PHILOSOPHY | MISSION
| LEARNING GOALS | HISTORY
| ACADEMIC HONESTY
The Psychology Department at Sonoma State University is distinguished
by its focus on the quality of human experience.
The key words here are: distinguished, quality,
human, and experience. For us, each
of these words holds special significance.
- This expresses both that the department is unique and that it has
achieved a certain amount of renown for this uniqueness over the years.
This department offered the first graduate program in Humanistic Psychology
and also helped to pioneer that field, with four of our members having
served as president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, an
international organization. The department also has been distinctive
for its pioneering work in such areas as: somatics, expressive arts,
biofeedback, organizational development, wilderness psychology, Jungian/Archetypal
psychology, Transpersonal psychology, interdiscipilinary learning, student-directed
learning, experiential learning, and learning-community approaches.
This difference, this distinctiveness, has led to a national and, even,
international reputation. The department has stood out as a beacon for
many students seeking an alternative to traditional psychology, including
even doctoral level professionals who've returned to take undergraduate
- This word carries a number of important messages. First of all, we
are interested in quality, as in excellence. At the same time, we are
struck that the word, quality, is in ascendance, in business and elsewhere,
even as we see ourselves surrounded by the deteriorating quality of
our physical, social, and economic environments. Technology, for example,
is changing the face of our world, but is it enhancing the quality of
our lives? We seek to develop a psychology that not only studies but,
also, enhances the quality of life. The word, quality, also communicates
something about our bias in favor of valuing qualitative
research methods at least equally with quantitative
- While affirming our connectedness to all of life, our interdependence
with all creatures, this word clearly communicates our bias toward studying
uniquely human, rather than animal, phenomena.
- This word communicates a tendency for our department to take seriously
the subjective realm, rather than focusing exclusively on the objective,
as so much of mainstream psychology has tended to do. Our approach to
investigation is often phenomenological. In addition, our approach to
teaching tends to emphasize experiential approaches to learning, when
possible, both inside and outside of the classroom.
For all of these reasons, we say: The Psychology Department at Sonoma
State University is distinguished by its focus on the quality of human
The Department is distinguished by its focus on human experience.
Founded in 1960, the department has historically been allied with the
humanistic and existential traditions in psychology. This emphasis has
expanded to include a diverse array of approaches to studying human experience.
We now offer learning experiences in areas ranging from the experiential
to the experimental, from graduate school preparation to personal growth,
from individual issues to community concerns. We actively encourage the
integration of various perspectives, rigorous analysis, respectful debate
and engaged skills-based learning. Our goal is to help students
to develop skills in 1) knowing and evaluating their own experience, 2)
understanding human experience from a variety of theoretical frameworks,
3) learning and valuing diversity and multi-culturalism and 3) applying
their knowledge in concrete ways that contribute to people’s quality
of life. We hope to empower students with psychological skills that will
enable them to be effective change agents in the world.
The Department is committed to students developing the following skills
while being a Psychology major. Individual courses within the curriculum
target one or more of these skills. Students are encouraged to take courses
which develop all of these competencies.
- Be familiar with the major concepts, theories, and perspectives in
- Be able to apply psychological theories, concepts, and principles
to individual experience as well as to broader social issues and social
- Be able to reflect on personal experience in light of psychological
- Be able to recognize and understand the complexity of cultural diversity,
in light of psychological knowledge.
- Be able to understand and apply basic research methods in psychology
and the social sciences.
- Be able to demonstrate skills that promote behavioral change at the
individual, organizational, and community levels.
Red Thomas, Ph. D.
The two articles below contain Red's recollections about the history
of the Psychology Department at Sonoma State University:
"Keeping The Flame Alive"
"What and How Can a Support Group Support?"
Policy on Academic Honesty
The Psychology Department is committed to a code of values which honors
academic and personal integrity, honesty, and ethical standards. In line
with the Psychology Departments mission, the Department provides
a policy on academic honesty to guide students and faculty in their behavior.
The Departments policy is based on the Universitys policy
of academic honesty and integrity.
Standards of the Department
The Department expects students to complete their own work. When a student
refers to ideas of another person, the Department expects students to
acknowledge this work by appropriate citation. The Department also values
group collaborative work, and expects students to appropriately acknowledge
the contributions of others in collaborative work.
Department Policy on Academic Honesty
Each class professor provides guidelines for academic work in that class.
While all professors expect honesty, professors vary in their use of individual
research assignments and collaborative group work.
Students are often asked to research topics of interest and write papers
on their findings. Research work can be complex. Some professors expect
students to use American Psychological Association (APA) style format,
while some do not. Whether or not APA style is used, students are expected
to cite the sources of their research material and to acknowledge the
authorship of the sources they use, whether it is books, articles, or
internet material. We live in an intellectual community in which the free
flow of ideas is essential, and out of respect for the other, we acknowledge
the others work.
In general, students are expected to summarize the essence of the material
they have read, in their own words. This means reading the material, digesting
it, and communicating it, in their own words. If exact words or phrases
are pulled from the research material and placed in a paper, these words
or phrases must be quoted (placed in quotation marks) and cited (given
appropriate acknowledgement, according to the style preferred by the classroom
professor). Summarizing means to say it in ones own wordsnot
in someone elses words.
What are Examples of Violations of Department Policy on Academic
If a student uses the authors own words in a paper, without quoting
that author, the student has plagiarized.
If a student represents an authors ideas as the students
own, the student has plagiarized.
If a student submits a paper downloaded from an internet source, the
student has plagiarized.
If a student submits a paper with parts of the paper downloaded from
an internet source, and the source is not quoted or cited, the student
If a student submits a paper with paragraphs lifted, or copied, from
a book or article, without quoting the author, even if the material is
cited, the student has plagiarized.
If a student submits a paper written by another student, the student
If a student collaborates on an assignment that was not intended to be
collaborative, the student has cheated.
If a student makes use of notes during an exam, when that is forbidden
by the class professor, the student has cheated.
If a student looks on another students exam, or discusses answers
during an exam, the student has cheated.
Consequences of Violations of Department Policy on Academic Honesty
If a class professor suspects that a student has violated the policy
of academic honesty, the professor reviews the matter and decides on the
consequences of the violation. Professors have access to internet-based
search programs that provide text of internet-based research material,
and may make use of this for reviewing the students work. Consequences
of violations may include:
- A reduced or failing grade for the work.
- A reduced or failing grade for the course.
For every violation, a written description is given to the Department
chair by the classroom professor. This statement is placed in a sealed
envelope, with the students name, professors name, and date
on the outside of the envelope. The Chair keeps these records in an Academic
Honesty file. In addition, the professor may choose to report the violation
to the University. The professor may schedule an individual interview
with the student to discuss the matter.
Should the Chair receive a second violation notice for a particular student,
the Chair opens the envelopes and reviews the violations. The class professors
institute a formal notification to the University of violation of academic
honesty. The Chair, in consultation with the classroom professors, decides
on the consequences. The Chair meets with the student to discuss the issues.
Consequences of two or more violations of academic honesty may include:
- A failing grade for the course.
- Dismissal from the Psychology major.
- Some other action decided by the committee.