| Sarah Heinonen
SPRINGFIELD – “I’ve spent my entire life believing love is the answer to the human condition,” said Eric Brown, a professor of Social Science at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC).
That’s why he teaches a sophomore-level elective psychology course that examines love from all angles and encourages introspection. This semester, 23 students are enrolled in the honors-level class.
Brown said that he has been surprised by “how so many students view love as a really hurtful thing,” at the beginning of the semester. On the first day of class, when Brown asks his student to finish the statement “love is…,” he said many of them respond with words like “painful” and “hurtful.”
Therefore, he makes it a point to address negative connotations early in the class and has his students engage in acts of kindness and self-validating exercises. The class examines the biochemical basis for love and historical perspectives from biblical times through the present.
The class is then guided through the different types of love, from parental love to sexual love to romantic love, and on to self-love and spiritual love.
“It’s not about arithmetic and normal studies that we all have to do for our degree paths. This is something wide open, and it gives us an opportunity to open our minds and be exposed to new things,” said student Craig Cox.
Brown is teaching the Psychology of Love for only the second time at STCC, having first offered it in Spring 2019. Before that, he taught the course at Holyoke Community College in the 1990s.
Brown came to teaching later in life. In the past, he has worked as a licensed therapist and as the CEO of a human service agency.
Brown told Reminder Publishing that when he returned home from the Vietnam War he was “very disillusioned” with life and began searching for meaning. He happened upon the teachings of Felice Leonardo “Leo” Buscaglia, also known as “Dr. Love.” Buscaglia was a professor, author, and motivational speaker whose books and recorded lectures that aired on the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) popularized a philosophy of better living through love and compassion.
Brown said that his curriculum is largely informed by Buscaglia’s work and uses the author’s book “Love,” as a text in the class.
“Even though Buscaglia’s book was written in 1971, you read it today and you feel like he’s talking about today’s world,” he said. “We need love. We definitely need love today,” Brown said in a statement.
Richard Greco, dean of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, said in a press release about the course, “During such tumultuous times as we see today with a nation divided and constant infighting, we need to remember that, as beings, we are programmed to love,” Greco said. “Our brains need it, and science shows us that. Eric’s course looks at parental, partner, and even neighborly love in a way that we come to understand that we should all love more and hate less.”
When students leave the class, Brown hopes, “they will love themselves more.”
He said, “I really believe most human misery is caused by people either not receiving love or not having an avenue to give love. I believe love is the answer.”
To learn more about STCC, visit stcc.edu or call 781-7822.