INTD 3rd Year Special Topics Descriptions 2019/2020

INTD 3013 Environmental Justice: Canada in a Global Context

This course examines historical and current issues concerning environmental justice in Canada.  A special emphasis is placed on Aboriginal peoples, particularly debates over jurisdiction and land claims, the connection between industrial pollution and Aboriginal health, and environmental racism.  More broadly, the course will consider the intersection of business interests and government policy, public use and access to natural resources, and urban and rural housing priorities.  The analysis will examine links and highlight patterns between the Canadian experience and historical and contemporary debates on a global scale.

INTD 3014 Contemporary Authoritarianism and the Challenge to Human Rights

The growing power of authoritarian regimes – from Russia and China to the Philippines and Brazil – has raised questions about the viability of the postwar human rights regime.  This course asks what role human rights will play in the emerging global order.  Will reactionary populism and autocratic politics further destabilize the West?  Does this moment represent a vital opportunity for activism and the renewal and refurbishing of universal human rights?  The course will examine relevant historical contexts and consider in depth a range of contemporary issues.

INTD 3013 Local Responses to Climate Change

This course will investigate local and municipal responses to climate change in Orillia and the surrounding region. Focusing on ‘place-based’ approaches to climate change, the course will research and engage with local organizations and municipal government to investigate policies, strategies, and practices of mitigation and adaptation. We will directly engage with experts and community members involved in climate adaptation, such as: a member of municipal climate adaptation team, the Mayor of Orillia’s Sustainability committee, employees from the City of Orillia’s, waste division, and others. Along with experiential inquiry, the course will focus on several Canadian case studies of community and municipal adaptation and develop an analytic framework of climate risks and vulnerability planning and assessment. Questions students will have an opportunity to explore are: What are the climate risks for citizens of Orillia? What mitigation and adaptation policies exist? How vulnerable is Orillia? What actions are the most effective for GHG reductions for citizens of Orillia?

INTD 3012 Beauty

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 3012 The Self

This course will explore a number of questions in the area of self-identity. We will discuss topics such as: What is self-consciousness? Can the boundaries of the self be defined? Whether or not the sense of self is uniquely human? Is self entirely a social product? What are self-reflective and self-monitoring abilities? How to understand disorders of self? How does self acquire an identity? Instead of focusing on the impact of presently much discussed “master tropes” concerning identity (i.e. sex/gender, sexual orientation, class, nation, race/ethnicity) on social life, this course will focus on the processual character of identity formation, and inquire into the biological basis from which self-identity arises and how it takes shape in social interaction. We will start by studying some important texts in philosophy on how self-consciousness and self-

identity are understood. With some conceptual analysis and clarification in place, we will move beyond the realm of philosophy and gain a broad understanding of the topic from a number of different perspectives such as evolutionary, developmental, historical, cross-cultural and artistic representational perspectives. Discussion will include specific topics relating to the subject, such as the functions of self-presentations and evaluations, how the perception of the visual self plays a role in self-awareness and self-identity, whether aesthetic taste shapes or influences the formation of one’s self-identity, how the awareness of the self and self-identity are related to emotional expressions and whether they contribute to individuals’ tendency towards violence.

This course will encourage creative and critical thinking skills and help the students to understand the importance of self-consciousness and self-identity in everyday life through both theoretically based discussion and reflection on their own experiences. Students will develop their research ability by inquiring into complex matters that are often controversial and therefore require careful rational reasoning and collaboration between students. This course is interdisciplinary in nature as it incorporates knowledge and findings from philosophy, evolutionary psychology, sociology, history, and art criticism.

INTD 3011 Social Movements, Communication, & Social Justice

What is social justice? What is a social movement? What is the relationship between communication practices and a social movement’s objective(s)? These foundational questions offer a point of entry for students to learn to critically evaluate the complex relationship between social movements, communication, and social justice. By engaging in this problem-based inquiry, they will develop the tools and skills to practice self-reflexivity when researching popular and academic social movement literature. Students will write two reflection papers based on these foundational questions – one at the beginning of the term and one midway through it – to identify developments in their own thinking and provide a foundation for their final essay. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students will learn contemporary social movement theories, with an emphasis on the role of communication in social movement formation, collective identity-building, and action mobilization. These include resource mobilization theory, political process/opportunity structure, new social movement theories, and the political economy of social movements. During class discussions and group activities, students will evaluate these theories in relation to notions of equality, recognition, and redistribution, especially as they relate to the democratization of communication. Students will apply this knowledge to investigate a number of contemporary social movements, including the Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, #metoo, Idle No More, and the Occupy movements. For instance, students will evaluate claims about ‘hashtag revolutions’ in relation to communicative strategies that continue to function alongside social media, such as road blockades and sit-ins. They will consider how these tactics and their efficacy change in response to different forms of injustice and the unique political, economic, and social contexts thereof. They will reflect upon the implications for achieving progressive social change when communication practices themselves become constitutive of social movements. For their final essay, students will evaluate the communication strategies of a social movement with reference to the theories covered throughout the course. They will be asked to propose alternative communication strategies that both address the source(s) of the social injustice and promote equality, accessibility, and fairness.

INTD 3011 Poverty, Marginalization, and Social Justice

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.