Darwinian Theory discussion kicks off Psychology Department Speaker Series at GRCC



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


Oct. 10, 2014 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Evolution, bad decisions, creativity and death — Grand Rapids Community College’s Psychology Department Speaker Series doesn’t shy away from life’s big questions.

The free lecture series, which is open to the public, is in its sixth year at GRCC. All the sessions will be held in room 168 of the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE.

“Our intent in organizing this speaker series is to provide topics related to psychology that might inform our students and community about issues relevant to their lives,” said GRCC psychology professor Frank Conner. “We want presenters who are both practitioners and scholars. It is our hope that participants leave the presentation with a little insight into their own thoughts, behaviors and emotions, as well as the other people in their lives.”

Series topics are:

  •  “Modern Application of Darwinian Theory to Psychology,” by Todd Shackelford, Oakland University’s psychology department chairman, runs from 1-2:30 p.m. Oct. 20. He will introduce evidence on how Darwinian selection has become the centerpiece of biology, and how many psychologists and anthropologists use an evolutionary perspective to guide their work.
  •  “I’m Dying to Talk with You,” by author and Amazing Circle Workshops director Dave Kampfschulte, runs 1-2:30 p.m. Nov. 20. Kampfschulte will draw upon his 27 years of experiences as a hospice volunteer to discuss advanced care planning, initiating end-of-life conversations with others, and helping people to think about and discuss death in a positive way. He will also explore some of the roadblocks we often put in the way of discussing death.
  • “Art Therapy and the Expressive Arts: Knowing Yourself through Your Creative Side,” by licensed master social worker Andrea Baier-Petiet, runs 1-2:30 p.m. Feb. 17. Baier-Petiet, of Psychology Associates of Grand Rapids, will discuss the benefits of art therapy for those with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other forms of mental illness. She will also provide examples of actual artwork done by her clients.
  • “Self-Justification in Everyday Life: What cognitive dissonance theory reveals about cheating, justice, love, war, memory, and the decisions we make,” by social psychologist and author Carol Tavris, runs 1-2:30 p.m. March 18. She will explore why is it hard for so many people to admit their mistakes, give up a wrong belief, and accept responsibility for their actions. She will also discuss the psychological benefits of these biases and how understanding their dangers can help us improve our lives.

For additional information, contact Frank Conner at or (616) 234-3612. You can see topics from previous years in the series by clicking here.

Grand Rapids Community College encourages the entire community to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate a need for an accommodation or have questions about accessibility, please call the psychology department at (616) 234-4283 in advance of your visit or program participation.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, as well as at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.