2020W 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 2020/2021 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

Sections: 602, 634, 645

Available Times:  8:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM

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

Section: 633, 642, 664

Alternative times: 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM

“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: Laura Baumvol

Section: 621, 663

Available Times:  10:00 AM, 2:00 PM

In this section of WRDS 150, we will focus on how researchers of various disciplines study and write about issues related to changes in the communication of knowledge from scholarly to public discourse in areas such as environmental sciences, health sciences, engineering, and commerce. The popularization of knowledge can be understood as a recontextualization process that involves the relocation of texts from a primary scholarly context (e.g. academic journals) to a secondary popularized context (e.g. mass media, such as newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, advertising, outdoor media, TV, radio, and the internet - YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, podcasts, blogs, Q & A websites, etc.). When knowledge is recontextualized, variations in meaning and shifts in parts of discourses and/or genres occur. Considering advancements over time in the relationship between scholarly knowledge and discourse and “popular talk”, the model of knowledge dissemination to a passive audience has been replaced by one that includes a two-way interaction between the academic community and the public. The readings in the course, along with the writing assignments and class activities, will allow students to explore the research methods, types of data, and writing practices of different disciplines and will prepare them to develop their own original research project.

Instructor: Tara Lee

Section: 625, 641

Alternative times:  10:00 AM, 12:00 PM

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: Thomas Andrews

Section: 655, 681

Alternate times: 1:00 PM, 4:00pm

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: David Newman

Sections: 643, 654, 672

Available Times: 12:00 PM, 1:00PM, 3:00 PM

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 21st century. But what is creativity, and how is it understood?

Creativity crosses discipline boundaries and can be viewed and understood through multiple lenses (such as business, engineering, and neuroscience). Using scholarship on Creativity as a vehicle, this course will introduce you to different genres and forms of academic writing. You will learn to conduct a literature review, write summaries, develop a research proposal, and then write (and rewrite) a research essay.

Instructor: Andrew Connolly

Section: 651, 691, 762

Alternate times: 1:00 PM, 6:00 PM, Wed 6:00pm

“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: 626, 647

Alternative times: 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM

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: Susan Blake

Sections: 601, 611

Available Times:  8:00 AM, 9:00AM

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 collaboratively 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: Jennifer Cowe

Section: 671, 682

Alternate times: 3:00 PM, 4:00 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:  Kimberly Richards

Sections: 614, 624, 644

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

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: Loren Gaudet

Section: 652

Available Times: 1:00 PM

This course introduces students to, and invites them to participate in, scholarly conversations about pharmaceuticals and their advertisements. Together, we will read journal articles from a variety of fields (cultural studies, rhetoric, history, and more) and ask: how does pharmaceutical marketing affect the production of disorders? How are we persuaded to understand ourselves as healthy, or not? We will also think about the production of knowledge itself: how are disciplinary boundaries maintained and/or challenged, and how are knowledges shaped by these boundaries? By the end of this course, students will have developed an understanding of the generic features of academic articles in a diverse range of areas, honed reading, writing, and presentation skills, and built a lens through which to assess more critically health/medical information available through professional, public, and social media.

Instructor: Gilllian Carrabré

Section:  673

Available Times: 3:00 PM

Note: The topic for this section is currently TBA. The sample topic below is here to give you an example of a past research area covered by a WRDS 150B class.

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: Sara Doody

Section: 623, 662

Alternate times: 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM

We live in a media-rich world where we are constantly inundated with information, challenges, and notifications. With access to and participation in social media platforms proliferating across the globe, our involvement in such apps has become a topic of great interest academically and in our everyday lives. Now more than ever, we’ve had to ask important questions about the role of social media in our lives ranging from the practical (e.g., how social media may be used to establish an independent brand and facilitate entrepreneurship, how it might be used to promote information about health and well-being, how we use social media to maintain and develop relationships) to the ethical (e.g., how healthy it is commodifying individuals, confronting both physical and mental health risks, approaching content creation ethically and conscientiously). By deconstructing how questions about social media have been taken up and communicated in research writing across different disciplines, we’ll learn how to identify different research methods, goals, data, written conventions (i.e., style, citation practices, language choices), revision practices, and writing strategies. We'll be using social media as an entry point to discuss knowledge, research, and writing practices in fields like media studies, health studies, and business.

Instructor: Deo Nizonkiza

Sections: 613, 635, 646

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

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: Connor Byrne

Section: 622, 632, 653

Alternate times: 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM

This course explores the city as an object of scholarly investigation in order to introduce you to the rigours of academic writing and research. By reading academic research articles from a range of disciplines, you will become familiar with the conventions and goals of academic criticism: novel, evidence-based research; critical dialogue; argumentation and analysis. As engaged readers and writers, and through a series of scaffolded assignments and workshops, you will become adept at the genre of research-driven writing: summary and citation, literature review, research proposals, conference papers/posters, peer review, and the research paper.

Guiding this work will be investigations of the city—of urban phenomena and experience but also, crucially, of key technological advancements that have shaped and continue to shape urban experience—carried out by the six research articles that model the kind of research and writing for which this course serves as an apprenticeship. In response to course material and discussion, you will reflect on your own evolving positions as modern city dwellers and ultimately develop a novel research project that contributes to scholarly conversations about technology and the city.

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: 722, 732

Available times: 11:00AM, 2:00 PM

In this section of WRDS 150, we will focus on the commonplace but nonetheless complex phenomenon of humour from a number of disciplinary perspectives, including but not limited to computer science, neuroscience, and business marketing and management. We will consider how researchers in these STEM and Commerce domains study the effects and functions of humour. More importantly, we will consider how the methods researchers use to study humour shape their writing about it.

Instructor: Dylan Cree

Sections: 724, 733

Available times: 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM

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: Mi-Young Kim

Sections: 712, 721, 731, 741

Available times: 9:30 AM, 11:00AM, 2:00 PM, 3:30 PM

The Atkins diet, K-pop, fidget spinner, Pokémon Go, virtual reality games, mindfulness, body modification, and 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 WRDS150, 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 Summer I 2020, three subtopics of media hype, Korean Wave, and body modification) 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: Janet Fu

Sections: 701, 713

Available times: 8:00AM, 9:30 AM

How to conduct research in engineering, science, and business settings? How to write a research paper? What are the essential components in communication that students need to acquire? This section of ASRW 150 will answer those questions. This course is designed for students who are not in Arts field. By reading and examining scholars’ works, and intensive writing practice, students will be able to identify the goals, research methods, citation practices, different genres, and discursive practices; and will be also able to develop their own research proposal, and research paper. Through engaging various activities, students will leverage their communication skills and research and writing capabilities.

Instructor:  Rebecca Carruthers den Hoed

Sections: 711, 723

Available times: 9:30AM, 11:00AM

In this course, we will explore the idea of resilience and how it is conceptualized and measured in different academic disciplines. 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 the1970s. Its popularity likely has to do with its usefulness in modern-day contexts: “resilience” refers to a complex system’s ability to “bounce back” after catastrophe, disaster, shock, or disruption—like how a city “bounces back” after a flood, a computer network “bounces back” after a cyberattack, an economy “bounces back” after a banking crisis, or a community “bounces back” after a global pandemic. To be resilient in the face of adversity is — according to many scholars — a good thing and something we ought to study in order to better understand how humans can make ourselves and our planet more resilient to shocks in the future. How can we ensure our food systems will “bounce back” — not collapse — after a hurricane or flood? How can we design cities that can endure earthquakes, power grid failure, and industrial accidents? How can we help people “bounce back” quickly — and maybe even become stronger — after enduring the isolation, loss, trauma of a global pandemic? In response to readings, lectures, and class discussion, students will reflect on their own experiences surviving and even thriving in the face of adversity and will develop a research project that contributes to scholarly conversations about modern-day resilience.

Instructor:  TBA

Sections: 742, 744

Available times: 3:30 PM

Note: Instructors and topics for these sections are currently TBA. The sample topic below is here to give you an example of a past research area covered by a WRDS 150B class.

Sample Course Description and Title copyright by Dr. Meredith Beales

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: Sang Wu

Sections: 743, 751

Available times: 3:30 PM, 5:30 PM

This section of WRDS 150 will investigate 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: Mary Ann Saunders

Sections: 761

Available times: 6:00 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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