INTD 3rd Year Special Topics Descriptions 2021-2022


INTD 3011 Topics in Social Justice

INTD 3011 FDE Social Justice Documentary

 This course proposes to engage with documentary films as a tool and a language investigating current social justice issues such as racism, sexism, Indigenous rights, ableism, homophobia and diaspora challenges among others. This course focuses on the multiplicity of strategies that documentary films use to explore complex social struggles and on the filmmaker's positionality within/towards the object of the film.

 Understanding documentary films as non-fictional and intending to “document” reality, students will be exposed to the 6 different types of documentary film: poetic, expository, participatory, observational, reflexive and performative (Nichols, 2001). This exposure and the subsequent analysis and discussion of the strategies employed by each of these documentary film types will guide the students to question their responsibilities as social researchers, media producers, and spectators.

 Documentary films are ideal tools to explore complex relationships of power within society. They required intensive research from the authors that may employ social research methods such as interviews, focus groups, observation, and the use of archives, among others. Documentary films also use a diversity of languages from the cinematographic to the narrative, sound, graphics, music, etc. This course focuses on how the filmmakers position themselves within/towards their subject of study and the cinematographic strategies they choose to portray this position and the responsibilities that emanate from this position.

 Students are asked to watch a selection of documentary films, participate in discussions and engage in a range of exercises that will help to develop critical “reading” skills including: semiotic and visual analysis; cinematographic language; and sequential narrative strategies. These skills allow students to identify the socio-economic set-up of the films, to examine the position of the filmmakers and the cinematographic strategies employed in portraying that positionality, and to take a stand in relationship to the socio-economic issues in the film.

 Nichols, B (2001). Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington & Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

 INTD 3011 WAO The Urban Revolution

We are living in a world where increasingly the population is being urbanized within the spaces of globalization and neoliberalization. The urban potential as an imaginary dreamscape filled with opportunity and vitality often eclipses the material urban realities of dispossession and expanding global poverty. In Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, David Harvey urges citizens “collectively to build the socialist city on the ruins of destructive capitalist urbanization.” The purpose of this course will be to utilize Harvey’s Rebel Cities as a starting point for a discussion regarding the urban landscape as a revolutionary space to critique neoliberal urban expansion. How can we understand this revolutionary urban potential? Is a collective urban reality possible within the heterotopic and increasingly unequal spaces of the metropolis where urban slum dwellers are dispossessed by financialized condo projects that sit empty of residents? What is the potential of social media in creating an urban collective? How is the metropolis to be understood, particularly in a post-pandemic world?

The course will be divided into three segments. Part I: Social Constructions of the City where we will discuss post-WWII centralized urban planning projects and suburbanization leading to the late 1960s/early 1970s urban revolution reclaiming city space.  Part II: Neoliberalism and the Metropolis where we will discuss the accelerated reclaiming of the urban within a financialized domain post-1970s to the present. Part III: The Revolutionary Potential of the Urban Space where we will discuss various urban social movements ranging from Occupy Wall Street to Tahrir Square to SlutWalk. The discussions and reading material will be centred on ethnographies of resistance and the role of urban engaged research in terms of conducting fieldwork within these urban spaces of social dissent.


 INTD 3012 Topics in Human Nature

 INTD 3012 FDE Altruism

The purpose of this course is to explore the concept of altruism. Altruism has been defined as a belief in or practice of selfless concern for the welfare of others. The particular ways in which altruism has been understood varies dependent upon the theoretical paradigm. The course is divided into 4 sections where we will consider altruism from a philosophical perspective, in terms of economic anthropology and bioethics, within spirituality, and from an evolutionary psychological paradigm.

 INTD 3012 WAO Fear of Unknown Diseases

 This course will examine the individual and societal reactions to unknown and unexplainable diseases in the past. We will touch on the origins of early disease theories, reactions based on fear, treatments and “cures” that have medical and non-medical bases and society-level changes due to experiences with major and minor disease epidemics. Diseases that will be touched on include (but are not limited to) leprosy, plague, smallpox, and HIV/AIDS. We will end the course by analysing individual and collective responses around the world to Covid-19.  We will use a multidisciplinary approach to tackle the range of experiences and reactions to unknown diseases and acknowledge the very large role fear plays in our openness and willingness to confront disease and comfort the individuals and groups that experience it.

 With respect to problem-based learning models, this course will empower students to develop their research abilities and to critically engage with both recent and historical sources. This will allow for extensive discussions on the value and merits of different types of sources (such as personal reflections, historical documents, scientific analysis and newspaper articles and advertisements) as well as the range of voices that should be part of considered. Assessments will include seminar-style presentations and short research papers that will stimulate dialogues regarding individual and population level reactions and the mechanisms we can use to sort through the abundance of information we are confronted with on a daily basis. Students will be encouraged to suggest readings and guide discussions, which will create an open and accessible environment.


INTD 3013 Topics in Environment in Politics and Culture

 INTD 3013 FDE Capitalism & Environment

The capacity for making and exchanging objects for use and pleasure is part of what makes us human. According to Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, 1776), there is “a certain propensity in human nature…to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.” Yet these impulses to make and trade, so central to the human experience, have taken an enormous toll on the biosphere. In the advanced, capitalistic phases of economic and productive life, the environment was and continues to be consumed, altered, abused, and degraded in the service of human needs and wants, and at an ever-increasing pace and scale. In INTD 3013, we will explore the complex relationship between capitalism and the environment, guided by the following general set of questions: is humanity making a Faustian bargain in its efforts to enjoy the progressive benefits of economic growth (material comfort, high levels of education, improvements in health, technical convenience) while increasing the burden on the environment? Are there other, better ways of being human in the world that should take precedence over our dominant productive and economic impulses? Will technology save us and the Earth’s other animal species?

  INTD 3013 WAO Environmental Justice

This course examines historical and current issues concerning environmental justice in Canada. We will consider the intersection of social needs, business interests, and government policy, public use and access to natural resources, urban and rural housing priorities, among other issues. An emphasis is placed on Indigenous peoples, particularly debates over jurisdiction and land claims, the connection between industrial pollution and Indigenous health, and environmental racism. More broadly, the course will assess how the Canadian experience connects with debates on a global scale while examining various efforts to challenge and resist environmental injustice.


INTD 3014 Topics in International Conflict and Human Rights

 INTD 3014 FDE Contemporary Authoritarianism

 A recent article in the Guardian described the 2010s as the decade of “perpetual crises” (Andy Beckett, 2019). Among the most pressing issues to emerge during this era was a resurgence of authoritarian politics, from the autocratic standard-bearers, Russia, China, and North Korea, to more recent aspirants, such as the Philippines, Hungary, and Brazil. Authoritarianism is nothing new. But perhaps for the first time since the end of the Cold War (1946-1991), the world’s leading democracies appear dangerously fragile and ill-prepared to meet this global challenge, raising uncomfortable questions about the long-term viability of democracy and human rights. In this course, we will explore the following questions: what is the nature of contemporary authoritarianism? Will autocratic politics further threaten and destabilize democracy and the system of human rights put in place after World War II? Does this moment in history represent a new opportunity for substantive activism in pursuit of democracy and human rights?

 INTD 3014 WAO Immigrants, Refugees, and Settlement

 Recent international conflict and civil wars have produced mass displacement and refugee flow across national boundaries. The resulting dislocations of populations facing economic and social uncertainty have affected countries like Canada that host those immigrants. This course will provide a deeper understanding of the factors associated with displacement, immigration, and refugeehood. It will examine the growth and the dramatic increase in the number of displaced populations, and issues of human rights facing the international community. Its impact on Canadian immigration, and integration policies will be studied in this course. Special emphasis will be placed on social and economic challenges facing newcomers in Canadian society. The course will examine difficulties experienced by immigrants in their striving to resettle and integrate into the Canadian workforce, urban space, and social environment. To facilitate this learning process, a variety of teaching modalities will be used including assigned readings, class discussion, and other media tools like films and documentaries. Students are expected to actively participate in class.

The course instructor will maintain Problem-Based Learning (PBL) via online delivery. A discussion board will be provided on D2L in order to keep students engaged in the material and with each other. The online discussion will provide a venue for students to demonstrate reflection on their personal experiences and their thoughts about the readings and other academic online resources. The instructor will also use D2L to post material such as video clips, documentary films, lectures, and other related to materials to enhance student learning.