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2021W WRDS 150B Topics Term 1

WRDS 150B 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 2021/2022 Term 1 winter session.

Mon, Wed, Fri Course Schedule

Course Topic Descriptions

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

Instructor: Rohan Karpe

Section: 614, 635, 653

In recent months, you may have incorporated behaviours such as: Washing hands with soap or sanitizer more frequently and regularly than you did before; Maintaining physical distancing in public places, while also wearing face masks; working and studying from home; socializing virtually with friends, family and colleagues. These actions represent behavioural change at societal levels. We have voluntarily adopted some of these behaviours, some have been enforced, and still others have been influenced by those around us. This has resulted in new products, technologies, ways of doing things, and serving within our communities. With such changes come newer challenges. Considering the currency of this topic, in this WRDS 150B section we explore behaviours, norms, and behavioural change and how these have been investigated by non-Arts disciplinary researchers and scholars.

Our focus will be on peer-reviewed journal articles in disciplines including but not limited to Business, Hospitality, Design, Engineering, Computer Sciences, and Occupational Health and Safety Science

We will:

  • Examine and practice the ways and means researchers employ to inquire into their chosen behavioural phenomena, express themselves, and communicate their findings, insights, and solutions.
  • Learn to inquire into and model the creative craft of research and academic writing that enable us to contribute to scholarly conversations:
    • How do various researchers use language, expressions, images, diagrams, tables, figures, and numbers within their disciplines?
    • What kind of rhetorical moves do authors demonstrate to lead readers through their evidence, reasons, arguments?
    • How do they persuade their readers of particular facts and points of views?

Instructor: Dennis Foung

Sections: 642, 662, 673

“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: Darren Fleet

Section: 611, 622

In this course we learn the unique features and characteristics of scholarly expression and how to familiarize ourselves with various scholarly genres. Through writing and reading exercises, students will become acquainted with the culture of academic research and learn how to express themselves within a scholarly context. We will exam how knowledge is mobilized through different scholarly forms and practices to produce observations and stories about our world. In particular, we investigate the ways our topic can be interrogated through various academic lenses. Throughout the course, students will engage in peer review knowledge production and learn to identify the distinctions and boundaries of varied research communities.

In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues “the climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination.” What does Ghosh mean by this? What are the implications in terms of environmental communication? Drawing upon the Canadian experience, we journey through various genres of scholarship and communication to explore competing visions of the environment. In particular, we pay close attention to how discourses of progress, sustainability, and consumption intersect with broader political and environmental theories of social, political, and cultural transformation. What role does information and awareness play in theories of behaviour change? In what ways do fossil fuels structure the cultural landscape? How is energy production gendered through promotional discourses? How do our values inform our thinking about natural and built environments? Are fear-based messages helpful or hurtful when it comes to communicating ecological urgency? Addressing these questions and others, we critically assess differing theories, perspectives, and concepts about the role that information plays in directing environmental behaviours and understandings.

Instructor:  Tara Lee

Sections: 634

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: Tom Andrews

Section: 624, 633, 644

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: Andrew Connolly

Section:  672, 682, 691
682 & 691 will be taught online - details on the bottom of the web page.

“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: Mi-Young Kim

Section: 636, 652, 661, 692

*Section 692* will be taught online - details on bottom of webpage

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: Susan Blake

Section: 602, 612
Full title: Linguistic Landscapes — Scholarly Research Practices, Language Use, and Disciplinarity:
A Corpus-Based Discourse-Analytic Perspective

This course aims to explore the question of how scholars in a variety of different disciplines within the university use language to write up
their research results in the form of academic research articles (RAs). This course also connects scholarly writing practices (academic
literacy) with a wide-range of scholarly research practices, and views academic writing as a “complex social activity” that takes both content
and context into consideration.
We engage in asking the following kinds of questions: How do researchers from different disciplines formulate research questions? What
kinds of research methods do they use? What kinds of data (evidence) do they incorporate in scholarly research articles? How are those
scholarly research articles organized? How are the data and their research findings presented in written and/or visual form? What is the
relationship between the authors and their intended readers? What kinds of scholarly activities are researchers engaged in?
This course focuses on corpus construction and discourse analysis (method) & provides relevant examples from the STEM disciplines
(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as a point of departure.
Students will build their own working corpus (research articles from their own discipline) and analyze this textual material. They will have
opportunities to draft and revise and present their own original research findings in both oral and written forms. Research will be carried out
either collaboratively (2-3 students per research team) or individually (1 student per team), and provides students with opportunities to
reflect on their own research and writing practices, as they become apprentice members of different research communities on campus.

Instructor:  Meredith Beales

Sections: 655

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: Laura Baumvol

Section: 621, 641, 651, 663

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: Jonathan Otto

Sections:   601, 613, 671, 681
Taught online - details on the bottom of the web page.

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.

Instructor: Connor Byrne

Section: 625, 631

This course considers urban studies-related concerns from within the non-Arts fields in order to introduce you to academic writing and research. By reading peer-reviewed research articles from a host of disciplinary perspectives, you will become familiar with the conventions and goals of scholarship: summarizing researchers’ findings, assessing states of knowledge, synthesizing bodies of research, recognizing opportunities to contribute to knowledge.

As engaged readers and writers, and through a series of scaffolded assignments and workshops, you will become adept at working within the genres of research-driven writing: citation, summary, peer review, annotated bibliography, conference presentation, and the literature review.

Guiding this work will be investigations of the city—of urban forms and phenomena—carried out by the assigned articles that model the kind of research and writing for which this course serves as an apprenticeship. These publications are samples of research from a range of disciplines—for example, urban design, architecture, economics, etc.

In response to course material and discussion, you will develop a research project that assembles and synthesizes findings in order to assess the potential for future research.

 

Instructor: Mary Ann Saunders

Section: 623, 643, 654

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?

 

 

Tues, Thurs Course Schedule

Course Topic Descriptions

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

Instructor: Jaclyn Rea

Sections: FY4, FY5
Available to students in the FYF standard timetable - details on the bottom of the web page.

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

We will consider how scholars in these disciplines study and talk about humour. For example, what do these scholars say about humour’s scientific and technical functions and effects? More specifically, what might scholars in health sciences say about humour’s role in the maintenance of health or its role in health messaging? What might neuroscientist say about negative and positive humour styles and brain response? What might computing science scholars say about the social and cultural functions of humor bots? 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: Rohan Karpe

Section: 701

In recent months, you may have incorporated behaviours such as: Washing hands with soap or sanitizer more frequently and regularly than you did before; Maintaining physical distancing in public places, while also wearing face masks; working and studying from home; socializing virtually with friends, family and colleagues. These actions represent behavioural change at societal levels. We have voluntarily adopted some of these behaviours, some have been enforced, and still others have been influenced by those around us. This has resulted in new products, technologies, ways of doing things, and serving within our communities. With such changes come newer challenges. Considering the currency of this topic, in this WRDS 150B section we explore behaviours, norms, and behavioural change and how these have been investigated by non-Arts disciplinary researchers and scholars.

Our focus will be on peer-reviewed journal articles in disciplines including but not limited to Business, Hospitality, Design, Engineering, Computer Sciences, and Occupational Health and Safety Science

We will:

  • Examine and practice the ways and means researchers employ to inquire into their chosen behavioural phenomena, express themselves, and communicate their findings, insights, and solutions.
  • Learn to inquire into and model the creative craft of research and academic writing that enable us to contribute to scholarly conversations:
    • How do various researchers use language, expressions, images, diagrams, tables, figures, and numbers within their disciplines?
    • What kind of rhetorical moves do authors demonstrate to lead readers through their evidence, reasons, arguments?
    • How do they persuade their readers of particular facts and points of views?

Instructor: David Newman

Sections: 721

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: Krista Sigurdson

Sections: 712, 723

In this WRDS 150B course we deconstruct our scientific and lived understandings of gender/sex and race as categories of difference. Through reading historical, philosophical, sociological and scientific research, we examine two facets of race and gender/sex as well as their interplay. First, we look at sex/gender and race as ways human bodies and behaviors have been organized, thereby informing us of historical origins of racism and sexism. Second, we look at these categories as used today to explain health or other inequities or to demarcate identity, belonging or exclusion. We will draw on Science and Technology Studies to guide our work and will take up examples in Indigenous science, medicine/health sciences, sport, psychology, economics and other areas of everyday life to unpack our very understandings of gender/sex and race. Throughout we will consider how scholars in a variety of disciplines study and write about gender/sex and race. What questions do they ask and what methods do they use? We will learn about a variety of conventions around knowledge making and rhetorical/discursive moves, including what conventions it makes sense for you to take with you into your scholarly work. No prior knowledge of gender/sex, race and science is expected other than a curiosity and willingness to learn and engage.

Instructor: Deo Nizonkiza

Sections: 711, 722, 731

Everybody has a story to tell! In this section of WRDS 150B, students examine the questions related to storytelling across disciplines. By examining the way such questions have been explored by scholars from different disciplines, such as Information Communication Technology, Health Sciences, and Engineering, students are expected to learn and familiarize themselves with scholarly practices through this topic of storytelling. Among other things, students will explore the nature of research questions scholars from different disciplines ask, the methodologies devised to answer them, and how they report the results. Through readings and related writing tasks and discussions, students will get used to writing conventions and principles. Students will then develop their own writing strategies which they will apply as they develop their own research projects as the course progresses.

Instructor: Sang Wu

Sections: 724, 743, 751

This course will introduce you to the knowledge-making practices of scholarly communities, such as particular academic disciplines and research fields. You will begin to participate in scholarly conversations within those communities by performing the actions of apprentice academic researchers, scholarly communicators, and peer-reviewers. You will also produce work in several scholarly genres and familiarize yourself with the conventions of communication of specific academic disciplines. In doing so, you will begin to develop your own scholarly identity as a member of academic research communities.

We will begin by focusing our investigation on climate change and other global crises, and issues of responsibility concerning them, in the epoch of the Anthropocene. Coined at the turn of the 21st century, the word is compounded from the Greek anthropos (“human”) and kainos (“new”). The Anthropocene is the new epoch of humans: one in which planetary conditions are shaped by human activity rather than vice versa, humankind as a force of geological agency has overtaken physical geography and natural history, and the familiar distinction between man and nature no longer holds. A closer look at the scientific and semantic implications of the term, however, reveals it to be less straightforward than initially appears. Currently not officially recognized as part of the Geologic Time Scale, what should be understood or measured as the basis for the Anthropocene means different things to different disciplines. How do scholars from fields as diverse as geology, climatology, sociology, history, anthropology, and psychology, engage with the common idea of the Anthropocene? Do studies of pre-industrial greenhouse gas emissions, critiques of environmentally unsustainable trends of industrial, socioeconomic, and technological acceleration in an age of world capitalism, and theories of the end of human history at the limits of human “meaning” and modernity, ask similar research questions despite starkly contrastive methodologies? How are the discursive challenges posed by referring to singular abstractions (e.g., humans as a “species,” the sense of a “universal” history or geostory, the “Anthropocene”) represented across multiple disciplines, reflective of the conceptual difficulties which arise in accessing or preserving a nature no longer distinguishable from the human interventions that create and destroy it? How is our sense of what it means to be natural objects or human subjects, and what it means not to be, informed by how our discourses produce meaning?

Instructor: William Green

Sections: 702
 will be taught online: details on the bottom of the web page

WRDS 150 prepares you to understand, and participate in, the discourse practices employed by the university community in disseminating the results of research activities. Research writing exhibits a number of characteristics which are shared across disciplinary boundaries, constituting a distinct genre. This course will provide you with experience in recognizing the genre conventions and expectations of research writing through reading published professional scholarship in a range of fields, and in practicing deploying the rhetorical features of research writing through creating communications which detail the results of your own research project. This section of WRDS 150 focuses on the calculation of time. We will read a range of papers concerning the calculation of time from a variety of fields. Over the course of the term, you will complete a series of assignments, each building upon the next, to complete a research project dealing with the language and rhetoric of papers in a discipline of your choosing.

Instructor: Jennifer Gagnon

Sections: FY3*, 742, 761

* Available to students in the FYF standard timetable
All three sections will be taught online: details on the bottom of the web page

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.

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.

 Online Course Schedule – Term 1

The WRDS 150B sections below will be taught online.  Classes will include a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous activities (such as watching recorded lectures, posting to discussion boards, or completing quizzes).  Attendance to online classes are required as per the instructors’ directions.

Course Topic Instructor Section Days Times
Academic Laugh Tracks: Reading and Writing Humour in STEM Fields Jacklyn Rea FY4
FY5
T/TH
T/TH
2:00-3:30PM
3:30-5:00PM
Behaviours, Norms, and Behavioural Change Rohan Karpe 701 T/TH 8:00-9:30AM
Do You Believe in Science? Science, Politics and Beliefs Andrew   Connolly 682
691
MWF
MWF
5:00-6:00PM
6:00-7:00PM
Fads, fashion, or fit? Mi-Young Kim 692 W 6:00-9:00PM
Sustainable Development Jonathan Otto 601
613
671
681
MWF
MWF
MWF
MWF
8:00-9:00AM
9:00-10:00AM
3:00-4:00PM
4;00-5:00PM
Thinking About Time William Green 702 T/TH 8:00-9:30AM
Video Games and Diversity Jennifer Gagnon FY3
742
761
T/TH
T/TH
T
2:00-3:30PM
3:30-5:00PM
6:00-9:00PM

 

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