TOPICS WRDS 150B – Term 1

2022W Course Schedules & Course Descriptions

WRDS 150B is offered in a wide variety of topics for faculties and programs  across UBC.  Course topics and descriptions are subject to change depending on the instructor and their availability. Below is the schedule for the upcoming 2022W Term 1 winter session.

Sections are scheduled in the following patterns.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays – MWF
Mondays, Wednesdays – MW
Tuesdays, Thursdays, – TR
Tuesdays – T
Wednesdays – W

MWF & W – Scheduling Patterns and  Course Descriptions

Instructor:  Tara Lee

Sections: 611, 621, 631

During this recent COVID-19 pandemic, troubling data has emerged in relation to racial inequalities when it comes to the effects of the virus. What role does race play in your life? How do you see it circulating in universities, workplaces, social media, the political realm, and social environments? Although “race” is considered to be a social construct, as an identity marker, it continues to have significant material consequences in terms of access to resources, perceptions of legitimacy, marketing strategies, and even socializing patterns. This course looks at research by scholars in a variety of disciplines who examine complex issues related to race (e.g. how race figures in conservation projects), often also taking into account other intersectional identity categories (e.g. gender, class, sexuality). As you read and discuss relevant scholarly articles, you will also become acquainted with the conventions of scholarly discourse, disciplinarity, as well as the production of new research knowledge within a field. Ultimately, the goal is for you to increase your critical engagement with the world around you, in addition to cultivating your skills and confidence as an academic writer and researcher.

Instructor: David Newman

Sections: 653

In a world where innovation has become highly sought after, creativity is the often-hidden engine necessary for innovation to take place. Creativity is now listed as one of the key skills required for employment in the 21stcentury. But what is creativity, how is it understood, and what is the creative process?

Creativity crosses discipline boundaries and can be viewed and understood through multiple lenses. Using scholarship on Creativity as a vehicle, this course will introduce you to different genres and forms of academic writing. Your learning journey will include development of a literature review, followed by a research proposal and onto the writing and rewriting of a research paper. There is a high degree of group work in this section, and the research and writing of your research paper will be a collaborative effort. You will also learn and experience a number of creativity tools over the term.

Instructor: Andrew Connolly

Section:  671, 681 - MWF
692  - W This section is scheduled to be taught online using synchronous and asynchronous components.  Online Attendance is required for this course.

“I don’t believe it.” That was Donald Trump’s response to a report on climate change prepared by more than 300 leading climate scientists. Trump is hardly the only person in the contemporary world to reject scientific findings. People dismiss evolution, the health benefits of vaccines, even that the earth is a sphere. This rejection of science can seem perplexing, especially for those who understand the rigorous process of producing scientific knowledge and theories. So why is it that some people simply do not believe in science?

This course looks at the ways scholars from various departments seek to answer that question. Some of the scholars develop wide ranging theories about why people believe what they believe. Others focus on specific people and the complexity of their belief systems. Some scholars even raise their own doubts about science and scientific methods. The differences in the approaches each scholar takes to this question sometimes relates to the discipline they are from. These scholars come from Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, and English departments. Each of these disciplines has its own methods and conventions. In other words, a particular discipline influences what scholars ask questions about, how they phrase the questions, how they answer the questions, and how they present their findings. As a result, this course will not only introduce you to the academic study of science, politics, and belief. It will also introduce you to the various disciplinary approaches to research and writing.

Instructor: Dilia Hasanova

Section:  641, 652, 662

WRDS 150 introduces undergraduate students to academic research and writing practices. By reading a range of texts across disciplines and conducting a variety of writing exercises, students learn how to recognize and interpret methods of academic scholarship, and how to incorporate these methods into their own writing.

In this section of WRDS 150, we will explore the role of language in the construction of social identities. The course will focus not only on social factors that contribute to construction of multiple identities but also on how aspects of everyday language relate to social categorizations, such as class, age, gender, and ethnicity. The course also aims to broaden your understanding of language and society from sociolinguistic and sociocultural perspectives. The assignments (in-class and homework) will provide you with the opportunity to study current theories and debates in the field and to reflect on your own experience as a language user in a multicultural society.

This course will be a combination of interactive lectures, case studies, and in-class activities. The lectures will present information on basic linguistic concepts and how culture affects language. The in-class activities will allow you to put the information and skills you learn into practice. The activities require active engagement by students. You will be expected to contribute ideas and participate in active learning.

Instructor:  Adrian Lou

Sections:  643

Traditionally, metaphor has been understood as a stylistic device that poetically decorates language. Metaphorical expressions (e.g. my love is a rose) are thus thought to be statements that do not reside in the realm of everyday speech. However, contemporary research in cognitive linguistics has shown that many conventional expressions are inescapably metaphorical. Consider, for instance, how we rely on metaphors to talk about abstract concepts, such as love (e.g. you’re breaking my heart), illness (e.g. the patients are battling cancer), and time (e.g. we’re running out of time). In this course, we will read academic articles that evaluate the use of metaphors in biology, healthcare, psychology, Indigenous studies and politics in order to have a better understanding of how metaphors shape the way we think about the world around us. Ultimately, students in WRDS 150 will learn how to read academic papers in a critical way, identify the rhetorical strategies used in academic writing, and write an original research paper that draws upon ideas and concepts from the course.

Instructor:  Kimberly Richards

Sections:  612, 622, 651

Oil is a fulcrum around which many of today’s most pressing social, economic, and political issues can be analyzed and understood. In the twenty-first century, we are finally beginning to realize the degree to which oil has transformed modern life while entangling us in unsustainable colonial systems of extraction and dispossession. The increasing recognition of oil’s central role in modernity is met with the awareness that over the next decade we need to transition to new energy sources and new ways of living that enable us to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of droughts, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Extracting ourselves from our dependence on oil amounts to a social transformation of an unprecedented scale and scope; it entails not only to change the kinds of energy we use and depend on, but also a transformation in values. In this course we will consider some of the social and political challenges of the energy transition we face, and the accompanying cultural transformation.

Instructor: Laura Baumvol

Section: 602, 623, 633

In this section of WRDS 150, we will focus on how various disciplines, such as environmental sciences, natural sciences, and computer science investigate and write about the communication of scholarly knowledge. This communication involves knowledge popularization or dissemination to a broad, popular audience through a recontextualization process of text relocation from a primary scholarly context (e.g. academic journals) to a secondary popularized context, such as mass media, news media, magazines, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, Q&A websites, advertisements, etc. The replacement of the deficit model of science communication to a passive audience by one that includes a two-way interaction between the academic community and non-specialist audiences has promoted dialogue, empowerment, inclusion, and participation through public engagement with science. The readings in the course, along with the individual and collaborative writing assignments and activities, will allow students to engage in scholarly conversations and explore multiple research genres and methods, types of data, and writing practices.

Instructor: Katja Thieme

Section: 632, 642

This course inquires how different research disciplines write and communicate. To help us focus that inquiry, we trace how the concept of surveillance is developed and used in areas such as public health, engineering, and media studies. Surveillance has become a research issue of practical concern (e.g., with what surveillance tools can global spread of diseases be effectively observed and controlled?), as well as of ethical questions (e.g., what should the ethics be for using drones for military purposes?).

Looking at examples of how these questions have been discussed in research writing, this course will help you identify and use different research methods, types of data and evidence, and elements of style in research writing. You will also pursue your own questions on this topic by conducting research on a critical question related to surveillance. Assignments are structured so as to build on each other; this means that much of the reading and writing you do throughout the term can contribute to your final project. Please be aware that most of the writing you do in this course will not only be read by the instructor but also by other students in the course.

MW, TR  & T – Scheduling Patterns and  Course Descriptions

Instructor: Jaclyn Rea

Sections: FY4, FY7
Available to students in the FYF standard timetable

Typically, sections of WRDS 150B are designed around a research topic—a concept or issue that has attracted both public interest and scholarly attention. In this section of WRDS 150B, we will focus on the commonplace but nonetheless complex phenomenon of humour from several disciplinary perspectives, including but not limited to human-computer interaction (HCI), computational humour, and science communication.

We will consider how scholars in these disciplines study and talk about humour. For example, what do these scholars say about humour’s computational and communicative functions? More specifically, what might scholars in science communication say about the effect of humour in messages about scientific findings and methods? What might scholars working in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) say about the social and cultural functions of humorous Artificial Intelligence (AI)? What do computational researchers resolve problems associated with computer-generated humour? More importantly, how do scholars in these disciplines produce knowledge about humour – what methods do they use? And, most importantly, how is this knowledge-making activity represented in their writing?

Instructor: Dylan Cree

Sections: 712

The main objective of the course WRDS 150 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: Rohan Karpe

Section: 731, 742
These sections are scheduled to be taught online using synchronous and asynchronous components.  Online Attendance is required for this course.

In this WRDS 150 section we explore behaviours, norms, and behavioural change.

How do various disciplinary researchers study behaviours, norms, and behavioural change. What research writing practices do they engage in to communicate their findings about behaviours, norms, and behavioural change? Using peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles, writing exercises, discussions, and critical feedback on writing assignments, you will be able to construct your own text-based research proposal and research paper on a behaviour, norm that you’re keen to study. Your paper will assist keen readers to change their understanding of your chosen topic.

Instructor: Dennis Foung

Sections: FY3, FY6
Available to students in the FYF standard timetable.

“Big data” is a term commonly used by laymen, scholars, and professionals to describe a wide range of technological innovations. Big data is, in fact, a big leap in scientific research, because the collection of primary data does not rely only on researchers conducting surveys or observing subjects, but on retrieving existing mega datasets from servers. In this course, we will examine how a range of disciplines conduct scientific enquiry using big data and how they present their research findings in scientific articles. For example, what can data scientists do with big data in general? How do educators identify at-risk students? How do marketing specialists profile their customers for improved business outcomes? More importantly, how do scholars in these disciplines answer their questions to extend their knowledge of the disciplines?

Instructor: Mi-Young Kim

Section: 722, 741, 751

Memes, K-pop, fidget spinner, Pokémon Go, virtual reality games, mindfulness, tattooing, and (social) media hype of certain news… what do these have in common? They were (or are) once a fad. When does a fad become a fashion and finally settle as a “fit”? (or does it?) Which one of these has informational social influence or normative social influence? How does this particular type of social influence affect us as producers, distributors, and/or consumers? In this section of WRDS150B, we will address some of these questions and explore how fad shapes and forms our identities and values.

We will also become familiar with the conventions of academic writing and the basic premise of research, as well as participate in academic conversations through our own research on the topic of “fad, fashion, or fit”. A selection of unabridged, peer-reviewed scholarly articles on the topic (for Winter I 2021, three subtopics of media hype, Korean Wave, and body modification (or eSports) from several disciplinary perspectives including but not limited to media studies, socioeconomics, science, and psychology will help us see how scholarly texts with various research methods and writing styles can produce different types of knowledge and understanding of this particular type of the social influence.

Instructor:  Laila Ferreira

Sections: 510, 520, 530

While universities such as UBC are building inclusion and accessibility into their strategic plans and policies, it is not always clear what this means for teaching and learning as well as research and writing practices across different disciplines. This section of WRDS 150 will take as its focus the concept of inclusive design to analyze what inclusive design is, how it is defined, and what actions it necessitates in the context of non-Arts disciplines such as Science, Engineering, Forestry, Math, and Computer Science. Throughout the term, we will evaluate the scholarly research and writing practices of these fields through academic articles that engage or engage with inclusive design. Students will have the opportunity to produce original research that brings inclusive design principles to the research and writing practices as well as the expected professional competencies of their fields.


Instructor:  Meredith Beales

Sections: 540, 550, 560

Living in the modern world means being immersed in a sea of textual and internet-based media: we are constantly reading and responding to the infinite variations of electronic texts, videos, images, and memes.  But how do the different media in which we encounter these messages change the way we respond to them?  And how do our brains and our societies interact under the impact of these new media? In this section of WRDS 150 we will explore how different societies  responded to new forms of communication, now and in the past.  We will explore, as well, how our brains respond to these same challenges, and how the rise of electronic communication has altered (or not) the ways we respond to it and to each other.

Instructor: Rebecca Carruthers den Hoed

Sections: 711, 721

Together, we will explore the idea of resilience and how it is conceptualized and measured in different academic disciplines (engineering, economics, ecology, psychology). While resilience has been studied by scholars for centuries (the word can be traced back to the work of Francis Bacon in the 17th century), it has become especially popular since the mid-20th century, when the concept was used to study the behaviour of different complex systems: e.g., ecosystems, technical systems, cities, communities, developing human minds. While definitions vary, the term resilience generally refers to a complex system’s ability to bounce back to normal after a disaster or disruption, or a complex system’s ability to bounce forward to some ‘new normal.’ In either case, resilience is often (but not always) considered a good thing: a desirable quality, process, or goal that helps humans recover quickly and adapt productively after a shock or trauma— like a flood, hurricane, drought, power failure, financial crisis, disease outbreak, violent assault, forced relocation, terrorist attack, or even colonization, systematic oppression, symbolic violence. In response to readings, lectures, and class discussion, students will reflect on what it means to survive and thrive in the face of adversity and develop a research project that contributes to current scholarly conversations about resilience.

In this section of WRDS 150B, we will use a multi-modal approach blending lecture and active learning practices that will involve students in working collaboratively on academic writing for computer scientists. We will explore not only the how to, but also the why of academic writing. Students will explore the genres of academic writing by comparing, exploring, and critiquing different discourses of writing in the Sciences, Arts, and popular media – all through the discourse of video games. Our work will focus on effective modes of written and oral communication for computer scientists to use in presentations, writing, and other ways to communicate academic research to a variety of academic and non-academic audiences. In pursuit of becoming better science writers who can shape material effectively for communication, students will pursue their own literature reviews on the theme of video games and diversity, and will present their work at a class-wide conference presentation to their peers. The literature review and final presentation will provide the opportunity for students to combine their increasingly sophisticated skills as science writers and critical thinkers to communicate their findings in a variety of modes including written reports, research analysis, responding to questions, and even the visual design of their presentations.


Instructor: Jennifer Gagnon

Sections: 761
This section is scheduled to be taught online using synchronous and asynchronous components.  Online Attendance is required for this course.

Video games are neither “just for kids,” nor simple escapist entertainment. Indeed, video games are fast becoming one of the most profitable and innovative forms of creative and artistic expression today. Deeper study reveals that video games as a genre are heavily influenced by social and political understandings of ability, gender, race, sexuality, and identity. Issues related to diversity and inclusion such as who gets to play, whose stories are told, and who is represented, have taken centre stage in recent explorations of the future of gaming at the intersections of fun, profit, and politics. While video games let the player be in control, not everyone’s stories are represented. The theme of this course will explore how aspects of identity such as gender, race, ability, and sexuality, influence the ways that we experience and respond to the genre of video games as a media making and political practice.



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