Psychology - The Science of Human Behavior

The Psychology major is devoted to the systematic study of human behavior with an emphasis on a scientific approach to real-life problems.

Examining both theoretical models of behavior and the contexts in which these models are applied, students become versed in the major theories of psychology with an emphasis on hands-on absorption through research and internships.

Students will learn how to perform psychological research, discuss ethical issues regarding therapy and research with human subjects, and the core areas in Psychology.

This major lays the necessary groundwork for students to pursue graduate work in Psychology, Social Work or related fields.
The major also addresses intergroup relations and conflicts. Courses focuse on the ways individuals and groups relate to each other, the development of prejudice and intergroup conflict, and how to find conflict resolution. Both psychological and sociological theories are included to integrate individual and aggregate level analyses of these issues.

Classes include such topics as: attitude formation, the development of prejudice and hatred, how prejudice leads to genocide, intergroup processes of consensus development and conformity, and methods of changing prejudice and resolving intergroup conflicts.

This major gives students the necessary background to pursue graduate work in Psychology (as well as other social science programs), teaching in this content area, and working in more applied areas such as law or non-governmental organizations (NGO’s).

DEPARTMENT CHAIR & ADVISOR
Sue Kapitanoff, Ph.D.
Phone // 310.476.9777 x295
Email // skapitanoff@aju.edu

UCLA, B.A. (Psychology), 1980
CSU Northridge, M.A. (Social Psychology), 1984
UC Irvine, Ph.D. (Health Psychology), 1992

Dr. Sue Kapitanoff says she always wanted to be a psychologist – not the kind who discusses personal issues with patients in an office with a leather couch, framed art-museum posters, and book-lined shelves, but a social psychologist, a person who studies the psyche of a society and why people in different cultures behave the way they do. “Basically, I wanted to understand why people hate each other,” she says in her usual mild manner, belying the seriousness of the subject under discussion. “As a youth, I was very aware that prejudice existed. And growing up in a liberal, socially-conscious home, I wanted to know how to change attitudes.”

Since joining American Jewish University in 1992, Dr. Kapitanoff has been an integral part of our university community. During her time at AJU, Dr. Kapitanoff has worn several hats: Chair of the Behavioral Sciences Department, lecturer in Psychology, and Dean of Students and Undergraduate Affairs.

Dr. Kapitanoff’s desire to promote understanding and tolerance extends well beyond the classroom. She has worked closely with students on the Prejudice Awareness Summit. This important event brings hundreds of middle school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District for a day-long session on fostering tolerance among youth of various ethnic backgrounds.

Additionally, Dr. Kapitanoff heads-up American Jewish University’s Sophomore Service Learning program. During this program, students learn the history of various social issues, and then work directly with affected populations and the agencies that help them. This program, which is an important part of our Core Curriculum, deepens our students’ understanding of social challenges via hands-on experience in the field.

“For me, one of the greatest benefits of all of these activities has been the amount I have learned from the students,” Dr. Kapitanoff noted. “I grasped early-on that teaching is not lecturing. It’s a sharing of information, a collaborative educational partnership, where we inspire each other.”

An inclusive
jewish environment

While the majority of our students are Jewish, we appreciate and value differences in observance, lifestyle, and thought. Here, everyone’s story and experiences add to the mosaic of our community. As we consider what it means to be human and part of a wider society, we employ an ethical framework informed by Jewish culture and philosophy to prepare all students for success both in civic life and their chosen profession.

  • L.A.’s vibrant Jewish life provides a wealth of opportunities to explore your relationship with Judaism, both on and off campus.
  • Whether observant or secular, we all enjoy celebrations that mark seasonal changes (Sukkot), major historical events like the establishment of the State of Israel (Yom Ha’atzmaut), and biblical legends (Purim).
  • Welcoming Shabbat dinners bring our community together in celebration of Jewish identity and rituals.

ADVISORS AND MENTORS
WHO KNOW YOU

Traveling down a road alone can be hard. But traveling with someone who knows that road well—who can tell you interesting places to stop or where there’s a sharp turn—is a very different experience. Since your academic and personal success is our highest priority, at AJU College you are assigned an academic advisor and a personal mentor from day one to guide you in making smart decisions for your future.

  • Traveling down a road alone can be hard. But traveling with someone who knows that road well—who can tell you interesting places to stop or where there’s a sharp turn—is a very different experience. Since your academic and personal success is our highest priority, at AJU College you are assigned an academic advisor and a personal mentor from day one to guide you in making smart decisions for your future.
  • Your faculty advisor helps with everything from choosing class schedules to recommending courses to help you reach the next phase of your story—whether that’s graduate school, law or medical school, or an entry-level position in your field.
  • All students are also assigned a personal mentor who helps guide you through the social and interpersonal aspects of your college experience.

learn by
serving others

By participating in community-based projects you gain perspective on the challenges facing our human family. Serving others broadens your horizons, engages your ideals, and cements within you the Jewish tradition of civic responsibility. These attributes combine to make you a fuller human being as you move forward on your chosen track.

  • All AJU College students take part in hands-on service projects, part of the Sid B. Levine Service Learning Program.
  • Students have led projects to raise awareness of social injustices like human trafficking, hunger, and gender inequality.
  • Faculty and students annually host middle school students for the Prejudice Awareness Summit, where such topics as bullying and discrimination are discussed and conflict-resolution skills are taught.
  • AJU College participates in the international service projects of the American Jewish World Service, which takes students on study-volunteer trips to El Salvador, Ghana, and India.