Fall 2018

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.

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

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, creative reflection and community site visits in order to examine health from a wellness perspective.

Therefore participation, analysis and reflection are key skills developed and utilized 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.

Janet Wolsetenholme

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.

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.

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 friendly little instrument to pick up and learn. However, it still finds itself misunderstood – is it just a novelty or is it a real, bonafide instrument? In this course, we’ll explore how the ‘ukulele’s popularity has ebbed and flowed throughout its history, and sailed into the current musical and social climate. We’ll discuss how it finds its place in elementary classrooms and Irish pubs, as a tool for therapy and for cultural expression. An important component of the course, we’ll also learn how to play ‘ukulele, touching on some basic music literacy and physical musical skills, working up some repertoire (cover songs), crafting your own song with an important social, political or cultural message, and culminating in a class performance in a public venue at the end of the term. Don’t worry, 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 this course, you’ll have a new appreciation for this little instrument that has taken on the world in the last 100+ years.

Robert Hanner

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.

Ian R. Newby-Clark

Why do some people believe that aliens abducted them? Are the “abductees” 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. Throughout the semester, we will take on a variety of extraordinary claims. We will evaluate the evidence for and against a given claim and we will give a psychology-based explanation for why people believe the claim.

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.

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.

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.

Kelley 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

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.

Claire Coulter

Accusations of fake news are rampant, and trust in the media is in decline. But what do we mean when we say “fake news”? And, what are the critical literacies required to discern “truth” in this time of polarization and uncertainty, especially when we are bombarded with information across so many social media channels? This course will introduce learners to the information literacy habits required to become savvy web “fact-checkers”. While we will also focus on building specific technology skills, and digital creation (and have fun making GIFs and memes among other things), the focus will be on asking critical questions toward a better understanding of our own digital identities and toward competent civic participation.

Susan Armstrong-Reid

“So many of our children have been taken away they are like a lost tribe.”

[Mr. Kakegamic, a deputy grand chief for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation ]

In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went on the world stage at the United Nations to describe Canada’s efforts to address a domestic “shame” — the treatment of Indigenous peoples. Few Canadians want to question whether the Liberal Government’s efforts are sufficient or its promises to Indigenous People are being kept. Together we will examine how the legacy of colonialism still shapes the lives of Indigenous Canadian youth in 2018-19 and critically assess the Trudeau government’s response. In so doing, it offers University of Guelph students the opportunity not only to appreciate the role that Indigenous young people play in addressing the challenges they face and but also to realize that University of Guelph students can be change makers too.

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.

Amanda Rotella

Why do we cooperate? When is there competition? What leads to conflict? Cooperation, competition, and conflict happen at all stages of life, from gene transfer in bacteria and social insects, to hunter-gatherer societies and large modern-day corporations. Daily, we hear about important conflicts – whether it be about current political campaigns, warfare, or the latest scandal – and about cooperative efforts, including international relations and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In our own lives, we make daily choices involving cooperation and competition. In this seminar we will examine how cooperation arises, when we make choices to compete, and the many factors that impact these decisions.

Each week we will examine a new topic in cooperation and conflict, where we will discuss case studies, examples, and current events related to the topic at hand. We will take an interdisciplinary approach by exploring concepts from psychology, biology, anthropology, sociology, behavioural economics, and organizational behaviour. Together as a class we will become researchers by developing a question, research methodology, and collecting and analyzing our data. Working across disciplines, students will also explore at topic of their interest at length, and share it with their classmates. Students will leave this course with a new understanding of when and why organisms cooperate or compete.

Christina Kingsbury

What can we learn from, and with bees? These tiny amazing creatures are responsible for the reproduction of up to 75% of flowering plants and yet species diversity and populations are dwindling. Would gaining a more complete understanding of, even love of, bees be able to contribute even just a tiny amount to reversing these dire trends? Bees teach us that tiny can be amazing & enough. We will try to catch sight of the wonder and complexity of Bee Land through a trans-disciplinary approach: through hands on encounters in the field with wild and domestic bees, through looking at the work of contemporary artists and writers whose subject is bees; and through exploring intersecting and divergent ideas about bees in art, science and philosophy.

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.

Susan Armstrong-Reid

An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. This course focuses on child protection and participation in humanitarian crisis at home and abroad.

In choosing this First Year Seminar (FYS), you have enrolled in the virtual Gryphon Humanitarian Training Institute (GHTI.) This course simulates a twelve-week training program for those interested in either volunteering abroad or learning more about humanitarianism. As implied in the course’s name, you will role-play various humanitarian actors in a series of simulations depicting life in the field and play board games to explore the controversial and complex world of humanitarian diplomacy.

More immediately, this FYS explores opportunities for student leadership to change lives for a healthier planet. Sadly, in many cases, these initiatives often amount to little more than costly “global humanitarian tourism.” Students need better opportunities to assess overseas internship. U of G students can be voice for change.

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.

Shoshana Jacobs

This course is offered to support first year students with disabilities and their allies as they engage in experiential (hands-on) learning opportunities. With a focus on career-readiness, ICON teaches interpersonal, team and communication skills while fostering innovative ideas for tackling the food system and sustainability challenges. Students will learn valuable transferable skills such as effective team work, knowledge translation and transfer, and problem solving that will then be applied to a real-world challenge in our community. The course is designed to support you as you gain career-ready skills. As part of this course, we will examine theory and practice around creating an inclusive environment and disability management; e.g. timing and appropriateness of disclosure in the world of work; identifying and advocating for appropriate accommodations; and recognizing, capitalizing on and communicating your strengths. You will be able to apply these transferable skills as a participant in an ICON project-based course (involving an external stakeholder) in teams with upper year students from a variety of majors.

Justine Tishinsky

“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 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.