stigma. We will explore definitions of stigma and consider several perspectives on its psychological origins and functions within society. We will also examine the consequences of stigma (e.g., poorer mental and physical health) and discuss possible interventions to reduce its negative effects. Readings will be drawn primarily from original scholarly articles and book chapters. The course will be interactive and discussion-based, with students expected to provide occasional reading responses and lead group discussion once during the semester. Consistent with the capstone experience, this course will provide students with the opportunity to debate, discuss, and synthesize empirical and theoretical information from across psychology.

PSY 410F Section B 

Psychology of Power, Leadership, and Hierarchy

Instructor: Dr. Jonathan Kunstman

Wednesday/Friday 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Power and hierarchy are fundamental aspects of human social relationships. From peer groups to board rooms, asymmetric resource control puts some people in positions of power and other into positions of subordination. Throughout the semester, we will discuss how interpersonal (power unique to individuals) and intergroup (power rooted in group membership) power shape the cognitive, affective, behavioral, and social responses of the powerful and the powerless. This course will also have a limited introduction to theories of leadership. How do social contexts and leadership style interact to influence groups? Power and leadership will be examined from a social psychological lens. Students will read primary research articles, reviews, and eta-analyses in addition to some pop readings on related topics. Students will be expected to effectively interpret statistical information, experimental design, and psychological theory to critically evaluate scientific papers. As an advanced seminar, this course will provide students with the opportunity to debate, discuss, and synthesize empirical and theoretical information from across social psychology.

PSY 410F Section C 

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Instructor: Dr. Joseph Morrissey

Wednesday/Friday 11:40 AM - 1:00 PM

Industrial/Organization Psychology is a field that concerns itself with the productivity of employees, usually in the business setting. The goal of those with expertise in Industrial/Organizational psychology is to optimize the effectiveness of those workers. There will be coverall of the three sub-fields of the discipline - Organizational Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and Human Factors. In order to approximate the work setting the class will participate in exercises designed to help bond team members to each other psychologically.

PSY 410J Section A 

Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Body Dysmorphic Disorders

Instructor: Dr. Elise Clerkin

Tuesday/Thursday 2:50 PM - 4:10 PM

This class will provide an overview and in-depth investigation into the cutting-edge research and treatment for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and body dysmorphic disorders. Goals of this course include 1) investigating key etiological factors that may influence the development of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and body dysmorphic disorders; 2) evaluating theoretical models of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and body dysmorphic disorders, and the application of these models to evidence-based treatments.

PSY 410P Section A 

Capstone in Community Psychology

Instructor: Dr. Paul Flaspohler

Tuesday/Thursday 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Community psychology is devoted to advancing theory, research, and social action to promote well-being and prevent the development of problems for communities and individuals. Community psychologists combine psychological techniques with flexible research design to develop, implement, and evaluate solutions to a broad range of problems. This course will familiarize students with the history, development, methods, and values of community psychology. Students in the capstone will gain practical experience applying the principles of community psychology. We will partner with an agency and non-profit in Hamilton. Students in this capstone should expect to spend some time on site in Hamilton during the week and on weekends. Work on the course will begin in the Spring. Interested students should contact Dr. Flaspohler (

PSY 410U Section A 

Developmental Psychology

Instructor: Dr. Vrinda Kalia

Monday/Wednesday 2:50 PM - 4:10 PM

How do children become social partners in their world? The 'social' in social cognition relates to the ways in which children become social beings — how they are shaped by their social world and in turn shape it. This course is designed to provide you with an overview of contemporary research and theories about the development of children's thinking about their social world. Both biological factors (e.g. brain plasticity) and social factors (e.g. family environment) will be emphasized.