American Psychology's Struggles With Its Curriculum: Should a Thousand Flowers Bloom?

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Abstract

Although discussions of a core curriculum in doctoral training in psychology can be heard in contemporary psychology, there is no such common core, nor has one ever existed in American psychology's history. Advocates of a core curriculum argue that it ensures breadth of training, an outcome made even more important by growing specialization in psychology, and that it provides psychologists with a needed common identity as members of a recognized professional discipline. Opponents argue that a core curriculum places unwanted constraints on a program of study, prohibiting the kind of diversity needed to keep abreast of changes in psychology and related fields of study. The author reviews the history of this struggle within American psychology and discusses its implications for the science and practice of psychology.

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