CSPH 5611 Spring 2008
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Term Spring 2008
Credits: 1 credit
Days/Times: • January 22, 2008 [4:40 pm-7:30 PM]
• February 5, 2008 [4:40 pm-7:30 PM]
• February 12, 2008 (Online module, no on-campus session)
• February 19, 2008 [4:40 pm-7:30 PM]
• March 4, 2008 [4:40 pm-7:30 PM]
Location: WDH-2-120 (Weaver Densford Hall)
Faculty: Kevin Smith, RN, CNP, MS
Course Prerequisites Junior, Senior, Graduate Student or instructor's consent
Using formal lecture, informal discussion, written, and web-based/electronic assignments, and
students will learn how to use humor to enhance communication, treatment, and relationships with
patients, and how to create a positive work environment with co-workers, and how to create a
more positive outlook. This course will also explore the many physiologic effects and benefits of
humor and laughter and the effects on the immune system. Discussion will include contemporary
humor, humor and spirituality, and the connection between positive outlook and health. Students
will be provided with practical humor techniques and resources that will start help them to become
a humor expert.
FORMAT OF COURSE:
This course is a lecture/discussion-based course using web-based resources for various course
assignments and access to reading materials. There is a WebCT VISTA support site, essentially a
place for accessing assignment information. There are five on-campus sessions. Students are
expected to complete readings to be prepared for class discussions. Your participation in the
discussions are a vital part of this class both for educational purposes, and because there are no
long-term studies evaluating the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to the
instructor’s voice. So, speak up; it could save your life.
1. Define humor and therapeutic humor.
2. Analyze the physiologic benefits of laughter.
3. List one example of appropriate and one example of inappropriate humor in patient care
or in working with clients.
4. Describe how humor can be used to improve communication with patients, clients, and
5. Describe how you can deal with change and difficult situations with the use of humor.
6. Examine humor and spirituality and the connections between positive outlook and
Students will be evaluated through a combination of written assignments, quiz, and
Assignments % grade Due date
Humor History Write-up 10% 2/05/07
Humor Log assignment 10% 2/12/07
Weekly Top 10 (actually top 5) 5% Weekly
Online Module assignments 10% 2/12/07
Writing Assignment: Movie 10% 2/12/07
Applied humor description/research question assignment 15% 2/19/07
“power mini paper”
Presentation of humor selection 10% 3/4/07
Written Quiz 15% 3/4/07
Class Participation 15% Always
Positive Attitude Priceless! Always
A - F grade, or S/N option. (Must be designated through registration process) The final letter grade
for all students will be assessed according to the following grading system:
1. An incomplete grade will be granted for one semester. At the time a student requests
an incomplete grade, a formal written contract will be established which will designate
requirements and a completion date.
2. In an effort to be fair and consistent, discretionary grading is not allowed. Faculty will
not accept as correct, different answers from different people. If you feel you have
been unfairly graded, faculty will reconsider your examination grade under the
Identify in writing within one week after graded exam is returned the exam
question(s) for which you feel you have been unfairly graded and why more
credit is warranted.
Agree to accept the reconsidered grade.
3. Makeup exams will only be given to those students who have a legitimate excuse and
who have prior permission. Legitimate excuses include verified illness and family
emergencies. Subsequent written verification of illness by a health care provider is
Credits and Workload Expectations
One conventional credit is defined as equivalent to a minimum of 3-4 hours of learning effort per
week, averaged over an appropriate time interval, necessary for an average student taking that
course to achieve an average grade in the course. (For example, a student taking a four credit
course should expect to spend at least 12-16 hours a week on course work outside the
1. Assigned articles per weekly reading assignments. Articles are available online.
(See course schedule/readings/WebVista course site)
Supplemental Reading (Not required, just for the fun of it)
Humor writing by my favorite authors named David: Dave Barry, David Sedaris.
Others: James Thurber, Stephen Colbert, Erma Bombeck, Gary Larson, The Onion, Bill
Watterson, Tony Kornheiser, Art Buchwald, Bill Cosby.
Stand-Up Comedians who write funny stuff: Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, Woody Allen
General Suggested reading: Warren Peace, Moby Richard, Of Mice and Stooges, Spamlet,
The Grapes of Math, Stockcar Named Desire.
No animals or humans were harmed in the development of this syllabus. The student
enrolled in this course takes full responsibility for everything and anything that could
possibly go wrong. There are no warranties that this syllabus will make you a better or
smarter person. This is a non-smoking area. Please use universal precautions if and when
you engage in significant bouts of laughter. Do not use this syllabus as a floatation device.
Class Topics Reading Assignments
Introductions Nada. 1st day of class. • Class
Class 1 -Introduction to Healthy participation
Humor •Start Humor
Jan. 22 -Humor Definitions Log
-Why we laugh
-Styles of Humor
-Physiological effects of
-In class activity
• Discussion of readings Berk, L. S., et al. (2001) Modulation of DUE:
Class 2 • Your humor history Neuroimmune Parameters During The Eustress Assigned
• Psychological effects of of Humor-Associated Mirthful Laughter, readings
Feb. 5 humor Alternative Therapies, 7 (2), 62-76. online:
• Emotional aspects of http://www.laughteryoga.org/uploads/pdf/13.pdf Due: 1-2 page
humor, positive outlook (select download as pdf file.) Humor
Scheier, M.F., et al. (1999) Optimism & Re
hospitalization after Coronary Artery bypass Graft Be prepared
Surgery, Arch of Internal Med, (159) to discuss
QUICK LINK (requires U of M log-in) topics from
Med&id=pmid:10219928 I & II.
then select the title by clicking on "go"
Smith, K. —Humor chapter pages 69-80 go to link
in WebVista course site.
How Laughter Works, online
• Humor in the work setting Yarwood, Dean L (1995) "Humor and DUE:
Class 3 • Humor and Administration: A Serious Inquiry into Unofficial Readings
communication Organizational Communication." Public for class III
Feb. 12 Administration Review, Jan/Feb95, Vol. 55 Issue
ONLINE MODULE—NO 1, page 81 Due: Movie
CLASSROOM SESSION Assignment
THIS WEEK Instructions to locate Yarwood article: Go to the
See course web site for U library site: http://www.lib.umn.edu/ Due: Humor
further instructions select e-journals. Enter the following journal title, Log
“Public Administration Review” select the journal,
then at the Electronic full text available via Gale
Group LegalTrac line, enter 1995, volume 55
Issue 1, page 81,click “go” and select article from
Barbara Fraley and Arthur Aron (2004) "The effect
of a shared humorous experience on closeness in
initial encounters," Personal Relationships
Volume 11 Issue 1 Page 61 - March 2004
--E-journal: Use same method as above, go to pdf
• Applications of humor Van Blerkom, L (1995). Clown doctors: shaman DUE:
Class 4 • Determining appropriate healers of Western medicine. Medical Readings
uses of humor Anthropology Quarterly, 9 (4), 462-75. for Class IV
Feb. 19 • Humor services for QUICK LINK
patients/clients http://tc.liblink.umn.edu/sfx_local?sid=Entrez:Pub Due: Applied
then select the title by clicking on "go" description/
Joshua, A et al. (2005) Humor and Oncology question
Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 23, No 3 assignment
(January 20),: pp. 645-648
• Humor and spirituality Hostetler, J (2002) "Humor, Spirituality, and Well- DUE: Informal
Class 5 • Clowning Being,"Perspectives on Science and Christian class sharing
• Developing your SOH, Faith, 54, 2, 108-113. of selected
Mar. 4 humor log reflections http://www.laughteryoga.org/research.php?page= humor.
• Final multiple choice quiz 13&country=&year=&TypeOfPublication=
Select pdf file download *Course
Selected Readings will focus on the health aspects of humor, humor in our work and personal
Readings life, and the appropriate applications of humor in various circumstances. We will also
explore various elements of written and spoken humor and humor in diverse settings.
Additional reading from the bibliography and the listed web sites is strongly
encouraged and readings may be added.
You are expected to do your readings prior to class and to be prepared for small and
large group discussion. It is understood that you have very busy schedules. However,
do your best to have a familiarity with the readings/topic so that we can all have a
better learning experience. In other words, don't lose sleep or skip class if you can't
read every word of the assignment.
Review the following questions related to your experiences with humor throughout
your life. Provide written responses to the questions, approximately 2 pages total.
Humor History Take these questions seriously, but not too seriously! This assignment is meant to
Assignment: be a fun and reflective exercise. For this assignment, do not sweat over minor writing
mechanics— I mostly want you to get your thoughts down on paper.
Humor History Questions:
1. What are your funniest memories from your childhood?
2. Where, or from whom, do you think you developed your own sense of humor?
3. Who are the people in your life who make (or made) you laugh? Why did you think
they were funny?
4. Name some television shows or movies that made you laugh. What aspects of
these shows did you find to be funny?
5. Experiences with laughter: Was laughter a celebration? Did you use humor as an
escape? Did you use humor as a defense mechanism?
6. How do you feel after a good hearty laugh?
Humor Log See handout/log forms. You will jot down very brief comments about one (or more if
assignment you like) observation/event/experience each day between the first and third class
Choose a comedy film from the list below. Choose something that you have not seen.
As you watch your selected comedy film, jot down notes regarding the humorous
Writing elements, and keep notes regarding the plot and scenes that amuse you. (Warning--
do not let the note writing get out of hand--you need to relax and enjoy the movie too!)
Movie Write 3-4 pages double-spaced addressing the following, in any order that you
Commentary choose. You must address each of the criteria for full credit.
1. Describe the main plot of the film. (1 point)
2. Define the type(s) of humor that were used in the film. (2 points)
3. Recount specific scenes (a few) and quotes from the film that made you laugh, or
at least elicited a snicker or a chuckle. Describe why you thought the specific
reference/quote was funny. “Just because it’s funny” is not an acceptable explanation
for why you thought it was funny. Did they use elements of surprise? Incongruity? Use
terms that you have learned in class or through your readings. (If you did not think the
movie was funny at all--expand your description to include the types of humor
attempted). (3 points)
4. List at least one attempt at humor that you think did NOT work and explain your
rationale. (2 points)
5. How did watching this film make you feel? Attempt to comment on both emotional
and physiologic components of your response. (2 points)
(Select one comedy film and critically analyze components based on criteria in the
Waiting For Guffman, The King of Comedy, Trading Places, Manhattan, Take the
Money and Run, Much Ado About Nothing, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess
Bride, This is Spinal Tap, The Royal Tennenbaums, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Dr.
Strangelove, Raising Arizona, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Groundhog Day,
Annie Hall, A Mighty Wind, The Producers (old or new version), Napoleon Dynamite,
Bottle Rocket, Sideways, About Schmidt, Anchor Man, Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory, Borat, Juno.
Grading of this assignment is based on your ability to effectively address the five
Don't let the title of this assignment frighten you. This is a
"Power Mini-paper.” Yes, just 1-2 pages double spaced. I am looking
for critical thinking and well constructed thoughts, NOT lots of words.
Longer does not =better!
Applied humor Based on your readings and everything you have learned so far in this course (and in
research 1. Identify one type of humor that you would use, or would like to use in your school,
question work, or personal life. (2 points)
2. Describe why you chose this type/style of humor (self-deprecating, incongruity,
puns, etc.) and identify your rationale for this choice, based on your readings. Identify
at least one article/chapter which discussed this type of humor. In other words, why
would this be a valid choice? (5 points)
3. Discuss how additional research could be used to improve knowledge and
understanding about the potential effectiveness of this humor technique/style. (5
4. Writing style: You are expected to write with clarity, precision, and pretty darn
good grammar. (3 points)
Choose a humorous quote, anecdote, or joke authored by someone else, from any
publication you choose. You must in some way relate the selection to topics humor
Presentation of themes discussed within the course. This is flexible, be creative. Each student will
Selected Piece read his or her selection to the class (limit time to 1-2 minutes max). Do not stress out
of about this--this will be a relaxed and informal session--really!
For those of you who are very ambitious, instead of the above, write an original
humorous quote, anecdote, or joke.
Although “grown-up” themes are OK, please avoid anything that would be blatantly
Every week 4-5 students will share an original (or at least mostly original) "Top 10
Lite" list, which is actually a Top 5 list--but calling it Top 5 just does not sound right. If
you have not heard of a David Letterman style Top 10 list, ask a classmate, and
Weekly maybe they can update you on that whole Michael Jackson fiasco too.
“Top 10 Lite” *How to do it: Pick a topic, and brainstorm ideas. Your final list will start with #5, and
go down to #1. The last item is supposedly the funniest/most silly/most outrageous.
The Top 5 Excuses for Handing in a Late Assignment
5. My Gerbil ate it.
4. It's not really late, it’s just not cooperating with the conventional time/space
35-40 or so multiple choice and short-answer questions.
If you keep up with readings and attend all classes, this will be easy as pie. During the
Final Written second to last class session, we will have a study session/game to help you prepare.
Academic Course Policies and Responsibilities
Clarity and the appropriate use of grammar and spelling are professional expectations. Please
make certain that all personal communication and submitted assignments reflect a high standard.
Students may be asked to resubmit their electronic and/or written work and points may be
deducted if such standards are not met.
Assistance with writing or organizational skills can be obtained through University Counseling and
Consulting Services at http://www.ucs.umn.edu/ (612-624-3323).
Classes and tutors are available for students for which English is a second language. Contact
Lynne Ackerberg, DIrector, MN English Center, http://cla.umn.edu/mec/ (612-626-4548).
Students are expected to adhere to the University of Minnesota standards for student conduct.
Please refer to the academic conduct policies published in the School of Nursing Undergraduate
Student Handbook. Academic dishonesty in any portion of the academic work for a course shall
be grounds for awarding a grade of F or N for the entire course.
One type of academic dishonesty is plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of representing someone
else's intellectual property as your own. Plagiarism is unethical and may also be a violation of
copyright law. To learn more about plagiarism, and to find tips on how to properly paraphrase
someone’s work, visit the U of M web page at the following URL address:
Faculty at the University of Minnesota use a variety of safeguards against plagiarism, including
electronic software designed to detect copying (e.g., Turnitin.com). Any student found to be
plagiarizing will receive an F in this course.
1. Attendance, punctuality, and active participation are expected for all course activities. Students
should refer to guidelines regarding excused absences. Instructors must be notified at the
beginning of the term about such planned absences. Non-excused absences or repeated
tardiness will lower the course grade. Repeated non-excused absence will result in a failing
grade for the course. Notification of absence in event of illness or family emergency is required.
2. Students will be expected to prepare for each class session including reading or review of
pertinent textbook information. Assigned readings and activities for identified class topics
should be completed prior to class.
3. Assignments must be handed in on time, unless a different date has been negotiated with
faculty. Late work will result in loss of points.
4. Students are encouraged to contact a faculty person to discuss questions or concerns about
their course performance at the earliest possible date.
5. Students will be asked to participate in course and faculty evaluations.
6. Students are asked to maintain a neat classroom environment including disposing of everything
he/she came in with, such as beverage cans/bottles, food containers/wrappers, newspapers,
etc. and straightening up the classroom at the end of the period.
1. Faculty will be available to assist students in course work by appointment.
2. Faculty will evaluate student achievement of course objectives and provide ongoing
3. Faculty will facilitate student learning by providing support, encouragement, nursing expertise
and assistance in applying course concepts.
Statement of Inclusivity:
The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to
its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national
origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, public assistance status or veteran status.
It is University policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis reasonable accommodations
to students who have documented disability conditions (e.g. physical, learning, psychiatric, vision,
hearing, or systemic) that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet
course requirements. Nursing students who suspect they may have a disability condition are
encouraged to contact Barbara Blacklock or Tim Kamenar at Disability Services for a confidential
discussion of their individual needs for accommodations. Disability Services is located in Suite 180
McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street. Barbara or Tim can be reached by calling 612/626-
1333 voice or TTY. Student feedback about the inclusivity of the course content and teaching
methods will be appreciated and taken into consideration.
Policy on Use of Class Notes for Commercial Purposes:
Students may not distribute class notes, handouts, or other instructor-provided materials for
commercial purposes, through the Internet, or for any reason other than personal study among
classmates enrolled in the course, without the express written consent of the instructor.