Fall 2013

1 -  Current Dialogues in Human Rights Law and Policy
2 - Games, Decisions and Economic Behaviour
3/4 - Politics, Science & Environment
6 - The Second Civil War: Polarization and Politics in the United States
7 - All About Facebook
8 - Making A Difference in the World: Communicating Effectively for Change
9 - Staging "What's Cooking in the Archives?" A Seminar on Event Planning
10 - Scotch Myths: Worldwide Icons of National Identity in a Small Nation
11 - That's Crazy? Stigma, Mental Illness & The Power of Language
12 - Do Genes Fit Our Values?
13 - Sleep: 1/3 of Your Life Spent with Your Eyes Closed

1 - Current Dialogues in Human Rights Law and Policy

Patrick 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? Do university courses have to be altered to take account of students with disabilities? 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? These questions and many more arise in the face of demands for human rights based "accommodation" in our society. 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? Would speaking their minds result in members of the group that they are discussing experiencing discrimination and what, if anything, can the members of that group do about it? Is the right to speak more important than the right to live in a society free from discriminatory speech?

2 - 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 behaviour, 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 seminar uses simple classroom experimental games to search for answers. 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. 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 behaviour in a wide variety of economic situations. They can also compare their own behaviour to data previously gathered by social scientists studying such behaviour in different populations and contexts.

03/04 - Politics, Science & Environment

Jacqueline Murray

This enquiry-based seminar provides students with a thematic approach to the investigation of the way that different societies deal with the environmental issues facing our world. It is expected to raise as many questions about the way we develop and use policy at the national and international level, as it will provide answers. The course is intended to provide research and communication skills to enhance students' ability to debate, analyze critically, and respect diversity of opinions about the environment and the ways that societies have chosen to respond to global challenges.

6 - The Second Civil War: Polarization and Politics in the United States

Maureen Mancuso

James Madison sold his constitutional framework to his newly independent countrymen with the argument that by setting "faction against faction" the system itself would preclude tyranny and reflect the public interest. In the contemporary U.S. he certainly seems to have gotten his wish. On every issue from abortion to the economy, to foreign policy, we find the battle lines drawn and two entrenched camps, diametrically opposed. Even the bitterly disputed 2000 election was only settled by a single vote in the Supreme Court.

Americans have always been angrily decrying the illegitimacy of the 'other' side's position. But has it always been this nasty and shrill? Is the long simmering cultural cold war about to turn hot? What are the primary axes of polarization in American Politics? Where are the fault lines and where will the big earthquake start? North/South; rich/poor; black/white; White House/Congress; U.S./rest of the world. And to what extend does the Democrat/Republican divide reflect any of these other cleavages?

This course will examine the particularly divisive issues that have characterized the last few decades of American politics, and probe the notion of previous eras of greater consensus. We will focus on events like the Clinton impeachment and its antecedents; the aftermath of 9/11; and the contest over affirmative action. We will attempt to explain the dimensions of the divide. Students will be asked to explore not only both sides of contentious issues but attempt to explain the impact of such contentiousness.

7 - All About Facebook

Serge Desmarais

Facebook has now become an integral component of many people's daily activities. However, research has shown that few Facebook users reflect on the impact of this social medium. Facebook use has been shown to influence various aspects of people's personal and social lives including communication patterns, social identity, popularity, privacy perceptions and social relationships, to name a few. This course will use Facebook as a vehicle for the delivery of knowledge and research skills related to the societal and social psychological impact of social media in our lives. The course will highlight written and oral communication, critical thinking and self-reflection, as well as the acquisition of academic research skills as its main learning objectives.

8 - Making A Difference in the World: Communicating Effectively for Change

Brenda Whiteside

Making a difference in the world, be it through innovation, advocacy, policy making, or grass roots movements is a laudable goal, but does not happen easily or come naturally to most. History provides for us examples of individuals and groups that have made a significant impact on the world - both positive and negative. While these men and women represent a range of diverse backgrounds and leadership styles, and utilized a range of tools to engage change, there are some commonalities we can readily identify. All were effective communicators. They all had a clear focus, a strong commitment, and passion. They were all confident in themselves, and possessed a strong ability to motivate others toward a common purpose. This seminar course will utilize the leadership for social change framework as a means to explore the important inter-relationship between the individual, teams, and the community or society-at-large , in any change process. We will also examine t he barriers to positive change.

The course will begin at the heart of all change initiatives with an exploration of self... what are your strengths and challenges? What do you bring to any group effort? What barriers do you encounter? How can you maximize all talents and abilities within your group to reach an outcome that is desired by all? We will cover topics such as self awareness, the foundations of effective communication and, specifically, 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.

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.

9 - Staging "What's Cooking in the Archives?" A Seminar on Event Planning

Kathryn Harvey

What do theatre and cooking have in common? What forms of promotional activity will best engage with a student population to convey information about a place they rarely go, namely Archival and Special Collections? This class will take as its central "problem" planning of the 2013 "What's Cooking in the Archives?" event in which not only the library's culinary collections will be highlighted, but also its theatre collections as well. (Think of plays set in kitchens and dining rooms, of how dishes are "staged," and of the theatrical elements of restaurants.) The centrepieces of the event itself will involve a staged reading of a play excerpt or a short one-act play or some other performance piece, the creation of a museum-type exhibit, and food sampling provided by a local eatery. Students will conduct the necessary research for mounting the event, contribute to the design of the publicity, perform/stage the event, and conduct a post-event assessment. Skills gained from this course include event-planning, performance and/or exhibit-creation, conducting archival research, creating effective publicity, and deciding on appropriate measures for assessment of the event's success.

10 - Scotch Myths: Worldwide Icons of National Identity in a Small Nation

Elizabeth Ewen

The Scottish 'brand' (tartan, kilts, bagpipes etc) is recognized around the world. But how did these icons come to represent 'Scottishness' and how relevant are they to life in the modern nation? Scottish icons are also used in places outside Scotland, for example, in Nova Scotia, to emphasize the Scottish heritage of many of their inhabitants. In this course, students will choose an icon on which to focus, and examine how it originated, the changing or stable meanings which it has held through time, and the ways in which it is used today, including by politicians and commercial interests both in Scotland and abroad. These icons include tartan, kilts, bagpipes, whisky, haggis, the saltire (cross of St Andrew) etc as well as historical figures such as Robert Burns, William Wallace, and Mary Queen of Scots. Scotland's relationship with the larger nation of England to the south provides a point of comparison with Canada's relationship with its southern US neighbour Students will also make a comparison with the use of such images with items of Canadian identity eg hockey, Tim Horton's, the maple leaf. Bringing together the different images, the course will also examine critically how these icons are used in films and other media as a short-hand for Scottish identity.

Evaluation will be based on class discussion of instructor-assigned and student-chosen readings, student presentations and group work, and written (or other media) assignments.

11 - That's Crazy? Stigma, Mental Illness & The Power of Language

Kimberley Wilson

Crazy? Mad? Insane? How do we describe mental illness, and what power do our words hold? What is the impact of stigma on those living with mental illnesses? What can be done to eliminate stigma? This seminar will explore the answers to the above questions, with a goal of creating a classroom environment that understands the lived experience of stigma, critically evaluates personal and societal views of mental illness, and empowers students to act as change agents

12 - Do Genes Fit Our Values?

Jacqueline Murray

With the mapping of the human genome and the increasing sophistication of gene technologies, what was once considered to be the stuff of science fiction is now common if troubling in society. This enquiry-based seminar will examine variety of situations that reveal the pervasiveness, power and potential of gene technologies. We will also consider their pitfalls, problems and privileged position. We will study 6-8 cases over the semester. In addition, students will be asked to analyze and present a written assessment of a case that has immediate relevance.

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

Justine Tishinksy

"I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day, because it means it's 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, sleepwalking, effectiveness of pharmacological and herbal sleep aids, and sleep apnea/sleep disorders. Students will complete a series of mini-assignments including a sleep journal and reflection, dream analysis, and oral presentation and written report on a sleep-related research question of their choosing. We ask that you remain awake during all classes.