Dr. Michael Russell, Professor


OFFICE AND MESSAGES: Humanities Building 311-B.  Mailboxes in Philosophy, H 312, or Human Services EC 105.      

(714) 278‑2752 (Voice and FAX.  Recorder checked often.) 

I will give out my cell number and home number in class.

E-mail: jmussell@fullerton.edu

WEB: http://jmichaelrussell.org


Office hours: I will usually be in my office between 1:30 and 3:30 on Monday and Tuesday (and lots of other times too), but it’s best if you have an appointment:  I may be elsewhere. 


REQUIRED TEXT:  Corey, I NEVER KNEW I HAD A CHOICE  (7h edition)  Be sure you get the new—7th edition, which contains material not in the edition used in previous semesters.



Prerequisite:  consent of instructor at first class meeting.  An experiential, theme‑oriented class exploring life choices in the struggle for personal autonomy.  Themes include: body image, sex roles, love, sexuality, intimacy, marriage, alternative life‑styles, loneliness, death, meaning and values.


This course was originally intended for students preparing for therapy-related helping professions, so that they might examine in their own lives the sorts of issues they will encounter with their clients.  Because this sort of learning actually integrates the complexities of human life across academic disciplines, it has been approved as an elective in General Education, meeting requirement IV in Lifelong Learning.  Human Services 300 promotes a decidedly personal approach to the goals of this requirement, which include understanding oneself from “an integrated physiological, sociocultural and psychological organism.”  The interactive format of the course promotes understanding life from different cultural perspectives.  Most broadly, the course promotes lifelong habits of reflectivity, integrating ongoing academic development into personal application and sensitivity to ones community. Additionally, through frequent writing assignments that emphasize real-life concerns, the course meets the General Education goal of enhancing writing ability. 


Students may only take CHARACTER AND CONFLICT with the consent of the instructor.  That consent is typically given at the first class meeting, and is contingent upon the student's becoming familiar with the nature and expectations of the course, as explained in this distribution and as described by the instructor.  You should not finalize your decision to take this course until you have had an opportunity to carefully review this information.


CHARACTER AND CONFLICT is a different and emotionally challenging sort of a course.  The purpose of the course is to provide an opportunity for a more personal sort of self‑understanding and expression than most of us usually get, with a focus on issues and conflicts that affect you directly in your daily lives; the readings and lectures are intended to contribute toward that end, but the emphasis will be on small group interaction in which you are expected to be an active participant in discussions of topics which will typically become personal, emotional, and intimate.  Topics will include autonomy, masculinity and femininity, love, sex, marriage and relationships, ones body, ones family, loneliness, encountering others, death and loss, meaning, and other themes your group may develop on its own, including discussing frankly and openly the nature of your interactions with one-another.  It is very important for you to understand in advance that these discussions will be taking place on a decidedly personal rather than a detached or typically academic level.  Of course no one will or could force you to talk about any specific topic that you do not wish to disclose; but there will be "peer pressure" for you to have a willingness,  in general, to be a contributing participant in actively focusing on and talking about areas of your personal life which involve conflict and emotional sensitivity for you.  If you are not willing to do that, you will inhibit the readiness of others to fully participate.  In that case you should not be taking this course, are not welcome to take it, and do not have the required permission to take it.


The class is intended for students who contemplate careers in one of the helping professions (such as counseling, psychotherapy, social work), on the reasoning that the ability to understand the struggles of others is rooted in the ability to find counterpart struggles within oneself.   It is also presented as potentially contributing to the general education appropriate to a university, provided that the student elects to take it after being informed about its nature. If you feel that you are required to take this course and yet do not want to be part of this sort of personal interaction and disclosure, please discuss your reservations with the instructor to see whether there might be some alternative.  But PLEASE do not deceive yourself by skimming over this attempt to caution and inform you about what to expect and conclude that "you have a right to be here" ‑‑ or you "need this course" because of some requirement, whether or not you feel like being an active participant in the course as described; you do not have that “right” any more than you would have the right to sign up for a basketball course and then squat in the middle of the court in everyone else's way.  If you do not want to participate in the ways indicated you will inhibit others who do want this, and you will be in the way.


Early in the course the class will be sub‑divided into groups.  Most of a typical class meeting will be in the small groups, once the instructor has made some opening remarks on the theme for that meeting.  Student leaders who are being supervised by the instructor will conduct the groups.  The instructor will rotate among the groups.  Student leaders and the instructor meet to discuss the groups before and/or after each class meeting.  (In the regular semester, though not Intersession nor Summer Session, student leaders will also be discussing the content and nature of these groups in a class they are taking on Group Leadership.)  The student leaders are expected to be fallible human beings, typically working on their undergraduate degrees, whose job is to seek to encourage and facilitate a group environment conducive to honest and personal interaction.  They will encourage you to participate, they will read and comment on the papers you write, and they will attempt to contribute to meaningful interaction within your group. The course is offered for a population that is presumed to be composed of relatively well‑functioning individuals who wish to speak openly with one another.  Once again, if you are not interested in being an open participant in this sort of an experiential setting you ought not to be taking this course.  If you fear that you may not be emotionally prepared for this sort of experience, you should discuss your concern with the instructor.  If for any of these reasons, in the opinion of the instructor, you prove to inhibit the capacity of the group to carry on the kind of interactions for which this course is intended, you may be required to discontinue attendance.


You will be asked to promise to treat the personal disclosures of others as confidential.  Respect for confidentiality is an absolute requirement of the course, and those who violate this are subject to being dropped from the course without credit.  There are some important qualifications on this principle of confidentiality. There is no way to guarantee that everyone will respect this principle of confidentiality, but you are expected to commit yourself to it.   Also, if I believe that you present a significant risk to yourself or others, or if I learn about a current risk of abuse to a child, I will have an obligation to make a report of this danger.   I also reserve the right to confer with appropriate professionals should I believe that my work with you requires outside consultation.  I may review content of group meetings in supervision meetings with the group leaders from other groups.   Please feel free to discuss with me any concerns that may be raised by any of these considerations.  




This course is offered only on a credit no credit basis.  To get credit in the course you must turn in EACH of the reaction papers indicated on the syllabus.  These are personal reaction papers and they are meant to provide a forum for you to express and learn about yourself, your own views and struggles and experiences. While the papers are written for you, the instructor and the group leaders will read them.  The papers will not be acceptable if they are too brief, or insubstantial, or careless.  You will not get credit in this course unless your instructor accepts all your work.  Typing is preferred, but easily read longhand is acceptable.  Papers may not be acceptable if they are especially messy, hard to read, brief, superficial, or continually focused away from yourself and your own reactions.   The point is not to debate or critique what others say or write, but to use each section of each paper as a vehicle for expressing yourself, your own feelings about your own struggles.   Separate copies of your papers are to be provided to each of your group leaders and to your instructor.     I would prefer to get my copy by email.


 Whenever you communicate with me by email, please always start off the subject line with your first name, last initial, and group number, and then what the message is about.  Most importantly, however you do this, always do it the same way so that I can easily keep your correspondence organized.  So, if your name is Kathy Smith and I put you in group 2, your message subject heading would look like this:  “KathyS2 assignment 2 childhood.”  I would prefer you paste your paper into an email form.  If you must do it in an attachment, then also label your attachment with the above system, and send it in Word.  Please do not send it as a “zip” file. 


Each assignment has at least 3 parts.  All parts should be clearly identified and each page should have your name or student number, the assignment number, the date and chapters discussed, and any information about extra or missing sections, stapled together (not just paper clip or folding).   Since I may read papers superficially, please indicate portions you especially want me to see. 


      (a) Lecture/whole class. Respond to something in the whole-class meeting in the instructor’s introductory remarks or occasional  “exercise” before or after the small groups meet.  The point is for you to be looking at yourself, not to critique or debate the instructor.  Find an opportunity to reflect on something about you that was evoked.  Minimum length 75 words: suggested length, 200, but go on as long as you like.


(b) Respond to your small group, emphasizing events and reactions to the most recent meeting.    Again, the point is for you to be reflecting on you, not to analyze or lament the experiences or ideas of others.  This should be about you; hopefully you will find a way to let others know in person things you are thinking and feeling about them.  Challenge your self to say in group the things you write about.  Minimum length 150 words: suggested length 250 words, but go on as long as you like.


      (c) Respond to the chapter for the current meeting, as a means of “getting primed” for the topic.  Once again, the point is to find a vehicle for you to focus on you, not to debate the author of the text nor to dryly review each and every point made there.  Minimum length 75 words, but go on as long as you like.


(d) Some assignments have additional sections


Attendance at every class is required.  If you miss, for any reason, you must:

Ø       Make every reasonable effort to notify me and your group BEFORE class.  Call my office (714) 278-2752.  If it’s really last minute, call my cell phone:  (714) 624-5055.

Ø       You still have to write a reaction to the chapter for that day.

Ø       For any absence, no matter what the reason, you must also read some sort of “self-help” book or a book suitable for the sort of introspective thinking promoted in this course.   Get some ideas about appropriate books from the instructor.  400 words minimum.


You are also expected to turn in each paper on time, and in a reasonably neat and readable form.    In the case of missing or late unacceptable portions of the assignments, at the discretion of the instructor, you may be asked to provide an additional section, exploring the possible significance of the problem section -- e.g., what does it say about your life at the present, or your feelings about the topic or situation that didn’t get written about as it was supposed to have been?  Minimum length: 100 words.








Assignment schedule, Summer 2003

    1st meeting, June 3

Introduction to the course,  Read syllabus and guidelines

    2nd meeting, June 4 assignment 1

a.  React to instructor’s portion of previous class

b.  There won’t be a group portion to respond to.  Instead, discuss personal issues in your life that you may wish to address in this course.  This should be presented as an autobiography.  Who are you?  How did you get to be that way?  Who are some of the important people in your life currently and previously?  c.  Respond to some themes or points in chapter 1.

    3rd meeting, June 5, assignment 2

a.    React to instructor’s portion of previous class

b.    React to group meeting

c. React to Chapter 2, “Reviewing Your Childhood and Adolescence.” Fill in some of the gaps in the autobiographical material you turned in yesterday.

    4th meeting, June 10 assignment 3

a.  React to instructor’s portion of previous class,  b.  React to group portion of previous class,  c.  React to Chapter 3, “Adulthood and Autonomy

    5th meeting, June 11, assignment 4, same format as before.  React to Chapter 4, “Your Body and Wellness.”

    6th meeting, June 12, assignment 5. same format as before, Chapter 5, Managing Stress

    7th meeting, June 17, assignment 6, same format as before, React to chapter 6, Love

    8th meeting, June 18 assignment 7, same format,   Chapter 7, Relationships

    9th meeting, June 19 assignment 8,  Chapter 8, sex roles

   10th meeting, June 24, assignment 9, Chapter 9, sexuality

   11th meeting, June 25, assignment 10,   Chapter 10, Work and Recreation

   12TH meeting,  June 26,  assignment 11,  Chapter 11, loneliness and solitude 

   13th meeting,  July 1,  assignment 12,  Chapter 12, Death and Loss

   14th meeting, July 2, assignment 13,  Chapter 13, July 3, Meaning and values

   15th meeting, July 3, Pathways to personal growth

   16th meeting, July 8, assignment 14, same format as before, but with a free topic:  return to any chapter in the text.

 Any make-up work should have been turned in by now.

   17th meeting, July 9,  Assignment:  to be announced.    Feedback to others.  What did you learn, yourself?

  18th meeting:  July 10,  Assignment:  to be announced (will include feedback to leaders and instructor)     





I request the consent of the instructor to take  Human Services 300, Character and Conflict.  I have read the description of this course, above, and the nature of this class has been explained to me.  I have had opportunity to raise questions or concerns I had about this.   It has been explained to me, and I understand, that the course resembles therapy, and also, why and how it is not therapy.  I am aware that the course emphasizes an  experiential  group process.   I understand that I will be expected to participate in discussing  topics which will focus  on emotions and  personal conflicts of my own as well as  others present, and that these groups will be led by students who are not therapists, but who are seeking to learn about therapy.    I also understand that at this class, and throughout the semester in connection with this class, I will be experiencing techniques and topics common to counseling and psychotherapy, but that this is offered and undertaken for the objective of education rather than as  diagnosis or treatment of psychological distress.  I understand that neither the instructor nor the student group leaders are offering to diagnose or treat emotional disorders, nor to recommend this class as a form of treatment for any psychological condition which I may have, and I am not requesting them to diagnose or treat me, nor do I expect them to have the same sorts of responsibilities to me that I might expect if I were to seek out therapy independently of my educational objectives in this university.  I agree to respect the confidentiality of the disclosures of my classmates, group leaders, and instructor,  when these might be embarrassing to them.  I expect that what I disclose about myself will be held in confidence, but I understand that I cannot be guaranteed that this confidentiality will be respected by my classmates.  I understand that there are exceptions to confidentiality, including matters of danger to oneself or others, matters relating to potential child abuse, matters where aspiring professionals or professionals in fields related to therapy seek appropriate professional consultation.   I understand that my instructor is an  educator who, guided by discretion, and with due respect for confidentiality,  may draw from  experiences with classes such as these when  lecturing  or writing.   I understand that the instructor’s contributions to this course are with the objective of education rather than in the capacity of an independent practice of counseling or psychotherapy.   My signature on this page means that I have read this release and the  materials the instructor has distributed which explain this course.  I understand the nature and expectations of the course, and wish to be a participant.  I understand that if, in the sole opinion of the instructor, I am not participating in the class in a way he or she believes conducive to its purposes, I may be required to discontinue participation, and that in that event, at the sole discretion of the Department Chair or her designee, I may (or may not) be given the opportunity to complete course credit by alternative means. I understand that by signing this page, or a page identical to it,  I knowingly give up legal recourse I might otherwise seek against the State, the University, the instructor, the students and student group leaders in this course.   This release is given freely and voluntarily.

         LAST NAME,        FIRST NAME,           SIGNATURE,  DATE,             PHONE          STUDENT #    EMAIL