CCOG for PSY 231 Summer 2024

Course Number:
PSY 231
Course Title:
Foundations of Human Sexuality
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Examines sexuality from scientific and humanistic perspectives. Surveys sex research, female, intersex, male, and transgender sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology. Also examines sexual response, evidence-based healthy communication within relationships, sexual behavior patterns, love, and sexual orientations. Analyzes the historical and cultural variations in gender and sexuality. Discusses how gender and sexuality intersect with additional identities and how these intersections impact sexual thoughts and behaviors. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This is the first course in a two-course sequence. 

Human sexuality is a broad and complex topic that we are still in the early stages of understanding. Language to describe the experiences of people continues to be developed, and the nature of society is to change with time. Sexuality is not stagnant and individuals may experience shifts in identity and sexual awareness across their lifespan. Labels can be freeing in some ways, yet they can also place barriers around what is believed to be possible. Binary systems and oversimplifying humanity prevent the full story of human sexuality from being told. Gender and sexuality are separate yet interconnected with other identities we hold and are influenced by the concert that exists when all parts of ourselves mix together, not always in unison. The society in which we live, our family backgrounds, the education we have access to, and our own mental processes and behaviors lay the foundation for analyzing sexuality. Allyship and community uplifting occur as we critically explore sexuality from a biopsychosocial perspective and are humble and curious about what we do not know rather than making assumptions without all the information. Students can expect to leave this course with increased knowledge that empowers them to continue asking questions.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  1. Analyze ways to practice sexual health and healthy communication in order to improve sexual and relational well-being through the exploration of research-based principles

  2. Utilize the knowledge of sexual anatomy and physiology of bodies and sexual responses of women, intersex people, men and individuals who transition for academic, professional, and/or personal awareness.

  3. Examine gender as it is psychologically, historically, culturally, and socially constructed and distinguish between sex, gender and sexual orientation as separate and interconnected terms; discuss intersectionality; and implement ways to be better allies to people with minoritized gender and sexual identities  

  4. Describe the psychological influences that impact the sexual decision-making process as well as health and risk behaviors of individuals

  5. Analyze historical, biological, social, psychological, and cultural contexts of diverse sexual practices in order to gain a better understanding of others’ consensual behaviors 

Course Activities and Design

All sections of this course, whether face-to-face (F2F), remote, or online, will utilize multiple modes of assessment, and not just rely on objective (true/false and/or multiple choice) tests. Online sections will adhere to ‘Quality Matters’ and accessibility guidelines along with the ‘What Works Well in Online Teaching at PCC’.

Teachers will employ best practices, which include (but are not limited to):

  1. Making expectations clear and transparent, and supporting students in achieving course expectations.

  2. Assessing often, via different modes, and providing timely feedback on student performance (generally a week or less, but no more than 10 days unless extenuating circumstances intervene) so that students have the opportunity to improve.

  3. Maintaining an environment in which diversity is respected and supported, and addressing the situation when that does not occur.

  4. Maintaining an environment in which all students can learn, and seeking appropriate support (PCC CARE program) when a student is demonstrating behavior that is interfering with their own and/or others’ success.  

  5. Recognizing and supporting student needs, including disability support, and providing reasonable arrangements for extenuating circumstances while remaining fair to all students in the course. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Student assessment will include some combination of the following:

  • Written assignments (in-class, homework, or formal papers) designed to promote integration and understanding of class material and assigned reading 

  • Short answer and/or essay questions that require integration, application, and critical examination of assigned material  

  • Objective tests such as multiple-choice, true-false, and matching assessment items

  • Narrative tests such as fill-in-the-blank, short-answer, and essay exams 

  • Participation in individual and group activities

  • Individual and/or group presentations

  • Class participation, including online discussions where appropriate and part of course delivery and outcomes  

  • Service-learning, community-based activities, and/or experiential learning where appropriate and part of course outcomes

  • Other assignments as designed by the instructor

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Human Sexuality Theories:
  • Animal Studies and Anthropology
    • Discuss strengths and limitations of studying animals, such as primates, penguins, birds, dolphins, and others, as comparisons to human sexual behaviors, motivations, and the development of differing social structures.

    • Discuss the contributions of anthropologists and archaeologists in trying to understand civilizations and how we have gained insights into present-day people by exploring the past.

    • Compare ancient cultural practices around the world to modern day practices in the United States.

  • Psychological Theories:
    • Compare evolutionary, psychoanalytic, learning, social exchange, and cognitive theories.

    • Assess which theory aligns best with personal experiences.

  • Critical Theories:
  • Discuss how current psychological understanding of human sexuality owes credit to feminist, queer, and additional critical theories.

  • Analyze how intersecting identities, intersectionality, and positionality impact the way we navigate the world based on experiences and shape our understanding of gender and sexuality.

Sexology and Research Methods:
  • Discuss the history behind studying sex and how religious texts often provide rules and regulations around sex and establish gender roles.

  • Describe scientific thinking and the meaning of scientific skepticism.

  • Describe cognitive biases that interfere with evidence-based judgments and conclusions.

  • Examine techniques to counter common cognitive biases and discuss the importance of understanding research challenges, with specificity to sexology.

  • Compare the major types of human sexuality research, including strengths, weaknesses, and appropriate uses of each type.

  • Describe ethical issues that exist in psychological research.

Sex Differentiation and Anatomy:
  • Distinguish between female, intersex, and male anatomy and recognize the differences and similarities between them.

  • Identify hormones that influence sex development and sexual behavior.

  • Explain how bipotential tissues develop into sex organs and how development exists on a spectrum of possibilities based on chromosomes, hormones, genetic, epigenetic, environmental, medical, and age-related factors.​

  • Name the rudimentary duct systems in the embryo that are precursors to internal sex organs​.

  • Describe the hormonal changes that bring about puberty and explore secondary sex characteristics.

  • Analyze the complexity of sex development and gain an understanding of the experiences of intersex and transgender individuals.

  • Describe the practices and beliefs of indigenous communities prior to colonization regarding gender and sexuality.

  • Analyze the impact of colonization on indigenous people in the United States and globally.

  • Discuss how BIPOC individuals within the United States are reclaiming ideas around gender and sexuality through decolonization, intergenerational healing, and liberation psychology principles.

  • Evaluate gender as a social construct by looking at many perspectives around the world.

  • Describe gender variations.

  • Explain how various socialization agents (e.g., parents, peers, schools, textbooks, television and religion) often contribute to the formation of gender roles.

  • Compare psychological theories on gender.

  • Create a plan to be an ally to others to promote individual and community well-being regarding gender.

Sexual Orientation:
  • Analyze how certain terms related to sexual orientation are generational and created based on additional intersecting identities, such as race, class, education, gender, and more.

  • Explain what scientists mean when they say “sexual orientation is not binary.”

  • Defend, using examples, the statement: “homosexuality is widespread in nature.”

  • Cite evidence for a genetic basis of sexual orientation, as well as evidence that sexual orientation is environmentally influenced.

  • Recognize that diverse sexual practices are widespread in nature—in human and non-human animals.

  • Identify that psychological understanding of sexual preferences is part of an emerging field of study; thus, many of the scientific studies mentioned are relatively recent and, like all science, subject to revision.

  • Compare interpersonal and institutional forms of discrimination, the challenges of hate crimes and the importance of being an ally.

  • Summarize the variables that lead to initial attraction between people.

  • Outline the variables that lead us to perceive someone as physically attractive, and explain why physical attractiveness is important in liking.

  • Describe the ways that similarity and complementarity influence our liking for others.

  • Define the concept of mere exposure, and explain how proximity influences liking.

  • Provide a very brief overview of evolutionary research into attraction.

  • Identify emerging trends in attraction research.

Sexual Response and the Biochemistry of Love:
  • Analyze intersectionality as it applies to individual's sexual responses.

  • Apply the role of brain and hormonal mechanisms in sexual response, as well as sensation and perception.

  • Distinguish between hormones and pheromones.

  • Describe the seminal work of Master's & Johnson's EPOR model of sexual response.

  • Compare other theories of sexual response, including Kaplan, Basson and the Dual Control approach.

  • Distinguish between pleasure and reproduction as motives behind sexuality.

  • Analyze the concept of love with emerging research on evolution and physiology.

  • Examine the importance of oxytocin in social interactions.

Sexual Behaviors:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the range of options for sexual expression.

  • Analyze relationship boundaries in order to express wants, desires, limits, and consent.

  • Summarize how people might appraise (make sense of) sexual behaviors differently (i.e. some may perceive negative associations whereas others may experience positive associations).

  • Appraise the benefits of sexual behaviors physically, emotionally and socially as well as understand how sexual behavior influences identity development.

Intimate Relationships:
  • Summarize and analyze evolutionary, biological, social, and psychological perspectives on love and the development of long-term intimate relationships.

  • Inspect various writers and researchers attempts to define, describe and measure love.

  • Analyze the benefits and challenges of consensual non-monogamous relationships.

  • Discuss ways to be an ally within romantic relationships and analyze the ways that intersecting identities of partners can be acknowledged in order to address and prevent harm related to imbalances of social power.