Winter 2013

UNIV*1150 DE - Politics, Science and Culture of Hunger

1 - Being Canadian 

2 - Citizen Leader 101

4 - Making A Difference in the World - Communicating Effectively for Change

5 - All About Facebook

6 - Health Care, Diversity & The Art of Living

7 - Stem Cell Research & Society: An Evaluation of Issues Concerning Societal & Scientific Dilemmas of Stem Cell Research

8 - Evolution of Dietary Habits

9 - Health Care, Diversity & The Art of Living

10 - I'm Not Waiting for the World to Change... The Power of One

11 - Do Genes Fit Our Values?

12 - Sex, Gender and Sexuality

13 - Lost in Translation: Bringing Science to Society

14 - Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post Literate Future

15/16 - The Strange Harmony Between Humans and Horses

17 - Healthy People, Healthy Animals, Healthy Environment

18 - The Art of Everything: Exploring the Creative Process

19 - Living with Quadriplegia: Loss, Challenge and Triumph

20 - Geek Culture

UNIV*1150 DE - Politics, Science and Culture of Hunger

Jacqueline Murray

We will focus on one of the most pressing challenges confronting societies across the globe: the pervasiveness of hunger. We will examine hunger as a lived experience, and the challenges that face those who are working to eradicate it. Topics will include global economic and political forces; science and technology, particularly as they relate to agriculture; the interplay of governmental and non-governmental agencies, along with supra-governmental agencies such as the United Nations, the World Food Program and the International Monetary Fund; and the importance of culture and beliefs in shaping attitudes towards hunger in the developed and developing world. Registration requires instructors consent. Please contact Prof. Murray at jamurray@uoguelph.ca 
This is a 1 credit seminar.

1 - 01 Being Canadian

Catherine Carstairs

In a rapidly globalizing world, what does it mean to be Canadian? Is it having access to health care? Loving hockey? Believing in multiculturalism? Shopping at the Hudson's Bay Company? Enjoying outdoor activities? Canadians like to think of themselves as tolerant, generous people, but is this the reality? What are Canadian values? This course will critically examine what it means to be Canadian in the early 21st century. We will read fiction, journalism, and academic scholarship on what it means to be Canadian. The course will be based around several case studies that involve issues of Canadian values such as: 1) Should Muslims be allowed to use sharia law to settle family disputes through arbitration? 2) Should the Northern Gateway pipeline be built across Alberta and BC? 3) Should the federal government allow more private medical clinics? or 4) Should the Canadian government sign trade agreements that would threaten provincial marketing boards?

2 - 02 Citizen Leader 101

Laurie Schnarr

Nelson Mandela, Nellie McClung, Stephen Lewis, Terry Fox, Craig Kielburger, Mother Teresa, Louis Riel. History is replete with examples of exceptional people whose courage and tenacity resulted in transformative and enduring social change. But are such acts of leadership the purview of only the most high profile, outspoken or gifted among us? This seminar will explore various manifestations of leadership and civic engagement - from volunteerism through to voting, and grassroots movements to alternative politics - and the factors that prevent or promote active participation in civic life. This is a course in action. We will explore citizenship and leadership themes by investigating local, national and global issues of social significance. An integrated service experience, class discussions, regular analysis of mass media coverage, a diverse range of invited guests, and social observation will ground our investigation of this complex topic. We begin our journey by exploring leadership - what is it and how has leadership changed over time? Are leaders born or made? Can leadership be taught? What are the key skills, attitudes and behaviours that distinguish strong leaders from those who are not? What are the strategies one might employ to mobilize others and to draw upon individual strengths to achieve a better outcome than might have been otherwise realized? What are the connections between leadership and social change? We then turn our attention to civic engagement or 'citizenship' - a concept that has been variously defined over time - and pursue several questions. What does civic engagement mean in a Western context? Are there generational differences in the way citizenship is perceived and manifested? What are the factors that impede and promote civic engagement amongst youth? What are examples of key social change initiatives that were advanced by grassroots organizations and resulted in transformative change?

4 - 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.

5 - 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.

6 - Health Care, Diversity & The Art of Living

Barry Townshend

Universal, publicly-funded health care is one of Canada’s most cherished values and yet it is an imperfect system.  It has the power to change our lives – keeping us healthy and ensuring our dignity, or leaving us in pain, impoverished and feeling powerless.  It’s a system that we all must rely on for life saving treatments and limiting our ailments, and yet our backgrounds, identities and financial resources confers better services to some people and more limited services to others.


Health care providers are both well intentioned and deeply committed to caring for the sick and dying, so where do things go wrong?  This interdisciplinary course draws on many different academic disciplines to explore the limits, challenges and opportunities that exist when it comes to our health, our lives and the things we cherish most.


This seminar relies heavily on facilitated small group discussions.  Over the course of the semester, students will engage in exploring issues that arise from a series of six to eight cases.  Each scenario is designed to inspire curiosity, challenge assumptions and provide a foundation for each student to direct her/his own learning.  A written assignment will be submitted at the end of the semester, thereby allowing students to demonstrate what they have learned through a final case analysis.  The nature of the group discussions is such that attendance at all class meetings is mandatory.

7 - Stem Cell Research & Society: An Evaluation of Issues Concerning Societal & Scientific Dilemmas of Stem Cell Research

Roman Poterski

Stem cell research is a relatively new discipline of science. It grew out of pioneering work on mice by Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Till of University of Toronto in 1963. In 1981 Gail R. Martin of University of California at San Francisco developed a technique for extracting stem cells from mouse embryos and created the term “embryonic stem cells." More recently, in 1998, James Thomson of University of Wisconsin at Madison first developed a technique to isolate and grow human embryonic stem cells in cell culture dish. With Thomson’s discovery humanity hoped for new treatments and cures for many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and endless other ailments. Despite a substantial progress to date and numerous applications already in clinical practice, stem cell research continuously faces many socio-scientific misconceptions.

8 - Evolution of Dietary Habits

Dominique P. Bureau

The diet of most humans on this planet has undergone major changes over the past several centuries. How did the dietary habits of Canadians evolved over the past four centuries since this country was settled by Europeans? What are the factors and forces that have driven (or are driving) these changes in dietary habits of Canadians? What have been (or will be) the consequences of these dietary changes on health and well-being of the population and the health of different ecosystems? How will the forecasted changes in demographics (population increase, aging of the population) and climate (global warming), as well as, belief systems and technological developments affect the dietary habits of humans around the world over the next century?

9 - Health Care, Diversity & The Art of Living

Barry Townshend

Universal, publicly-funded health care is one of Canada’s most cherished values and yet it is an imperfect system.  It has the power to change our lives – keeping us healthy and ensuring our dignity, or leaving us in pain, impoverished and feeling powerless.  It’s a system that we all must rely on for life saving treatments and limiting our ailments, and yet our backgrounds, identities and financial resources confers better services to some people and more limited services to others.  Health care providers are both well intentioned and deeply committed to caring for the sick and dying, so where do things go wrong?  This interdisciplinary course draws on many different academic disciplines to explore the limits, challenges and opportunities that exist when it comes to our health, our lives and the things we cherish most.


This seminar relies heavily on facilitated small group discussions.  Over the course of the semester, students will engage in exploring issues that arise from a series of six to eight cases.  Each scenario is designed to inspire curiosity, challenge assumptions and provide a foundation for each student to direct her/his own learning.  A written assignment will be submitted at the end of the semester, thereby allowing students to demonstrate what they have learned through a final case analysis.  The nature of the group discussions is such that attendance at all class meetings is mandatory.

10 - I'm Not Waiting for the World to Change... The Power of One

Vicki Hodgkinson & Linda Watt

We see everything that's going wrong with the world and those who lead it We just feel like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it John Mayer's hit song, Waiting for the World to Change, suggests there is inaction in regard to current world conditions. Many first year students don't accept this view and are looking for ways to be more active in pursuit of social change. However, in the face of complex and long-standing problems, they want to enhance their conceptual knowledge and practical ability to effectively launch themselves as an instrument of change and sustain themselves and others in the journey forward. This course will provide students with an opportunity to better understand themselves, approaches to complex social issues, and how to apply their personal tool kit for making a difference in the world. It will draw on the latest thinking in leadership and social change theory. It will cultivate conceptual thinking in this context as well as develop related research skills while also developing their personal capacity to begin applying ideas of leadership and social change in the world.

11 - Do Genes Fit Our Values?

Alastair Summerlee & 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.

12 - Sex, Gender and Sexuality

Jacqueline Murray

This enquiry-based seminar provides students with the opportunity to investigate the culture, science and beliefs about sex and sexuality, spanning from ancient to modern times. We will have the opportunity to explore a variety of issues pertaining to human sexuality and come to appreciate the various social, biological and cultural influences that contribute to understanding. 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 - Lost in Translation: Bringing Science to Society

Melanie Wills

Whether you aced or slept through high school biology, you are surrounded by science every day. Over the course of an average person’s lifetime, advances in laboratory research will impact almost all aspects of his or her existence, from the types of medical care she receives to the choice of what to cook for dinner. However, experimental science is notoriously inaccessible to the public.

This interactive and interdisciplinary communications course is designed to bridge the gap between ivory-tower academics and popular culture. Taught from a biological science perspective, it incorporates current affairs, journalism, psychology, philosophy, media, and creativity to examine the dynamic interface where all the disciplines meet. The primary objective is to develop skill sets to understand and overcome the barriers that divide science and society. Students will be immersed in exploration and application, and emerge with an expanded socio-scientific perspective and a refined repertoire.

14 - Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post Literate Future

Michael Ridley

The rise of literacy (reading and writing) was transformational not only for how we communicate and preserve ideas but also for how we think. However, as a literate people we have difficulty imagining both the oral cultures that preceded us (and still exist in other cultures) as well as the possibility of something beyond literacy. This course will explore the nature of oral cultures, the transformations enabled by literacy and speculate about the concept of rich human communication beyond traditional literacy (e.g. “post-literacy”) that might evolve from advances in computing, biotechnology or other, as yet unimagined, developments. Students will examine and enhance their learning skills through a series of assignments and in-class activities. These skills will be applied in the exploration of literacy and the future of literacy as part of research investigations and class discussions. The course focuses on the development of both individual skills and team based learning. The seminar aims to engage students in a way that will significant enhance their success as students as they progress through their program. It will also reinforce the foundations of lifelong learning.

15/16 - The Strange Harmony Between Humans and Horses

Jeff Thomason

Humans and their close ancestors probably began hunting horses for food 30,000 BP, and started taming them for milk and transport about 5,500 BP.   Since that time the fates of both species have been intimately linked, to the point that domestic horses considerably outnumber their wild or feral relatives. The aim of this course is to dip into the pool of that shared history at a number of points, some to be chosen by the class, and tease out some details of the horse-human interaction.  Possible dipping points include the evolution of modern equids; their original taming; historical events that were shaped by the presence of the horse; shaping of the horse itself by breeding; symbolic and artistic representations over time; the value of the horse in commerce and war, and the current use for work, pleasure or performance.  The last point may be expanded to include the many ways in which humans and horses currently interact: the health-and-welfare issues of horse usage; therapeutic interactions; the value chains in the different equine industries worldwide; issues around gambling on their performance, etc.  The course will begin with an information scavenger hunt on all aspects of the horse-human interaction, and discussion and selection of specific topics to be addressed in a problem-solving format for the remainder of the course.

17 - Healthy People, Healthy Animals, Healthy Environment

Cate Dewey

Are you mobilized or immobilized by need? Can one person really make a difference when the global need is immense? The worlds’ problems are messy. At first glance, there appears to be a simple solution but as you unravel the puzzle, you realize each problem needs to be solved in never ending layers and from many different directions


Ecosystem approaches to health provide multiple solutions to one problem, addressing the needs of people, animals, and the environment in concert with one another. Through case studies, discussions, and mind mapping, you will learn to unravel the messy problems of public health and animal health to identify potential solutions. These solutions require funding. You will develop marketing tools with the aim of raising funds to support the solution(s). The nature of the group discussions is such that attendance at all class meetings is mandatory.

18 - The Art of Everything: Exploring the Creative Process

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. 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.

19 - Living with Quadriplegia: Loss, Challenge and Triumph

Lorraine Jadeski & Cyndy McLean

Spinal cord injury due to trauma results in a multitude of changes that have a significant impact on the individual's capability to meet life demands. The recently injured person faces a totally new experience of his or her body as related to their physical, medical, psychological and social well-being.

The focus of this course is spinal cord injury, and the effects of injury on the affected individual. Human anatomy laboratory-based exploration of structure and functional relationships of the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system will provide students with the foundation for understanding functional- and clinical applications of the spinal cord and associated injuries. Other aspects of spinal cord injury will be addressed including the physical, social, psychological, economical effects that an individual living with a spinal cord injury may experience. Interaction with individuals living with spinal cord injuries, their friends/families, as well as clinicians will provide students with tremendous insight into the overall impact of injury.

20 - Geek Culture

Judi McCuaig

Have you ever wondered why all of the geeks in the room have the same movies and books memorized? Ever noticed how they all play the same games and will talk about their D&D characters or their SC2 apm for hours? Some stories and activities resonate with the geek personality, some do not. We'll read, watch and play our way through an exploration of some of the movies, books and games that are loved by geeks. While we're entertaining ourselves, we'll also take a look at the common characteristics of these works and how those characteristics relate to the types of tasks that are common in the geeky workplace. Fun for everyone, geek or not.