Fall 2017

01 - IMPROV(e) Life
02 - Extraordinary History of Stuff
03 - Outdoor School
05 - Making Things Perfectly Queer
07 - The Humanitarian Game
08 - Building a Career in the 21st Century
09 -Healthy Communities
10 - Art in the 21st Century
11 - Why We Make
12 - Feeding 9 Billion
13 - Exploring the Creative Process
14 - Science Hack
15 - Fire, Floods and Rising Tides
16 - Jamaica’s Impact on Community
18 - Sleep: 1/3 of Your Life Eyes Closed
19 - Bee Land
20 - Exploring Expression though Graffiti
21 - Why Do People Believe in Weird Things
22 - Human Rights in Educational Context

01 - IMPROV(e) Life 

William Bettger

Two renowned experimental improvisers, John Cage and R. Murray Schafer, agree: Improvisation can begin anywhere. To add to their assertion: We are all improvisers at heart. Improvisation is a part of our daily lives whether we are thinking on our feet in the context of playing music or sports, experimenting in the kitchen with a new recipe, or even having a conversation. Improvisation pervades our environment despite the fact that we are not always conscious of its influence or impact. Recent research shows that the process involved in improvisation plays a significant contributing role to our health and well-being at individual, collective, and societal levels. This seminar will engage improvisational processes in a variety of situational contexts and opportunities. Initially, this we will focus on improvisation as a sensory phenomenon. Key themes uncovered from there are: (a) origins of improvisation, (b) a vocabulary for improvisation, (c) domains of improvisation, and (d) improvisational action as an agent for transformation. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of experientially-based activities and to critically review their experiences through reflective, learner-centered assessments. Improv(e) YOUR life by learning to keep your mind, eyes, and ears open!

02 - Extraordinary History of Stuff 

Kevin James

Everyday items tell amazing stories! In this class, we consider 'ordinary' objects, 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, material. Visiting archives to explore these items, we also consider ways we unwittingly and consciously archive our own lives, 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 objects from our own lives to explore the stories that they tell about us and the world in which we live.

03 - Outdoor School 

Diane Borsato

Have you ever wished you could have all of your classes outside? Or attend a seminar in a flower-filled greenhouse, visit an active apiary, or get hissed at by a cockroach? In this field-based course we will be visiting and learning from several of the labs, gardens, and facilities on campus, and the educators, technicians, and artists that work at them. Reading seminars will be held outdoors, where we will discuss and consider a wide range of cultural perspectives on nature, climate, and the environment. Taught by an artist and amateur naturalist, we'll have hands-on encounters and workshops about the flora, fauna, geology, and weather around us and look specifically at the interrelated ideas of contemporary artists, activists, nature writers, and environmental researchers. No outdoor experience is necessary.

05 - Making Things Perfectly Queer

Mark Lipton

Welcome to the Queer Camp Salon. This course explores what it means to be queer in the 21st century. Our weekly seminar, in the style of a salon, engages creative students in ongoing discussions and debates about queer identities and camp artifacts in the 21st century. The last two decades have witnessed unprecedented changes for queer people. Discourses about/of sexuality and gender have long addressed how queer identities illustrate how camp functions as a sense-making and world-making practice. This seminar considers the extent to which this practice of camp still applies. It also considers how selected literary, cinematic, and other texts contribute to and/or resist regulatory discourse/s.

07 - The Humanitarian Game 

Susan Armstrong Reid

In 2016, the growing numbers of people dying from the lack of basic health services, or fleeing conflict areas in search for basic human security of food and shelter, has been characterized as "dramatic beyond description." Every year the international community responds to a number of new disasters and complex emergencies, as well as providing on-going assistance to humanitarian crisis, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions worldwide. New directions in global humanitarian governance, connecting the local community and individual efforts to global initiatives are required to co-ordinate humanitarian efforts on a more effective and sustainable basis. The seminar adopts a multidisciplinary approach. It examines the interconnectivity of global socio-economic determinants that shaped the increasingly contested negotiation of humanitarian space: the revolution in medical technology and drug therapies, the environment, power politics at all levels of the global health system, and the struggle for political freedom, social justice, gender equality, and basic human security requirements of food, shelter, and employment and the explosion of the Internet and digital technology. This seminar examines the professional and personal ethical challenges that humanitarian workers confronted in providing care, advocacy, and promotion of health and human security during a wide spectrum of humanitarian crisis. More immediately, understanding student leadership opportunities to change lives for a healthier planet is also a critical issue that seminar participants probe together with the goal of developing venues to share their journey with the wider community and future seminar participants. Global humanitarianism has become a "hot topic" over recent decades; it has increasingly become almost become a right of passage for many university students to volunteer overseas. Sadly, these initiatives often amount to little more than "global humanitarian tourism." Students need opportunities to assess their own motivation, preparedness, and as important, their long-range engagement within global civil society to address the issues of social justice and basic human security.

08 - Building a Career in the 21st Century 

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 examine career and life-stage models that help you to understand the ways that careers typically unfold and the ways that careers have changed in recent decades and how they will look in the future. You will consider what it means to be a member of your specific generation in society and the workplace and how that differs from past generations. You will consider your goals for life and career as a holistic system that helps you to work toward balance in your life. 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.

09 - Healthy Communities 

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."

10 - Art in the 21st Century 

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. 

11 - Why We Make 

Kim Martin

Building. Creating. Constructing. Manufacturing. Call it what you will, humans have been making things since the dawn of time. This course will investigate why we make the things we do, what drives us to create, and what can happen when we work together to make things. Starting with simple, creative assignments, students in this course will rethink their own acts of making, and will look back at inventors and entrepreneurs in the past to understand what drove these individuals to create. The recent popularity of the "maker movement" has seen makerspaces and fabrication labs pop up all over: in public libraries, museums, schools, and universities. These spaces provide access to maker tools (laser cutters, 3D printers, sewing machines, and computers) for their respective communities. But long before the rise of these spaces, students were learning similar skills in high school or trade schools. Students will speculate on reasons for this shift in thinking, why 'making' has become a part of popular culture, and what this says about our current society.

12 - Feeding 9 Billion 

Kelly Hodgins

Our planet is predicted to host a population of 9 billion people by 2050. There is tremendous urgency to improve food systems if we are to provide nutritious diets for this population in a sustainable and equitable way. Today's food system is in many ways flawed, but these numerous shortcomings simultaneously present opportunities for change and improvement. 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 on projects that will improve food security and environmental sustainability. This course is different to other first-year seminars, as it is based on groupwork and collaboration with older students. In order to enroll, you must be available to attend the weekend-long “Feeding 9 Billion Challenge” September 22-23rd 2017. Working across disciplines, students in this course learn the skills of innovation and social entrepreneurship to develop creative solutions to food security issues, ultimately becoming the next generation of change-makers.

13 - 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.  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.

14 - Science Hack 

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.

15 - Fire, Floods and Rising Tides: People on the Move in the Age of Climate Change Great Escape

Yvonne Su

Climate change, climate justice, and climate refugees. This course will provide an introduction to the defining issue of our century: climate change. Students will learn about the issues of climate change, disasters and displacement, and discuss the implications of these phenomena on humankind and the possible individual and governmental solutions that exist. Students will be equipped with critical thinking skills, which they will gain through inquiry-based learning that involves identifying ‘what we know,’ ‘what we don’t know,’ and ‘what we need to find out,’ to discuss their cases. They  will also develop problem-solving, research and communication skills through debating, role-playing, refection papers and a final essay. Students will leave this course with the analytical skills for how to assess, engage and find solutions for the big issues of our time.

16 - Jamaica’s Impact on Community 

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.  

18 - Sleep: 1/3 of Your Life Eyes Closed 

Justine Tishinsky

“I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day, because it means its 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.

19 - Bee Land

Karen Houle & Christina Kingsbury

What is happening with the bees and what can we learn from, and with them? These tiny amazing creatures are responsible for the reproduction of up to 75% of flowering plants and yet species diversity and populations are dwindling. What comprises the worldhood of these incredible beings? What is it like in “Bee Land”? Would gaining a better understanding of, even love of bees and their world make any contribution to reducing these trends? In order to try to catch sight of Bee Land, we will take a multi and trans-disciplinary approach. We will investigate, explore and consider the implications of human relationships with bees through multiple lenses and both experiential and research-based practices: through hands-on encounters in the field with wild and domestics bees; through looking at intersecting and divergent ideas about bees in science, contemporary art and philosophy. Co-taught by a philosopher-poet, and an artist-amateur naturalist.

20 - Exploring Expression though Graffiti 

Amanda Hooykaas

While some see graffiti as a form of art, others see it as an indication of criminal activity. Extending beyond spray bombs, we explore the various ways in which informal public art aims to stake claims on a landscape. Guerrilla knitting, shoe trees, messages in bathroom stalls, and hikers’ inukshuks can all be forms of this expression and the motivation behind the message itself can vary as well. Course goals include: 1) understanding graffiti and other informal public art as social phenomenon with great diversity; and 2) gaining research design skills, exploring "forensic" ethnographic methods, and honing skills in observing nuances in expressive social culture. We will focus our work on the City of Guelph.

 

21 - Why Do People Believe Weird Things?

Ian Newby-Clark

Why do some people believe that aliens abducted them? Are the “abductees” simply fantasy-prone? Why do some people believe that the dead can communicate with the living, or that the movements of the stars influence human behaviour? Is it just "wishful thinking?" The science of psychology has good answers to these questions. Each class, we will take on an extraordinary claim. We will evaluate the evidence for and against the claim and, more important, we will come up with a psychology-based explanation for why people believe the claim.

 

22 - Human Rights in Educational Context 

Jane Ngobia

Human rights affect everyone.  This course examines human rights in an educational context with emphasis on university setting. Students will analyze human rights from a social, philosophical and legal perspective through the exploration of prohibited grounds, hate incidents, social media, accommodation and conflict resolution.  The course uses interactive dialogue, case work, group activity and class presentations.  Students will explore individual, group and intersecting rights; gain an appreciation for university programs and procedures; and learn the fine line between having fun and violating ones human rights hence harassing or discriminating.