by Victoria Collier

Dr. Mark Kunkel, a licensed psychologist and professor at the University of West Georgia, was recently awarded with the Affordable Learning Grant for a second time. Based on his research, he created the first and only free introductory psychology textbook to have a comprehensive chapter on humanistic, existential and transpersonal psychology.

“I have been teaching psychology since 1983, and I am more committed than ever to making psychology more available and relevant,” Kunkel said.

Cost Benefits

Dr. Mark KunkelWhat Kunkel says he likes most about the Affordable Learning Grant is that the committee is honest and sincere in its efforts to provide funding that is supportive in all educational pursuits. He thoroughly enjoyed the application process and appreciated the committee’s transparency. Thanks to the grant of $26,800, he and his team were able to produce informative and affordable content to educate all psychology majors.

“We teach about 750 students introductory psychology every semester, and the average textbook is $200,” explained Kunkel. “If the book is adopted by all teachers in the department, there could be a savings of $150,000.”

The book will be free, and everyone will have access to it as a PDF through OpenStax, an online resource. Also, videos and links are embedded in the PDF and students can download and print any section of the book they want.

Why is an Emphasis on Self-Awareness Important?

As the only introductory psychology text book with a focus on self-awareness, Kunkel explains the need to think consciously about our actions and how it influences our lives.

“Self-awareness means that we are more present in our lives, that we live a life that we know we are living moment-to-moment, and that we make (rather than inherit or ignore) meaning in our lives,” he said.

Notable Benefits for Graduate Students

Kunkel will also use the grant to aid his students’ growth and development. This summer, five graduate students will improve their professional voices, teaching skills and writing by assisting in revising the original text and creating new material for the OpenStax textbook.

The book creates a special opportunity for students because not many universities focus on humanistic, existential and transpersonal psychology.

Kunkel recounts that last summer one graduate student helped transcribe his audio for the book and that the students he’s taught since 1999 shaped and added to his experience as a psychologist and the work in his book.

“I have become a more careful thinker and practitioner—and I hope better and truer human being—because of my work with them,” Kunkel said.

Posted on April 4, 2017