COOL CLASSES: “Stress and Coping”

This psychology seminar examines the theory and research of stress and coping processes and their links with disease and mental health, and includes an experiential learning component in which students learn stress-management techniques.

Class name“Stress and Coping”

Taught by: Assistant Professor of Psychology Shu-wen Wang


Here’s what Wang had to say about her class:

This seminar examines the multiple factors and systems that impact stress and coping processes and how they are subsequently related to health and well-being (e.g., physical, emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal functioning). We cover topics ranging from the neurobiology of stress, to disease and mental illness, to the kinds of major life events and daily or chronic stressors that affect many people. We also look at how certain key factors shape the experience of stress, for example, personality, gender, and social support. In the course, I aim to help students develop a multi-faceted and integrative understanding of just how complex stress and coping is and how many variables contribute to a person’s experience of stress and their subsequent coping responses.

The course has a unique experiential learning component in that we regularly practice various evidence-based skills and techniques—mindfulness, diaphragmatic breathing, cognitive tools—for better managing stress. One major assignment that students have responded very positively to requires that students analyze a personal situation that they find to be stressful, implement a coping plan over a period of time, and then report on the results.

I wanted to develop this course because I felt that there was nothing like it at the College, and I was excited to offer something that I thought students could benefit from in multiple ways—intellectually, interpersonally, health-wise. There is the potential for immediate application to a student’s daily life.

What I love about the stress and coping field, and this course in particular, is that it straddles multiple disciplines and is truly interdisciplinary. No one field has the monopoly on understanding how stress and coping impact health. So we draw on the methods, theories, and findings from multiple disciplines and integrate them in pursuing a rich and fleshed out understanding of how these processes interact and work. The course attracts students with varying interests from different majors and across the TriCo. This semester, I have students enrolled in the course who are majoring in psychology, sociology, and math; minoring in education and health studies; concentrating in peace, justice, and human rights; pursuing pre-med and health studies tracks. I love the diversity of knowledge and background that the students bring to the dialogue, and I always learn a great deal from my students.


See what other courses the Department of Psychology is offering this semester.

Photo by Lev Greenstein ’20.

Cool Classes is a series that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford experience.