Current Offerings - Winter 2020

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.

Natalie Evans

In an age of media saturation, we are constantly being told what will make us happy, including how we should look, what we should buy, and how we should act. And yet, North Americans are suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression in staggering numbers. It seems timely to ask: What is happiness, and how can we achieve it? In this course, we attempt to answer this question by examining the causes of happiness and unhappiness in individuals and societies from an interdisciplinary perspective. By examining ancient and contemporary wisdom and practices from the East and the West, and critically separating fact from fiction in current research on happiness, students will be able to create their own personal ‘happiness plan’ that they can incorporate into their own lives. We will examine and evaluate concepts, theories and practices such as meditation, mindfulness, ‘the good life’, creativity, lifestyle, diet and more as they relate to the pursuit of happiness.

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 behavioural 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 behaviour. By playing these games, the students themselves create data, which they can then analyze. Students learn to interpret these data, which are often numerical in nature. This promotes thought about the reasons that they and their fellow students acted in a particular manner. It also permits the students to compare their behaviour 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.

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.

Tony Berto

Theatre that so outrages audience members that they riot? Theatre that offends social values so much it is censored? Welcome to “Theatre in Trouble,” a course in which looks at a series of plays that caused such trouble. In class we’ll consider how social standards are constructed, reflected in theatre, and how they can be changed. Through class discussion and seminars, we’ll trace how six plays affected or were affected by the powers or governments of their day. We’ll then look at how these plays caused unrest and investigate how theatre can be a part of social change. Furthermore, students will research and write drama about a topical issue in today’s society. Lastly, they will find and research another play “in trouble” and write a short essay about its production's problems in its day.

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.  

Anna Johnson and Valérie Grand'Maison

Violence touches our lives and captures our interests. It overwhelms and shapes our behaviours. It strikes in the privacy of our homes and leads to global wars as one event or over decades. It is complex and pervasive, and therefore demands a multidisciplinary approach to understanding it. Each week in this course, we will talk about violence in a specific context by looking at local and global trends and social and political responses. Topics will include: gender-based violence, homicide, political violence, colonial violence, genocide, and global and local responses to violence. This course takes a problem-based learning approach, where students will be required to build an argument that answers moral, social, and political questions related to the specific topic. Students will also research “bright spots” in the prevention of the specific type of violence. Students will have the opportunity to elaborate on the themes of the course by exploring a specific type of violence, social mobilization, or a particular event in a research paper and in a creative presentation. Finally, students will be encouraged to critically engage with their peers through weekly discussion posts and a peer-review assignment.

Jackie Hamilton

We've all been there. That sinking feeling in your stomach you get when you're wrong. It's the feeling you get when you try your hardest only to come up short and realize you've failed. But what does it actually mean when you “fail” at something? This course will explore the definition of failure, popular examples of failure in the media, examine leaders who have failed, and dive into your own personal experiences. By engaging in reflections, class discussions, and exploring examples of failure, this course will provide you with a re-invented perspective on what it means to fail and help you turn mistakes into new opportunities.  Additionally, by engaging with the course through an experiential framework, students will break down the emotional components of dealing with failure and build a growth mindset to help them in their university experience.

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 7-9 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 an oral presentation.  We ask that you remain awake during all classes.

Evren Altkinas

Today, media allows for communication between publics. This new model has given citizens a “first strike” capability in the sphere of local/global influence, and has resulted in a “fifth force” of power; mainly the ability of citizens to organize and exercise power independently of the four traditional sources. While traditional media power came from television and press news corporations, new media power comes from the access everyday citizens have to the Internet and its emerging tools; this fact has caused some of the traditional controls of nationhood to lose authenticity. This course will analyze the role of social media in politics and society. By focusing on the historical development of media (e.g. Republic of Letters-printed media-pamphlets-Encyclopedia) since the Middle Ages, we will deal with modern ways of media (e.g. various social media channels) and how they affect the decision-makers. A combination of history, politics and sociology will help us to understand that a specific event can be analyzed by using various disciplines. The interaction between the social media users and decision-makers will be analyzed by assigning students specific topics related with the community they live in. Students will use various social media channels to impact the decision makers (e.g. University Administration, Local Municipality etc.). This will help them see how social media can be used as a channel to change their environment and have an impact on their life.

Janet Wolstenholme

What is, should, or should not be, 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 and 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. 

Sarah Gibbons and Melanie Cassidy

Comics tell us that superheroes fight for justice. But can comics help us further social justice? This course focuses on representations of gender, race, disability, and other identity positions in contemporary comics. Together, we’ll examine the unique properties of comics as an art form and think critically about the industry in which they’re published. You’ll be supported in your own production of a creative work that challenges us as a group to rethink traditional representations in the medium.

Lindsey Thomson, Karen Nelson, Kendra Schnarr, Caroline Duvieusart-Dery

Throughout their university experience, students learn how to acquire and create knowledge. What is often missing is how to take that knowledge to make it meaningful and impactful to our community - addressing issues in real time. This course will offer an introduction to community engaged research and knowledge mobilization to equip students to create meaningful community change through their academic work. We will specifically frame this in the context of the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH): these are the social, economic and cultural conditions that influence the health of different populations. Having an understanding of the SDoH and how they interact together will allow students to better understand why health disparities exist in our communities and how we can work together to address the roots factors that influence health and illness. By participating in and occasionally leading group discussions, interacting with guest speakers, and taking part in hands-on workshops, students will critically reflect on the best ways to engage with the community and will learn applied skills to translate knowledge into useful tools. 

Dale Lackyeram

The term health and the state of being healthy have taken on a variety of complex definitions over the years.  The World Health Organization has described health in the following ways over the years:

  • Medically health can be “…the absence of disease and the presence of high levels of function (biological)”
  • Holistically health can be viewed as “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
  • From a wellness perspective, health can be viewed 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.

This seminar will utilize facilitated small group discussion, reflection and community engagement in order to examine health from a social determinant and wellness perspective.   Therefore participation, analysis and reflection are key skills developed, utilized and assessed in this course.

Natalie Carter

The world’s problems are messy. At first glance, there appears to be a simple solution but as you unravel the puzzle, you realize each problem needs to be solved in never-ending layers and from many different directions. Ecosystem approaches to health provide multiple solutions to one problem, addressing the needs of people, animals, and the environment in concert with one another.

Through case studies from across the globe, discussions, and critical thinking exercises, you will learn to unravel the messy problems of public health and animal health to identify potential solutions. The contributions of research, ethics, policies, and funding in support of solution(s) will be highlighted. The nature of the group discussions is such that attendance at all class meetings is mandatory.

Brenda Whiteside

Individuals who have been able to really make change in the world had different styles.  However, they all had one quality in common – they possessed a strong ability to motivate others toward a common purpose.  This seminar course will explore the important inter-relationship between the individual, teams, and the community – or society-at-large – in any change process.  The course will also examine the barriers to change.  

We will begin at the heart of all change initiatives – with an exploration of yourself. What are your strengths and where will you need development?  What do you bring to any group effort and where will you need to rely on fellow group members?  We will then use this information to cover topics such as non-verbal, verbal, inter-cultural and group communication. We will learn about the fundamentals of team development, and strategies for collaboration, dealing with conflict, and reaching a common purpose. Finally, we will look to leadership style as it relates to change management. 

Weekly assignments and projects will serve as vehicles for applying the theoretical material that you are investigating. Since collaboration is critical to change, each student will be assigned to a group in the first class and will work closely and regularly with that group throughout the course.

John Cripton

A seminar designed to explore and reflect on the conjunction of the creative process and some of the important aspects of our life experience, through round-table discussions, music and video presentations, and through creative explorations by seminar participants.

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, improv, slam poetry session, 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.

Gard Otis

We all appreciate the beauty of butterflies, but why? What makes them so charismatic? How do they function? What remarkable behaviours do they exhibit? How have they inspired artists and musicians? How do people in our society perceive butterflies? What can we do to help them to flourish in nature?  In this seminar you will explore these questions through a variety of means, including field trips to experience living butterflies, videos, writing and drawing exercises, and a survey of Guelph residents designed to gauge general knowledge about butterflies. Through course activities, you will enhance your writing skills and improve your ability to think critically.

Janet Wood

Have you ever wondered how scientists develop their research skills, choose their work and make their discoveries?  For example, Nobel Laureate Marie Curie attended a clandestine, Flying University in Warsaw, Poland, before moving to Paris, co-discovering radioactivity and promoting its use in science and medicine.  In this Seminar you will study an individual scientist, learn how their career path unfolded and deduce how their research topic was chosen.  Scientific knowledge is not a prerequisite; all students are welcome.  The Instructor will provide tools, examples, and technical explanations.  This Seminar will prepare you to understand and participate in University research. 

John Ferguson

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” ~H.G. Wells

This course considers the contribution of cycling (and bicycles) to society and the contribution of society to cycling (and bicycles) from multidisciplinary perspectives including engineering, health, history, sociology, anthropology, politics, economics, literature, media, and environment.

“Whereas much has been written about the cultural roles of the automobile and driving in literature and popular culture, there has been surprisingly little analogous work devoted to the bicycle and bicycling, particularly in academia where cycling is predominantly analyzed through the positivistic lenses of urban planning and injury prevention.” (Withers and Shea, 2016)

The bicycle is often covered as a topic of maintenance, operation and safety but it is rarely considered more broadly as part of the fabric of social, cultural, philosophical, literary, political or economic life.  The course will look at cycling the bicycle through an array of materials and lenses. These range from scholarly and scientific articles, critical analysis, law, planning, literature, film and art. We learn the basic mechanics, history and culture of cycling as a practice and the bicycle as a means by considering their role (and potential) in,

  • history
  • culture, sociology and anthropology
  • politics, liberty and equality
  • feminism
  • literature and film
  • mechanical and industrial evolution
  • transportation
  • personal and societal health, well-being and quality of life
  • wealth and economics
  • city design and planning
  • energy
  • sustainability

Jason Wilson

Song, Story, Drawing and Dance: The Arts in Motion will survey the migration of the arts from antiquity through to the twenty-first century. It will ask the student to consider art in the broad meta-history / comparative literature sense. As art is seldom bound to ‘place’, the course will trouble the idea of ‘tradition’ and question essentialized notions of ‘authenticity’. The course will only focus on the specialized histories of any given art to show how it is connected to a sometimes unrecognizable past and linked to an unpredictable future. 

Susannah Ferreira and Mellissa McAfee

Nine original medieval manuscript books are coming to the University of Guelph Library through a semester long loan! In this course, which will feature these illuminated manuscripts, you will learn to handle and understand medieval manuscript culture by studying some of the actual books produced in European countries between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Through a combination of readings, talks and true ‘hands-on’ analysis, you will gain familiarity with the manuscripts and their illuminations (decoration), learning how and why each manuscript was produced. Over the course of the semester, you will create materials and presentations to promote the collection to others at the University of Guelph and to the wider community.

Mike Dixon

Extended human missions to the moon or Mars will require efficient technologies for crew life support. It is generally accepted that as mission duration increases and crews spend longer periods away from low-earth orbit, a higher degree of mission autonomy is desirable since re-supply of life support elements from Earth becomes prohibitively expensive. Bioregenerative approaches to life support can harness the contributions of higher plants, micro-organisms, fungi and perhaps insects and other animals to provide food, recycled water and air revitalization (CO2 scrubbing and O2 production). For short duration missions, air-revitalization may be accomplished with physico-chemical scrubbing of CO 2 from the atmosphere and food may be pre-packaged and shipped to crew members. For longer duration missions, the significance of the biological component of the life support system increases and the efficient recycling of gases and minerals among compartments of the bio-regenerative loop becomes essential to the sustainability of the mission.

Canada currently is among the world’s leading countries in research and technology development devoted to “biological life support” for humans on long duration space exploration missions. Students will be exposed to the broad scope of research activities and infrastructure at the UoG's Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility which represents Canada's main contribution to this field internationally. Discussions will focus on the technical challenges faced by space explorers and how the solutions relate to knowledge and technology transfer to Earth-based problems in issues from the environment to the economy. Students will prepare papers and seminar presentations on relevant topics.

Raphi Steiner

This course is designed for students who enjoy problem-solving, the give-and-take of thoughtful discussion, and the use of logic and creativity to work their way through challenging ethical dilemmas. “You Be the Judge” takes real life cases and encourages students to grapple with the facts in order to arrive at solutions, then compares the civil and Jewish law’s view on each case. This course will also expose students to the mind-blowing roller coaster of Talmud study. No prior knowledge of Jewish or civil law is necessary. There are no prerequisites other than an open mind.