Fall 15 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 - Building a Career in the 21st Century Sean Lyons

Sean Lyons

You have come to university to launch your career. But what does that mean?  What is a career? How do you know if you’re on the right path for your personal career? How do you ensure that you will be employable, successful and ultimately satisfied in your career? How do you go about making important choices about your career within the context of your life in general? This course examines careers from an individual perspective, drawing career theory and research, but applied to you as a career actor.  You will explore your personal values, interests, personality and competencies and consider what career path is right for you.  You will also examine practical career development skills, such as professional development, job search and inter-personal communication. The ultimate learning outcomes of this course will be increased self-awareness, understanding of the nature of careers and understanding of the realities of the present and future career landscape.

03 - Communicating Effectively for Change

Brenda Whiteside

History provides for us examples of individuals and groups that have made a significant impact on the world – both positive and negative. While these leaders represent a range of diverse backgrounds and leadership styles, and utilized a range of tools to enact change, they were all effective communicators. They had a clear vision and engaged communities in moving the vision to fruition. This seminar course is designed to provide participants with some of the knowledge and skills needed to engage in change. The course will explore the important inter-relationship between the individual, teams, and the community in any change process.  The course will also examine the barriers to change.   Working in groups and using political examples, the course will help participants to examine their own strengths and weaknesses and enhance their verbal and non-verbal communication skills.  Participants will also learn the fundamentals of team development and strategies for collaboration, dealing with conflict and reaching a common purpose.

04 - How the Tooth Fairy Got Smart & Other Tales from the Biomedical Science Frontier

Neil MacLusky

Over the last fifty years, advances in our understanding of cell and molecular biology have transformed biomedical sciences, leading to an increasingly rapid pace of discovery. As knowledge of the fundamental processes of life becomes ever more advanced, discoveries frequently have political, moral and ethical implications.  Scientists increasingly find themselves required to communicate their views outside the narrow confines of their own individual field of specialization, to become advocates for science and contributors to public health care policy decisions.  The aim of this seminar course is to provide students with the opportunity to investigate and discuss current issues in biomedical research, focusing on their broader long-term implications rather than on the technical details of individual studies. Students will choose a scientific article relevant to each discussion topic, to present in class and provide a short written report for evaluation. All of the discussion questions will involve research currently ongoing at the University of Guelph, allowing students the opportunity to engage with faculty as well as more senior students in the Biomedical Sciences program, in developing their assignments.

05 - Baseball by the Numbers: Learning How to Analyze Baseball Data

Ian Newby-Clark

Baseball is full of numbers and some people have a lot of fun analyzing those numbers to figure out things about the game. In this course, you will learn to use a free and widely available software package (called R) to answer questions about baseball. No prior knowledge of statistical analysis software or baseball statistics is required. A love of the game would be an asset.


06 - Twitter: #Profound or #Pretentious

Mike Ridley

Is Twitter profound or pretentious? Can 140 characters really make any difference in the world? Twitter will be explored as a technological, cultural, economic, political, and social force. Using Twitter itself as a platform for interaction, the students will engage in a global dialogue about its nature, influence, and future possibilities. The Twitterverse is a rich ecosystem with which to question and deconstruct the nature of 21st century digital culture. Whether devoted to Twitter or dismayed by it, students will examine it by actively using the service and applying a critical lens to its impact. As a result, a Twitter account will be required of all students in the course.

07 - 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.

08 - The Guelph Public Library Project: Community Engagement and Civic Development

Mike Ridley

Should Guelph have a new main public library? Aren’t libraries old school? For the past 20 years repeated efforts have been made to replace the old and insufficient library with a new main library building appropriate for a growing city. Repeatedly these efforts have been dashed. Once again a new main library is being considered by the city. The course will focus on this long term public debate to discover, explore, analyze, and communicate all perspectives. Utilizing social media, community radio & television, and other tools and vehicles as means of community engagement, the course will position students as journalists, city planners, editorialists, media commentators, researchers, and interested citizens. This issue is unfolding in real time; students will be on the leading edge of a developing story. They will be a witness this unfolding; they may also influence it.

09 - Current Dialogues in Human Rights Law and Policy

Pat Case

Rights talk pervades our society and, as we know, the discussion tends to get very hot! These are just a few of the issues that are the subject of current discussion in Canada: Can young women who wish to take part in sporting activities be told that they cannot do so because, for religious reasons, they wear head coverings? Can a Sikh man wear a turban instead of a helmet while riding his motorbike? Does a gym have to cover its windows so that young boys, who are members of a religious community occupying the next building, do not see scantily clad women? Can I set up a campus group that excludes queer students? Can employees take time off work so that they may pray? Can people who, for religious reasons, wear head coverings be denied employment in a hair salon? In this seminar we will read about and discuss the legal, social and philosophical limits to “accommodation”. But the problems do not end there. What happens when people who believe that society has gone too far in accommodating the “rights” of others decide to speak their minds about the subject -- can they do so openly? Is the right to speak more important than the right to live in a society free from discriminatory speech?

10 - Exploring what it means to be human, past and present.

Elizabeth Finnis

What does it mean to be human? As a species, we live in almost every environment. But how did this happen, and how do we understand the nature of what it means to be human today? Drawing on anthropology, human geography, psychology, and sociology research, we will explore these questions by first developing an intimate understanding of our evolutionary past. We will continue on to discuss the richness of contemporary human cultural, social, and biological diversity, exploring how we, as a species, shape the world around us in terms of issues like human health, politics, and livelihoods. We will consider the implications our evolutionary pasts and current actions might have for the future of our species and the world we live in. Together, we will learn and share knowledge through hands-on activities, reflections, presentations, and a class mini-conference

11 - What is “Art” in the 21st Century?

Janet Wolstenholme

What is considered art in the 21st century? In this seminar all forms of traditional and contemporary art and various forms thereof will be examined. From religious roots to the avant-garde, art has been able to cross boundaries and influence moral and ethical belief systems. Imagery has been able to convey a “thousand words” in one picture or take viewers to another realm. Learners will explore personal and cultural meanings and use of art. As well learners will consider the role and function of creativity over time, in today’s society, and what it could look like in the future.  We will learn in a collaborative environment using an enquiry based pedagogy and reflective practice.

12 - Reading Stories, Reading the World: Critical Literacy for Engaged Citizenship

Elizabeth Jackson

In this seminar, we will explore the ways in which the stories we are told shape our understandings of the world we live in and, in turn, the ways we relate to each other. We will focus particularly on how our encounters with various media (including news outlets, academic writings, advertising and literature) work to construct their own particular versions of truth, and to support some interests and voices over others. This course builds from the premise that critical reading skills – the ability to identify who is being spoken for, who is being silenced, and what interests are being served by any given story – are a crucial element of engaged citizenship. Students will carry out research projects on a chosen theme or issue related to social justice, using their developing research and critical literacy skills to create a capstone project analyzing and explaining the ways in which their particular issue is being represented by diverse groups and voices.

13 - Games, Decisions and Economic Behaviour

C. Bram Cadsby

How do people make decisions when faced with economic choices? How do those choices interact to produce consequences for small groups or sometimes the entire world? Economists and other social scientists have constructed theories of choice and strategic behavior, often by making simple assumptions about rationality and self-interest. Do people really behave the way such theories predict? An exciting new approach to answering such questions is through behavioral experiments. An economist, Vernon Smith, and a psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, won the 2002 Nobel Prize for pioneering work on these problems. This course uses simple classroom experimental games to search for answers. Some of the games are played on computers. Thus it is necessary that each student have a laptop computer or other device (e.g. a “smart” phone) that can connect to the university’s wireless network.

Each of the games we play has been used by researchers to examine some aspect of economic behavior. By playing these games, the students themselves create data, which they can then analyze and interpret. It permits the students to compare their behavior to the predictions of theories produced by social scientists about human behavior in a wide variety of economic situations. They can also compare their own behavior to data previously gathered by social scientists studying such behavior in different populations and contexts.

14 - Health communities: Whose responsibility is it anyway?

Dale Lackeyram

The term health and the state of being healthy have taken on a variety of complex definitions over the years.  Early in the 20th century health was described as the absence of disease whereas later descriptions included “physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.This course examines health from a wellness perspective, which is described as "The extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment.   Health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities."Therefore a healthy community is intrinsically dependent on the people, environment, socio-economic conditions and the ability of individuals to participate in the decisions that affect them.  Given the importance of social factors in this definition of health, this course examines key problems and issues that influence the health of a community and encourages students to question the difference between helping versus building capacity when volunteering in a community.

15 - 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.

16 - A Feast for the Senses: Food, Beverages and Satiety

Amy Tucker

We make about 200 decisions about food every day. When should you eat? How much should you eat? What foods, or with whom? When food is in excess, those decisions may be driven by feelings of hunger and satiety (i.e. fullness), but can also be consciously ignored or subconsciously influenced by the environment. Overriding normal satiety cues can lead to over-eating or poor food choices, which may contribute to body weight gain and health concerns.  This seminar will explore a wide range of human satiety research from the physiological processes across the life span, to how food composition can predict satiety potential and the effect of psychological and social influences on eating behaviour. Understanding and evaluating up-to-the-minute media and research articles will guide discussion and debate. Recommended that you don’t come to class on an empty stomach.

17 - Sustainability Transitions

Ashley McInnes

“Sustainability transitions” is the newest terminology in the sustainability discourse. Sustainability transitions promote action for large scale societal transitions within particular sectors that are perceived to have deep social and environmental challenges, such as energy, water, transportation or food. The aim of sustainability transitions research is to analyze how new, more sustainable social systems emerge and replace or transform existing systems. The Canadian food system provides an ideal example to further explore sustainability transitions since it is characterized by a number of challenging contradictions: increasing food exports despite growing line-ups at food banks; record profits for agro-corporations while farm incomes are diminishing; and increasing use of fossil-fuel derived fertilizers and pesticides when oil supplies are dwindling and these chemicals are polluting ecosystems.

18 - Outbreak! A Global Inquiry into Dynamic Diseases

Lauren Wallar & Matthew Little

Since the earliest human civilizations, outbreaks of disease have profoundly shaped our development. In this seminar, students will take on the role of global disease detectives as they examine outbreaks from different perspectives. How and why does disease spread? How is media used to communicate information related to outbreaks? What is our role as global citizens in preventing and responding to outbreaks? This seminar is intended to engage students in an interdisciplinary and active investigation of outbreaks that challenges them to utilize different lenses, critically and creatively think about the inherent complexities of outbreak prevention and response, and consider how other populations and cultures experience outbreaks.



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