Inventive Travel-Study Course for Psychology Majors Offered for Spring

October 08, 2014

In another example of an innovative teaching and learning opportunity offered by Saint Leo University, the Department of Social Sciences has announced a spring course and related study tour to Europe focusing on the history of psychology. Participants will travel to Germany and Austria.

The three-credit undergraduate course (PSY 329: Independent Study in the History of Psychology) will be taught at the Virginia Peninsula Center by Dr. Maureen Mathews. However, psychology majors enrolled at any of Saint Leo’s teaching locations, or through the Center for Online Learning, may join in the trip without taking the course, and benefit from the exposure to places and people tied to the formation of psychology as a discipline.

The tour is scheduled to coincide with the traditional spring break at University Campus and will depart from Tampa on March 13, 2015, returning on March 22, 2015. Psychology is a popular major at Saint Leo, and undergraduates can study for either the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, which has a more intensive research focus. Alumni may also opt to travel with the group.

In 21st-century American society, people tend to think of psychology as an established field, even though it is evolving. But it is a relatively young field, at least in historical terms. Many contemporary university students may not be aware of how the field’s founding can be traced back to philosophy, physiology, and other natural and physical sciences. Trip leader Dr. Maureen Mathews, an assistant professor of psychology, has taught courses in the history of psychology for several years.

“The spirit of this trip captures not only important people and places relevant to the birth of psychology as a field, but illustrates how modern American psychology is a product of multiple disciplines and approaches,” Dr. Mathews said. “Every time I teach this course, I myself learn interesting insights about why psychology is the discipline it is today. Taking the course content to ‘the source,’ if you will, is going to be a wonderful experience.”

The trip will take students to universities in Germany that have been influential, as well as to historical sites that reflect on the founding of the field, and to enjoyable cultural sites. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the figures who helped found the study of psychology, and grasp the predominant influences affecting education, culture, and society at the time of the founders’ work. Some sites on the trip are:

  • The Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna (waiting room pictured, copyright for photo and logo held by The Sigmund Freud Museum)
  • The Viktor Frankl Institute in Vienna
  • The Vienna State Opera House (pictured)
  • The History of Psychology Museum in Wurzburg, Germany
  • The Wilhelm Wundt Room in Leipzig, Germany

The tour, including airfare, will cost $2,999 (before certain taxes). Those who place a $500 deposit by November 1 will receive a free dinner in Vienna.

For more information on the course or the trip, contact Dr. Mathews at