John F. Kennedy University



Community Psychology


Summer 2010

Dr. Steven A. Del Chiaro


Contact Information

Email:                            Phone: 408.874.7741


            Office Hours: For this course, I will be available by appointment.


Office hours are “drop in” times and are on a first come, first served basis. If you cannot make these times, you can call, e-mail, or see me after class to set an appointment.  I want to be available to you.  During office hours we can discuss questions about the course, psychology as a career, or topics of interest to you.  Please understand that I, just like you, have a busy schedule, but will do my best to be available.


If you send me an e-mail, I will usually get back to you within 24 hours and I will always respond to let you know that I have received your message.  As a general rule, if you do not hear from me, chances are I did not get the message, so you need to re-send it. 


Course Description

This course provides a basic overview of the field of community psychology. The class will cover the basic theories and concepts that define the field while incorporating real-life examples of community action and research. Students will become acquainted with concepts central to community psychology, including: a) social oppression; b) victim blaming; c) ecological theory; d) empowerment theory; e) stress and coping; f) social support; g) community organizing; h) social policy analysis; and i) prevention. Students will also learn about the principles of research that guide community psychologists, including: a) traditional research methods; b) qualitative research methods; c) consulting; d) program evaluation; and e) participatory action research. Finally, students will learn how these concepts are applied to a wide range of contemporary social issues including: a) homelessness; b) child abuse; c) teen pregnancy; d) substance abuse; e) sexual health; f) education; g) juvenile delinquency; and h) interpersonal violence. Emphasis will be placed on working with economically disadvantaged, minorities, women, and youth.

Videos and in-class activities will supplement the readings.


Anticipated Learning Outcomes

Students who have successfully completed this course should be able to…

1. Identify and apply the theories and methods of Community Psychology.

2. Compare and contrast Community Psychology to other sub-disciplines of Psychology and Social Work.

3. Identify and analyze the causes of contemporary social problems.

4. Understand the intersection of racism, sexism, and classism with social problems.

5. Identify and create social change techniques to address social problems at the individual, family, organizational,

community, and societal levels.

6. Identify ethnically appropriate interventions for people of diverse backgrounds.

7. Design evaluation strategies to assess intervention and prevention program effectiveness.


Required Texts:

Moritsugu, J., Wong Y. & Duffy K. (2003) Community Psychology.  Boston.  Allyn & Bacon.


Other readings as assigned.


Student Responsibilities

Syllabus Policy:

The course syllabus presented in this document will be followed as closely as possible. However, the course syllabus, schedule, policies, and procedures are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor or in the event of extenuating circumstances. This includes the tentative dates listed. Possible changes will be announced in advance by the instructor as if possible. Since such announcements are typically made during class, it is the student’s responsibility to clarify any of these changes that may have been made when the student is absent.


Although you will be responsible for all of the material in the assigned readings, some of the information may not be covered in class. Therefore, if there is material that is unclear to you it is highly recommended that you discuss this material with me at an appropriate time (e.g., during office hours). It is your responsibility to read the syllabus and ask questions about it so that you have a clear understanding of the expectations. If you are unclear about any of the requirements/expectations, then please set up a time to speak with me. I will be grading as though you have a clear understanding of the course requirements and material.


Diversity Statement:

Consistent with the mission of John F. Kennedy University, I welcome persons of differing backgrounds and experiences including but not limited to age, disability and health status, ethnicity and race, family structure, geographic region, language, religious/spiritual and secular beliefs, resident status, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, and socioeconomic status.


It is my goal to foster an environment in which diversity is recognized and embraced and every person is treated with dignity, respect, and justice. I hope that your academic experience in this course and at John F. Kennedy University will provide the opportunity to gain knowledge and experiences necessary to thrive in a diverse, global environment.



This course involves extensive use of the Internet for student research and assigned readings. All students are required to have access to the Internet via some means as well as an active/current e-mail address.  If you do not have a computer or access to the Internet, you can use the computers in the computer lab on campus.




American Psychological Association

American Counseling Association

National Association of Social Workers

California Association for Marriage and Family Therapist

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists

Journal of Rural Community Health



Community Psychology Net





Weekly Topics, Activities and Assignments: (Tentative Schedule- subject to modification)


Meeting 1



Review Syllabus and Expectations

Intro to Community Psych





Meeting 2

Stress and Resilience





Meeting 3

Importance of Social Change





Meeting 4

Community Intervention Strategies





Meeting 5

The Mental Health System/ Quiz Due





Meeting 6

Exam 1 (Paper Topic Due) Journal Due





Meeting 7

Social and Human Services in the Community





Meeting 8

Schools, Children, and the Community





Meeting 9

Law, Crime, and the Community





Meeting 10

Community Health and Preventative Medicine



Journal Due/Paper Due/Presentations





Meeting 11

Community/Organizational Psych



Future of Community Psych



Quiz Due



There will be two quizzes this quarter.  Quizzes can be found on the website and brought the due day of class.



The exams will be multiple-choice, short-answer and fill in.  The test will have questions from the text, lectures and videos.  The exam will be given during the lecture period, and you will have the class period to complete the exam. 


Research Paper:
To allow you to learn about community psychology, you will write a 6-8 page paper that examines an initiative aimed at solving a social problem. You will select a social problem (I must approve your topic), and then you’ll get information on an initiative.  In your paper, you will do some library research to explore from a community psychology perspective how effective the initiative is likely to be. 


Reflection Journal:

After completing the readings for the week, you will type a one page reflection about any topic covered that week.  The journal will be turned in two times during the quarter.  It must be in a folder with a title page, following the structure listed below.



Plagiarism is the presentation of words, ideas or views of someone else as if they were one’s own. Plagiarism is intellectual dishonesty and, as such, is a serious academic offense. The potential penalties range from an unsatisfactory grade in the course (an ‘F” or ‘no credit’), a letter of sanction placed in the student’s permanent academic file, or even dismissal from the university. Plagiarism includes:

bulletpassing off another’s written work as your own
bulletfailing to give credit to your sources for the ideas, information, and words you have borrowed from them
bulletnot quoting when you use another’s exact  words
bulletnot  changing the wording or sentence structure significantly enough when you paraphrase a source


Incomplete Policy

An Incomplete (I) grade is given only to a student who has maintained satisfactory attendance and work throughout most of the course but, due to extraordinary circumstances, is unable to complete the required work by the end of the quarter. The granting of an ”I” grade is at the discretion of the instructor and must be approved by the dean. It is the student’s responsibility to provide an incomplete grade form and to request an “I” from the instructor in writing prior to the last class meeting, stating briefly but specifically the reasons for the request. The due date to complete work is determined by the instructor but may not exceed two quarters.


Disability Accommodations

If you need accommodations for this class due to a documented disability, please see Lisa Noshay-Petro in the Office of Disability Services for Students (ODS) in Room S220, 925.969.3447, All students who need accommodations should meet with the ODS early in the quarter, and utilize the support services they offer. Accommodations cannot be made until students are registered with the ODS, and have received an Accommodation letter. All information is kept confidential.


Academic Support Center (ASC)

The ASC provides once a week session in instruction in writing, study skills, and APA citation style. Appointments can be held in person or via phone, fax or email. Students who are registered with the Office of Disability Services are entitled to 2 appointments per week. All ASC services are free to registered students, faculty, and staff. Students can make an appointment by calling 925.969.3530 or emailing






Structure for Assignments

  1. Your papers need be organized - you should be developing a central idea in each section and the reader should be able to follow the logic of your argument.  Each paragraph should have a coherent theme and paragraphs should follow each other in an organized manner. Read over your papers to be sure that there is a logical order to them. 


  1. Watch for grammatical errors, particularly sentence fragments and run-on sentences. More than five spelling or grammatical errors will result in points deducted from final grades.  More than ten will result in a zero (0).  I encourage you to have your paper proof read.


  1. Your papers will be typewritten, double-spaced, one-inch margins, using Times New Roman (or VERY similar) font.


  1. On a sheet attached to the front of all your papers, type the Title of your paper. In addition you must include Name, Course, Course Number, Semester/Year, and Due Date.


  1. Citations/references included in your paper are to be done according to APA style as described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 4th Edition, which is available in the library, the campus bookstore, and on-line. 



Grading will be based on the sum of the following: 

  1. Two quizzes worth 20 points.
  2. One exams worth 100 points each.
  3. Research paper/Presentation worth 100 points.
  4. Reflection Journal worth 80 points.


The grade scale is as follows:



94 – 100%



77 – 79%




90 – 93%



73 – 76%




87 – 89%



70 – 72%




83 – 86%



67 – 69%




80 – 82%



60 – 66%



                F     =

   0 – 59%


Additional Resources:


Below is a list of some of the major journals related to the field of community psychology (You may also use other sources):

American Journal of Community Psychology

Journal of Applied and Preventive Psychology

Journal of Community Psychology

Journal of Primary Prevention

Health Education & Behavior

Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community

Prevention Science

Journal of Rural Community Psychology (electronic)
Community Practitioner (electronic)