Winter 16 Offerings

The seminars are offered on Webadvisor under UNIV1200.

To learn more about a seminar and its instructor(s), please choose from the menu below or scroll down the page to browse.

Please note: In order to ensure all students have the opportunity to take a seminar, more spaces will be opened at intervals throughout registration. So keep checking. There will be lots of opportunities to register in the seminar that fascinates you.

01/02 - Dark Tourism: An Immoral Promotion of Death & Disaster?

Brent McKenzie

We all will die. But why would we want to travel to experience the morbid and the chilling as a tourist? This is the question that is explored in the study of "Dark tourism". Dark tourism as defined by Sharpley and Stone (2009) is "the act of travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre". Although not new, in many societies, visiting sites associated with death is, and has been, a considerable part of the tourist experience; as this can be seen with the existence of pilgrimage, one of the earliest forms of tourism. However, the commercial marketing of such locations to encourage tourist visitations is justly debated. The focus of this course is to explore the individual and societal motivations and fascinations with such experiences, as well as to better understand the impact that such tourism has on country and city image. This first year interdisciplinary seminar intends to expose the student to both domestic and international sites of "Dark tourism". The expectation is that the student will learn how to frame examinations of a controversial phenomenon in an objective and critical fashion.

03 -Hybrid and Creole Identities in Lusophone African Culture

Stephen Henighan

Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde Islands and São Tomé & Príncipe, whose combined population is projected to reach 83 million people by 2050, are unusual in Africa not only because they speak Portuguese, but also because of the high degree of racial mixing, cultural syncretism and creolized identities that characterize their societies. This course will focus on the Creolized aspects of Lusophone African culture that have gained a global audience:  the music of  Cape Verdean divas such as Cesária Évora;  the fiction of the Mozambican writer Mia Couto; the films of the Guinean director Flora Gomes, and Angolan and Mozambican cinema;  Angolan literature; Angolan kizomba music, now heard everywhere; and creolized culinary expressions, such as the South African-based Mozambican Nando’s chicken franchise, now present in more than 30 countries.

04 - Beyond Literacy Exploring a Post-Literate Future

Mike Ridley

This course will explore the nature of literacy and the possibility of a “post-literate” future.

The rise of literacy (reading and writing) was transformational not only for how we communicate and preserve ideas but also for how we think. However, as a literate people we have difficulty imagining both the oral cultures that preceded us (and still exist in other cultures) as well as the possibility of something beyond literacy.

This course will explore the nature of oral cultures, the transformations enabled by literacy and speculate about the concept of rich human communication beyond traditional literacy (e.g. “post-literacy”) that might evolve from advances in computing, biotechnology or other, as yet unimagined, developments.

Students will examine and enhance their learning skills through a series of assignments and in-class activities. These skills will be applied in the exploration of literacy and the future of literacy as part of research investigations and class discussions. The course focuses on the development of both individual skills and team based learning.

The seminar aims to engage students in a way that will significant enhance their success as students as they progress through their program. It will also reinforce the foundations of lifelong learning.

05 - Stupidity and Critical Thinking in the 21st Century

Jodie Salter

Who defines what constitutes “stupidity”? Can we even define it? In this seminar, we will critique the concept of stupidity and explore its relationship to popular culture. Looking at diverse forms of media (e.g., movies, literature, YouTube videos, TEDtalks, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), we will analyze how images and language work in different ways to influence how we make sense of information. This knowledge informs how we view commercials, read newspapers, tell our personal stories, develop our arguments, and convince others of our own perspectives.
This seminar teaches critical thinking, one of the main requirements for all university students and a necessity for an ethical global citizenship. Through a process of identifying and assessing the informational biases we encounter every day in school, our jobs, and the media, students will gain critical perspectives on the relationships between media, power, truth, and language.

By investigating different modes of communication, such as Twitter versus Instagram versus a Shakespearean sonnet, we will discuss the inherent complexities in visual and written communication, the necessity for contextualization, and the implications of inaccessible language. Students will learn strategies for developing effective questioning skills to help them read more critically, write more persuasively, and argue more effectively. .

06 - The Art of Everything: Exploring the Creative Process

John Cripton

During the semester, students will examine aspects of the creative process and discuss how and where ideas originate. Through conversations, first-hand observations, readings, and live presentations by invited guests and the students themselves, participants will be introduced to the effectiveness of innovation and the creative process and how artists and other disciplines use the creative process to expand the unique aspects of their work. Areas to be explored and discussed include the visual arts, music, poetry, theatre, propaganda and the art of the word, the enlightenment and human rights, and innovation and the environment.  Each session is a discussion focusing on a separate subject requiring the discovery of alternate solutions – such subjects as Human Rights, Music, The Enlightenment, Education, etc. Students are asked to read specific documents and be ready to debate their impressions during seminar sessions. Students will be asked to personally experience the writing of poetry or a song (including lyrics and music) and participate in life-drawing, an orchestra concert, slam poetry session, improve and meetings with various specialists in the arts and science as well as excursions to galleries and cinema. Every opportunity will be made for members of the class to learn how to participate in class discussions and how to be forceful and effective in their presentations. Individual class projects will be required and presented in unusual but effective ways.

07 -The Book: From Guttenberg to Gaga to Gone?

Mike Ridley

Is the book really dead? Or is it just resting? Books are both beloved and besieged. They have been transformed over the centuries from Guttenberg's Bible to Gaga's confessional to Amazon's Kindle. What is a book and, if we love them so much, why are they being threatened with extinction? This course will explore the beauty and the power of the book as well as its evolution into some quite new and equally wonderful. We will examine the craft of book making, the art of book writing, the economics of publishing, the politics of authorship, and the power of the reading. From treasures to trash, this course will be all books, all the time. And to make all this more concrete, we'll publish our own book during the semester to document what we think about the future of the book.

08 - The strange harmony between humans and horses

Jeff Thomason

Humans and their close ancestors probably began hunting horses for food 30,000 BP, and started taming them for milk and transport about 5,500 BP.   Since that time the fates of both species have been intimately linked, to the point that domestic horses considerably outnumber their wild or feral relatives.    The aim of this course is to dip into the pool of that shared history at a number of points, some to be chosen by the class, and tease out some details of the horse-human interaction.  Possible dipping points include the original taming; historical events that were shaped by the presence of the horse; shaping of the horse itself by breeding; symbolic and artistic representations over time; the value of the horse in commerce and war, and the current use for work, pleasure or performance.  The last point may be expanded to include the many ways in which humans and horses currently interact: the health-and-welfare issues of horse usage; therapeutic interactions; the value chains in the different equine industries world wide; issues around gambling on their performance, etc.  The course will begin with an information scavenger hunt on all aspects of the horse-human interaction, and discussion and selection of specific topics to be addressed in a problem-solving format for the remainder of the course.

09 - Globesity: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Global Obesity Today

Andrea Buchholz

Obesity statistics are sobering.  In Canada, over 50% of the adult population is overweight or obese.  These statistics are not limited to Canada; globesity is on the rise, such that we now find ourselves in the middle of what many call an “obesity epidemic.”  But what does that really mean?  This seminar course will explore the prevalence, causes and consequences of obesity – or excess body fat – in Canada and worldwide, while considering political, economic, geographical, environmental, sociocultural, biological, psychological, and feminist perspectives.  Together, we will explore questions such as:  How is obesity perceived cross-culturally?  Is excess body fat always unhealthy?  How do we – intentionally and perhaps unintentionally - discriminate against the obese population?  Should obesity “cured”, and if so, how?  What role does the food industry play?  How does the media portray obese people?  How would you shape public health policy as regards obesity treatment and prevention – or would you?  Where do you stand on the “big, bold and beautiful” debate? 

10 - I Fought the Law

Elliott Allen

Our criminal and family courts are being asked to deal with major issues of public policy relating to the rights of individuals in their dealings with the state. In this Enquiry Based seminar students will work collaboratively to explore scenarios based on current legal dilemmas. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the histories, current tensions and possible resolutions of conflicts in such areas as child welfare, drug use, political activism, racial profiling and prisoners’ rights will be examined.

11 - Sleep: 1/3 of Your Life Spent with Your Eyes Closed

Justine Tishinsky

“I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day, because it means I’m going to be up all night” – Steven Wright.  We spend 30-35% of our lives asleep.  Some practically fall sleep standing up…others toss and turn all night.  Some sleepwalk, some snore, and we all dream.  Sleep is a restorative process that’s imperative to our health and wellbeing, yet 63% of adults get less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night.  Nevertheless, the process of “going to sleep” is a social and cultural norm.  The longest anyone has ever gone without sleep is a mere 11 days.  This seminar course will focus on the art and science of sleep.  Topics covered will include: contributors to insomnia (stress, caffeine, alcohol, technology, etc.), circadian rhythms and biological clocks, dreams and nightmares, cultural determinants of sleep patterns, sleep disorders (i.e. sleepwalking, etc.), and effectiveness of pharmacological and herbal sleep aids.  Students will have the opportunity to address a research question of their choosing and demonstrate their knowledge in the form of a written paper and oral presentation.  We ask that you remain awake during all classes.

12 - Varsity athletics: Cost, Culture and & Consequence

Jason Dodd and Clarke Mathany

This course will explore the impact of intercollegiate varsity athletic programs on colleges and universities within Canada, the United States of America, and globally. Students will debate the financial, cultural and ethical impact of varsity athletic programs while exploring how athletics can enhance or hinder the development of the student-athlete.

13 - Knowledge Sharing: Indigenous Resistance, Resurgence and Relationships

Cara Wehkamp

Have you ever wondered where the truth lies in the conflicting media reports? Why Indigenous communities in Canada are experiencing substandard conditions? What are the solutions? Can we work together to build a better future?  In an interactive and collaborative learning environment, this seminar will centre on the themes of Indigenous resistance, resurgence and relationships.  Students will be provided with the opportunity to foster an understanding of First Nations, Métis and Inuit experiences through the investigation of historical, political, economic, and social realities, decolonizing struggles and contemporary grassroots movements.  By investigating how identity, location, power and privilege influences interactions within personal, social and cultural contexts, students will gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous affairs in Canada. 

14 - Pathway to Global Citizenship

Jane Ngobia

This seminar is will be of interest to students who intend to work in a global context. It provides students an opportunity to share their insights and experiences with each other, recount, express and reflect on these experiences, and integrate their learning to strengthen their international perspectives and their pursuit of international career and academic opportunities.

The course draws primarily from resources and opportunities available on campus for students to develop their international and intercultural skills. Throughout the seminar students will explore ways in which an education at the University of Guelph supports their quest for a critical perspective and normative notions of international education, cross-cultural competence and global citizenship. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their international/intercultural experiences prior to joining the university, gaps and aspirations and consider the complex implications of these experiences to their interpersonal and professional lives.
Students will examine the skills that form the foundation of global competence in order to work effectively in international settings. These include awareness of and adaptability to diverse cultures, perceptions and approaches; familiarity with the major currents of global change and issues; and the capacity for effective communication across cultural and linguistic boundaries.

The highlight of the seminar will be the group projects.  Students will prepare a compelling proposal to a target department on campus suggesting practical and systemic ways in which that department can become an active partner towards preparing global citizens (UofG graduates).

15 - Planet of the Plants: Their Friends and Their Foes

Bernard Grodzinski

Current estimates are that the Earth is almost 5 billion years old.  On this planet it is the photosynthetic bacteria, the algae and the hundreds of the thousand species of aquatic and land plants that have evolved that support all other living organisms since they possess the unique capacity to trap solar energy and convert that energy into usable chemical forms. How did the physical evolution of the earth affect plant evolution? To what extent did the ascent of plants change the physical nature and geology of this planet? For example, during the development of modern day plants how was Earth’s atmosphere was converted to one that we could breath and therefore evolve?  How do plants influence weather patterns, water cycles, erosion patterns, migration of animals and natural evolution on the planet? The Plant Kingdom comprises many variants of photosynthetic organisms from unicellular aquatic organisms to complex vascular giants such as the red-wood trees that survive for thousands of years.  To survive and flourish world-wide plants have developed both direct and indirect relationships with other life forms.  Which organisms are friendly and beneficial forming symbiosis and which are with foes and potentially lethal?  Whyt does mankind need plants? Do they need us?  During this course through student led research and enquiry and class discussions of written assignments we will explore the questions posed above and assess how plants have set the conditions for the evolution of all life forms, from microbes to man. 

16 - Awakening to Death

Kerry Daly

As paradoxical as it sounds, it often requires effort to awaken to the centrality of death and grief in our lives. We are a culture that either diverts attention away from death by focusing on health, beauty and youthfulness or one that numbs our attention to “real” death by saturating us with entertainment and media images of murder and terror. Even when death comes close and becomes more real, it is often treated as an experience to “get through” as quickly as possible. Students will be encouraged to awaken to the personal and the public experience of death through the use of reflective accounts, enquiry based learning strategies (in small groups), and critical analyses of the changing ways that death is ritualized and managed amidst increasingly diverse cultural norms. The broad themes covered in this seminar include reflections on mortality; the experience of grief and loss (including ambiguous loss and disenfranchised grief); the ritualized and commercial aspects of death; emerging strategies in the provision of end of life care; and current debates regarding physician assisted death

17 - Pacifism and Activism: Shaping the University of Guelph Persona

Sue Bennett

Together, we will explore the historical roots and the development of Guelph’s unique culture through an analysis of examples of pacifism and activism on campus by students, faculty and staff. What issues were at cause? Why were they relevant? What were the results of these activities? How did they change life on campus? How has Guelph’s reputation evolved as a result? From archival research to personal interviews, a wide variety of inquiry methods will be used to gather the “DNA” and build a present-day member of the Guelph community. The class will design the research and develop outcomes/application for the investigation. This course is a great way to find out more about your University and how you can be an active part of it.

18 - Across the ‘Black Atlantic’: Jamaica’s Impact on Community, Culture and Music in Britain and Canada

Jason Wilson

Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae facilitated a cultural dialogue between Jamaican migrant and the host community in urban centres such as London, Birmingham and Toronto. These musics united migrant and host across the ethnic frontlines of these big urban centres and often bridged black and white youth together in an ‘oppositional’ and musical movement. Ska, rocksteady and reggae provided the soundtrack to this social and political process and soon became part of the musical vernacular in Britain and Canada as evidenced in UK bands such as the Clash, The Specials, Aswad and UB40 and in Canadian bands such as The Sattalites and Messenjah.

In this course, we will review the evolution of Jamaica’s popular musics and how these had been informed by African and European traditions over the course of two centuries. We will read and hear texts of songs and anthems that resulted from these frontline collisions between Jamaican migrants and members of the respective host communities during the second half of the twentieth century. We will review the important socio-political consequences that these musics may have caused or addressed. We will also review some of the keynote sounds of these musics, in some cases, live from some of the original artists themselves. Apart from the written component, you will have an opportunity to produce a creative project that could include, among other things, a musical performance, a spoken-word piece or a radio show. Ultimately, you will witness how the impact of this contact between communities transcended a shared affection for music and engendered a vital intercultural dialogue

19 - Community Environmental Engagement - On Campus and Beyond

Andy Robinson/Jenn Bock

In A Sand County Almanac (1949), Aldo Leopold states, “there is a need for a new ethic, an ethic dealing with human's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it". Have you wanted to tackle environmental issues, big or small? From sustainable, local food to natural heritage planning to green energy solutions, this course will explore some of the innovative actions that The Ontario Agricultural College, The University of Guelph and the City of Guelph have taken toward minimizing our collective impact on the local natural environment. We will explore the science and the passion of environmental awareness and work towards developing an educational event to enhance community-engaged environmentalism. By the end of the semester, students will have developed the tools and skills to design, plan and host an on-campus ‘awareness fair’ as a means to share their environmental awareness, knowledge and enthusiasm with the entire University of Guelph community.

20 - Creativity, Rebranding Failure Making Opportunity

Janet Wostenholme

Creativity and innovation are among the top required skills for the workplace today. It takes a skilled person and some keen creative thinking to reinvent an item into a useful object, remember “sticky notes” were invented as a solution to a failed attempt at making a new glue! In this seminar students explore what might be construed as “failed” attempts at invention and discuss risk taking for innovation. In a final assignment learners will have the opportunity to work on a project that takes a “problem” and makes it into an opportunity. Results will be pitched at an audience.

21 - The #StationaryCrew: What Can a Cannon, a Bear, and a Gryphon Tell Us About Community?

Mike Ridley

Why do we paint Old Jeremiah, dress The Begging Bear, and rub The Gryphon Statue? The University and the city of Guelph have a number of prominent statues and public installations. These include Old Jeremiah (the Cannon), the Begging Bear, the Gryphon Statue, the Family in the Fountain, and mostly recently, John McCrae (of “In Flanders Field” fame). They call themselves the #StationaryCrew (yes, it’s a hashtag; they are all active on Twitter).
Why were these particular objects created? What do they “mean”? Why are they on Twitter? And why have they become so beloved and iconic?

This course will explore the nature and importance of these objects to the Guelph community. In doing so the class will create a guided tour (digitally enabled) of these installations that will bring their stories to life.

22 - Risky Business

Tanya MacLaurin

Risky Business, there is no riskier business than that of providing food, lodging and transportation for people.  That is exactly what the tourism and hospitality industries do. Providing for the needs of their guests comes with inherent risks. This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop an understanding of a hazard, risk, risk assessment and risk management. These concepts will be explored from a personal, group, organizational, industry, country and global risk perspective. Cases studies, interactive seminar activities, an audit and the development of a risk management plan evaluated by a panel of risk management professional will facilitate the understanding and application of risk assessment and management. 

23 - Science of Wars

Kathleen Schroeter

“It’s an energy field created by all living things.  It surrounds us and penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars, 1977 

The force and the Star Wars universe have captivated the imagination of millions of people throughout the world, transcending culture, religion and generations. In fact this film franchise has served to inspire many facets of modern society.  In this seminar students will explore the impact that these films have had on propelling current scientific research, pop culture, language and diction, artistic and dramatic expression, and morality.  Students will also be challenged to think critically about how a seemingly innocuous series of films stimulated the modern era of scientific and social invention.



University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1