Winter 2017

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

02 - I Fought the Law

03 - Stupidity and Critical Thinking

04 - The Art of Everything: Exploring the Creative Process

05 - Why We Learn Things The Way We Do: Going Public with the Hidden Curriculum at University

07 - Across the ‘Black Atlantic’: Jamaica’s Impact on Community, Culture and Music in Britain and Canada

08 - Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future

10 - Human Rights in Educational Context

11 - Varsity Athletics: Cost, Culture and Consequence

12 - Death by Piano & Rare Events: Quantifying Risks in Modern Life

13/20 - Health Care & Diversity

14 - Animal Stories: (Re)Balancing Human/Animal Dynamics

15 - Thinking Outside the Bottle: Working for Safe Drinking Water for Indigenous Communities in Canada

16 - Reading Stories, Reading the World: Critical Literacy for Engaged Citizenship

17 - How to Watch a Documentary Film

18 - What is “Art” in the 21st Century?

19 - Feeding 9 Billion

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

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 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.

02 - I Fought the Law

Elliott Allen

Our criminal and family courts are being asked to deal with major issues of public policy relating to the rights of individuals in their dealings with the state. In this Enquiry Based seminar students will work collaboratively to explore scenarios based on current legal dilemmas. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the histories, current tensions and possible resolutions of conflicts in such areas as child welfare, drug use, political activism, racial profiling and prisoners’ rights will be examined.

03 - Stupidity and Critical Thinking

Jodie Salter

Who defines what constitutes “stupidity”? Can we even define it? In this seminar, we will critique the concept of stupidity and explore its relationship to popular culture. Looking at diverse forms of media (e.g., movies, literature, YouTube videos, TEDtalks, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), we will analyze how images and language work in different ways to influence how we make sense of information. This knowledge informs how we view commercials, read newspapers, tell our personal stories, develop our arguments, and convince others of our own perspectives. 
This seminar teaches critical thinking, one of the main requirements for all university students and a necessity for an ethical global citizenship. Through a process of identifying and assessing the informational biases we encounter every day in school, our jobs, and the media, students will gain critical perspectives on the relationships between media, power, truth, and language. 
By investigating different modes of communication, such as Twitter versus Instagram versus a Shakespearean sonnet, we will discuss the inherent complexities in visual and written communication, the necessity for contextualization, and the implications of inaccessible language. Students will learn strategies for developing effective questioning skills to help them read more critically, write more persuasively, and argue more effectively.

04 - The Art of Everything: 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.

05 - Why We Learn Things The Way We Do: Going Public with the Hidden Curriculum at University

Dale Lackeyram

In 1962 Lev Vygotsky argued that culture is the primary determining factor for knowledge construction and that we learn by following the rules, skills and abilities shaped by our culture.  Since you have been at university have you come across one or two of these individuals: the perfectionist, the procrastinator, the class clown, the information crammer, the group slacker, the keener etc…?  
This course explores, conducts, analyzes and communicates social research about the often-unintended lessons, values and perspectives that students learn at university i.e. the hidden curriculum. 

This seminar will utilize facilitated small group discussion and develop and conduct research.  Therefore participation, analysis, communication (verbal and written) and reflection are key skills developed and utilized in this course. 
Learners will demonstrate what they have achieved in their research by presenting their findings to the university community in a variety of formats, for example (and are not limited to) the following: a written paper, press article, presentation, video, movie, poster, art, website etc.

07 - Across the ‘Black Atlantic’: Jamaica’s Impact on Community, Culture and Music in Britain and Canada

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.  

08 - Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future

Mike Ridley

This course will explore the nature of literacy and the possibility of a “post-literate” future.

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

10 - 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.

11 - Varsity Athletics: Cost, Culture and Consequence

Jason Dodd and Clarke Mathany

This course will explore the impact of intercollegiate varsity athletic programs on colleges and universities within Canada, the United States of America, and globally. Students will debate the financial, cultural and ethical impact of varsity athletic programs while exploring how athletics can enhance or hinder the development of the student-athlete.

12 - Death by Piano & Rare Events: Quantifying Risks in Modern Life

Julie Horrocks

What is the riskiest thing that you do on a normal day - ride your bike to work, work out at the gym, or sit on the couch watching television? In the information age, we are inundated with stories of impending doom, from climate change to comet strikes. In this course we will examine the measurement of risk in our society. Students will read and discuss journal articles and explore case studies with the goal of understanding the availability of data for quantifying risk, understanding the statistical methods used to measure risk, performing simple statistical analyses, and comparing and ranking risky activities.

13/20 - Health Care & Diversity

Barry Townshend

Health care is something that touches all of our lives.  The science of medicine is present when we enter the world, and for most of us, it shapes the way we leave.  In the time in between, we experience health and sickness, we share our lives with loved ones, and we struggle with loneliness.  Through all of it, our experiences are shaped by the way others see us and by our own efforts to find our place in the world.

This course examines the intersection of science, history, politics and the lives of real people as it relates to health care and diversity.  We will consider many professions that work in the health care system ranging from doctors to social workers, as well as those who influence it, such as politicians, lobby groups, academics and the public.

Together we will look at big social systems and close-to-home real life stories.  The course material strives to uncover hard to answer questions and the limits of our knowledge, digging into the background of where facts come from and how they can sometimes lead us astray.  We will consider ideas relating to dignity, coping with adversity and resilience. 

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.

14 - Animal Stories: (Re)Balancing Human/Animal Dynamics

Kimberley Sider

Humans are the animals that have forgotten they are animals. We live in an interspecies
community, and yet have come to speak (and think) only to/of our human selves. This course explores the connections between species and cultures (human and animal) both in our everyday lives, and in terms of the broader contexts and intersections of human/animal societies that have placed animals at a disadvantage. Many humans have forgotten how to hear animals and recognize their perspectives, yet our lives are still highly connected and influenced by one another. Given this, how can we stop “speak[ing] only to ourselves” and engage the dynamic possibilities of recognizing all the species that influence our lives (and vice versa)? Lynda Birke and Jo Hockenhull suggest, Understanding relationships with animals is about listening to stories, both human and animal” (Crossing Boundaries 31). If so, how can we learn to hear and
see these stories, and begin to understand these relationships? Through a series of practice-based explorations, in-class discussions, and written/presented assignments the students will explore their personal understandings of animals, and the implications of how we engage with our nonhuman neighbours.

15 - Thinking Outside the Bottle: Working for Safe Drinking Water for Indigenous Communities in Canada

Rachael Marshall

This course explores drinking water challenges faced by Indigenous communities in Canada. Students will explore the relationship between Canada and its First Peoples; Indigenous and Western knowledge systems; and the challenges of implementing the five barriers of the multibarrier approach to safe drinking water in Indigenous communities. Students will be introduced to the issues of groundwater and surface water contamination on reserves, and will become familiar with typical contaminant risks in Indigenous communities. Students will develop an understanding of the principles of Indigenous research methodologies, and examine the role of interdisciplinary collaboration in solving complex, real-world problems. Students will collaborate to explore open-ended questions, such as: Why do Indigenous communities still lack
safe drinking water, despite financial and technological investments in Indigenous drinking water systems? How have historical relations between Canada and Indigenous Nations impacted current-day drinking water challenges in Indigenous communities? How can we move forward together?

16 - Reading Stories, Reading the World: Critical Literacy for Engaged Citizenship

Michelle Peek

In this seminar, we will explore the ways in which the stories we are told shape our understandings of the world we live in and, in turn, the ways we relate to each other. We will focus particularly on how our encounters with various media (including news outlets, academic writings, advertising and literature) work to construct their own particular versions of truth, and to support some interests and voices over others. This course builds from the premise that critical reading skills – the ability to identify who is being spoken for, who is being silenced, and what interests are being served by any given story – are a crucial element of engaged citizenship. Students will carry out research projects on a chosen theme or issue related to social justice, using their developing research and critical literacy skills to create a capstone project analyzing and explaining the ways in which their particular issue is being represented by diverse groups and voices.

17 - How to Watch a Documentary Film

Theresa Lee

Documentary film as a genre of filmmaking can be dated back as early as the 1920s. As nonfictional film, documentary is a unique art form that makes the truthful representation of reality its primary objective. Yet documentary is never just art in the sense that it is always associated with some concrete societal purposes, including education, propaganda, advocacy and protest, or more generally, information dissemination. With the proliferation of digital media and audio-visual platform in the last two decades, documentary films are undergoing a renaissance. In addition to the popular YouTube, there are now several major international documentary film festivals, such as the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto, and documentary-based specialty television channels. This course is a study of selected documentary films to understand how they are different from text-based analysis. You will learn to watch documentary critically as an informed audience rather than as an expert in film studies. Such an analytical skill is indispensable in a world that is saturated with images of all sorts; each wanting to tell us its story.

18 - What is “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. 

19 - Feeding 9 Billion

Evan Fraser

Our planet is predicted to host a population of 9 billion people by 2050. There is tremendous urgency to improve global food systems if we are to provide nutritious and adequate 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. 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. This unique course integrates first year students with more senior students in an integrated learning experience.