Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

The Brown Symposium at Southwestern

Suggested Resources


What Makes Love Last (by Alan Atkisson, New Age Journal, Sept/Oct 1994)
Highlights several key findings from relationship researcher John Gottman’s “Love Lab”, including the three varieties of marriage, the keys to a happy relationship, and how to avoid “the 4 horseman of the apocalypse.”

What Do Women Want? (by Daniel Bergner, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Jan, 2009)
Describes research on women’s sexual desire—a perpetually understudied area—including the work of pioneers Meredith Chivers (female sexual desire is more cognitive than physiological), Lisa Diamond (women’s erotic attractions are “sexually fluid”), and Marta Meana (women’s desire is based on a need to be desired by others).

Advice and Consent: Monogamy in the Age of Dan Savage (by Benjamin Dueholm, Christian Century, Aug 2011)
Written by a Lutheran minister for a clergy magazine, an interesting piece that argues that Christians can learn something about sexual and relationship ethics from Dan Savage.

What Did Jesus Say about Sex? (
This brief article interprets the surprisingly few statements about sex in the Bible attributed to Jesus.

Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel, Integrative Approach to Party Rape (by Elizabeth Armstrong et al, Social Problems, 2006).
Observational and interview data from a large Midwestern university suggest that sexual assault (in the form of “party rape”) on college campuses is due to an interaction of both gendered (e.g., differences in sexual agendas, fraternity control of parties) and non-gendered factors (e.g., homogenous students, heavy drinking, implicit trust).

Scents and Sensibility (by Elizabeth Svoboda, Psychology Today, Jan/Feb 2008)
A fascinating article suggesting that the role of scent in attraction is to match immunologically dissimilar mates to confer an evolutionary advantage, although humans often interfere with this process (e.g., by using perfumes and hormonal birth control) to their detriment.

Teaching Good Sex (by Laurie Abraham, New York Times, Nov, 2011)
Chronicles Al Vernacchio (a high school teacher at a Quaker High School in Philadelphia) whose comprehensive sex education course provides an environment for frank, honest, nonjudgmental discourse about sex (which includes not only discussion of responsibility and risk, but also pleasure) so that teens can make informed decisions and develop healthy, responsible attitudes about sex and relationships.

The Evolutionary Mystery of Homosexuality (by David P. Barash, Chronicle Review, Nov 19, 2012)
This article discusses the evolutionary paradox of homosexuality (i.e., if homosexuals reproduce less often than heterosexuals, why isn’t homosexuality “selected against”?) and offers some promising potential explanations.

What’s So Bad about a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress? (by Ruth Padawer, New York Times, August 8, 2012)
In addition to describing the compelling story of a 4-year old transgender child, the article discusses research on the causes and treatments of childhood gender non-conformity.

Researchers Target Toll Kids Take on Parents Sex Lives (by Rachel Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal, April 2007)
The brief article considers the importance of parents’ sex lives and suggests ways to rekindle romance.

In Search of the “Perfect” Vagina: Women Spend (and Spread) to Achieve Porn Ideal (by Bonnie Zylbergold, Alternet, 2009)
This brief article examines the increasing popularity of genital cosmetic surgery in women.

Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents (by Charlotte Patterson, American Psychologist, November 2009)
Developmental psychologist Patterson reviews a large body of research showing little difference in the outcomes of children reared by same-sex and opposite sex parents and argues that sexual orientation should not be used as a factor in child custody cases.

Adaptation to sperm competition in humans (by Todd Shackelford & Aaron Goetz, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2007).
A fascinating review of evidence suggesting that human males compete with each other for successful fertilizations as an adaptation to female infidelity (e.g., the shape of the penis extracts other men’s sperm, larger ejaculation follows suspected female infidelity).

The Scientific Case for Masturbation (by Sharon Begley, Newsweek, Oct 7, 2010)
This brief article cites evidence from the animal kingdom to argue that masturbation is evolutionarily adaptive and helps procreation.

BDSM: The Ultimate Expression of Healthy Sexuality (by Wayne Pawlowski, Taking Sides, 2009).
Pawlowski debunks the common myths and misperceptions about BDSM and argues that BDSM is simply on the more extreme end of the continuum of normal, conventional sexual behaviors. Note: this article available for Southwestern users, only. Please use your SUeID and password to retrieve the PDF.