Art and Knowledge
This is a course about creativity, passion, and wrestling with the limitations of life. It’s about seeing the big picture, and beginning to understand how we went from scrawls on cave walls, to soaring Gothic churches, to landscapes so realistic you can feel the breeze on your face, to cubes, stripes and circles, to cows sawed in half. It’s a journey through the fascinating world of art and the weird and wonderful people who made it.
À Table: Knowing What to Eat
What’s for dinner? This course critically examines what we learn about ourselves and our society from our food supply, and how that knowledge is organized and used. It also explores how we behave socially, and often politically, when we make food choices and educate our children about the origins, traditions and values surrounding food. Special attention is paid to the history and evolution of the human diet and food production, as well as the importance of maintaining traditional forms of knowledge in the face of such challenges as climate change, fossil fuel depletion, population growth, and food security.
The Bible is primarily read as a sacred text by Jews and Christians around the globe, but even in secularized parts of the world it remains a valuable source of cultural myths and symbols. Its influence is so pervasive even outside of the religious realm, that many of our greatest novels, political movements, comedians, works of visual art and philosophy are incomprehensible without some basic biblical literacy. This course will work toward increasing our knowledge of biblical themes, narratives, and symbols so as to make us better and more critical participants in the arts, humanities and social sciences. We will examine the ancient texts themselves with as well as focus our attention on a wide variety of interpretive strategies (hermeneutics) that have been used by diverse communities over the centuries.
Canada's Documentary Tradition
Canada, through its National Film Board, has come to define the documentary film. The Film Board’s purpose has always been “to reflect Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world”. CBC television continues the tradition of excellence with documentary programming such as The Nature of Things and The Fifth Estate. This course will examine the history of documentary filmmaking and the non-fiction film tradition in this country. We will analyze the intentions of documentary filmmakers and discuss the audio-visual techniques, approaches and styles they employ in telling their stories.
The City, Society and the Environment
The city is one of the most important physical expressions of human society. How did cities begin? What makes a city work? These are some of the questions which will be explored in this course. The course will examine the modern city and some of its problems in today’s globalized world. It will compare the modern city with the living spaces of more traditional, indigenous societies. In this course we will look at the relationship of the city to culture, environment, technology and energy. We will also explore new ways of imagining different kinds of communities which are more sustainable.
Colonization by Knowledge
Historically, knowledge and colonization have been closely related. Not only has knowledge been used to justify colonization, but colonization has been an important conduit for the production of various forms of knowledge. In the process, the knowledge, culture, and values of those who have been colonized – whether in the Global South or of Indigenous peoples, for example – have been historically overlooked or undermined in the Western world. What is universal knowledge? Why is some knowledge privileged over others? How can this phenomenon be challenged? These are some of the central questions that this course will explore.
Communication: Self & Society
“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” What does it mean to communicate? What do you say after you say “Hello”? Why is it so difficult to understand each other? Why do some people argue and fight all the time? If people use the same words, why do they mean different things? Just what is body language? Are first impressions really right? Is there such a thing as constructive criticism? What does it mean to listen? Didn’t you hear what I said? How many times do I have to tell you? What’s the matter, are you deaf? What’s the point of trying to talk to you? Doesn’t anyone understand me? Can I learn to communicate more effectively?
Current Events and Media
With satellite television and the Internet, the distinction between news makers and reporters often disappears. Truth is the first casualty of war and public relations the first harbinger of peace. Newspapers compete with television for versions of the sensational. Images determine elections. Sound bites control decisions. Polls influence what becomes public policy. How are we to know what is happening in our world, given the mix of fact and fiction, the plethora of docudramas and infomercials, the varieties of propaganda and expert opinion?
Documenting Myths: Film, Politics, Citizenship
Documentary films engaging a variety of social and political issues have in recent years attracted enormous popular attention and critical praise. In this course we explore how knowledge about the world and its inhabitants is produced, shared, contested, and distributed across societies and national borders through the vehicle of documentary film. By viewing a dozen or so documentaries we will address a number of issues and responsibilities (the filmmakers’ and ours) related to representation, ethics, citizenship, consumption, and social engagement. The aim of the course is to make us better informed and equipped citizens in an increasingly complex and interconnected global society.
Historically, education, colonization, and wars have been closely related. Not only has education been used to justify dehumanization, but it has been an important conduit for eliminating peoples’ histories, cultures, values, and for erasing minority identities and assimilating them into mainstream dominant cultures. What is the ultimate purpose of public education in a secular democratic regime such as ours? What values do we implicitly seek to inculcate? Are we trying to transmit specialized knowledge or are we just preparing workers for the job market? What’s worth knowing And who decides? This course is an introduction to some of these timeless questions. It is also a survey of the historically specific answers provided by educational theorists.
Genre Cinema: Horror
This course will examine the relationship between cinema and dominant ideologies as sources of knowledge for understanding our world. The course will be framed through the lens of horror cinema. The individual films examined in the course will be critically appraised within their respective genres and also within the socio-political, cultural, and historical context in which they were made and viewed. As a sometimes controversial popular cinematic form, genre cinema offers a resonant frame through which to analyze conflicting ideologies, social controversies, and debates on historical perspectives in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Introduction to Knowledge of Arctic Ecology
The Earth’s ecosystems are our life-support system. Taking the Arctic as our model, we will use rapidly developing ecological knowledge to learn about the challenges ecosystems face, how we impact them, and what decisions we could make to mitigate harms we are causing. Some or all of the course materials and in-class work materials may be on-line. Please either bring a mobile device, and be prepared to share if necessary, or print out the on-line materials and bring them with you to class.
Knowing the Inner Self
The twentieth century heralded an explosion of interest in human psychology, the mind and personal development. From the early investigations of Freud and Jung, to self-help groups and popular psychology, to today’s focus on the brain, we will address several themes and concepts related to the interest in defining and knowing the self. Through our explorations, we will gain an understanding of how organized forms of knowledge such as psychology, philosophy and neuroscience have informed and in turn have been informed by assumptions about the self, human nature, and the world.
Knowing Through Creative Works
The twentieth century heralded an explosion of interest in human psychology, the mind and personal development. From the early investigations of Freud and Jung, to self-help groups and popular psychology, to today’s focus on the brain, we will address several themes and concepts related to the interest in defining and knowing the self. Through our explorations, we will gain an understanding of how organized forms of knowledge such as psychology, philosophy and neuroscience have informed and in turn have been informed by assumptions about the self, human nature, and the world.
Knowing Through Music
This course uses music to show how we create, acquire and process knowledge in different ways. Music is universal; it expresses emotion and symbolic content. All varieties of musical expression have a place in our society, and the course aims to include many of these expressions. Through attentive listening to music, reading, thinking, watching movies about, experiencing and discussing it, the student should emerge with a broader knowledge and appreciation of the phenomenon known as music.
Knowledge: Scope and Limits
Can we know anything? What can we know? How can we know it? Various historical theories of knowledge. Some contemporary beliefs and the assumptions that underlie them. Elementary logic and probability theory.
Knowledge and the Mass Media
This course is about the information the mass media provides to Canadians and the effect this has on our ability to know and understand the world. More specifically, we will examine the limits and biases of corporate controlled mass media and how the mass media form, fashion and limit our knowledge of contemporary social issues. In a word, we are going to work at “media literacy” in this course by developing a critical and informed understanding of mass media techniques, methods and content and how this constructs our knowledge of reality.
Knowledge in Myth
The goal of this course will be to understand myth as a concept as well as to explore particular myths from a variety of historical and cultural contexts with the aim of understanding how myths function as repositories and transmitters of knowledge. We will examine the function of myth in the formation of culture as well as in the individual’s search for meaning. We will investigate different theories, both ancient and contemporary, of myth interpretation with particular emphasis placed on the knowledge which is transmitted by myth. Finally we will examine the use and interpretation of myths in our own contemporary context(s) in order to begin an exploration of what our own use and interpretation of myths can help us learn about ourselves.
Knowledge in Science and Through Art
Living in any kind of society requires “knowledge” about various things. But, how can we have any confidence in what we claim to know? How do we distinguish facts from opinions? What is the controversy over alternative facts really about? Knowledge acquired in natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology…) is said to be objective and all about proofs and facts. What does objective mean? What makes such knowledge objective? Does this mean it is final and can never be contested? Is such knowledge affected by contingent factors? What does scientific proof, fact or truth mean exactly? Is scientific knowledge in natural sciences the only legitimate form of knowledge? What are its scope and limits? Can a work of art be a source of knowledge? How can knowledge be acquired through art with any degree of reliability and usefulness? Beyond understanding a work of art, can art help us gain insight into some aspects of being human?
What does “home” mean to you? What are the differences between “house” and “home”? This course explores the nature of human shelter from the Paleolithic period up to the present day in cultures all around the world. From the huts and farmhouses of pre-urban cultures, to the luxury high-rises and tenements of contemporary cities, we will examine a diverse array of architectural spaces that people call home. Issues to be discussed include social justice, disaster housing, environmental sustainability, and the new urbanism.
Knowledge, Truth and Wisdom
Before the pyramids and before the Greeks and Romans there existed an array of cultures which examined the nature of self and of mind: how and what they perceive and can know, how they are linked with the material world and with subtle energy. Using some of the tools of at least one of these civilizations which have survived in writing, orally and in teaching traditions, we will explore some of the pathways they suggest to broaden the context in which western civilization has evolved. We will proceed on the assumption that an ultimate purpose of knowledge is liberation from illusion, leading to right action: more productive, globally harmonious, informed, fulfilling action – in short, contextually and historically relevant ethical action. The practice of yoga will provide the starting-point for this exploration.
Narratives of the Self
Since the early days of civilization, men and women have been trying to record history for the generations to come. One’s own story is often used as a tool to chronicle the social, cultural, and historical events of a time. While this first-person knowledge seems to be a simple and reliable source of information, a closer look quickly complicates the nature of those stories of the self. This course, by exploring various forms of autobiography, will bring forth matters of intimacy, communication, representation, and exploration, to better understand how the sharing of the knowledge of oneself shapes our understanding of the world.
Orientalism: Western Knowledge of the East
What comes to mind when you hear the word the Orient, or the Far East? This course examines the repertoire of images, concepts, and stereotypes that make up Western knowledge of the “East”. At the same time it examines the socio-historical circumstances that led to the creation of such knowledge. Students will learn to identify Orientalist forms of knowledge in films and literary works.
This course considers utopian visions from a number of different angles with an emphasis on the assumptions about human nature that undergird these visions. We will look at efforts to imagine better ways of organizing our world – through both theoretical and fictional writings and films. We will also consider what it takes to implement improvements to our world – this will take us into the professions of architecture, planning and politics. The course will survey some of the efforts to actually bring about utopian communities in the real world. In all of these perspectives, a knowledge of human motivation and behaviour plays a central role. We will investigate how this knowledge is constructed and whether it is up to the task of building a functioning community or society.
Reel Theatre: Theatre, Film and Knowledge
This course will examine how stage plays are adapted to the medium of cinema and the impact of those films on our appreciation and understanding of drama as a cultural reflection of society and the times.
Science and Knowledge
This course will examine the scientific way of arriving at knowledge and consider whether scientific method is the best, (or even the only way) to know our world and ourselves. We will look at the main assumptions behind the scientific method; consider those assumptions in their historical context; and criticize their adequacy.
Science, Pseudoscience and Superstition
How can one distinguish between legitimate, reliable forms of knowledge, and exciting though deceptive claims? We will examine various claims that have been put forward in recent years and taken seriously by intelligent, educated people who have nevertheless fallen into traps and try to discover a path to critical thinking.
Self-Knowledge Through Yoga
Knowledge is a tool with which one seeks to achieve something – understanding, a sense of control, etc. It can be used and abused. Self-knowledge teaches people how to recognize how they use knowledge. We will assume that the purpose of knowledge is action: better, more productive, more harmonious, gainful, fulfilling action. With knowledge comes response-ability, the ability to answer for one’s actions, to explain them to oneself and put them into a larger context. In this course, students act on knowledge. Through the practice of yoga, students will acquire new knowledge of self, along with the ability to apply it productively. Some old knowledge will be accessed in a new way. Possibly the only way to talk about mind is through metaphor: paying minute attention to the workings of the body in yoga provides unparalleled metaphor.
Sex and Sexuality
Sexual behaviour is fundamental to human existence, yet it remains shrouded in mystery to many people due to lack of knowledge and fear of indecency. What exactly are sex and sexuality? How is knowledge of sexuality and sexual relations determined and examined? What are some of the main sexual concerns for young adults and people worldwide? This course will examine the answers to these questions and more from various disciplines and perspectives, with an emphasis on values, cross-cultural diversity, responsible sexual behaviour and self-awareness.
Sexual Styles, Sexual Journeys
This course provides an in-depth consideration of various modes-personal –philosophical, psychological, and sociological – of acquiring knowledge about the fundamental questions of human sexuality: Why do we behave sexually? How do we behave sexually? How should we behave sexually? The course will examine traditional approaches and current theories in exploring these questions.
Shaping the Future
Based on the work of Montreal philosopher Horst Hutter, this course focuses on five time-honoured strategies of self-overcoming: 1) periodic retreats into solitude for quiet reflection; 2) the cultivation of challenging friendships; 3) proactive reading and introspective writing; 4) close attention to “nutrition” (understood expansively to include food and drink as well as air, sound, and much else, including images—such as those viewed on the nightly news); and, 5) the physical—and perhaps metaphysical— activity of dance.
Music from Thrash Metal to Mozart is a significant element in our understanding of the world. People play and listen to music without really knowing what and how they are learning. This course aims to move beyond the charms of music and submit it, and our relationship with it, to analysis. Sonic Truths will deal with the history of human music-making and its role in different societies. We will begin by examining contemporary popular music and the relationship between musical culture and social identity in Western society. We will also look at the making, marketing and hearing of hit songs in twentieth-century North America.
Sport as Experience: The Case of Baseball
Why are we drawn to sport, as performers and spectators? As experience, and akin to art, sport allows for knowledge of self and society. Using the specific case of baseball, and inviting comparisons with other sports, the aim is to uncover the legitimacy of sport as a means to knowledge: as players and observers, we learn about our world and so are offered a path towards meaning. Sport, then, has significant depth: it is not reducible to fitness, children’s games, or a dulling of consciousness. Baseball, meanwhile, unveils itself as the focus of a multi-faceted experience of transcendence, beauty, and community. Its own betrayals (racism, sexism, labour exploitation, fraud) are recognized and examined historically, as they express various societal failings yet offer hope – as sport often does – for a better world.
The Struggle of Ideas In Modern Drama
In this course we will debate and debrief contrasting sociological schools of thought or ways of knowing in relationship to important Israeli and Palestinian feature films. In one section of the course there will be an international classroom with Kaye Academic Teacher Training College in Beer Sheva, Israel where nearly half the students are Bedouin and nearly half are Jewish, and the Israeli student teachers will learn teaching methods that will help them become effective and entertaining teachers themselves. The other section will include elite English students from Sapir College in Sderot, Israel, a stone’s throw away from Gaza. There will also be West Bank and East Jerusalem students participating in the debates through the active support of the Debate for Peace and Wasatia Muslim organizations. The films taught will include Go, Live and Become, which deals with an Ethiopian Christian boy who ends up in Israel and the positive and negative things that happen to him; Sandstorm, which deals with a Bedouin community near Kaye College where there is both polygamy and arranged marriages; Out in the Dark, which deals with a homosexual love affair between a Palestinian student in Ramallah in the West Bank and an Israeli lawyer in Tel Aviv; and the Palestinian film, Paradise Now, which deals with whether the main characters should or should not become suicide bombers. The four films deal respectively with the issues of racism, gender discrimination, polygamy, homosexuality, and terrorism. If you are looking for a course where there will be controversial issues dealt with and active student participation, this course would be for you.
Studies in Visual Culture
Visual Culture is a relatively new field of study which draws on ideas from cultural studies, art and art history, sociology and anthropology, among other disciplines. Visual Culture is a way of studying the contemporary or historical world through photographs, pictures, and images, rather than through texts and words.
The Sublime Grotesque
This course will examine the traditions of the “sublime grotesque” in both cinema and literature as sources of knowledge for understanding the world. The sublime is the paradoxical experience of (dis)pleasure that takes us beyond normative modes of understanding. The course will frame the “sublime grotesque” through diverse literary and cinematic genres that originate within modernity, such as the American gothic, the French fantastic, the Latin American fantastic, and the feminist fantastic. This course will critically examine these genres as they intersect with gender, class, race, coloniality, and sexuality. The “sublime grotesque” examines disdained literary and cinematic traditions of the past and present, often perceived as “low art” forms, because they are linked to notions of excess and the human body.
This course will discuss local small-scale gardening, focusing on its social, economic, and ecological aspects, seeking to confront the general lack of knowledge today concerning the production and distribution of food. This lack of knowledge will be addressed by gaining weekly hands on experience in gardens, performing horticultural tasks, while learning problem solving, organization, and basic strategies and skills for growing herbs, vegetables and fruit. Practical experience will complement what is learned through class instruction, readings, workshops, and other assignments. The purpose of this course is to better equip students for understanding the production and distribution of food in highly industrialized areas of the world, as well as to implement and maintain small-scale, sustainable gardens in their homes and communities.
Thinking, Logic, and Knowledge
How knowledge is acquired, classified, communicated, and how it is and should be applied, with special emphasis on the analysis of dialectical and formal logic in human thinking. The social context of knowledge: philosophy, economics, politics and culture.
Understanding War Through Film
This course will examine how and what we learn about war through viewing feature films. How do we decipher fact from fiction in movies? How do filmmakers influence our imagination about the nature of war and our interpretation of specific wars? And how do we process that knowledge on the cognitive, emotional and subconscious levels?
Visions of the Media
A course in Media Literacy which involves a critical analysis of the form, content, and function of both the print and electronic media in North America. This course attempts to create understanding of the enormous influence of mass information, mass persuasion, and mass culture in our society.
Where did God go?
This course explores the relationship between religion and secularism in modern societies. According to many important nineteenth- and twentieth-century social commentators and scholars, modernization of the world meant its secularization: as the world modernized, it would become less dependent on and less influenced by religion and religious ideas. By the early twenty-first century, we know that this assumption has turned out to be inaccurate. In North America, while a growing number of people claim no religious affiliation, the majority of the so-called “Nones” nonetheless believe in supernatural beings or powers. Their spiritual and religious practices continue to influence their culture, including politics, education, and institutional religion. Elsewhere in the world, religiously influenced violence, is challenging assumed boundaries between religion and “the secular.”
The Wisdom of Cuisine
This course will explore the various ways in which humans have learned to meet their nutritional needs while examining the role of smell and taste in our acquisition of knowledge. In the process, students will learn to recognize, define, categorize and analyze culinary wisdom through an examination of cuisines from societies around the world. Major historical developments in agriculture, trade, cultural contacts and cuisines will be explored for their impact on our current understanding, appreciation and consumption of food.
Women, Power and Knowledge
In this course we will learn to think critically about the production of knowledge about women in various contexts. This will involve exploring key concepts which influence how we think about women, such as: sex, gender, race, culture, age, ethnicity, and class. We will learn to examine our assumptions critically, but not blamefully, by unearthing the sources of our knowledge (and blind spots) about women. We will ask questions which help us to understand how our knowledge is always only partial and often biased: who speaks, who listens, and who decides whose perspectives count? This will necessarily involve questioning our knowledge about men and masculinity as well. In particular, this course will teach students how to find and listen to dissident voices which productively challenge our knowledge of what it means to be a woman or man in the world today.
Women and War
Our knowledge about war has been shaped for centuries by men’s experiences; in fact, war in most cultures has been seen as the quintessentially male activity. Women’s participation and support for war have been largely ignored, and women have long been linked more with peace than war. This course will examine recent research which focuses on women’s experiences and questions the construction, use, and validity of these deeply-rooted beliefs that link men to war and women to peace. This study will demonstrate how our knowledge is often biased, partial and rooted in a social context, and provide students with a more complete understanding of the problem of war and of the role that women’s studies has played in expanding and reshaping our knowledge.
Working in Canada
Work will probably occupy close to a third of most of our adult lives. There’s very little else that any of us will do that so centrally affects our choices about such key issues as where and how we live, what we value and what we can and cannot do as individuals and with others. What kind of work do you want when you graduate? How much money do you expect to earn? What kind of boss do you want? Do you want to be the boss? Do you need a union? What do you need to realize your dream career in life? Given the evolution and transformation of work in this country, can these dreams be realized? These are the kind of questions we’ll be asking in this course. How do your answers fit into the reality of working in Canada? In sum, through a better knowledge and understanding of work in Canada we will develop a richer sense of ourselves and the country we are building for ourselves and future generations.
World Music in the Global Village
Unlike generic musical terms such as traditional, folk or popular, “World Music” must be rooted in strong ethnic elements. The term “world music” first entered the commercial marketplace in the 1980’s, initially referring to sounds recordings that fused Western popular music with indigenous music from around the world. Since the 1990’s, new technologies have made the recording and distribution of indigenous ethnic music far more accessible, and musician-performers have increasingly been in demand to tour with their original material, and thus, the popularity of world music has soared. The study of world music offers insight into both the cultural mosaics of distinctive societies as well as some of the cultural conflicts inherent in this era of increasing globalization.
Aspects of Freedom
The Art of Being Human
What does it mean to be human? Do we realize the fullness of our humanity in quiet contemplation, study, or prayer? Or is it the case that we can only hope to realize the fullness of our humanity in the messy world of human relationships? Do we become fully human only when we care for friends and family members, children and strangers? Or is true salvation to be found in animistic communion with Nature? Human beings have been asking questions of this kind for thousands of years. This course is an introduction to some of these timeless questions. But it is also a survey of the historically-specific answers. This course is meant to be a general introduction to the humanities, centering upon the West’s centuries-old preoccupation with the art of being human.
Beyond the Boundaries: Contemporary Caribbean Culture & Identity
The Caribbean has produced world-renowned writers, economists, and intellectuals and its popular culture, including reggae music and Rastafari, have had a profound influence on global consciousness and popular culture. The Caribbean has also experience formidable challenges – the near extinction of indigenous peoples, slavery, and today it faces graves social and economic challenges. In this course we will explore Caribbean culture from various perspectives, many advanced by West Indian cultural theorists, who define culture as constituting a form of knowledge, as well as embodying substantive beliefs and customs. The course is organized around issues and themes, reflecting the historical and present realities of the Caribbean and its diaspora, and the dynamic cultural patterns of their societies. We explore socially relevant themes, such as Men and Women, Work and Power, Love and Sexuality, Conflict and Protest, Tradition and Innovation. These diverse themes or issues are brought to life through the student’s encounter with Caribbean culture, as embodied in a variety of approaches, including historical, philosophical, socio-political, literary, artistic and theatrical.
This course will examine global cinema in the twentieth century as a lens through which to understand the history of social movements seeking socio-political and cultural change in their own particular contexts. The course will be guided by the roving camera eye that has sought to capture, shape, and intervene on the radical changes transpiring in the world. These significant changes in the political fabric have also led to important changes in the cinematic apparatus itself, producing new forms of revolutionary cinema.
Canada: Who Needs It?
Generally speaking this is a course about our identity as Canadians. It’s about how this identity affects how we understand and order our experience and the choices we make as individuals and as a community. Particularly, we will examine the American influence on Canada’s culture, economy, politics, etc. and how this shapes our ideals, values and beliefs, and the limits this imposes on our choices as a country. Among other issues, we will critically examine some of the icons and clichés of Canada’s self definition such as multiculturalism, bilingualism, mosaic, “a community of communities,” and “the peaceable kingdom,” and debate their validity and value in our claim to a unique identity in North America. This course is based on the premise that the dual processes of Americanisation and globalisation are rapidly closing the door to an independent and sovereign Canada in which a truly unique Canadian identity and worldview can be developed. If this is the Canada we choose, then indeed… who needs it?
The Canadian Landscape
In his conclusion to The Bush Garden, Northrop Frye makes the following comparison: “To enter the United States is a matter of crossing an ocean; to enter Canada is a matter of being silently swallowed up by an alien continent.” Canada has come to be defined by this primordial encounter with the forbidding wilderness, a land indifferent and occasionally hostile to humanity’s presence. We will investigate the ways in which early Canadian culture was largely formed by this encounter, and to what extent it continues to shape our art, literature and national consciousness.
Creativity and the Artist’s Life
Historically, artists have been in the forefront of the great social movements of their day, challenging conventional wisdom and outdated values. Art challenges society’s deepest assumptions by sparking new ideas and critical thought, and by inspiring and provoking the individual to action for the sake of humanity. This course will explore the role of art and artists as catalysts for global social change and will help provide students with the tools, vocabulary and critical thought processes to analyze how various world views of art, especially contemporary art impacts on society. We will learn to apply certain principles of art theory to concrete case studies of contemporary artists and art collectives, and we will explore social movements that use art as a means for social change.
Critical Perspectives on Photography
In this course photographic representations that form part of the dominant discourses about pleasure, individualism and group belonging will be critically examined. The popular assumption of the essentially truthful or objective nature of photography makes it a particularly powerful medium in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world. Such assumptions and their effects will be questioned through the study of different photographic genres, artistic movements and theories about photography. One of the major themes running through the course will be the representation of the body. The photo-body is an inescapable feature of contemporary life and is a site of anxiety, desire and the formation of identity.
Cuba in the Caribbean
Cuba is one is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. The Caribbean island has produced acclaimed visual artists such as the world-renowned Wilfredo Lam; great poets, writers and thinkers such as Nicolas Guillen and Nancy Morejon; award winning and globally recognized musicians and film-makers; a prestigious ballet company, and some of the world’s great athletes. It is also a place of scientific discovery where important scientific innovations have occurred. It is also one of the few remaining communist countries in the world. In this tiny Caribbean island, Europe and Africa meet in unique and interesting ways, making Cuba something of a microcosm of the world. Students will discover artists, filmmakers, philosophers, economists, historians and poets; visit museums, attend concerts, and sports events; engage with fellow students at the University of Havana; and visit the renowned Casa de las Americas, one the Caribbean’s premiere cultural institution. This course will bring the history, politics, culture, art, and music of the Caribbean to life in their imaginations. Course fees will apply.
Education and World Views
This course casts a critical eye on what we, individually and collectively, think about the term “education.” Is it primarily about schooling? Teaching? Learning? Experiencing? Making? Doing? Is it a passive or active activity? Where does (or should) it take place? In what ways? How do particular historical moments and specific cultural contexts shift its meaning?
Egyptian and Near Eastern Civilization
This course is an introduction to the great civilizations of Egypt and the Near East. We begin with a brief description and discussion of historical events and excerpts from literature in order to provide a context within which to understand such important developments as the invention of writing, the first known set of laws, and the creation of monumental works of art and architecture glorifying pharaohs and kings. We also examine more mundane and human aspects of daily life, such as love and sex and religion and magic in this part of the ancient world.
Feminism: “I’m Not a Feminist, But...”
But what? You want your little sister to feel safe walking home? You hate it when your friends call you a “fag” for taking yoga? The post-feminist myth tells us we don’t need feminism anymore: sexism has disappeared, girls have gone wild, boys can use cover up, and we are living gender equal lives. Are we… really? A closer look shows a more complicated picture. Using an intersectional framework which integrates an analysis of racism, classism and homophobia, we will look at how young people in Canada try to make sense of their lives in not so post-feminist times.
Gender Maps, Erotic Prisms: Exploring Gender Relations
Our worldviews about males and females assume diagnoses about what roles, identities and experiences are natural vs. unnatural for men and women, and imply prescriptions about what, for both, constitutes life-affirming vs. life-negating values, choices and actions. Our identification as male or female is significant in its consequences. It thus frames and influences the questions we ask about ourselves and the ideals that we pursue as sexual beings, the terms for success or failure in our intimate relationships, the response of others to our personal and interpersonal sexual self-expression, and the assumptions we make about heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual identities as such world views are sites for the appropriation and experience of our gendered/sexual selves. This course provides an opportunity for students to study opposing and complementary worldviews, both secular and nonsecular: biological, spiritual, psychological, sociological, anthropological and philosophical.
Greek and Roman Civilization
This course is an introduction to the great civilizations of Greece and Rome. We approach the study of these cultures both chronologically and thematically, focusing on important people, events, periods and developments to provide a context within which to understand not only art, architecture and literature, but advances in science and technology and the evolution of new political systems and social structures. Many of the ideals and inventions as well as the creative endeavours of the Greeks and Romans provide the basis for our modern western culture.
This course will be offered as a regular course and occasionally as study abroad intensive. Students who choose this course with the trip option will be participating in a two-week study trip to Greece in the late spring, and will cover the course material both before the trip and on-site. Course fees will apply for study abroad course.
Human Nature and Social Values
Are human beings essentially good or bad? Is inequality a natural and necessary condition of humankind? Is history progressing towards a particular end? Are we living in a free society? These are some of the questions that are vital to the understanding of our modern world. We will try to answer those questions and, in the process, we will examine different views of human “nature” and identify the values we share with the rest of society. We will study the ideas of famous thinkers, from ancient Greece to the twentieth century, and explain how our views of the world have been shaped by centuries of reflection on human nature and society. Ultimately, the objective is to better understand the meaning of key values promoted (or disputed) in society: power, freedom, equality, and peace.
Images in Myth and Epic
Myths define world views in story, ritual, and symbol. Focusing on the mythology of the ancient and medieval worlds, students in this course explore the world views behind various tales of creation, and investigate a variety of answers to the meaning of love, war, death, power, and life itself.
Indigenous Women and Feminisms
Indigenous women have been engaging in active resistance to colonial oppression and gender violence for centuries. In recent decades, there have also been a growing number of Indigenous scholars who identify as feminist and who assert themselves in distinctly Indigenous terms. Grounded in world views and experiences that differ greatly from non-Indigenous women, Indigenous theories of feminism attend to the intersecting oppressions of colonialism, gender discrimination, and heteropatriarchy. Indigenous theories of feminism further illustrate the agency Indigenous women possess through their active resistance to various forms of colonial violence.
An Introduction to World Views
The purpose of the course is to enable the student to articulate and investigate questions about the meaning and nature of world view as a concept and a reality. Issues discussed include the importance of this concept in academic research, in our everyday interactions, in understanding issues related to international events and, finally, the questions and concerns raised when world views meet or collide within multicultural societies.
Lost in Translation: Japan’s Diversity
What happens when our understanding of another culture comes to us through the lens of our own worldview? How do images and desires produced, for example, by novels or films create an a historical image of Japan as “Other”? This class introduces Japanese culture and society and questions the construction of “the Japanese” as a monolith. We focus on the diversity within contemporary Japan, looking at how groups such as teenagers, gays and lesbians, feminists, resident Koreans (among others) experience life and resist dominant sexist, capitalist, and racist discourses.
Beginning with an interrogation of what constitutes a “Worldview” (or “Weltanschauung”), this course introduces students to Marxist thought as it articulates with other, more dominant world views. Over the course of the term, we will examine and discuss Marxism as an economic and political framework (or project), a theoretical and philosophical lens, and as a tool for critiquing capitalism and the culture that it engenders. Surveying some of the key concepts that emerge from all three, we will explore the multiple influences of Marxism on historical and contemporary ways of thinking about the world.
Mind-Body / Mind-Body Intensive
“I think, therefore I am.” Who thinks? What is thinking? What are thoughts? How does the mind affect the body and vice versa? What is mind? How can the mind work for and against us? What is it capable of? This course will attempt to address some of these perplexing questions. Mind-Body (Intensive): This course will cover the same philosophical questions as outlined in Mind-Body over the course of 10 weeks on campus. The remaining 5 weeks will be condensed into an Intensive portion, where for one weekend, students will be immersed in the application of Mind-Body analysis, including practical applications in an ashram setting. Course fees will apply.
Modern Chinese Society and Change
This course provides students with an introductory but rich understanding of the fabric of history, society, culture and politics of China, the “rising power,” since 1911. Through interdisciplinary approaches this course introduces “the Chinese worldview” so that the students are able to compare and contrast it with “the Canadian worldview.” Most importantly, this course demonstrates how different perspectives — both empathetic and critical understandings — of culture are possible and necessary.
Myths – The Big Stories
Every culture has its stories. These stories tell us about other times and places and the range of human concerns and glories. They also show us that the same sorts of stories seem to be universal: creation myths, hero cycles, sacriﬁce and transformation. When we retell and examine these stories we can see what divides or distinguishes, and what unites human societies. This course will sample myths — from the ancient societies of Mesopotamia and Greece and others from African, Asian, and North American aboriginal cultures as well as contemporary Hollywood and video games — in order to examine themes and variations on how we see the world.
The Next Generation?
This course explores the history and nature of childbirth and childrearing in Canada at individual, family and social levels including the ‘medical institutionalization’ of pregnancy and birth. In addition, it looks at the collective development of ‘generations’ or age cohorts; their shared experiences, characteristics, life ‘markers’ and power (or lack thereof) wielded by each of these groups in society.
This course deals with the following issues: (i) an examination of understanding of a Third World culture; (ii) the dynamics of change the Third World culture is undergoing in the face of a dominant international (Western) culture; (iii) a historical and contemporary review of the relations and trade between the industrially developed countries (North) and the Third World (South).
Our Stories/Our Selves
Stories save your life. And stories are your life. We are our stories; stories that can be both prison and the crowbar to break open the door of that prison. We make stories to save ourselves or to trap ourselves or others. Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories. A free person tells their own story. A valued person lives in a society in which their story has a place. (Rebecca Solnit, 2017)
In this course we will explore how different parts of our identities, including family history, values, gender & race create and construct our experiences and world views. Students will explore their own and other’s stories and learn how world views are affected by our bodies, our selves & our stories.
Performance and Everyday Life
Every day, every moment of our lives, we make conscious or unconscious decisions regarding how we act. This course intends to look at our ways of acting, our ways of interacting, and our ways of being in the world, in order to better understand our relationships with our social, cultural, and political environment. By using performance as a metaphor for our lives, we will be able to get a better understanding of the ways in which we shape our understanding of the world, and the formation of our world views.
Poetry and Social Change
In this course we will listen to music lyrics and poetry to determine differences between poetry and propaganda, similarities between poetry and prayer and admire the reach of poetic media. Using on-line sources and students’ findings, we’ll attempt to see how poets have influenced social conceptualization in the past and present in our own culture and around the world. Some classes and discussions may take place on-line. Students must have adequate personal access to high-speed internet.
The Pursuit of Happiness
What would make you really happy? Falling in love? Winning the lottery? Becoming famous? Taking a long vacation? Getting a new car? Losing some weight? Spending a day at the spa? Going on a shopping spree at the mall? Would any or all of these things provide you with the happiness that you desire? Or would they merely provide you with fleeting pleasures? Is your happiness ultimately a function of your worldview? Can your worldview change? Or is it fixed by nature or nurture? Human beings have been asking questions of this kind for thousands of years. This course is an introduction to some of these timeless questions. But it is also a survey of the historically specific answers provided by poets, philosophers, and psychologists.
Or is it? Can you be sure? How did you come to believe what you believe about lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, queers, and the transgendered and intersex folk with whom they are so often confused? This course will interrogate some conventional and popular understandings of LGBQTI peoples and juxtapose them with the diverse ways in which LGBTQI people understand and represent themselves and their worlds. The course makes use of an intersectional framework that takes race, ethnicity, class, religion, (dis)ability, gender and sex into account in rethinking what it means to be “gay.”
Gender is everywhere. What is one of the first questions we ask about a baby? Is it a boy or a girl? Is sex gender? When you fill out the census, you are given two choices: male or female. Is gender sex?
Gender is often understood as a fixed, binary category. However, different aspects of identity, like race and class can influence experiences and expectations of gender. The goal of this course is to examine and evaluate how different worldviews shape our understanding of gender so that we can think more critically about gender in everyday life and society, on the individual, interactional, and institutional level.
Reel Politics: Myth in the Making
This course explores how feature films project political views and social values. We will highlight the film-maker’s message by analyzing the cinematic techniques, characters and plots of political-genre films and by exploring our own intellectual and emotional reactions.
Religion and Liberation
This course will examine the traditions of liberation in the religious worldviews of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Vodou, and Buddhism, especially as they relate to the work of social justice in the world. While the practice of liberation as a source of personal transcendence and awakening is amply documented in books and the media, the traditions of religious liberation as a means to build a just society tends to be overlooked. If religious traditions are all too often understood to be one of the many causes of sectarian violence, wars, and other forms of oppression, this course will examine those traditions, and the social movements born from them, that inspire religious peoples to work for social justice in their own contexts.
Religion and Protest
This course will examine the traditions of protest in the religious worldviews of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Vodou, and Buddhism, especially as they relate to the work of social justice in the world. While the practice of liberation as a source of personal transcendence and awakening is amply documented in books and the media, the traditions of religious protest as a means to build a just society tends to be overlooked. If religious traditions are all too often understood to be one of the many causes of sectarian violence, wars, and other forms of oppression, this course will examine those traditions, and the social movements born from them, that inspire religious peoples to work for social justice in their own contexts.
Religion and Politics
Most Canadians assume that Religion and Politics make for a bad mix. Over the course of our history this has become central to the way our society defines the world around us. But, if God is truly kept out of Politics in our country, why is it included in the first words of our constitution? How did we find ways to separate Religion from Politics in Canada over the course of our history? Are we different from other Western democracies such as the United States or France? How do we balance such separation with the freedom that individuals have to practice their religion? What prominent a place should religion be allowed to have in our public spaces?
Sci Fi and Philosophy
Through the study of alternative worlds and unorthodox societies this class will engage many of the perennial questions about human nature, social organization, and the nature of reality. However, rather than exclusively using traditional philosophical texts, we will engage these questions through the use of fiction, especially the kind of critical fiction that has come to be known as science fiction.
The Stages of Life
Thinkers from Ovid to Shakespeare to Freud have understood human life as being divided into various stages, or seasons. From the infant, “mewling and puking in its mother’s arms,” to the elderly person on the brink of death, “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything,” as described by Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, each age has been reflected upon, written about and, of course, depicted. On a grand scale, this course will be an attempt to understand how art informs the understanding of the self in transition, past, present and future.
This course has been specifically developed to investigate and compare different global and local views on dietary choices and actions related to sustainable health. The course will consider how we fuel our lives through healthy eating and other behaviours, which allow us to understand our options and choices for health, to be inspired while becoming further educated, and to reconnect with ourselves and nature.
Sustainable Health (Intensive)
This is an alternate course offering which pairs one intensive Humanities World Views course with one Physical Education course to better understand the world we live in through diet, exercise, mindfulness and connecting with nature. These combined courses match their activities, assignments and content, and partner with McGill’s Agricultural campus and Arboretum, to provide students with an opportunity to expand their world views around the process of growing and acquiring food, foraging, preparing produce for the market, and sampling different dietary options. They will experience all of this while preparing and living the physical and mental work involved in working outdoors. There is a $30 fee for this course.
Students must also register in Physical Education “Sustainable Fitness” 109-101-MQ
Taking Sides on World Views and Drama
Interested in debating? Interested in discovering how you can use great sociology ideas to contextualize an argument? Using Denzel Washington’s The Great Debaters!, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Farleigh Mowat’s Snow Walker, together with the Debate Club at North Carolina Central University, an Historically Black University, we will explore the issues of identity, integration, segregation, assimilation, racism, and acceptance and/or rejection of the other. There will not only be a round of cross-examination but also a round of debriefing where you will be able to express your real feelings on these epoch-making issues.
Technology and Human Values
Technology provides us with a form of knowledge and a way of doing things that are based on instrumental reason, expediency and functionalism, even though many of us remain convinced that it is “value-free.” Besides inventing and using technologies, human beings happen to have moral experiences as they constantly grapple with questions regarding freedom, rights, responsibilities, good, evil, right and wrong. In this course we will be examining and assessing the scope and limitations of technology from a humanistic and ethical perspective.
Television Drama: The Cultural Context
Television is a pervasive medium of mass communication in our lives today. Its role is to inform, educate, and entertain us. When it performs all three at the same time this represents ‘quality television’ which produces meaning for its audiences. The televisual form that corresponds most often to this label is ‘drama’ because drama tells us stories about who we are as individuals and as a nation. It tells us where we came from and what we are capable of. Drama presents us with the heroes and villains who inhabit the history of our country and the depths of our humanity; memorable characters who shape our experience and our culture. This course will examine Canadian television drama past and present. Then we’ll compare and contrast Canadian dramatic traditions and conventions with those of other countries, particularly the American networks and Britain’s BBC.
The Theatre of Life: Staging Experience and Exploring Values
Derived from the Greek ‘theatron’, theatre creates external spaces that provide both insight into our interior lives, and instruction about the human condition. It allows us to see and recognize timeless truths about ourselves and others. Divided into three acts: Act I: Human Nature and Characterization; Act II: Bringing Character to Life; and Act III: Characters in Conflict, this (team-taught) course holds theatre and ‘the drama’ up to students as a mirror which presents them with diverse angles of vision about the real, the true and the good. Students will develop a discriminating perception allowing them to explore the reality of what they see and hear in theatrical works of art; to examine what they judge to be true or false about the psychological development and emotional make-up of character; and to reveal the values underlying and motivating their own behaviour/performance as well as that of others.
Recently we have seen a radical, difficult, and uneven shift toward a world view that values diversity and mutuality. This development can most readily be seen in the explosion of movements against discrimination and against the division of the world into “haves” and “have-nots.” This emerging world view challenges most traditional ideologies which hold that people in one group (e.g., men, whites, Christians, Brahmins, heterosexuals) are better than and/or have a right to more than people in another group (e.g., women, people of color, non-Christians, “untouchables,” gays and lesbians). This ongoing shift is changing the way we see others and ourselves, and our views on education, our economic views, and our laws.
Views on Death and Dying
We look at contemporary attitudes, and examine some ways in which people have tried to resolve the universal problem of death. We will also consider the consequences of the denial of death and the importance for the individual of coming to terms with his or her mortality. The course will seek to establish the various means by which people have come to terms with their own mortality.
Views on Games and Play
Play is central to human life. While its character varies between times and places, play and games are nevertheless found in every culture and have come to be understood as important to many facets of human life. Accordingly, we should not be surprised that in our world today the market for games, especially digital games, continues to grow at an astronomical rate. Games are also infiltrating many aspects of our lives and being used for a plethora of purposes beyond entertainment. Often placed under the umbrella heading of “serious games” — a term popularized by Yale professor Ben Sawyer in the early 2000s– these games are being used in many contexts such as education, job training, activism, self help, exercise, and politics. The prevalence of games in our world, as well as the increase in the number of serious games, demands that they be taken seriously in turn.
Views on Order and Freedom
The function of a world view is, in part, to describe how society is and/or should be organized. “Order” and “freedom” are two important concepts in any such description. How can we achieve an “ordered” society? How much “freedom” should citizens have? Answers to these (and other) questions come from various political theories, many of which will be examined in this course. These include theories from Ancient Greece, the Renaissance, and the modern period.
Views from the Global South
In this course we will look at diverse world views in different parts of South Asia and the Middle East. The objective of this course is to gain a better understanding of the cultural, social and political ideas in these parts of the ‘global South.’ In particular, we will look at the ideas and beliefs that have shaped the culture of these regions by examining their religions and customs. We will also look at the contemporary social and political situation in these regions.
War and Peace in the Middle East
With the end of World War II and the creation of the state of Israel, the relations between three of the world’s major religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – were thrown into conflict. The Arab Nation was broken into a number of nation-states which have developed in various ways from tentative approaches toward westernization and democratic forms of government to the counter reactions of resurgent Islam. There have been a series of wars, some involving Israel and its neighbours, and many, mostly unrealized, peace proposals. The politics of oil has magnified all the regional conflicts into world issues. The course is about worldviews in conflict without resolution yet.
War, Peace and World Order
This course will examine predominant world views around war, peace, and world order, such as Realism, Liberalism, and Critical approaches to the subject, as well as examining the cultural ways these views are created, perpetuated, and challenged. We will begin by considering some of these dominant views around war and global order, before critiquing those views by situating them within their social contexts. After a background in understanding the ways violence and peace are understood, the course will switch to examine the ways cultural artifacts reinforce and/or challenge these understandings as students will learn to reflect on the role of their own social location in determining how they see international violence, and prospects for peace.
Women’s Human Rights
This course will look at the development of an international movement to advance women’s human rights over the past decades. Students will study the tensions and commonalities between approaches to the question of women’s human rights from the perspectives of various agents: feminist, women, NGO and human rights groups, national governments, and the United Nations. Is domestic violence a human rights issue? Are human rights a form of western imperialism masquerading as a universal? What assumptions are human rights based upon? How have women both interrogated and mobilized these concepts to advance their rights in various national, regional and international contexts? Topics to be explored include: human rights, feminism, universalism, cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, anti-ethnocentrism, activism, global/local relations, and transnational networking.This is a blended course.
The Worlds of Music
The Worlds of Music will examine the music produced by different societies and groups as well as the ‘worlds’ created by music. Using musical case studies, students will learn to identify the key elements of a world view and the basic concepts that determine a society or group’s interactions with music. From societies where music is forbidden, to societies where it plays a central part in daily life, the course will begin by examining the complex relationship between music, sound and society. We will use case studies to look at how different social cultures incorporate music and music-making into an understanding of religion, defence, personal relationships, politics, group identify and other aspects of social life.
Worlds Views on the Environment
Summers are heating up, tornados are intensifying, floods are becoming more frequent. What is the connection between such events and our worldviews on nature and the environment? How do our environmental worldviews shape the way we exploit resources? And can we link this to the environmental crisis? Are there alternative worldviews that can help us meet the climate crisis? If so, what implications does this have on the way we live our lives? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this course.
The Wide World of Sports
This course will examine the sports culture of different societies and groups, and the significance of the growing influence of professional sport in North American society. Using case studies, students will learn to identify the key elements of a worldview, and the concepts that shape and define a society or group’s relationship with sport. From societies where sport participation is tied to national identity and pride, to places where it plays an “entertainment content” role in a corporate media conglomerate, we will examine the complex human relationships with sport.
Ethical Issues for Pre-University (210)
Ethics for College Students
Different sources of ethical guidelines for behaviour – including religion, philosophy, and the social sciences – are examined in order to discover whether there is any basis for universal morals, or whether it all depends on culture or personal choice. Current social issues will be explored through group debates.
Ethics in Fiction
This course explores the ways ethical issues are presented in works of fiction such as Greek myth and drama, contemporary novels, plays or other narrative forms. Ethical issues are questions of moral significance, i.e., of right or wrong, raised in relation to individual or collective actions such as problems related to pollution, technology, and personal responsibility.
In addition to addressing these questions, this course is also aimed at helping you develop some skills to think about your own knowledge, experiences and opinions as well as engage with the opinions of others in a structured fashion.
Ethics of Travel
This course will explore ethical issues as they relate to travel and tourism. We will examine ideas about travel and tourism in general, and then define and consider the philosophical concepts of cultural relativism and ethical subjectivism and ethical egoism, as well as the social contract ideas of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant. We discuss a variety of different types of travel such as eco-tourism, all-inclusive resorts, medical tourism, sex tourism, and adventure tourism. In addition, we look at couch-surfing, cruises, “romance” tourism, and gap year or work-and-travel experiences as case studies. This approach provides students with a way to explore the relationship between these ethical philosophies and tourism, and to contemplate and understand the ethical benefits as well as repercussions of the ways in which we choose to travel.
The Ethics of Travel: Cultural Tourism in Saint Lucia
This course will be offered in Saint Lucia, primarily. This course will examine the case study of Saint Lucia, a small English and Creole-speaking island nation in the West Indies, as a template for analyzing the practice and principles of ethical tourism in developing nations, an emerging field of global studies. The ethical questions we will be exploring focus on comparing models of tourist travel, with a particular emphasis on cultural and heritage tourism. We will examine the ethical issues for both the foreign tourist and the local population of Saint Lucia by contrasting the most popular model of mass tourism that markets cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts with emerging alternative models, such as cultural tourism, heritage tours, ecotourism, adventure holidays, and “pro-poor tourism.” While in Saint Lucia we will meet and collaborate with government officials, business associates, artists and other professionals who work individually and institutionally in tourism and the field of cultural promotion and preservation. We will conduct research at libraries and other cultural institutions, and field research at a variety of local venues. In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in educational and humanitarian projects supporting Saint Lucian cultural institutions. Course fees will apply.
Moral Controversies in Society
We will be looking at some of the major ethical issues of today, and considering what might be proper and sustainable responses to challenges affecting us as individuals, as citizens, and as part of the human population of the globe. In determining what ought to be done, we will use as analytical tools the ethical theories proposed by some of the major philosophical schools in existence.
Ethics and Aesthetics (212)
This course will examine images and ethics. Students will be introduced to issues such as: ethical behaviour on the part of creators or visual media; and public perception of a lack of ethics in photography, films, tv and advertising. Students will learn to assess what is artistic and editorial freedom while considering the rights of subjects – questions of consent, infringement of privacy and objectivity within the documentary film form. Problems of misrepresentation, particularly as it affects minority communities and women in fiction films, will be explored.
Ethics: Values and the Arts
Modernists desired to cast aside tradition in favour of the creation of the new and uncorrupted. Post-modernists claim that project has collapsed in our endlessly contemporary culture. By means of images from the visual arts of the last two hundred years, we will examine modernist aims to re-evaluated art, society and life itself, and look at postmodern culture: art “after the end of art”.
Social Issues (213)
Ethics: Animals and Society
This course investigates the many relationships between human beings and animals. We use animals as household pets and care for them in shelters, but also control them in disturbing fashion in factory farms, laboratory experiments, and entertainment centres (such as zoos and circuses). How ethical, then, is our treatment of animals? Are we at all justified in using animals to serve our (human) interests? We pursue these questions critically, reflecting throughout on the notion of equality between humans and animals.
Ethics: The Cinematic Body
Why do we say that we “see” or “watch” a film when the cinema is an audio-visual experience? In a contemporary context that continues to regard the corporeal, or bodily, with suspicion, this course will reframe and rethink the cinematic experience as an embodied one that focuses on the importance of all the bodily senses. The corporeal cinema examined in this course (from many different genres: gangster, horror, experimental, art house) opens up new possibilities for “viewers” to rediscover the risky and experimental elements of a fully embodied experience of cinema.
Ethics: Complex Emergencies: War, Genocide and the Humanitarian Response
This course explores the consequences, causes and ethical issues related to complex emergencies and humanitarian “disasters”. Students will explore the changing nature of intrastate conflict, the phenomenon of genocide, and the myriad reasons for extreme violence in civil wars. In addition, perspectives on the moral permissibility of humanitarian intervention, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and the ethics of warfare will be analyzed. Furthermore, students in this course will critically examine the actions of non-governmental organizations and aid agencies in “disaster zones”, the possible politicization and militarization of aid, the moral controversies associated with prosecuting criminals during wartime, and the role of the media in shaping our knowledge about conflict.
Current Ethical Issues
The subject matter of this course varies according to student interest from areas such as: racism, pollution, sex and society, drugs, the future of Québec, the relationship between law and morality, etc. The course is designed to give the student a basis for the normative analysis of various ethical issues. It aims to arouse awareness, to challenge the intellect and imagination of the student in reading and thinking about various ethical issues in contemporary society.
Dystopias: Ethics through Science Fiction
By imagining new societies, artists and philosophers have tried to take a step back from the world in which we live in order to look at it from a distance, from a different vantage point. Forcing a reflection on matters of knowledge, identity, collectivity, and morals, science fiction offers a wonderful and creative way to explore important ethical questions. Through the analysis of novels, short stories, films, and visual productions belonging to the genre of science fiction, this course proposes to demonstrate how notions of enlightenment, duty, consequences, rights, as well as virtues, are central to the understanding of ourselves, of others, and of our environment.
Ethical Issues in Racism
What is ‘racism’? What makes an action ‘racist’? This course examines these questions by looking at how racism has manifested in our society. In particular, we will discuss various historical cases of racial oppression in Canada. We will subsequently use that understanding to consider some contemporary questions and controversies regarding racism.
The Ethics of Sport
This course explores the various ethical dimensions of sport. Rooted in play, sport is an autotelic activity providing meaning to performer and viewer. However, the cult of physical performance and the demands of competition may carry their own societal costs. To some, sport promotes cultural superficiality and subjects performers to narrow commercial and state interests. Still to others, the martial character inherent in many sports may not be compatible with the good life. Nonetheless, in its decisiveness and heroic accomplishment, the athletic contest arguably fulfils an essential role in building community.
Ethics: Gods, Monsters, and Strangers
What are monsters? What do they show (monstrare) the world? How have monsters been constructed in history and how are they being defined today? This course will critically engage the history of monsters in myths, religious texts, and non-religious traditions as a means to examine the construction of “otherness” in the contemporary world. What do monsters tells us about the ethical stances often taken in relation to others, or strangers? Do monsters make us secure the system of boundaries that surround us? Religious texts often demonize monsters as a threat to rigid boundaries. Yet some texts deify the monster as a revelation of the holy. At other times, the monster is both demonized and deified, showing a deep ambivalence about the place of monsters and “otherness” in the world.
Ethics: Good and Evil
Since Socrates, and especially since the Enlightenment, social thinkers have repeatedly told us that evil, as such, does not exist. Human beings, they argue, are either inherently good or inherently nothing—that is “blank slates” which await the imprint of culture. That which people have traditionally referred to as “evil” is in fact, they claim, merely a form of ignorance. If it is true that education can put an end to evil, how do we go about educating the human race? Conversely, if the human capacity for evil is here to stay, how do we make the best of it? This course is an introduction to some of these timeless ethical questions. But it is also a survey of the historically specific answers provided by moral philosophers.
Ethics: Love and Friendship
What do you love? Why? How does this love manifest itself in your thoughts, words, and deeds? What does it mean to say that someone is your friend? What does that bond entail? Are there different kinds of love and friendship? What are they? What distinguishes them from one another? Human beings have been asking questions of this kind for thousands of years. This course is an introduction to some of these timeless questions. But it is also a survey of the historically-specific answers. This course is meant to be a general introduction to the field of ethics, centering upon the West’s centuries old preoccupation with love and friendship.
Me, You and Us: The Ethics Of Human Relationships
When confronted with an issue in a relationship, what factors do you consider? What is the weight of your own needs when considering a course of action? What about the needs of others? By drawing on ethical principles from Eastern and Western philosophies, this course will examine ethical issues that arise in many types of human interaction, such as the relationship with one’s own self, romantic partners, family members, friends and society.
Ethics: Media Messages and Social Issues
This course provides the opportunity to examine the relationships between social issues and the mass media. Students will explore television, film, advertising, music, news, and popular culture to see how media representations shape our global culture through their constructed realities, and will also assess the impact of converging communications and entertainment technologies. Critical perspectives gained in this course will lead students to the goal of media literacy. Methodology includes short lectures, video, films, and media analysis discussions.
Ethics: Social Issues: Peace Seminar
This course gives students a forum to bring together their understanding of peace in an integrative manner. Personal peace as well as cultural and societal peace are legitimate areas of study for us, along with the practical application of methods promoting peace on different levels. Some classes and discussions may take place on-line. Priority for this course will be given to Peace Studies students. All students must have adequate personal access to high-speed internet. This is a blended course. If the course is scheduled in a three-hour block, a travel fee of $15 is applicable.
Ethics: Social Issues Through Literature
Literature can help us focus on the elements and consequences of some of the social issues which dominate our world. By examining the plot, characters, and attitudes revealed in the assigned texts, we will look at societal attitudes towards race, war and violence, health and health care, governmental intervention in private lives, and the extent and nature of individual responsibility towards others.
Science and Society (214)
Bioethics is a rapidly-evolving, dynamic field concerned with issues, conflicts and controversies about how we should treat living beings. Among the issues discussed will be: ethics and scientific research, ethics and health care, allocation of scarce resources, fundamental rights, legal rights, conflicts of interest, conflicts of values, conflicts between cultural viewpoints, autonomy versus paternalism, conflicts between rights, conflict between obligations, the search for universal ethical principles in this field, whether health care or scientific research should be run as businesses, the impact of bioethics on the individual and society as a whole.
Ethics: Critical Issues for the New Millennium
Critical thinkers reflect on and analyze their thinking; curiosity and creativity accompany critical thinkers who, while paying attention to others’ opinions, discover their own path. Throughout the semester students will work on becoming aware of and improving their thinking, reading and writing skills. Simultaneously, and using these developing skills, we shall examine several different ethical issues presented in science and scientific endeavours, covering a wide variety of topics from the use of animals in science; techniques and funding of research; and bioethical issues like reproductive technology and gene research.
This course will examine a variety of ethical viewpoints and dilemmas resulting from the impact of human behaviours on the physical environment. Ideological and cultural practices must be examined to understand why we find ourselves in the precarious situation of leaving an uninhabitable planet for future generations of all species. Exploring the future of the human race must consider how world views and knowledge encourage some ethical choices over others by specifically considering environmental conservation, animal rights, natural resource depletion, global warming, water depletion, food production, pollution, and military practices, as a means of better understanding the connections between the values we hold and the impacts they have on our decisions and actions.
Environmental Ethics – On Food
We all must make ethical decisions every day — at each and every meal even. This course will try to navigate the ethical viewpoints, and dilemmas and opportunities, resulting from the myriad claims on human culture and the physical environment made by our need both to raise and eat food. Meanwhile we ﬁnd ourselves on an increasingly imperilled planet responsible for ourselves and for what we leave for future generations of all species. This course provides students with an opportunity to recognize, explore, challenge, and integrate personal and social values.
Ethics In Science and Technology
Science and technology are not neutral forces in society. By seeking to understand and control nature, they offer hopes of progress and freedom for the average citizen. However, they also pose serious ethical dilemmas or problems, affecting the rights of human and non-human beings. This course will: discuss the values of science; describe the relationship between science, technology, and economic /political power; and identify the various ethical problems associated with scientific research and techno-logical development. We will explore the issues conceptually, historically, and through several case studies (energy, military production, medical practice and genetic engineering, agriculture, the space program, computers).
Ethics: Science and Spirit
In this course we explore moral and ethical implications of the practice and products of science and art. From where do we draw moral and ethical guidance and what is its nature? What recent works and theories champion avant-garde interpretations and cutting-edge paradigms in human consciousness and what does this imply for future ethical orientations as regards a 21st century global ethic? What is the place of spirit in the mix? Students will present their findings to the class. In-class discussion may be complemented by on-line forums.
Ethics: Scientists and Dramatic License
Scientists have been socially constructed to be moral giants and base demons, the saviours of the world and the world’s nemesis, while dramatists have imaginatively created the persona of scientists to serve their own political purposes. This course will explore the moral ambiguities surrounding the role of the scientist. Using three plays, Galileo, Copenhagen, and An Enemy of the People, we will explore the interface between science and drama and the social issue debates that result from that interaction.
Ethics: From a Sustainable Campus to Climate Change Activism
By blending theory and practice, this course, originally developed by JAC students, will introduce ethical frameworks that will enable you to engage meaningfully with the greatest planetary emergency ever facing the human species: climate change. We will examine avenues for activism and action, ideas for changing current social, economic and political structures that have caused and perpetuate the destruction of life on our planet, and explore the kinds of perceptual shifts and values that will guide us into creating a more just and regenerative world.