Science of Stress & Art of Play



Course Number



The Science of Stress and the Art of Play

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." Plato

"Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one." Hans Selye

We live in stressed out times, with stress and the stressors increasing. In the 1930's Hans Selye coined the term "stress" and since then has it become common verbiage throughout the world. Today it is very well researched and has come to the fore as one of the leading causes of obesity, disease, and death. Research has linked many societal issues such as rapid technological change, societal imbalances, race, class, and gender to how stress can become toxic to specific populations and contexts of experience. Using the latest research we will explore, some important questions. What are the physiological processes of stress? When is stress positive and when does stress become dangerous? What are the effects of societal stressors and imbalances? How do we as individuals respond to stress? Do you know what your physiological symptoms are in chronic stress? Research has also exposed successful remedies and age-old strategies to neutralize high levels of stress; one of the most important of these is PLAY! With recess being cut from schools throughout the nation, the topic of play has become an important discussion. Utilizing the latest research, we will examine play throughout the mammalian world and reflect on our own patterns of play. We will explore the necessity of play in cognitive development, creating empathy, and as one of the important places children practice and learn conflict resolution. Through discussion and experiential inquiry we will seek to understand the importance of play and its place in our lives as individuals and in our society. We will utilize the topics of stress and play to help us take our inquiry deeper to ask these questions. What are the connections between stress and play? What does our society's relationship to stress and play reveal? How is play and stress related to health and well-being? Will our research expose unbalance in the distribution and access of stress and opportunities for play.

Credit/Evaluation: Informed and regular discussion, participation in experiential learning, and regular attendance. Weekly stress and play journals. Bi weekly reading questions. Four collaborative tests, using flash cards on the science of stress and play. One major 6-8 page research paper on a topic of your choice relating to our inquiry.

Texts required: "Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul" by Stuart Brown M.D and "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" by Robert Sapolsky. Also an assorted collection of journal articles to be determined. Books TBD



Fall 2021
Course Instructor