Classes start in two weeks, and for the past month, I have been searching every corner of the internet, every research database, for academic articles that are critical of mainstream psychology that are accessible to undergraduate students. As a PhD student in critical psychology, I have been lucky enough to be exposed to critical race and feminist perspectives in psychology which have moved the discipline to think about the relationship between academic knowledge production and decoloniality, the history of IQ testing and its effect on eugenics, the danger of biological essentialist notions of sexuality, among other critical questions. In my own work on historical consciousness among women in Indo-Caribbean communities, I think a great deal about accessibility and the ways in which academic knowledge is produced for other academics, rather than everyday people who are investing in education to find resources to make sense of their lives and the world around them.
In developing my syllabus, the need for academics to think about accessibility has become ever more present for me. Because publishing is the academy’s tool for disseminating knowledge, I began by searching for literature through our primary research databases (PsychInfo, Google Scholar, etc) that engages critically with the work of some key theorists who are considered trailblazers in the field—Freud, Piaget, Pavlov, among others. It was deep into my search that I realized that these critical perspectives are often reserved for higher-level courses or graduate studies where students are able to explore alternative perspectives outside of the canon. The literature reflects this and assumes that their audience already has an introductory-level understanding of the discipline. The difficulty in finding academic literature that is critical of mainstream psychological theories and accessible to undergraduates solidified the importance of expanding the ways we think about academic knowledge production, for whom we are producing this knowledge, and to what ends. It also brought to surface the importance of collaboration between academics and knowledge-producers outside of academia, like community leaders, activists, and practitioners.