Student Directed Seminar Courses

2016/17 Student Directed Seminars

Perspectives in Child Health and Injury Prevention (ASTU 400B 001)
Term: 1
Coordinator: Andy Jiang
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mariana Brussoni
Time: Thursday, 9am – 12pm
Location: BUCH D214

This course is an introduction to Child Health and Injury Prevention, and will be divided into two interrelated sections. The first half provides a foundational understanding of pediatric health, illness, development, and determinants of health from a multidisciplinary perspective. The second-half will provide students the opportunity to take these skills and analyze issues pertaining to Childhood Injury Prevention. Injuries are the leading cause of death among Canadian children, placing a tremendous economic and social burden to society. Students will analyze the epidemiology of childhood injuries, their social implications, and how they can be addressed by prevention and policy initiatives.

Interested students please register and then send your name and major to (Subject: ASTU400B 001). Students from all majors and disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Educational Psychology: Current Perspectives on Learning and Teaching (ASTU 400C 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Victoria Lansdown & Alana Tacy
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Todd Handy
Time: Thursday, 5pm – 8pm
Location: BUCH D204

This course will be examining psychological experiments in a variety of Educational Psychology topics, including learning types and teaching methods. Students will work together to create a student handbook for a hypothetical school that entails course descriptions, special programs, teacher requirements, academic resources, a school focus, graduation requirements, registration policies and procedures, co-curricular activities/athletics, counseling and career programs. Throughout the course, students will research the most supported psychological advancements in the field of education and engage in weekly open discussions to share their own ideas for national or international academic improvements. It is recommended that students have at least 6 credits of Psychology to register. 

Does Mindfulness Matter: Medical Applications (ASTU 400E 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Mikayla Pachkowski & Brooke McDonald
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Barnes
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30am – 11am
Location: Henry Angus 339

This course will unpack the relevance and utility of mindfulness as a clinical tool. Through critical analysis of research articles, students will investigate mindfulness in a variety of contexts, e.g. mood disorders, chronic pain, etc, with an emphasis on evaluating clinical efficacy. Students will learn how to practice mindfulness and explore how a researcher, clinician, or patient engages with it. To register, send an interest statement to saying why you want to participate and what experiences/perspectives you will bring. Prerequisites are PSYC 101 or 102. If you do not meet prerequisites please send us an email explaining your circumstance.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ASTU 400D 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Juliet Meccia & Nicole Di Spirito
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Barnes
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 3:30pm – 5pm
Location: BUCH B219

Developmental disorders are a common neurological issue affecting individuals throughout the course of their lives. To understand the different components of these disorders, we must explore them through various disciplines including psychology, biology, sociology, and education, employing an epigenetic focus. This course provides students an opportunity to study disorders such as autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, Down syndrome and dyslexia and consider their causes, treatments, social impacts, educational challenges, and other factors. To register, send a statement of intent to detailing relevant course work, interest in the topic, reason for taking the course and other relevant experiences (research, volunteer work, etc.).

Borders: Analyzing 21st Century Migratory and Social Movements Through New Media and Postcolonial Literature (ASTU 400F 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Gabe Ricci & Zehra Naqvi
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Laura Moss
Time: Wednesday and Friday, 4pm-5:30pm
Location: IBLC 191

In what ways are the migrants, the displaced, the colonized, and the marginalized on the move - forced or otherwise - seeking refuge, crossing borders, creating movements, alliances and revolutions? How are movements and counter-movements changing and [re]shaping the world in the 21st Century? Students in this seminar will analyze works of literature and media borne out of movements such as Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, the refugee crisis, Arab uprisings, and the BDS Movement; discussing them in relation to postcolonial, intersectional feminist, and Indigenous feminist theory. Students must have completed at least 3 credits of first year English to register.

Examining the Role of Finance in Society (COMM 490F 201)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Albina Gibadullina
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ron Giammarino
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 11am – 12:30pm
Location: HA 339

This seminar will focus on analyzing the role of the financial system within the broader economy, and interactions between the financial system and the rest of society using scholarly work from economics, finance, law, sociology and political science. The course will give an overview of the financial system, cover relevant economic principles, discuss policy issues around financial regulation, and examine ethical arguments, as well as the ways in which finance has been used to benefit and harm society at large. The course is open to Year 3 and 4 BCOM and non-BCOM students, however some prior coursework in finance (e.g. COMM 370) or economics is advisable though not required. If you are interested in registering for the course, please complete this form by September, 30th 2017 (earlier applications are preferable, as applications will be accepted on a rolling basis). Interested students may contact the seminar coordinator, Albina Gibadullina, at for further inquiries.

Embodying Our Teachings: Critical Reflections on Our Relations with Land and Community (FNIS 401U 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Victoria Cooke & Emily Bailey
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Daniel Justice
Time: Wednesday, 9am-12pm
Location: Ponderosa Commons: Oak House

While the acknowledgment of UBC’s occupation of the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples is an important intervention into how we understand ourselves, it must not be where we stop if we are truly seeking the means towards recognition of the past and more meaningful future relationships with each other. Relationship-building and reconciliation requires folks who are willing to meet each other precisely where it begins to get most difficult; breaking down of colonial structures, and that Indigenous communities are able to practice self-determination and authority over their bodies and lands. Knowing that we shape and are shaped by our physical, social, cultural, and emotional environments, this course will interrogate the methodological and pedagogical approaches necessary to practice self-reflexive social justice work. We will be engaging with ‘the acknowledgement’ as a way to speak to how cultural appropriation is used to justify and normalize the occupation and violence of the Canadian state. This course will aim to engage these topics through a place-based experiential learning curriculum by situating the classroom in various environments that will allow for students to identify the multitude of ways in which feminist, anti-colonial, and anti-racist theorizing is practiced. Space and place are fundamental components of learning, our perceptions of them often shaped by how we have come to know them and from whom we received our teachings. The spaces we learn in then, whether intentional or not, communicate the politics of that place. How has our current learning environment at UBC, and the land that it resides on, been shaped by past events? How do we work towards creating anti-colonial futurities, while simultaneously acknowledging the hauntings of the past?

Africa and International Relations in the 21st century (ASTU 400G 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Nelly Ky
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Katharina Coleman
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 5:00pm- 6:30pm
Location: BUCH D323

This course will critically assess Africa's current place on the international scene and untangle the complex factors that have been shaping its development. Simultaneously, students will explore tangible solutions for the continent to eradicate issues of extreme poverty and multidimensional conflicts in order to foster the emergence of a sustainable development strategy in Africa through bilateral, regional and international cooperation. Students will explore theories of International Relations; analyze the marginalization of Africa in IR knowledge; assess the historical factors that define contemporary relations within Africa, as well as between African countries and Western and emerging powers; and understand the role of international institutions in the development of Africa

Women, Politics and the Entertainment Industry in Latin America (ASTU 400H 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Ana Merino and Julianna Bouso Rodriguez
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Beasley-Murray
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: IBLC 156

This course aims to examine the relationship between women, politics and the entertainment industry in Latin America. We will examine the ways in which political issues have differential effects on women, how women are active agents in shaping and navigating their ways through these issues, and how accurately this is portrayed in films, telenovelas, and music. Interested students should submit a short letter to outlining their background knowledge on Latin America, interest in the class, and level of knowledge of the Spanish language of any (not a pre-requisite, but it will help Coordinators prepare the material). Any of the following courses would be helpful but are not required: POLI 332, SPAN 312B, LAST courses, or HIST courses on Latin America. 

Weaving our social fabric: The Sociology of Fashion (SOCI 433A 002)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Cecilia Federizon
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Amy Hanser
Time: Wednesday, 10am – 1pm
Location: ANSO 1305

Using a wide variety of modern and classic scholars, this class examines fashion from a sociological lens. We will study how fashion engages with sociological topics such as wealth stratification, gender, and politics. This course is also designed to allow students to engage with the research process and to prepare for graduate students. Each student will choose a fashion related company to use as a case study for the topics we examine throughout the course, and as a basis for a final research paper. For more information please contact Cecilia Federizon at

Representations of the Ongoing Syrian and Iraq Civil War and Subsequent Refugee Crisis (SOCI 433A 004)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Aida Mwanzia & Michael Leff
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Gillian Creese
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 4pm- 5:30pm
Location: ANSO 1305

In this course, students will explore the ongoing Syrian and Iraq civil war and subsequent refugee crisis through a sociological and historical lens. Patterns of migration, gender and family during the war, islamaphobia, and various nations’ responses to incoming refugees will all be examined. Students will critically engage with how these events have been presented to the public through various forms of media.  The seminar will culminate in an opportunity for students to generate a project that is designed to have a positive impact on the conflict. Students from any discipline are welcome to apply. Interested students should send a one-page statement of intent to Aida and Michael at including: 1) motivation for taking the course 2) what you would contribute to this seminar (i.e. through relevant courses, volunteer/work experience, personal lived experiences) 3) your major and year of study.

The Psychology of Torture: Biopsychosocial Consequences of Recurring Interpersonal Trauma (ASTU 400J 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Lukasz Felczak
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sunaina Assanand
Time: Thursday, 5pm – 8pm
Location: IBLC 191

This course will explore the biopsychosocial impact of torture on survivors/victims. Topics will include the intergenerational effects of torture, the treatment and rehabilitation of torture survivors and their families, the psychology of torturers, torture in civilian contexts, and forms of psychosocial impairment reconceived as expressions of “self-torture”. This course will be of particular interest to students with an interest in the psychology of violence, trauma studies, as well as clinical, health, social, political or forensic psychology. For more information, and for details about how to register for this course, please contact the student coordinator, Luke Felczak, at

Current Issues on Identity/Questions contemporaines sur l'identité (FREN 420S 201)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Maximilien Azorin
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ralph Sarkonak
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30pm – 2pm
Location: BUCH D315

In this seminar, participants will be invited to an innovative learning environment where bilingualism will be the cornerstone of the course. By looking at political science papers and pieces of francophone literature, students will address together how identity and languages are affecting crucial topics in today’s world. Civil and ethnic identity, immigration, identity-based conflicts, radicalization, the EU, globalization will be some of the themes that this SDS will focus. Participants are expected to have a confident level of French for discussions, presentations and papers. More information about this course or about language requirements can be found by emailing the coordinator at

2015/16 - Past Seminar Courses

Diplomacy: History and Practice (HIST 402A 101)
Coordinator: Jennine Punzalan
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Lee

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion: Psychological, Social, and Cultural Effects (ASTU 400Y)
Coordinator: Anica Villamayor
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sunaina Assanand

The European Union in International Relations: A Force to be Reckoned With? (POLI 464D 001)
Coordinator: Anne-Sophie Deman
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Dr. Kurt Hübner

(Dis-)Empowered Mothering: A Study on Violence and Mothering in North-American-female-authored Texts (ASTU 400X 001)
Coordinator: Caitlin Funk
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Heather Latimer

Cognitive Neuroscience of Executive Functions (ASTU 400W)
Coordinators: Cameron Drury and Robin Richardson
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Michael Souza

Why the Undead Walk Among Us: An Exploration of Zombies in Literature and Popular Culture (ASTU 400P 001)
Coordinator: Kate Reilly
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Gisele Baxter

Hong Kong's New Wave Cinema: A Filmic Study of the Handover (ASTU 400V 001)
Coordinator: Nicolaus Li
Faculty Sponsors: Dr. Robyn Citizen and Dr. Alison Baile

What makes you click: The Sociology of Online Dating (SOCI 433A 002)
Coordinator: Skyler Wang
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Carrie Yodanis

Bilingualism (ASTU 400U 001)
Coordinator: Tess Forest
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Laurel Fais

Infectious Diseases of the Tropics: A Description of the Nature, Prevalence, and Treatment of Disease (BIOL 448B 201)
Coordinators: Ashley Pinter and Garrett Huwyler
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Patricia Shulte

Lovecraft and Cosmic Pessimism (ASTU 400Z)
Coordinator: Jesse Greenway
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Bo Earle

Philosophical Arguments in Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Media (PHIL 486A 001)
Coordinators: Konstantin Prodanovic and Daniel Munro
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Christina Hendricks

Space and Politics (cross-listed: students can register in either ASTU 400T 001 or POLI 464F 002)
Coordinators: Nick Leach and Trenton Sanders
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jaymie Matthews

Women & Femininity in Alternative Music (MUSC 403M 001)
Coordinator: Heather Gunn
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. David Metzer

Voices from the Margins: Race, Sexuality, and Settler Colonialism (GRSJ 425A 001)
Coordinator: Kay Ho
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sunera Thobani

Altered Consciousness (ASTU 400N 001)
Coordinator: Jensen Burghardt
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Barnes

Student Directed Seminars

Student Directed Seminars

Brock Hall
1874 East Mall Room 1036
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

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