professor
Karen Seeley

Feb 2021

The content of this class is amazing. The readings are incredible. Definitely must take if you're a psych major--- it completely changed the way I think about the entire discipline. Should be a required class for sure. My only issue is that Prof Seeley doesn't always seem to have a complete grasp on the readings: discussions tend to be a bit more surface level. But if you're willing to put in some work and delve into the readings yourself, you will get soooooooooooo much out of this class.

Dec 2020

This class was fantastic. I think it is a must take for all psychology majors - in my opinion should be a requirement. Professor Seeley is wonderful and thoughtful. The workload was all very relevant - every reading is worth doing but if you can't, skimming will also get you by. Contributing to discussion is important but doesn't feel like a lot of pressure. I really enjoyed the class and appreciated Prof Seeley's insight and feedback.

Dec 2017

Karen Seeley is a really amazing Professor. I’ve taken both her culture and mental health seminar and cultural psych seminar. She knows how true a seminar in a way that i have not seen with most other professors. She strikes the perfect balance between seminar and discussion. The readings are extremely interesting but not too long. The course includes a midterm paper and final paper. Depending on if it’s an anthro course or psych course, the paper lengths differ. Highly highly recommend! I feel that my future career will be highly influenced and benefitted by this class.

Jan 2015

I agree with the review below: this one of the best psychology classes I have taken at Columbia so far. Informative, educational, rigorous but with a moderate workload, this is the ideal class to fulfill your seminar requirement. Prof. Seeley is just wonderful, and I highly recommend this class.

Aug 2009

One of the best, if not the best, psych courses I have taken ever. This class opened my eyes to the fact that the psychology we learn is through a Western, specifically American lens. This course is key for psychology majors to realize that what we learn in other courses is relative to an American culture. A mental disorder in America may not be categorized as such in Bali. Though not overly invested in the clinical applications of psychology, the course does teach what can go wrong when non-Americans are treated according to American psychological theory. The class also attracts a diverse student population thanks to the subject matter, so you may hear points of view you have yet to encounter. The class is exactly the title, a combination of in depth study of psychological theory and culture. Overall, the readings were reasonable in length and almost always fascinating. There was a lot of in class discussion, refreshing after so many psych lectures and droning powerpoint presentations. Prof Seeley may seem cold at first, but she truly is passionate about her work and the course. She is dedicated to teaching her students new information, so unlike many other courses you will not be bored by overlap. The content she presents is more captivating than her lecture style, but I was never bored. Prof Seeley is also extremely helpful on a one-on-one basis. Be sure to meet with her, especially if you are struggling with a direction for your papers. When I started, I had a very broad topic, but her guidance helped me hone in on a real thesis and she even named dozens of volumes to look at for research so I didn't waste time. If you are a psych major, you HAVE to take this class.

Jan 2009

I was underwhelmed by this course. As a Psychology major, I took the class to expand the breadth of my knowledge into another field. However, I found that Karen Seeley barely touched on any issues of psychology, and went straight into deep anthropological issues, which for the non-anthro majors in the class made it quite a challenge. I also found the class extremely dry; while the books we were reading were interesting, her interpretation of them sounded more like preaching, and she was extremely pretentious in handling student comments. Towards the end of the course I didn't feel like sharing my thoughts and having her tell me why I had interpreted the book wrong. It went the same way with the essays -- any insightful thoughts that were new or different to Karen Seeley would result in a bad grade.

Feb 2007

great class, seemed somewhat redundant at times but really eye-opening, especially if you're a psychology major. The readings were interesting, she used a psychological and anthropological approach which you never really get from other, more traditional psych classes. She always tries to make herself available to the students too. No matter what you say in class, she listens and uses your comments to build upon.

Nov 2003

Seeley was quite organized and presents herself well. However, over the course of the semester, you will discover that she is actually both extremely pretentious and extremely nervous. The two make a scary combination when the person with those qualities is the person teaching your class - and giving your grade. In my opinion, she wants you to like her, but she gets into the "cool, not cool" type of thing - and behaves accordingly, acting either friendly or mean, for lack of a better word. I felt like I was back in high school. Her grading was totally inexplicable and if you ask for an explanation she'll look at you blankly and/or lie to your face about having told you that such and such had been covered.

Aug 2003

The class was well organized and the reading was usually really interesting. Seeley has a gentle manner and seems quite friendly if a little reserved. However the class was seminar style but Seeley would spend most of the class giving back ground on the reading essentially telling us what it was about, which made reading unnecessary and also killed most opportunity for discussion since she spent so much time talking. Part of the reason discussion in the class might have failed so horribly was that it was at 9am, the class was small and in my opinion half of the kids in the class were really boring and the other half had no idea what the reading was let alone what it was about. Bottom line you will end up learning something no matter how little work you do. If you can write coherent big papers, actually do the reading, and don't mind being bored occasionally, you can do well and actually learn something too.