Special Topics Courses for the 2018/19 Academic Year

INTD 3011 FAO--Topics in Social Justice: Poverty, Marginalization, and Social Justice (Dr. Todd Stubbs)

This course is intended to prepare students to engage in advanced theoretical concepts on issues of poverty, marginalization in urban contexts. The course will examine power relations that form common links among those experiencing oppression and marginalization locally and globally. Students will gain a deeper understanding of poverty and its impact on ethnically diverse communities. This course will focus on the use of critical thinking and participation in both self-directed and collaborative learning environments all of which will be considered within a social justice framework. Students will be trained to apply critical analysis to problems, the development of research questions, applying research methods approaches, and written reports.

INTD 3012 FAO--Topics in Human Nature: Evil (Dr. Beth Visser)

Is it possible to be born evil? Can we learn to be evil? What IS evil? We hear the word “evil” being used to describe people and their actions, but how do we define it, measure it, investigate it, and perhaps treat it? In this inquiry learning course, research skills will be the focus as we discuss the use of robust methods in the scientific examination of this elusive construct.

INTD 3014 FAO--Topics in International Conflict and Human Rights: Belonging in the Age of Terror (Dr. Todd Stubbs)

Acts of terrorist violence are a conspicuous feature of the post 9/11 world. By definition terrorism is often horrifying and repulsive, typically intended to spark fear, panic, and crisis, to control and dominate, and to attract attention, funding, and recruits. But terrorist acts are deeply rooted in the human need to belong and as such have a long and complex history. To better understand the current “age of terror” this course will examine the connection between group identity and terrorism. It will consider various means of processing and communicating collective identities, including historical narratives, propaganda, and digital communication. The uses of the past by various groups is a core theme, particularly how groups construct histories and use them towards specific contemporary ends, including resisting oppression, making war, causing havoc, suppressing dissent, and consolidating power. Finally, the course will address how group identity and terrorism represent major challenges for democracy and the on-going human rights project.

INTD 3011 WAO--Topics in Social Justice: Non-Governmental Organizations (TBA)

An examination of the role that civil society organizations, community-based organizations, non-profits, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play in the promotion of social justice. Backdrop is provided on the roots of civil society and the proliferation of the “third space” to contribute to social justice in national and international contexts.  Analysis of the limitations of and the possibilities for NGOs, theories of the NGO, NGO accountability, the future of NGOs, and specifically how NGOs contribute to global social justice. Student inquiry involves critical analyses of selected social justice initiatives.

INTD 3012 WAO--Topics in Human Nature: Beauty (Dr. John Han)

Being able to make aesthetic judgments and establish standards of beauty is a universally observable phenomenon of human behavior and may have been rooted in human nature, if there is such a thing as human nature. The general guiding question of this course is whether human aesthetic preferences are purely a social product or they are determined at least in part by some innate mental structure. Students will be invited to gather evidence for claims of both universal and diverse aesthetic standards from researches in anthropology, sociology, psychology, as well as from their own first-hand experience, and to reflect on the possible conflict and harmony between them. Students will inquire into questions concerning the role of social environment in shaping people’s aesthetic tastes, and seek explanations for a host of features in aesthetic judgment and art practice that appear cross-cultures. In particular, they will examine theories of aesthetic instinct as recently developed in evolutionary psychology, but will also pay close attention to the importance of social and cultural context, and human behavioral flexibility. The course is group project-based learning and involves a number of individual case studies. While fostering a better understanding of a set of complex issues, it places special emphasis on advancing students’ critical and creative thinking, sharpening their ability to understand problems both in depth and in breadth, and refining their collaboration skills. This course is interdisciplinary in nature as it incorporates knowledge and findings from anthropology, sociology, aesthetics (philosophy of art), and psychology.

INTD 3013 WAO--Topics in Environment and Politics and Culture (Dr. Todd Stubbs)

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 natural environment. 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 extend 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 3014 WAO--Topics in International Conflict and Human Rights: Immigrants, Refugees, and Settlement (Dr. Raika Abdulahad)

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 attempts 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 participate actively in class.