Winter 2019

The seminars are offered on Webadvisor under UNIV1200.

To learn more about a seminar and its instructor(s), please choose from the menu below or scroll down the page to browse.

01 Dark Tourism: An Immoral Promotion of Death & Disaster?

Brent McKenzie

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.

Marion Joppe

Claims of ‘authenticity’ are popping up everywhere, from barbeque sauce to cultural experiences, yet our world is becoming ever more artificial as technology allows for the construction of ski hills in the desert and the virtual world is more real to some than the one in which we live. This course will explore the concept of ‘authenticity’ in its various forms, the notions of commoditization and conservation, and guide students through reflections on the ‘Other’.

Jason Dodd

What is the value of intercollegiate varsity athletics? Varsity Athletics: Cost, Culture, and Consequence explores the impact of varsity athletic programs on colleges and universities within Canada, the United States of America, and internationally. 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. Ultimately, this seminar will explore the impact varsity athletics have on higher education institutions and consider if varsity athletics are a worthy activity of higher education institutions.

Bram Cadsby

How do people make decisions when faced with economic choices? How do those choices interact to produce consequences for small groups or sometimes the entire world? Economists and other social scientists have constructed theories of choice and strategic behavior, often by making simple assumptions about rationality and self-interest. Do people really behave as such theories predict? An exciting approach to answering such questions is through behavioral experiments. This course uses simple classroom experimental games to search for answers. By playing these games, students themselves create data, which they can then analyze. This promotes thought about the observed behaviour, and permits comparison with the predictions of theory.

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.

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.

Victoria Fritz and Jackie Hamilton

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. Questions? Feel free to email the course instructors.

Michael Wirth

Do you like to eat? Are you interested in learning more about the food you eat? Everyday life in punctuated by the innate need to eat. What and how we eat frames our history, and forms an important part of our identity. Nothing is more essential to human life than then food, without it we cannot survive. But if it were just pure sustenance and nutrition, this could be easily achieved. Food is more than that, in many societies food is an integral part of everyday life. This course will explore the world of food, from paleolithic diets to molecular gastronomy. It will draw upon historical and geographical contexts, and will allow students to consider how food is produced and consumed, how what we eat has changed over time, and how we have come to eat what we eat.

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.

Ian Newby-Clark

Why do some people believe that aliens abducted them? Are the “abductees” simply fantasy-prone? Why do some people believe that the dead can communicate with the living, or that the movements of the stars influence human behaviour? Is it just "wishful thinking?" The science of psychology has good answers to these questions. Through provocative readings, lectures, demonstrations, and discussions students will learn how common errors in thinking and remembering can lead to beliefs in the improbable and impossible. Along the way, the methods of pranksters, pseudoscientists, and scam artists will be revealed.

Don Bruce

Science Fiction stories are very popular these days, particularly in films. Why is this? Science Fiction comes to us in many flavours: sometimes it is close to the reality of the science and technology that we currently know, sometimes it projects a world of quasi fantasy filled with unknown technologies, alien beings, and new worlds. Science fiction narratives may be utopian in nature, or the very opposite: they may project a dim dystopian world. Virtually all science fiction, however, does explore possible worlds. In this course we will read science fiction texts and view science fiction films in order to determine if these types of stories have something valuable to tell us about the present or possible future, or if they are merely entertainment, a form of escape for our imagination. We will determine just how much is real science, and how much is fiction in the narratives we study, why that is the case, and how they interact with one another to create meaning. The course will operate in an interactive seminar style: student participation is encouraged and necessary for our exploration of science fiction. Course evaluation will be based on the following: brief content tests on the books and films to be studied; one short written assignment; one collaborative group presentation; and one final piece of work in the medium of the student’s choice (essay, video, poster, creative fiction, ‘TED’ talk, etc.), student participation and preparation. Students will develop analytical and contextual skills in this interdisciplinary course which focuses on the link between science and fiction and society, and have an opportunity to research topics of their interest within the framework of Science Fiction.

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.

Brenda Whiteside

Individuals who have been able to really make change in the world had different styles. However, they all had one quality in common – they possessed a strong ability to motivate others toward a common purpose. This seminar course will explore the important inter-relationship between the individual, teams, and the community – or society-at-large – in any change process. The course will also examine the barriers to change.

We will begin at the heart of all change initiatives – with an exploration of yourself. What are your strengths and where will you need development? What do you bring to any group effort and where will you need to rely on fellow group members? We will then use this information to cover topics such as 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. Finally, we will look to leadership style as it relates to change management.

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.

Evren Altinkas

Today, media allows for communication between publics. 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; mainly the ability of citizens to organize and exercise power independently of the four traditional sources. While traditional media power came from television and press news corporations, new media power comes from the access everyday citizens have to the Internet and its emerging tools; this fact has caused some of the traditional controls of nationhood to lose authenticity. 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 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.

Karen Nelson

Throughout their university experience, students learn how to acquire and create knowledge. What is often missing is how to take that knowledge to make it meaningful and impactful to our community - addressing issues in real time. This course will offer an introduction to Community Engaged Scholarship and Knowledge Mobilization to equip students to create meaningful community change through their academic work. We will specifically frame this in the context of the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH): these are the social, economic and cultural conditions that influence the health of different populations. Having an understanding of the SDoH and intersectionalities among them will allow students to understand why health disparities exist in our communities and will give them an interdisciplinary approach to working in this area of community health, and an understanding of careers in this area (policy development, research and public health intervention).

By participating in lectures, workshops, and group discussions, and interacting with guest speakers, students will critically reflect on the best ways to engage with the community and will learn applied skills to translate knowledge into useful tools.

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.

Lisa Baer and Mariah Hudec

Depictions of medieval and early modern Europe have captured the imaginations of the young and old since the nineteenth century. Continued revisiting and reshaping of these historical narratives in film, television, and literature highlight the ways in which the pre-modern past still resonates with twenty-first century audiences.

Interest in texts such as Justin Kurzel's Macbeth (2015), HBO's Game of Thrones, Showtime's The Tudors, Starz's Outlander, The History Channel's Vikings, BBC's Wolf Hall, and Philippa Gregory's The White Queen draws attention to the ways in which we continue to engage with these past narratives, and brings them into dialogue with contemporary popular culture. These texts provide insight into the ways in which contemporary societies understand and represent the past in order to ask and answer questions about the relationship between race and national identity, and issues of sexuality, gender, and equality. As the growing conservatism of national governments seems to dominate global discourse, the perceived brutality, oppression, and general uncertainty of life in a ‘less civilized’ age provides a way for contemporary societies to grapple with the issues at hand.

Jocelyn Rivers and Scott Brown

This course focuses on the notion of the self, and how a student’s ability to nurture, know, and communicate this self translates directly into communication skills that are necessary and perhaps vital in a myriad of settings, including the job market and workplace, interpersonal relationships, educational settings, and the virtual world. The course is premised on the idea that knowing one’s self is not only personal and reflective but also a negotiation with others in a shared world. Knowing one’s self is an important part of navigating and making sense of the various systems in which we are all embedded—including the university setting where students learn to communicate academic inquiries that are often interdisciplinary and unique. Our academic questions and goals are often deeply entangled with who we are as individuals; discovering and learning to communicate the self is conductive to interdisciplinarity and an active experimentation across disciplines.

While some academic programs seem to suppress the expression of the self more than others, students entering all disciplinary backgrounds have much to gain from learning to recognize and communicate a strong self concept—one that is evolving and open to update. This focus on the self and the individual requires a commitment from both instructors and students to engage in active learning. While the course itself certainly focuses on the individual, this is not to say that students are asked or required to learn in solitude; students are encouraged to view the course as dependent on their own active engagement and participation; the students constitute the course and there is room for emergent themes, lessons, and learning. Students from a variety of academic backgrounds will work together to produce content that can be shared beyond the classroom.

Gloria Novovic and Colin Gibson

Environmental issues are increasingly becoming the central aspect of global and local discussions on sustainable development, economic growth, social justice, public health and human security. The present seminar will provide students with instruments to critically engage in these discussions by:

  1. presenting core social change and social movement theories
  2. outlining connections between global environmental challenges and social change
  3. guiding students’ analysis of social movements protecting the right to clean water through case studies and
  4. building students’ capacity to work with quantitative and qualitative methods and apply them in group research activities.

Barry Praamsma-Townshend

Note: There are two sections of this course – limited to 9 students per section

What does it mean to be connected to an equity-seeking group, and how does this affect our experiences of sickness and health? Is the science we use to diagnose and treat people different when the people needing help are outsiders or have less influence in society? How do we find hope when faced with the slow and painful process of "death by a thousand cuts"? 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. Seminar discussions will be based on a group process that analyzes and explores a series of six to eight cases. Each scenario is designed to inspire curiosity, challenge assumptions and provide a foundation for students to direct their own learning.

Barry Praamsma-Townshend

Note: There are two sections of this course – limited to 9 students per section

What does it mean to be connected to an equity-seeking group, and how does this affect our experiences of sickness and health? Is the science we use to diagnose and treat people different when the people needing help are outsiders or have less influence in society? How do we find hope when faced with the slow and painful process of "death by a thousand cuts"? 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. Seminar discussions will be based on a group process that analyzes and explores a series of six to eight cases. Each scenario is designed to inspire curiosity, challenge assumptions and provide a foundation for students to direct their own learning.

David Green

When you hear the word, culture, what comes to mind? We all live in a cultural context but the cultural context varies by location like country, neighbourhood, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, and numerous other factors. While no one class can cover the depths and intricacies of “culture,” this class will focus on ethnic culture to illustrate how culture has influenced every facet of our lives. For example, words such as “eh” has been linked to “being Canadian.” Understanding research from various disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, family studies, education) and learning how to critique various forms of methodology, students will be critically reflective of culture and societies. To accomplish these goals, students will be given many opportunities to “think outside of the box” and to challenge traditional modes of thought, use various methods of problem-solving, to be creative and to have fun!

Robert Routledge

Political campaigns can be surprising, engaging, exhausting, inspiring and all leave their mark on us. Each campaign team starts with a variation on the same goal: have more votes than the people competing with your candidate on Election Day. We are going to practice building the fundamental parts of each campaign, by studying remarkable examples and ultimately developing your own campaign plan. We’ll examine recent campaigns, like those that elected Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau and Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie for lessons that can be applied. Current provincial and municipal leaders will offer their thoughts, as will former White House staff and a variety of veterans from campaigns at each level of Government in Canada and the USA. Regardless of how you enter this seminar, you will leave with a much deeper understanding of how we elect our leaders, and the foundational skills to join any.

Kate Parizeau

Garbage can tell us a lot about society: what we value economically, how we organize our interactions with the environment, and what we culturally push out-of-sight and out-of-mind. This course will discuss the broader social context of waste in North America: Why do we waste so much? Who decides how our waste is managed, and what influences those decisions? Does ‘waste’ mean the same thing to everyone? Why are some people affected by waste and related pollution more than others? What can we do to prevent waste in our everyday lives? Classes will consist of seminar discussions, instructor- and student-led presentations, and field trips to waste management sites. Themes of the course include how consumer culture encourages widespread waste; citizen activism as a key driver of waste policy; and the diverse afterlives of waste in our environments, our bodies, and our society.

Raphi Steiner

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.

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.

Shoshanah 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.