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PSYC 3991: Psychology of Human Resilience

This course focuses on the study of human resilience. Students examine research evidence on individual, family and community factors that have been found to promote resilience in at-risk children, adolescents and adults. Students explore the intense debates and controversies engendered by these findings and their application to prevention and intervention strategies. As a foundation for engaging with these issues, students first develop a framework that includes an introduction to psychology and the research methods used to study human resilience.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Define "resilience" as it relates to psychology.
  • Describe protective and risk factors at the levels of the individual, the family, and the community.
  • Explain how individual, family, and community protective factors can increase resilience (i.e., act as buffers) in at-risk individuals and populations.
  • Describe some of the practical applications or interventions suggested by the research on human resilience.
  • Critically assess research studies on human resilience to identify and discuss the findings and the limitations of the research as well as areas where future research is needed.

Course topics

The course is divided into four modules, which are further divided into topics of study:

  • Module 1: A Framework for Studying Human Resilience
  • Module 2: Resilience and the Individual
  • Module 3: Resilience and the Family
  • Module 4: Resilience and the Community

Required text and materials

There is no required textbook.

Additional requirements

Computer with Internet is required.

Optional materials

The following books are supplementary texts:

  1. Luthar, S. S. (Ed.). (2003). Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities. Cambridge University Press.
  1. Ungar, M. (2004). Nurturing hidden resilience in troubled youth. University of Toronto Press.

Copies of these books are available for short-term borrowing from TRU Library.


To successfully complete this course, you must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the mandatory final project. The following table illustrates how your final grade will be determined for this course.

Assignment 1 : A Framework for Studying Human Resilience 15%
Assignment 2 : Resilience and the Individual 15%
Assignment 3 : Resilience and the Family 15%
Assignment 4 : Resilience and the Community 15%
Discussions 10%
Final Project (mandatory) 30%
TOTAL 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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