Fall 2019

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.

Jacqueline Hamilton

Don’t think you are a creative person? This course is for you! Do you consider yourself to be very creative? Then this course is also for you! There is a general perception that creativity is an ability you are born with. You often hear people say they ‘Aren’t creative” but really, what does that mean? This course will examine popular conceptions and definitions of creativity as well as the literature on how creativity to a learned and developed skillset.

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.

Amanda Hooykaas

People like stuff. But why? And how does that impact both them and their environment? Who are those who have chosen simplicity and minimalism as a way of life? How do their lives differ? This course provides an opportunity for us to delve into ideas related to minimalism and consumption from a local to a global scale and to explore how others live while perhaps considering our own choices. Ultimately, we will each determine what we value, why, and what that means for the ways that we choose to live our lives.

Kevin James

Everyday items tell amazing stories!  In this class, we consider ‘ordinary’ objects related to food, often cast away as junk and dismissed as ‘past their expiry date’, as we explore the life, death and ‘afterlife’ of a host of historically fascinating, if underappreciated, culinary material.  Visiting archives and museums to explore these items, we also consider ways we unwittingly and consciously archive our own foodways, through social media and other means.  We collaboratively research and tell the stories of the origins of ordinary stuff that surround us, and explore shifting values attached to it over time.  We also look critically at culinary objects from our own lives to explore the stories that they tell about us and the world in which we live.

Georgia Simms

Dance is often viewed as something extracurricular and entertaining, something done for fitness and fun, requiring superhuman flexibility. What if that wasn’t the case? What if dance class was a way to practice necessary and transferable skills? To gain new insight into how we perceive leadership, engagement, ethics, interdisciplinarity and social change?

This approach to dance class will be physical, philosophical, and practical, combining instruction in technique, improvisation and composition with the goal of activating our learning and experience in creative processes to address current, complex issues that cross disciplinary boundaries. If you are looking to delve into research, critical conversation, physicality and devised performance art with a curiosity about what it means to be a ‘change maker’, then we’ll see you in the studio! Experience in dance is not necessary. Fitness, health and fun are beneficial side effects.

Cynthia Kinnunen

The ‘ukulele (oo-koo-leh-leh) has had a rich cultural history, a wild and woolly pop culture history, and has now found its way into the present day. Its popularity, accessibility, and unassuming nature make it a welcoming instrument to pick up and learn. However, it still often finds itself misunderstood.

In this course, we’ll investigate the role and importance of music in our lives and how the ‘ukulele has become part of the musical landscape. We’ll explore its history and how it now finds itself in elementary classrooms and Irish pubs, as a tool for mental and physical health, and for cultural expression.

An important component of the course, we’ll also learn how to play, focusing on some basic music literacy and skills, working up repertoire, crafting songs, and culminating in a class performance in a public venue at the end of the term. No previous musical experience is necessary and an ‘ukulele will be supplied for you to borrow for the term if you don’t have your own. By the end of the course, you’ll have an new appreciation for music and this little instrument that has taken on the world in the last 100+ years.

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.

Annie Dunning

Textile Patterns Repeat: What to wear to an impending disaster? is an introduction to the rich histories of textile patterns and their cultural contexts. As a contemporary visual artist, my practice depends on diverse forms of research including scientific, cultural and historical, to form contemporary commentary. I offer this course from the perspective of an artist working in the cultural sector demonstrating skills and critical thinking that are transferable to all areas of academic study. This course is designed to engage and inspire first year students as they transition into university life and hone academic skills. Students will develop fluency in visual language, while advancing their research, and written/ oral presentation abilities. By investigating the fascinating stories of textiles that have changed individual lives, cultural awareness and social justice, students will build the academic skills necessary for success.

The elements of design are the foundation for discussing and comprehending visual language. These key concepts will be applied both in our class discussions and in practical applications as students develop their own textile patterns. Hands-on experience with the techniques of making a printed, repeating pattern will reinforce the power of design principles and give students an understanding of the revolutionary process of print.

We will explore historical examples of textiles with cultural influence through research, presentations, readings and discussion. Topics will include Dutch influence on African batik, Secret silk maps of World War II, quilts of the underground railway, feminist perspectives in textiles, and artists’ textiles 1940-1976. Critical thinking is necessary to engage in histories that are visually recorded. Diverse perspectives will be presented whenever possible, allowing students to question “historical fact” and make their own determinations and assertions.

Students will be exposed to contemporary artists who are using textile patterns to confront challenges of contemporary life such as surveillance and privacy as well as using design to develop contemporary cultural identities.  A few of the artists and projects we will look at are Adam Harvey (Stealthwear), Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla (Land Mark) Janet Morton (Femmebomb), and Patrick Cruz (immigrant experience).

Robert Hannner

Biodiversity is a relatively new term, one that remains poorly understood both scientifically and socially. However it is generally agreed that anthropogenic disturbances are having negative impacts on biodiversity. This course will take a learner-centered approach to develop a broad conceptual framework for understanding biodiversity on multiple levels. Assessing how biodiversity is measured and studied provides insights into the historical processes that have shaped it and builds an appreciation for the conceptual limits of our understanding of biodiversity. The course will also cultivate an awareness of biodiversity’s relevance to society by exploring some of the implications around its decline. Students will be given the opportunity to craft their own assignments and be responsible for challenging each other in their learning objectives and outcomes via a highly interactive small group learning environment.

Tony Berto

Theatre that so outrages members of the audience that they riot? Theatre that offends social values and so is censored?  This is “Theatre in Trouble,” a course in which we will look at series of plays that caused unrest, and in so doing, we will consider how social standards are constructed and how they can be changed. Through class discussion and seminars, we’ll trace how six plays affected or were affected by the politics and governments of their day. Students will then read and research a further play and write a short essay about its production's effect on the day. Not only will we look at how these plays caused unrest, but we’ll also investigate how plays can be part of creating social change. Students will research and write play about a topical issue in contemporary society.

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.  

Emily Duncan

As agriculture is moving into the digital age, new technologies are revolutionizing the way our food is produced. This course will explore these technologies while using a critical lens to understand the ways in which they will impact the environment and food security. Students will understand how these technologies work through a series of hands-on seminars, followed by discussion, and engagement with the broader agricultural community. As this is a class on digital technologies, assignments will be digitally-focused including a class blog, social media projects, and creative development of a new digital tool. Students interested in sustainability, technology, food and farming from various academic backgrounds such as geography, plant agriculture, animal biosciences, computer science, sociology, development, and engineering will enjoy exploring the opportunities and challenges of the digital revolution in agriculture!

Mara Goodyear

Have you ever considered helping space scientists identify solar storms, using historic ship logs to model Earth’s climate, or observing local wildlife to help conservation efforts?

Citizen science can allow you to do just that! Citizen science projects provide people with the opportunity to engage with the world around them by involving members of the public in the collection of data and observations to contribute to research projects and new discoveries. In this seminar, we will participate in citizen science during a visit to the University of Guelph Arboretum, identify and debate the benefits, limitations, and ethics of citizen science, and explore the connections between citizen science and current topics such as social media and diversity in research. Our exploration of citizen science will include group discussions, written components, presentations, and the opportunity for groups to propose their own citizen science project.

Laura Gatto

Tired of hearing about why your generation does not have a good work ethic? That you are terrible employees because you are on your phones all day? If you answered “YES!”, this is the seminar for you. This course will provide you with a theoretical understanding and practical tools to successfully work with people from various generations. In this course you will review and summarize literature about different generations and their motivators and values regarding work, design and present an ideal workplace where you and others will thrive, pitch to an employer why they should hire your generation, and most importantly, learn the skills needed to work with older people that just don’t understand you…because they will most likely be your boss.

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

The term “bourgeoisie” in French comes from the word “bourg”, which means a town surrounded by walls. “Bourgs”, or “burgs” can be found in Europe (e.g. Strasbourg, Hamburg, Luxembourg, Edinburgh etc.) and they were established during the feudal era. “Bourgeoisie” means “originating from burg” and the class of bourgeoisie is mainly the middle class. This “middle class” during Feudal Ages was literally in the middle of King/Ruling class and the peasants. By time, they have started to accumulate money and developed into a class with economic power. This economic power motivated them to engage peasants and other classes within the society to overthrow the King and the intellectual classes in Europe helped them, without knowing what they did. As bourgeoisie took over the rule and established nation-states, the unstoppable growth of capitalist needs caused the deterioration of nation-states. Today, the capitalist nation-state itself is becoming a victim of capitalism and multi-national conglomerates are overthrowing the rule of nation-state as bourgeoisie did to the King. This course will analyze the similarities between the Enlightenment period and 21st Century Capitalism. Students will be separated into groups and they will analyze these differences/ similarities by compare and contrast. A sociological and historical analysis of different periods of capitalist progress will also be encouraged by assigning students different role-models in these two periods. Important figures in Enlightenment and 21st Century Capitalism (e.g. Rousseau and Steve Jobs) will be analyzed by students in order to understand how they have similar impact on the transformation of society.

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 decision. 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.

Joan Flaherty

How do we connect, meaningfully and respectfully, with others, when those “others” are completely different from us? For 12 weeks, we’ll pursue answers to that question together. Quite a bit depends on our success: research and recent global events (as well as common sense) tell us that we’re healthier and happier when we can create a community for ourselves of people who respect and understand each other—even when those people come from diverse backgrounds and may not hold like-minded views and values. Our course will combine theory (social justice; the psychology of individual differences; social identity; transformative learning) with experiential, hands on learning (reflective and self-assessment exercises; large group discussion; small group work; and a bit of on campus field work). Writing and speaking skills will be emphasized.

Michael Wirth

Do you like to eat? Are you interested in learning more about the food you eat? Everyday life in punctuated by the innate need to eat. What and how we eat frames our history, and forms an important part of our identity. Nothing is more essential to human life than then food, without it we cannot survive. But if it were just pure sustenance and nutrition, this could be easily achieved. Food is more than that, in many societies food is an integral part of everyday life. This course will explore the world of food, from paleolithic diets to molecular gastronomy. It will draw upon historical and geographical contexts, and will allow students to consider how food is produced and consumed, how what we eat has changed over time, and how we have come to eat what we eat.

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.

Christina Kingsbury

What is it like in Bee Land? What can bees teach us about how to be in the world in a time of ecological and political instability? These tiny, complex creatures are responsible for the reproduction of up to 75% of flowering plants and yet species diversity and populations are dwindling. In this course we will explore the culture of bees through the lenses of art, philosophy, dance, ecology, Indigenous Knowledge, poetry, gastronomy, and hands-on encounters with wild and domestic bees. We will engage in field and arts-based research and looks at intersecting and divergent ideas about inter-species relationships and understandings. The course will include outdoor excursions on and off campus, arts-based workshops and guest visits with interdisciplinary professionals.

Kelly Boddington

This seminar will focus on how science is presented by various forms of media, and how we as consumers can learn to navigate bias and misrepresentation to find the - often less sensational - truths. Blending an understanding of how and why people control the flow of information from sociology, and crucial research skills and knowledge from the biological sciences, this course will provide students with an opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills. Through group discussion and individual reflection, students will take an active role in the analysis of five case studies where ideas generated by students in the previous class will be incorporated into the discussion during the next class. At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to choose a media piece that interests them and perform their own independent investigation using the research skills and knowledge gained in class

Dale Lackeyram

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.

Learners will demonstrate what they have learned in the course and how that has changed or impacted their perspective about the concept of health via a suitable format (negotiated with the instructor). Formats can include (and are not limited to) the following: a written paper, presentation, video, song, movie, poster, art etc.

Michael Follert

A poet once remarked that if other countries are haunted by the ghosts of their past, in Canada “it’s only by our lack of ghosts we're haunted”. Looking back, we might say that Canadians are rather good at ignoring the ghosts of their past, and yet this denial itself provides an opportunity for critically reflecting on the meaning of Canadian-ness. What we lack in ghost stories is more than made up for by the anxieties and fears that populate the dark corners of our visual culture. Casting our gaze to Canadian horror films, in this course we’ll explore the recurring themes of this rarefied genre, like the fear over loss of identity (Pontypool, 2008), the fear of the breakdown of boundaries (Shivers, 1975), the fear of being overwhelmed by technology (Videodrome, 1983), the fear of the natural environment (Backcountry, 2014), even the fear of the ‘Other’ (The Mask, 1961). With weekly in-class film screenings (bring popcorn) and discussions, students will have the opportunity to critically reflect on the construction of Canadian identity – its contours, its exclusions and inclusions, its colonialist legacy – while drawing upon some key readings in Canadian Studies.

Sherri Cox

Wildlife rehabilitation is the temporary care and treatment of sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife for the purpose of returning these animals back to the wild where they can forage, reproduce, and behave like a normal wild animal of that species. Tens of thousands of wild animals are brought to wildlife rehabilitation centres across Canada every year. This seminar engages students in discussions related to the field of wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. Through a series of case studies, students will think critically about the issues facing wildlife rehabilitators, and learn the principles behind wildlife rehabilitation. An optional wet lab and field trip to a wildlife rehabilitation centre will be offered.

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.

Evan Fraser

Convenience, improved product preservation and safety, and reduced transportation costs (among other things), have led to the unprecedented use of single-use plastics in our day to day lives. Sadly, this has led to significant increases in waste that pose huge risks to our environment. While recycling is an option in some cases, the accessible reduction or elimination of single-use plastics has become a huge concern in the City of Guelph. This offering of the FYS is integrated with a unique senior-level class called Ideas Congress, so first-year students will work in teams with senior students to develop accessible solutions to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics in the City of Guelph and at the University of Guelph. This course is different to other first-year seminars, as it is based on groupwork and collaboration with older students. Working across disciplines, students in this course learn the skills of innovation and social entrepreneurship to develop creative solutions to sustainability, ultimately becoming the next generation of change-makers.