2020W WRDS 150B Topics – Term 2

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 2 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: Jade Standing

Sections: 843, 855

Available Times; 12:00 PM, 1:00 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: Rohan Karpe

Sections: 814, 844

Available times: 9:00 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

Sections: 833, 841, 863

Available 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: Thomas Andrews

Sections: 813, 823, 842

Available Times: 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 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: 822, 852

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

This course focuses on scholarly discourse published on the topic of environmental justice (EJ). It will consider discursive practices ranging 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, EJ – now considered a global movement and a matter of global concern – recognizes the unfair distribution of environmental hazards on marginalized populations. Studies have shown that environmental harms disproportionately affect vulnerable social groups (which includes, but is not limited to, people of colour, indigenous communities, immigrants, women, minority groups, low-income communities, and climate refugees). 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 (or the lack of the fair distribution of environmental resources), 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 calls for 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, climate justice, intersectionality, 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: Krista Sigurdson

Sections: 835

Available Times: 11:00 AM

How do we characterize contemporary relationships between science, medicine and human bodies? One entry point is the medical and scientific exchange of human bodily materials (e.g., blood, milk, embryos, organs, sperm, eggs, etc.) for health, reproductive and scientific purposes. In this course we will read about how these bodily materials are exchanged in different cultural, institutional, scientific and national orders pointing us to a variety of political, philosophical and economic issues. These include: what is the difference between an object and a subject? How are technoscientific and medical resources be distributed? What is the difference between a gift and a commodity? How are science and society related?


We will engage with scholarship in public health, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and science and technology studies as we explore inequities and other central issues regarding exchanged human bodily materials. Course goals emphasize the development of research skills, the ability to fairly and clearly summarize an argument, and the cultivation of persuasive scholarly writing and project planning. Using these skills, students will develop a research project on an exchanged bodily material of their choice. The course will be taught in a combination of synchronous live discussion sessions during the scheduled class time and asynchronous discussion boards and recorded lectures.

Instructor: Nazih El-Bezre

Sections: 812, 821

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

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: Susan Blake

Sections: 801, 811, 831, 851

Available Times: 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00PM

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: Kimberly Richards

Sections: 872, 881

Available Times: 3:00 PM, 4:00 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:  Laura Baumvol

Sections:  845, 853, 883

Available Times:  12:00PM, 1:00 PM, 4:00PM

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 can involve (1) knowledge popularization 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 (e.g. mass media, news media, magazines, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, Q&A websites, etc.); and/or (2) knowledge dissemination through the interaction with target audiences leading to potential changes in society (e.g. summaries or briefings to stakeholders; educational sessions with patients, practitioners and/or policymakers; engagement of knowledge users in developing and executing implementation plans, 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 the 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:  Sara Doody

Sections: 815, 825

Available Times:  9:00AM, 10:00AM

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: 856, 873, 952

Available Times:  1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 5:00 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:  M. Gillian Carrabré

Sections: 824, 834, 854

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

Students will analyze and practice academic writing and research techniques through the lens of sustainability. Concepts such as farming and food sources, energy, recycling, and up-cycling, among others will be the focus of six assigned articles culminating in a final project. The course will provide a platform to learn about existing sustainability efforts, to parse-out creative solutions to prominent  issues in our biosphere, and to engage with the academic community as budding researchers.

Instructor: Jonathan Otto

Sections: 832, 861

Available Times: 11:00 AM,  2:00 PM

In this section of WRDS 150 we will explore the world of academic research and writing by engaging with the concept of sustainability. Scholars from diverse research disciplines have used the concept of sustainability to guide their studies of present and future ecological wellbeing. Moreover, actors from inter-governmental, governmental, non-governmental, and private sector organizations have used the concept to motivate the development of policies and business practices that they identify as having a positive environmental impact. Many definitions of sustainability and what counts as ecological wellbeing have emerged from this scholarly and non-scholarly work, as have critiques of mainstream and western thinking about these terms. In this course, we will begin to participate in scholarly conversations about ecological sustainability as a concept and a practice by reading the work of researchers in the fields of forestry, biology, engineering, business, and others. We will examine how scholars within these disciplines and others conceptualize, use, and critique the concept. As we engage with this scholarly work, we will identify the distinct analytical tools and rhetorical practices used by members of these disciplinary communities. We will then have the opportunity to use these tools and participate in these practices by conducting our own research on sustainability and by communicating our work in a variety of genres, including a research proposal, a presentation, and a research paper.

Instructor: William Green

Sections: 864, 882

Available Times: 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM

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: Mary Ann Saunders

Sections: 862, 871

Available Times: 2:00 PM, 3:00 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?

Tues, Thurs Course Schedule

Course Topic Descriptions

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

Instructor: Dylan Cree

Sections: 911, 922, 933

Available Times: 9:30 AM, 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: David Newman

Sections: 924, 934, 951

Available Times: 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, 5:00 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: Mi-Young Kim

Sections:  921, 931, 941

Available Times: 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 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: Dilia Hasanova

Section: 942

Available times: 3:30PM

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: Janet Fu

Sections: 901, 913

Available Times: 8:00 Am, 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: 912, 923, 932

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

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.


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