JWAM launches two new writing courses

The School of Journalism, Writing, and Media is launching two exciting new elective courses, WRDS 390 and WRDS 370, to be offered in Term 1 and Term 2 of the 2023-24 academic year, respectively.

Both courses are social justice oriented. They will introduce students to how marginalized and excluded groups are challenging the traditional norms of research, writing, and discourse that have historically been (and, in some respects, continue to be) harmful or exclusionary.

WRDS 370 (Research Writing and Marginalization), taught by Dr. Katja Thieme and Dr. Mary Ann Saunders, explores how Indigenous, trans, and gender-diverse researchers are innovating research practices — after years of academic research contributing to their marginalization.

The class will look at the harm that the research practices have caused to these groups and — most importantly — how researchers are now changing the research paradigm to be more representative and inclusive.

“One thing that I really think is powerful about this course is its potential for students to start to understand the ways in which research discourse offers opportunity for resistance, for self determination. It offers opportunities for commitments to social justice,” said Dr. Saunders.

She said that students will leave WRDS 370 able to understand how different kinds of discourse (like that of research or media) perpetuate cisgender, patriarchal and white supremacist norms that “are not obvious unless you have that critical eye.”

The class is open for any student with third-year standing and any UBC-recognized first-year writing or communications credit. Dr. Saunders and Dr. Thieme encourage students from all disciplines to enroll.

“They will return to working in their own majors with tools that allow them to engage in this more critical, analytic way, with research in their own disciplines,” Dr. Saunders said.

WRDS 370 is offered in Term 2 of the academic year, on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

Professors Laila Ferreira and Jennifer Gagnon — and Dr. Ziggy, the latter’s service dog – are teaching WRDS 390 (Writing Disability).

Students will finish the class understanding how disabled writers use writing as a tool for social change and activism, and how they themselves can use their voices to raise awareness of the intersection of equity and disability.

“As a disabled person, I see teaching as a form of disability justice advocacy and activism, which is very much needed in our communities,” said Dr. Gagnon. “Representation matters, and it is important for us to see disability and accessibility as central work related to education, equity and social justice.”

Both Dr. Gagnon and Dr. Ferreira saw a need for more courses across the university that centered disability, disability theories, and the work of disabled academics, activists, and creatives. Canada has over 6.2 million disabled people — approximately 22 percent of the country, “Yet, disability and Disabled folks are underrepresented in higher education,” Dr. Gagnon said.

What students learn in WRDS 390 can also be applied across their degrees and beyond, said Dr. Ferreria. “The connection between Disability theory and writing studies is an exciting and growing area of study.”

The course is open to any student with third-year standing who has completed a UBC-recognized writing or communications credit. It welcomes students from across faculties and programs.

WRDS 390 will be offered in Term 1 of the academic year, running on Monday and Wednesdays from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm.

Students interested in WRDS 390 and WRDS 370 can register for the courses using the link below.

WRDS – Writing, Research, and Discourse Studies – UBC Student Services