Fall 2007

01 Rags Seldom Turn to Riches

02 Communicating for Change

03 Sex, Gender and Sexuality

04 Equine Sciences — What's New and Exciting?

05 The Body Cybernetic: Health in the Information Age

06 Current Topics in Biomedical Sciences

07 Why is the Brazilian Amazon Being Deforested?

08 Why Bleeding-Heart Liberals and Conservative Wing-Nuts Don't Understand One Another

09 Antibodies: From Medical Therapies to Environmental Protection

10 Animal Rights and Human Wrongs

11 Italian Food and National Identity

12 The Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire

14 Mitigating Climate Change: Motivate or Legislate?

 

01 Rags Seldom Turn to Riches

Barry Townshend

This first year seminar is designed to explore the nature of inequality and poverty in Canada, the US and Britain and to explore opinions on why gaps exist between the rich and the poor. Students will explore poverty from different perspectives: historical, political; economic; and social, compare opinions on why gaps exist between rich and poor and compare how poverty is described in literature, film and media. During the semester will complete a group study project on poverty in a particular city, town or rural area or group living (e.g. First Nations) in Canada. The seminar aims to engage students in a way that will significantly enhance both students’ study skills and love for learning.
 

02 Communicating for Change

Brenda Whiteside

Communication for change is the focus of this course. History provides for us examples of individuals and groups that have made a significant impact on the world – both positive and negative. These leaders were all effective communicators. They all had a clear focus and a strong commitment. They were confident in themselves, and possessed a strong ability to motivate others toward a common purpose. This seminar course will examine ways to become better communicators for change through the examination of communication topics such as self awareness, the foundations of effective communication, the fundamentals of team development, and strategies for collaboration, dealing with conflict, and reaching a common purpose. Working in groups, you will work on weekly assignments and projects that will serve as vehicles for applying the theoretical material being investigated.
 

03 Sex, Gender and Sexuality

Jacqueline Murray

This course will provide a thematic approach to the investigation of the culture, science and beliefs about sex and sexuality, spanning from ancient to modern times.

The course is intended to provide research and communication skills to be able to debate, analyze critically, and respect diversity of opinion about the arts and science of sex, gender and sexuality.

The course will involve the study of a series of problems which will be made available each week. There will be six to eight problems discussed during the semester and at least one special presentation in the middle of the semester. In addition, students will be asked to choose a short article to review and provide a written report for evaluation.
 

04 Equine Sciences — What's New and Exciting?

Michael Lindinger

There are many new research and clinical developments in the equine sciences. Some of these are of benefit to the equine athlete, some to the horse that is lame and some to those with a variety of diseases. Many of these developments bridge across scientific disciplines. Increasingly, molecular and cellullar physiology tools are being used to help us understand normal and pathophysiological problems. A brief listing includes rider-horse biomechanics, exercise physiology, osteoarthritis, equine encephalitis, artificial insemination and nutrition. The purpose of this course module is to introduce you to some of these topics, and allow you to share your interest in one of these to the rest of the group.
 

05 The Body Cybernetic: Health in the Information Age

Deborah Stacey

This course will examine the digital/information technologies that are becoming ubiquitous in the health care world: electronic health records, robot surgery, in home medical devices and monitors, medical information on the web, syndromic surveillance, pandemic modelling etc.

Issues that will be tackled include:

  1. Can computing and information technology make health and health care better?
  2. Who will control the use of this technology: government, health care professionals, business and industry, the patient?
  3. Will the concept of privacy with regards to health and disease disappear?
  4. Will the digital divide make high tech health care inaccessible to some groups in society?
  5. Can this be internationalized and should it be?

Course materials will consist of books, papers, web resources and guest lecturers (Public Health Agency of Canada, etc.) Deliverables will consist of case study reports and a team project that explores each team’s vision of the future of high tech health and health care (utopian or dystopian) including a presentation and a poster.
 

06 Current Topics in Biomedical Sciences

Neil MacLuskey

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. The sophisticated nature of modern biomedical research, however, has itself created new sets of problems, which society has yet to fully come to terms with. As knowledge of the fundamental processes of life becomes ever more advanced, discoveries frequently have political, moral and ethical implications, in addition to their purely scientific impact.  The opportunities for new approaches to the prevention and/or treatment of chronic disease are probably greater than at any previous time in history; but capitalizing on these opportunities requires “buy in” and support from broad sections of the community, not just the scientists themselves. This means that 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 topical issues in biomedical research, focusing on their broader long-term implications rather than on the technical details of individual studies. Classes will particularly emphasize the processes involved in actually doing biomedical research: how do scientists frame, discuss and develop their work? What are the important steps in developing a biomedical research program? What issues are important in communicating research findings to people from different academic backgrounds, so that the data can actually be understood?

The course will involve the study of a series of 7-8 questions taken from the current biomedical science literature.  Students will be required to choose a scientific article relevant to each discussion topic, to present in class and provide a short written report for evaluation. A key component of these assignments will be development of a simple summary statement of why the particular field of research is important for people in Canada. All of the discussion questions will involve aspects of research currently ongoing at the University of Guelph, allowing students the opportunity to engage with faculty currently engaged in similar types of research in developing their written class assignments.
 

07 Why is the Brazilian Amazon Being Deforested?

Flavio Schenkel

In tropical countries, the majority of deforestation results from the actions of poor subsistence farmers. However, in Brazil, a large portion of deforestation can be attributed to land clearing by commercial and speculative interests, erroneous governmental policies, commercial exploitation of forest resources, such as wood extraction and mining, and commercial farming, which are all encouraged by avid international markets. For effective action these issues should be addressed. Focusing solely on the promotion of sustainable use of the forest by local people would neglect the most important forces behind deforestation in Brazil.

This seminar course intends to discuss social, economic, political, and ecological issues on Brazilian Amazon deforestation and how it can affect and be linked to you. The method of teaching will be through facilitating lectures, students’ seminars and discussions. Seminars shall provide the opportunity for preparation and presentation of formal lectures. Discussions shall help students to develop and express ideas in front of peers.
 

08 Why Bleeding-Heart Liberals and Conservative Wing-Nuts Don't Understand One Another

Dan Meegan

People on the left side of the political spectrum (liberals) do not understand the public policy positions of those on the right (conservatives), and vice versa. For example, it seems contradictory to a liberal that a conservative would be concerned about the welfare of an unborn fetus (and thus oppose the mother's right to an abortion), yet be unconcerned about the child once born (opposing the public funding of social services that would support the mother's efforts to raise the child in a nurturing environment). Conservatives, on the other hand, think that liberals are too blind to see that rewarding unproductive behaviour (by providing a social safety net to those who fail to be self-sufficient) reinforces unproductive behaviour. This course will review a theory that attempts to explain the psychological bases of liberalism and conservatism. The theory provides a powerful means for helping people to understand the positions of others, and for framing one's positions in a way that helps others to understand them.
 

09 Antibodies: From Medical Therapies to Environmental Protection

Chris Hall

Antibodies, due to their exquisite specificity and binding capacity for a diverse array of targets, combined with their ability to recruit molecules that effect immunologicalfunction, have widespread applications outside the immune systems of vertebrates. These applications include medical diagnostics, therapeutics, food safety, plant biotechnology, and detection/quantification of environmental contaminants. Recombinant antibodies, assembled using DNA technology, can further expand these applications due to the ease of gene isolation and manipulation for improving binding specificity and creating novel gene fusions to build new molecules. Ethical concerns associated with use of these new molecules, as well as the use of animals for the production of antibodies will be discussed. Furthermore, the manipulation of plants for production of antibodies and other pharmaceutical molecules, through the process of molecular farming will be examined. This course will be a journey from the historical development and use of vaccines as therapeutic agents to potential modern industrial applications and use of custom antibodies as cancer therapies.
 

10 Animal Rights and Human Wrongs

Jean Harvey

In this course we will re-examine the customary place given to animals in western moral thinking. The whole field of ethics has traditionally been seen as strictly to do with how humans treat humans, to do with moral obligations to humans. Animals have been thought of as standing outside of any ethical concern and their role in the world has been construed as that of being useful to humans. We will be thinking afresh about this tradition.
 

11 Italian Food and National Identity

Mary DeCoste

Beloved around the world in its most generic forms (pizza, spaghetti, red wine), Italian food is closely linked to its nation’s complex history and culture. This course will examine three moments in Italian history to explore the cultural meanings of Italian food and foodways.

I. Beginning in the current day, we will explore the Slow Food Movement, which was founded in 1986 in the Italian town of Bra by Carlo Petrini and which is now an international movement (including a chapter in Guelph). We will examine the cultural shift that has allowed the pursuit of material pleasure, rejected by 1970s-era Italian communists, to be promoted by Petrini (himself associated with the communists), as a protest against globalization. Particularly important will be an examination of the ways in which the Slow Food Movement articulates the importance of tradition, cultural memory, and regional Italian foodways against, in particular, McDonald’s. Texts for this section of the course will include works by Petrini (many of which have been recently translated into English) and publications of the Slow Food Movement (available on line).

II. The second unit of the course will be devoted to the decades immediately following the creation of the Italian state (in 1861) and the ways in which changing foodways contributed to the project of national unification. We will pay particular attention to Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (1891), considered to be the first Italian bourgeois cookbook of modern times, and to Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio (1883), in which food figures prominently and in which Carlo Petrini’s colleagues found a certain inspiration.

III. The final unit of the course will be devoted to the Renaissance and the roots of Italian gastronomy. Although residents of a “geographic expression” rather than a nation, Italian writers of the fifteenth century were very concerned with the relationship between foodways and good citizenship. Texts for this section of the course will include Leon Battista Alberti’s The Family in Renaissance Florence (c. 1443) and Platina’s On Right Pleasure and Good Health (c. 1464).

Students will be evaluated primarily on their written work, which will include short papers as well as a longer final paper.
 

12 The Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire

David Murray

March 25, 2007 marked the 200th anniversary of the British Parliamentary Act abolishing the slave trade within the British Empire. This seminar will examine the circumstances surrounding the passage of the Act. We will explore why the slave trade was so important to the British imperial economy and why in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars the British Parliament voted to abolish it. We will also examine the public campaign of pressure that led to its abolition. Britain was not the only country carrying on the Atlantic slave trade. We will look as well at the implications of the British abolition on the rest of the Atlantic slave trade. To do this we will study how the historian finds and assesses evidence and then tries to reach historical conclusions.

There is no one text for this course. Readings will include documents from the period as well as historical accounts.
 

14 Mitigating Climate Change: Motivate or Legislate?

Judith McKenzie

In Canada, governments at various levels have sought to motivate Canadians to phase out their use of the incandescent light bulb. By way of comparison, in Australia, legislation has recently been introduced to ban its use as of 2010.  Is it appropriate to limit the rights of individuals for the greater cause of slowing climate change? This first year interdisciplinary seminar is designed to explore the tension between voluntary individual and imposed collective action of citizens engaged in sustainable behaviours to mitigate climate change.  During the semester, students will examine the ways in which individuals and groups in Canada can be motivated and legislated to behave in greener ways. Given the global nature of climate change, attention will also be paid to necessary  international administrative structures in this policy field.