As opposed to last semester, this semester involves only a minor amount of psychology, which is comparable only to The Bible in its classification as good news.
Basically everything in cognitive science that the psychologists don't want to talk about. Big themes include embodiment, joint action, affordance, subjective experience, enaction, ecological psychology, and blogs. This one's lead by our trusty course director Fred. I get the vague impression that most academics over 50 would scoff at the endeavor, while more of the ones under 40 might be in the "oh neat" group. We impressionable students, however, have agreed on a collective "huh?" Oh yeah, grades? Nope. If we blog we pass...not a joke. I'll cross-post my musings here so expect some seriously smart stuff.
Connectionism and Dynamical Systems:
Also taught by Fred, but this time less out of left-field more on the math. For those in the know, connectionism is the greater community of neural network models. They can model tons of stuff, very well, very magically, very obtusely. Some people have philosophical problems with the approach, but most of them don't know are stuck in the 50's. Connectionist models are notably more neurally plausible than traditional, programmatic models, but very quickly leave the idea of a neuron behind. Allegedly we needn't know how to progam...but I'm planning on changing that. We're beginning using this software package: http://cogsci.ucd.ie/Connectionism10/bp.zip. (Unzip and run the .jar. If you can't do that, install java and try again.) It was partly modified by Fred himself and, according to him, is one very few pedagogically useful connectionist simulators. There's a web-applet version too, though Fred wasn't if it would work from off-campus.
This is the more technical follow-up to first-semester's Cognitive Psychology, taught by my research advisor's old buddy, Fintan. The big project is this: we're given a spreadsheet of data from an experiment and we need to come with a model that predicts the results. Everyone gets the same data, so we get to critique eachother's models. I plan on describing mine as "ground-breaking", "breath-taking", if not downright "awe-inspiring."
Philosophy of Mind:
I'm the only one in our class that's excited for this one. It's taught by a few different professors in the giant philosophy department. Topics including dualism, embodiment, science, souls, language, consciousness, minutia, and dementia. The format: read, talk, read, talk, write.
For the curious: last semester went fine. My GPA was .3 points higher than my graduating GPA for undergrad. This means that I am 7.5% smarter than I used to be. In a classic ecopsychological critique, however, it may mean that UCD is 7.5% dumber than PLU.