WRDS 150A Topics – Term 1

WRDS 150A is offered in a wide variety of topics from departments and instructors across UBC.

Course topics and descriptions are subject to change depending on the instructor and their availability. Below is the schedule for the upcoming 2020/2021 Term 1 winter session.

Mon, Wed, Fri Course Schedule

Course Schedule

Please view the course schedule below to see what topics and sections are available. For a description of the course section, please review the Course Topic Descriptions section below.

TimesCourse Topics
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

  • Privacy (Section 101)

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

  • Globalization, Identity, and Literacy for the 21st Century (Section 112)

  • Mental Health and Self Expression in the Arts - *Reserved for students in the BMUS* (Section 113)

  • Representations in Popular Culture (Section 114)

  • Sustainable Development - *Reserved for students in BIE STT* (Section EC5)

10:00 AM - 11:00 PM

  • Social Media (Section 121)

  • Globalization, Identity, and Literacy for the 21st Century (Section 122)

  • Mental Health and Self Expression in the Arts - *Reserved for students in the BMUS* (Section 123)

  • Environmental Justice (Section 124)

  • Sustainable Development - *Reserved for students in BIE STT* (Section EC1)

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Globalization, Identity, and Literacy for the 21st Century (Section 131)

  • Environmental Justice (Section 132)

  • Social Media (Section 133)

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

  • Globalization, Identity, and Literacy for the 21st Century (Section 141)

  • Self-Control (Section 142)

  • Nostalgia (Section 143)

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

  • Nostalgia (Section 151)

  • Social Media (Section 152)

  • Environmental Justice (Section 153)

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

  • Privacy (Section 162)

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

  • Sustainable Development - *Reserved for students in BIE STT* (Section EC4)

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

  • Sustainable Development - *Reserved for students in BIE STT* (Section EC6)

6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

  • Critical Thinking in the Digital Era (Section 181)

W: 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

  • It’s No Game: The Idea of Competition (Section 251)

Course Topics Descriptions

Below are course descriptions for each topic, as well as instructor and scheduling information.

Instructor: Thomas Andrews

Sections: 181

Available Times: 6:00 PM

This section of WRDS150 is focused on Critical Thinking in the Digital Era. These modules cover issues including social networking behavior and privacy, climate change denial and hyper-critical thinking, and ‘slacktivism’ and bandwagon political engagement in the 21st century. We will read articles from scholarly and non-scholarly sources from social science, political science, and humanities backgrounds as well as watching interviews, Ted Talks, and discussion panels. In doing so, we will endeavor to answer such questions as: does the internet still offer users a place to share and consume information honestly? Do the harms caused by social media use outweigh its many advantages in contemporary society? How have internet communication platforms changed political engagement and awareness? What biases or fallacies are perpetuated by an online world?

Instructor: Kirby Mania

Sections: 124, 132, 153

Available Times: 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM

This course focuses on scholarly discourse published on the topic of environmental justice. It will consider discursive perspectives from critical race theory, ecofeminism, social movement theory, media studies, geography, sociology, political ecology, and economics. Emerging as a movement in the early 1980s in the United States, environmental justice – now considered a global movement and a matter of global concern – recognizes the “unequal impacts of environmental pollution on different social classes and racial/ethnic groups” (Mohai et al., 2009, p.405). Studies have shown that environmental harms disproportionately affect vulnerable social groups (such as people of colour, indigenous peoples, immigrants, women, minority groups, and low-income communities). Environmental justice (EJ) scholars research and monitor cases of socially produced environmental injustice and critically evaluate how multi-scalar policy decisions (such as neoliberal reform) continue to affect at-risk communities. EJ scholarship examines the social mobilization potential of communities against the uneven distribution of environmental hazards, and also considers how grassroots activists – in their campaign for greater recognition and participation in decision-making processes – hold governments and corporations accountable in their struggle for environmental justice. We will be tracing a number of scholarly conversations around the globalization of the Environmental Justice Movement (EJM) – looking at literature from the US, Canada, and other parts of the world – whilst discussing terms like environmental racism, intersectionality, slow violence, ecological debt, degrowth, food sovereignty, hydric justice, and environmentalism of the poor.

The course’s discursive approach invites students to engage with scholarly conversations and published research across a range of disciplinary perspectives. The course will entail writing about these research perspectives as well as producing research of your own.

Instructor:  Nazih El-Bezre

Sections: 112, 122, 131, 141

Available Times: 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM

This section of WRDS 150 focuses on the relationship among globalization, identity formation, and the literacy practices needed in the 21st century. In today’s technologically-interconnected world, people, ideologies, food habits, fashion, and movies flow easily through borders with a speed unforeseen in the recorded human history. Due to the shrinkage of our world—which has been called a global village—we are faced with questions concerning the knowledges or literacies required to succeed in a highly competitive world, and the impact of these knowledges on our own identities. The focus on the 21st century literacies operates in conjunction with crucial life literacies, such as health literacy, ecoliteracy, second/additional language literacies, religious literacy, financial literacies, and even food literacy studies. As a result of these multiliteracies, individuals in the 21st century are now required to possess and use a variety of literacy competencies that span across various academic disciplines. Individuals’ literacies are thus multiple, dynamic, adaptable, and multidimensional. Due to the significance of these literacies on identity formation, researchers, including novice university students, explore literacies to improve knowledge transmission at every stage of individuals’ lives.

Instructor: Michael Schandorf

Sections: 251

Available Times: 5:00 PM

The idea of competition is so fundamental to Western culture that we often take it for granted as a natural good. Nearly every aspect of our lives involves competition: we compete in school and for jobs, we compete both socially and at work, we compete in games for fun, and when we’re not competing ourselves we spend much of our time enjoying watching others compete. But our obsession with competition has complications. For example, a world divided into winners and losers is an inherently inequitable world: there will always be more “losers” than “winners”. Competition also has interesting relationships with our need for social cohesion. Attempting to disentangle cooperation from competition, in fact, can undermine both: a lack of either can lead to unproductive stasis, and worse, but a complete integration of cooperation and competition can lead to us-versus-them thinking and even war (which American rhetorical scholar Kenneth Burke called “the ultimate disease of cooperation”). This seminar will explore some of the ways that competition has been investigated in recent scholarship, and students will design and produce a research project of their own contributing to that scholarly conversation.

*Reserved for students in BMUS

Instructor: M. Gillian Carrabré

Sections: 113, 123

Available times: 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM

Artists have long struggled with their mental health. Among them, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Van Gogh and Michael Jackson. The theme of this section of WRDS 150 is mental health and self-expression in the arts. We will examine articles from a range of disciplines, including musicology, theory, art, literature, music therapy. How do scholars consider the topic of mental health across these diverse fields of artistic discourse? How do musicians navigate the creation of art while dealing with mental illness? And how do we write about these issues as budding academics? Through the artistic work of William Shakespeare, Hector Berlioz, Avicii, Edvard Munch, Chuck Palahniuk, Linkin Park, Oscar Wilde and others, students will develop an understanding of the effects of mental health on the output of art and vice versa. Using the lens provided by our theme, students will learn to apply modern research techniques, think critically, and compose relevant academic papers in Chicago Style, the primary writing style in musical discourse. The classroom will embrace an inclusive mentality, cultivate respect among colleagues, and allow space for creativity.

Instructor: Jennifer Cowe

Sections: 143, 151

Available Times: 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM

This course will aim to explore how different academic disciplines engage with the concept of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a word, or more usually a feeling, that most people have used or felt; however, very few understand its constant presence in everyday life. We will study nostalgia from its earliest appearance in academia as a form of mental illness in the seventeenth century and follow its growing influence over, and manipulation of, contemporary ideas of national identity, consumerism, class, lifestyle choices and LGBTQ histories. Through the study of academic journal articles from a variety of fields (psychology, history, marketing, politics, media) we will examine the research and writing techniques used by different disciplines to understand such an esoteric concept.

Instructor: Katie Fitzpatrick

Sections: 101, 162

Available Times: 8:00 AM, 2:00 PM

Today, we often hear that “privacy is dead.” Some blame growing surveillance by governments and by Silicon Valley tech companies, while others blame an increasingly confessional culture, characterized by constant “over-sharing” on social media or on reality television. In this course, we will read scholarly articles from disciplines like law, history, sociology, and psychology in order to gain a wider perspective on contemporary privacy. We will consider, for example, the birth of fingerprinting technology, the use of CCTV cameras in public schools, the privacy rights of poor mothers, and RCMP surveillance of Indigenous groups. In addition to reading and analyzing these articles, students will join the scholarly conversation by producing their own original research on privacy and surveillance.

Instructor:  Tom Bittner

Sections: 142,

Available Times: 12:00 PM

One interesting fact about human behaviour is that a person can know that it is best for her to do something and yet be unable to get herself to do it. This fact has been investigated in a variety of ways by scholars in psychology, philosophy, and sociology. We will examine the different approaches that are taken to the study of this phenomenon. What kinds of questions are interesting to researchers in these different disciplines? How do their research methods serve the production of knowledge in the scholarly tradition? Students will use what they learn about this tradition of inquiry to conduct their own research on a topic related to self-control.

Instructor: Diane Burgess

Sections: 121, 133, 152

Available Times: 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM

From hashtag activism to meme communities to micro-celebrity influencers, social media networks have transformed our daily interactions, impacting how we gather and disseminate information. By definition, social media are both information conduits and networking technologies. Social media platforms (e.g.: Twitter, Instagram, WeChat, TikTok) facilitate content sharing — fostering connections, community formation, and virtual patterns of influence. At the same time, social media have altered the public sphere, challenging journalistic norms and impacting potential forms of political engagement. Drawing examples from media studies, marketing, journalism, and political science, this section of WRDS 150 explores how scholars approach the qualities of social media networks, their uses and their users.

*Reserved for students in BIE STT

Instructor: Jonathan Otto

Sections: EC5, EC1, EC2, EC6

Available Times: 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 4:00 PM

Designed to introduce you to the world of academic research and writing, this section of WRDS 150 will do so with a focus on sustainable development. Inter-governmental organizations, governments, and non-governmental actors have defined “sustainable development” as a means for addressing economic marginalization while ensuring environmental well-being for future generations. One inter-governmental organization, the United Nations (UN), has played an important role in popularizing the idea of “sustainable development” and has committed vast resources to the implementation of “sustainable development” projects. In 1992, for instance, the UN hosted the Conference on Environment and Development where the notion of “sustainability” gained broad international exposure. Twenty-three years later, the UN created the “Sustainable Development Goals,” consisting of a broad set of principles aimed at guiding the sustainable development efforts of member countries. In this course, we will begin to participate in the scholarly community of UBC by analyzing “sustainable development” from the perspective of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We will read the work of scholars in economics, geography and other social sciences and humanities disciplines who analyze “sustainable development” as a political and ideological concept and as a set of material social practices. As we engage with this scholarly work, we will identify the distinct analytical tools and modes of framing common to each disciplinary approach. We will then employ these analytical tools in our own research on and writing about the topic.

Tues, Thurs Course Schedule

Course Schedule

Please view the course schedule below to see what topics and sections are available. For a description on the course section, please review the Course Topic Descriptions section below.

TimesCourse Topics
8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

  • Analysing Media (Section 201)

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

  • Bees and Beekeepers Across the Disciplines (Section 211)

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

  • Bees and Beekeepers Across the Disciplines (Section 221)

  • Gender and Feminism Today (Section 222)

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

  • Bees and Beekeepers Across the Disciplines (Section 232)

  • Transgender Studies (Section 231)

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

  • Gender and Feminism Today (Section 241)

Course Topics Descriptions

Below are course descriptions for each topic, as well as instructor and scheduling information.

Instructor: Dylan Cree

Sections: 201

Available Times: 8:00 AM

The main objective of the course WRDS 15O is to introduce you to various forms of academic research and writing. Accordingly, you will learn to write a summary, a research proposal, and a research paper, all of which will provide you with the kinds of writing skills you will use throughout your academic career.In this particular offering of the course our topic will be approaches in media studies and media criticism. Learning from different schools of thought, concepts and theories related to media and culture you will study the relationships between formal, aesthetic, representational and sensory elements of media texts and their surrounding discourses. Throughout the course, some of our guiding questions will be: how are media and cultural texts made?; how do we critique and analyse media and cultural texts?; and, how is an audience constituted?

Instructor: Jade Standing

Sections: 211, 221, 232

Available Times: 9:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM

This course serves as an introduction to the conventions of academic research and writing by examining discourses of Bees and Beekeepers Across the Disciplines. We consider classical, Renaissance and modern day treatments and representations of bees and beekeepers, and analyze how politics, religion and culture take a bearing on these outlooks. We discover how empirical studies have varyingly validated and demonstrated the gaps in theories of apiculture that are based on correspondences and symbolism, or begun new theoretical trends inflected by their own situations. And, to counterpoint the many studies that view bees through an anthropocentric critical lens, we also follow an animal studies argument that gets us rethinking the significance of the hive altogether. Along the way, we touch on the subjects of literature, politics, archaeology and environmental science. This multi-discourse approach to a topic provides a foundation for engaging thoughtfully with scholarly conversations and published research from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including writing about these research perspectives and producing research of your own.

Instructor: Jennifer Gagnon

Sections: 222, 241

Available Times: 11:00 AM, 3:30 PM

Why study feminism and gender today? Didn’t the feminist movement achieve all its goals? Haven’t gays, lesbians, and transgender folks achieved equality? Gender inequality is everywhere, all around us, and yet we seldom take the time to directly recognize and confront it. This course examines the goals and struggles of feminism from the perspectives of multidisciplinary scholars. We will examine the interconnectedness of various concepts important to feminism: male, female, gender, race, sex, and power. We will examine forms of discrimination and oppression through feminist, gender, and queer critiques of inequality, family, work, health, sexuality, identity, and politics. This course strives to arm students with the critical and analytical skills needed to start seeing, thinking about, and ultimately combatting gender inequality and oppression in our world. This course takes an interdisciplinary perspective that draws upon research methods of the disciplines of English, philosophy, political science, and sociology.

Words 150 focuses on developing student skills at critical thinking, writing, and reading. The goal of this course is to arm students with the academic skills needed to write analytical, clear, critical, and persuasive prose for successful university writing. The delivery of this course will be highly participatory and collaborative, rather than lecture-based. Students will work with one another and their instructor to improve academic writing practices such as notetaking, research, critical reading, drafting, revision, as well as appropriate giving and receiving of feedback. Students are expected to actively participate in class discussion and activities and be willing to share their writing with one another. All students are expected to be active and engaged learners, willing to develop and practice their academic skills through activities and assignments that culminate in a persuasive, critical, compelling, sophisticated academic writing.

Instructor: Mary Ann Saunders

Sections: 231

Available Times: 2:00 PM

We will focus on transgender studies, a multidisciplinary research field which investigates the increasing visibility and importance of transgender people in contemporary culture. A fundamental premise of trans studies is that ethical research in this area must be attentive to and prioritize the voices and knowledge which trans people have about themselves and their experience. We will, therefore, cultivate such an attentiveness in our course. By studying trans research representing several academic disciplines you will develop a sense of how different disciplines approach this research area, and then apply this knowledge to research and writing projects of your own. What do trans people say about themselves and their lives? How can you, as apprentice researchers, ethically translate that lived experience into research scholarship of your own?

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