Winter 2021

The seminars are offered on Webadvisor under UNIV1200.
To learn more about a seminar and its instructor(s), please scroll down the page to browse.

Be a FYS Digital Storyteller Researcher!
Instructor: Mavis Morton
W21: M/W 1-2:30
Course Code: UNIV*1200-01

Description: Ever used Digital Storytelling as a research method? I am the Director of First Year Seminars (FYS) at the UoG and if you take this FYS with me, we will be trained by a researcher using a mobile multi-media lab. Check it out at Once we learn how to do this, we will conduct research using Digital Storytelling as a method. We will interview students from other FY seminars about their FYS experiences. We will work collaboratively to conduct, analyze and disseminate our findings by creating digital stories. We will meet remotely twice a week using Zoom; we’ll use a course management system called Courselink to share information, and we'll use WeVideo to make our digital stories. You don’t need previous research experience. You don’t need to have any digital media skills or be a storyteller. You will need to want to learn together, be prepared to take some risks and have some fun!

Sports. The good the bad and the ugly
Instructor: Mairin Scannell
W21: M/W 4:30-5:50pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-02

Description: If you want to become an innovative thinker and a changemaker in your community this course is for you! Sports can have extremely positive impacts on the physiological and psychological development of a child, yet in Canada 50% of kids stop playing sports after the age of 13 and that number continues to increase. As an increased number of children and youth do not meet the minimum daily recommended amount of physical activity the complex reasons for this trend are being more widely explored. In this course you will critically analyze the participation rates of grassroots sports and the journey of specific athletes to understand the “why” behind the decline in participation rates. You will then apply a proven problem-solving process (Design Thinking) that will allow you to generate solutions to this real-world problem, put together a basic implementation plan, and pitch your solution!

Dark Tourism: An Immoral Promotion of Death & Disaster?
Instructor: Brent McKenzie
W21: W/F 9:30-11:00am
Course Code: UNIV*1200-03

Description: We all will die. But why would we want to travel to experience the morbid and the chilling as a tourist? This is the question that is explored in the study of "Dark tourism". Dark tourism as defined by Sharpley and Stone (2009) is "the act of travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre". Although not new, in many societies, visiting sites associated with death is, and has been, a considerable part of the tourist experience; as this can be seen with the existence of pilgrimage, one of the earliest forms of tourism. However, the commercial marketing of such locations to encourage tourist visitations is justly debated. The focus of this course is to explore the individual and societal motivations and fascinations with such experiences, as well as to better understand the impact that such tourism has on country and city image. This first-year interdisciplinary seminar intends to expose the student to both domestic and international sites of "Dark tourism". The expectation is that the student will learn how to frame examinations of a controversial phenomenon in an objective and critical fashion.

How Will We Eat on Mars?
Instructor: Mike Dixon
W21: Tue/Thurs 2:30-4:20pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-04

Description: Extended human missions to the Moon or Mars will require efficient technologies for crew life support. It is generally accepted that as mission duration increases and crews spend longer periods away from low-earth orbit, a higher degree of mission autonomy is desirable since re-supply of life support elements from Earth becomes prohibitively expensive. Bioregenerative approaches to life support can harness the contributions of higher plants, micro-organisms, fungi and perhaps insects and other animals to provide food, recycled water and air revitalization (CO2 scrubbing and O2 production). Canada is among the world leaders in research and technology development devoted to “biological life support” for humans on long duration space exploration missions. Students will be exposed to the broad scope of research activities and infrastructure at the UoG's Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility which represents Canada's main contribution to this field internationally. Discussions will focus on the technical challenges faced by space explorers and how the solutions relate to knowledge and technology transfer to Earth-based problems in issues from the environment to the economy. Students will prepare papers and seminar presentations on relevant topics.

Don't Worry Be happy: Happiness and the Good Life
Instructor: Natalie Evans
W21 M 2:30-5:30pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-05

Description: 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 the good life, and how can we achieve them? In this course, we attempt to answer this question by examining the causes of happiness and unhappiness in individuals and societies, as well as different conceptions of the good life 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, music, nature and more as they relate to the pursuit of happiness.

Epic Fail: Reimagining Perspectives on Failure
Instructor: Jacqueline Hamilton and Victoria Fritz
W21: M/W 10-11:30am
Course Code: UNIV*1200-06

Description: We've all been there. That sinking feeling in your stomach you get when you're wrong. It's the feeling you get when you try your hardest only to come up short and realize you've failed. But what does it actually mean when you `fail' at something? This course will explore the definition of failure, popular examples of failure in the media, examine leaders who have failed, and dive into your own personal experiences. By engaging in reflections, class discussions, and exploring examples of failure, this course will provide you with a re-invented perspective on what it means to fail and help you turn mistakes into new opportunities. Additionally, by engaging with the course through an experiential framework, students will break down the emotional components of dealing with failure and build a growth mindset to help them in their university experience.

Theatre in Trouble: How Theatre Challenges the Status Quo
Instructor: Tony Berto
W21: Tues / Thurs 7-10pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-07

Description: 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: How Theatre Challenges the Status Quo”; a course in which we will look at how some theatre has caused big reactions from our authorities, and why social or moral values were offended by these plays in their day. Through discussion and seminars, we’ll trace how six plays affected, or were affected by, the authorities of their day. Students will also learn how playwrights create such work by making their own short scenes about the contemporary, contentious issues of today. Lastly, students will then seek out and research a further play “in trouble” and write a short essay about its production in its day.

What is Art in the 21st Century?
Instructor: Janet Wolstenholme
W21: M/W 8:30 – 10am
Course Code: UNIV*1200-08

Description: What is, should, or should not be, considered “Art” in the 21st century? In this seminar all forms of art and the various forms thereof will be examined. Learners will explore personal, cultural and political meanings and use/s of art. We will also consider the role and function of art and creativity over time, in the world today, and what it could look like in the future. We will learn in a collaborative, inclusive environment using an enquiry-based pedagogy and reflective practice. This course is discussion based, with high interaction and engagement with peers.

From Republic of Letters to a Public of Tweeters
Instructor: Evren Altinkas
W21: Fri 11:30 – 2:30pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-09

Description: Today, social media allows for communication between people. This new model has given citizens a “first strike” capability in the sphere of local/global influence and has resulted in a “fifth force” of power; the ability of citizens to organize and exercise power independently of the four traditional sources. This course will analyze the role of social media in politics and society. By focusing on the historical development of media (e.g. Republic of Letters-printed media-pamphlets-Encyclopedia) since the Middle Ages, we will deal with modern ways of social media (e.g. various social media channels) and how they affect the decision-makers. A combination of history, politics and sociology will help us to understand that a specific event can be analyzed by using various disciplines. The interaction between the social media users and decision-makers will be analyzed by assigning students specific topics related with the community they live in. Students will use various social media channels to impact the decision makers (e.g. University Administration, Local Municipality etc.). This will help them see how social media can be used as a channel to change their environment and have an impact on their life.

Bambi and You, Bambi in Stew: Exploring the Human-Animal Connection
Instructors: Carol Tinga, Kat Sutherland
W21: M/W 10:00 – 11:30am
Course Code: UNIV*1200-10

Description: Whether you eat them or not, own a clowder of cats or are allergic to everything with fur or feathers, that fact is our lives are intertwined with animals. How do different people view these relationships with animals? In this seminar we will explore this question through the history of animals in art, animal welfare movements, famous pets, various cultural perspectives on animals, the pet and veterinary industries, and animals in film and literature. Learners will virtually visit an animal sanctuary, view thought-provoking videos, participate in a debate and group discussions, create art, engage in writing exercises including self-reflections, and complete and present a final project on a topic of their choosing. By the end of the course, you will have enhanced your critical thinking and collaboration skills, as well as your ability to analyze and appreciate a multitude of perspectives.

Beyond Welcome: Building a New Life in Guelph-Wellington
Instructor: Carla Giddings
W21: Wed 4-7pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-11

Description: Guelph made national headlines in 2016 when a local business owner pledged $1.5 million to privately sponsor over 50 Syrian refugee families. However, this is just one story of migration in Guelph-Wellington. How does Guelph welcome newcomers? What are the many and nuanced stories of migration from youth to older adults? How do experiences of settlement vary from the City of Guelph to rural communities in Wellington County? What are the stories of newcomer entrepreneurs, professionals, and international students? In this course we will engage in Critical Community Engaged Scholarship to examine the diverse experiences of building a new life in Guelph-Wellington. We will explore the lived experiences of displacement, (re)settlement and belonging through reflection, videos, guest lectures, and current research. You will create your own “landscape of care” map, learn about in/formal settlement supports, and engage in a story-telling project with the Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership.

Indigenizing climate action: an introductory inquiry into Indigenous Peoples and the climate crisis
Instructor: Graeme Reed
W21: Thurs 4-7pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-12

Description: This course introduces students to efforts that address the climate crisis must center Indigenous Peoples’ rights, legal orders, and ways of knowing. Despite being disproportionately affected by climate change, Indigenous Peoples have developed, and will continue to develop, sustainable solutions for a rapidly changing climate. The course will explore how Indigenous movements, Indigenous organizations, and Indigenous governments seek to address the climate crisis, including the challenges they face and the lessons they have learned. Using diverse sources of literature, videos, and online seminars, students will develop an interpretative framework for understanding Indigenous approaches to the climate crisis, guiding their engagement in the intersection of Indigenous Peoples and climate action. Students will be encouraged to seek out opportunities to engage with / participate in climate and Indigenous-justice oriented events in and around Guelph, as well as online.

Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age: Hey Google, why do I have to go to school?
Instructor: Madison Wright
W21: W/F 8:30-10am
Course Code: UNIV*1200-13

Description: Have you ever wondered what the point of going to school is when you can just “Google it”? If so, this seminar is for you! We will be exploring how the development of the internet has changed and continues to change education, the different ways students can learn in the digital age (i.e., in-class courses, online-courses and teaching yourself with Google), and the effectiveness of different teaching methods. In this seminar, students will have an opportunity to practice teaching and learning in the digital age. In addition, discussions, reflections, and a final debate will be used to assess if a university degree still has value in today’s society when information is only a click away.

Sleep: 1/3 of Your Life Spent with Your Eyes Closed
Instructor: Justine Tishinsky
W21: M/W 2:30-4pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-14

Description: “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 utilize an interdisciplinary approach to explore 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.

Title: Horror Night in Canada
Instructor: Michael Follert
Course Code: UNIV*1200-15

Description: A poet once remarked that if other countries are haunted by the ghosts of their past, in Canada “it’s only by our lack of ghosts we're haunted”. Looking back, we might say that Canadians are rather good at ignoring the ghosts of their past, and this denial itself provides a good opportunity for critically reflecting on the idea of 'Canadianness'. What we might lack in time-honoured ghost stories is more than made up for by the anxieties and fears that populate the dark corners of our audio-visual culture. With a view to the uniqueness of Canadian horror, in this course we explore the recurring themes of this rarefied subgenre, like the fear over loss of identity (Pontypool, 2008), the fear of a breakdown of boundaries (Ginger Snaps, 2000), the fear of being overwhelmed by technology (Videodrome, 1983), the fear of nature’s vastness (Backcountry, 2014), and the terrors of colonization (Blood Quantum, 2019). Weekly combinations of films, radio plays, and key readings in Canadian Studies will offer students the opportunity to critically reflect on and locate themselves within constructions of Canadian identity – exploring its contours, its exclusions, and its colonial legacies.


Title: “Survival is Not Enough” Speculative Fiction as Emancipatory Practice 
Instructor: Deirdre Rose  
Course Code: UNIV*1200-16

Description: The title of this seminar course is a quote from Star Trek that is also the core philosophy of the traveling theatre troupe that features in the post-pandemic hope-punk novel Station 11. Through a close reading of selected speculative fiction, we will explore contemporary themes, including surveillance, language and thought, fear, social hierarchies, hope, and resistance. Students will be able to choose readings from a variety of speculative fiction genres, such as dystopic science fiction, solar-punk, and Afrofuturism. Activities will include saving one word from the censors, inventing a new word, creating a meme, and representing an imagined future in the medium of your choice. (essay, graphic novel, short story, etc.). We will look at short scientific articles about viruses and epidemiology and genetics, linguistic articles about the relationship between language and perception, and social science articles about culture, politics, and economics. Thus, the course is highly interdisciplinary and will appeal to students interested in anthropology, sociology, political science, epidemiology, biology, public health, and literature. Students should also note that this is a seminar format, meaning there will be lots of student participation, interactive activities, and group work. Critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity will be encouraged. 


Title: Avoiding Language Death: An Exploration of Endangered and Resurrected Languages
Instructor: Dillon March
Course Code: UNIV*1200-17

Description: UNESCO estimates that over half of the world's approximately 6,000 languages will be extinct before the end of the century (UNESCO, 2010), due to colonization, genocide, assimilation efforts, and other reasons. Canada is not immune to this shocking threat of language extinction; almost all of the approximately 60 indigenous languages spoken in Canada are at risk of extinction over the next few decades. On the other hand, there are some initiatives around the world to revitalize endangered languages in order to avoid language death. Some language revitalization efforts have been so successful that formerly extinct or dead languages have been resurrected as living languages with native speakers. This course will explore the vulnerable languages of the world in order to understand what internal and external factors cause languages to change, be born, and go extinct. This course takes an active learning approach where we explore, first-hand, vulnerable languages of the world and, through learner-centered discussions, we focus on the social, political, and biological factors that influence language change.


Title: Monsters, Machines, and Other Minds.
Instructor: April Marratto
Course Code: UNIV*1200-18

Description: What does it mean to be human? Do humans have souls? Are we just sophisticated machines? This course will use the famous story of Frankenstein’s monster to help facilitate discussions on personhood and otherness. This is a course that will challenge you to think about persons, animals, and machines in fruitful and exciting ways by drawing on thinkers at the intersection(s) of science, politics, and philosophy. Assignments will be varied and creative: imagine expressing an idea through a series of memes or creating a YouTube video to help spark discussion with your classmates. This course will avoid evaluations through exams or tests; instead, we will give assignments that stimulate discussion, personal response, and self- assessment


Title: Song, Story, Drawing and Dance
Instructor:  Jason Wilson
Course Code: UNIV*1200-19

Description:  The Arts in Motion will survey the migration of the arts from antiquity through to the twenty-first century. It will ask the student to consider art in the broad meta-history / comparative literature sense. As art is seldom bound to ‘place’, the course will trouble the idea of ‘tradition’ and question essentialized notions of ‘authenticity’. The course will only focus on the specialized histories of any given art to show how it is connected to a sometimes unrecognizable past and linked to an unpredictable future.


Title: Disrupting Normal: Disability Justice
Instructor: Valérie Grand' Maison
Course Code: UNIV*1200-20

Description: In this course, we question what it means to be human. We will use a disability lens to look at the assumptions and implications of concepts like ‘normal’, ‘independence’, and ‘health’. We will explore how disabled people disrupt norms and construct new meanings, knowledges, and culture. Connections, cure, and access will be central to this course, examined through a multidisciplinary approach, including health, education, media and literary studies, social movements, and design. You will be encouraged to develop critical and creative thinking through class activities, online discussion threads, personal reflections, presentations, and as a final project, the opportunity to create your own vision of disability justice. 


Title: Wild Justice: Revenge, punishment, and other ways of getting even
Instructor: Aidan Lockhart
Course Code: UNIV*1200-21

Description: “Revenge is a kind of Wild Justice.”~Sir. Francis Bacon

You’re on the highway, stuck behind a transport truck. In your rear-view mirror a car roars inches from your bumper. It lurches into the slow lane, speeds past, swerves into the tight space between you and the truck and flares its break lights. Your heart-rate skyrockets – pupils dilate – you swear – tires scream – rage claws the pit of your stomach. You want justice. But not the Justice of dusty, heavy-bound legal volumes. You want a Wild Justice. A justice you can feel. This felt sense of justice colours every corner of our social landscape as well as our inner, emotional terrain, with its hills of forgiveness and valleys of revenge. No one knows that terrain better than you. There, only you are the expert.  This multidisciplinary course (merging contributions from moral philosophy, the neurobiology of violence, psychology of victimhood, and the sociology of punishment) travels our lived justice wilderness. We use conversational interviews, roundtable discussions, meme-making, and collaborative presentations to explore this notion of Wild Justice – one that is free of suffocating legal jargon. As well, we consider personal experiences, real-world case studies, and pop-culture, to identify where our instinctive sense of justice comes from. We’ll diagnose the cognitive habits that perpetuate cycles of violence, and begin instead, to embody a new ‘justice disposition’ – one that reimagines the nature of harm and envisions new trails for personal and social transformation.

Dangerous Ideas that Challenged and Changed the World: What's Yours
Instructor: Laurie Manwell
W21: Tues/Thur 2:30-4:00pm
Course Code: UNIV*1200-22

Description: Have you ever tried so hard to convince someone of something that you actually began to question why you believed it yourself? Have you ever wondered why it was so important to you that others believe what you believe? Have you ever wondered what it would mean if what you believe is just not true? These may seem like strange questions, and for many people, they are. On average, we spend more time trying to prove that reality is as we already believe it to be rather than wondering about reality as it really is – or could be. What do we really know about the social, ethical, and political challenges of our world? Based on the’s global challenge, students will propose a ‘dangerous idea’, one that has the potential to change the world as we know it, not because it is “assumed to be false but because it might be true”. We will consider some of the most pivotal ideas that humanity has grappled with: Do humans have free will? Is morality just a product of evolution? Does evil exist? Can poverty be eradicated? Are we alone in the universe? Is science the answer to religion? Will the earth survive humans? Is the idea of human progress a myth? Does knowledge set us free or just show us our chains? Students will be introduced to diverse ways of thinking about the world and how to go about asking the right questions and using the appropriate methods of inquiry to find real answers with practical solutions to human problems of living. We will use the principles of Socratic and Scientific inquiry to express, defend, and refute ideas and consider their implications for a range of social, ethical, and political challenges in society today and in the future. This course is also designed to introduce students to understanding how the human brain perceives, processes, synthesizes, and applies information in a social world. It will include a variety of learning tools, hands-on activities, and demonstrations based on neuroscience. Students will learn about foundational processes in the brain that underlie everyday decision making and apply it to real world problems in the natural and social sciences and humanities. Will you join us with your dangerous idea?

Title: You be the Judge
Instructor: Raphi Steiner
Course Code: UNIV*1200-23

Description: This course is designed for students who enjoy problem-solving, the give-and-take of thoughtful discussion, and the use of logic and creativity to work their way through challenging ethical dilemmas. “You Be the Judge” takes real life cases and encourages students to grapple with the facts in order to arrive at solutions, then compares the civil and Jewish law’s view on each case. This course will also expose students to the mind-blowing roller coaster of Talmud study. No prior knowledge of Jewish or civil law is necessary. There are no prerequisites other than an open mind.


Title: Cloth to Culture: How Textiles Shape the World
Instructor: Annie Dunning
Course Code: UNIV*1200-24

Description:  Textiles have been used to indicate cultural status, as tools for political activism, and to conceal secret messages. Through case studies, find out how contemporary artists use textiles as a medium for their messages and influence cultural politics.  Learn to apply the elements of design and try hands-on making, including designing a textile print and basic sewing techniques. In this course students will employ critical thinking to examine textiles from perspectives of art & design, historical impact, cultural identity and as a tool for activism. The ability to look at situations from diverse perspectives and recognize bias is a skill that can be applied to any course of study as we continually aim to build equity into all that we do. The visual language in textiles has had historical, socio-political impact and continues to be used to address contemporary challenges. From quilt patterns that guided Black slaves toward freedom, to fabrics designed to confound drone surveillance, we will explore the fascinating and innovative uses of textile messages hidden in plain sight. 


Title: Meddling with Pedaling: An Examination of Cycling in Society
Instructor: John Ferguson
Course Code: UNIV*1200-25

Description:  “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” H.G. Wells This course considers the contribution of cycling (and bicycles) to society and the contribution of society to cycling (and bicycles) from multidisciplinary perspectives including engineering, health, history, sociology, anthropology, politics, economics, literature, media, and environment. “Whereas much has been written about the cultural roles of the automobile and driving in literature and popular culture, there has been surprisingly little analogous work devoted to the bicycle and bicycling, particularly in academia where cycling is predominantly analyzed through the positivistic lenses of urban planning and injury prevention.” (Withers and Shea, 2016)

The bicycle is often covered as a topic of maintenance, operation and safety but it is rarely considered more broadly as part of the fabric of social, cultural, philosophical, literary, political or economic life. The course will look at cycling the bicycle through an array of materials and lenses. These range from scholarly and scientific articles, critical analysis, law, planning, literature, film and art. We learn the basic mechanics, history and culture of cycling as a practice and the bicycle as a means by considering their role (and potential) in history, culture, sociology and anthropology, politics, liberty and equality feminism, literature and film, mechanical and industrial evolution, transportation, personal and societal health, well-being and quality of life, wealth and economics, city design and planning, energy, sustainability.