Student Directed Seminar Courses

2017/18 Student Directed Seminars

Imagined Futures: Utopian and Dystopian Visions of Technological Progress (ASTU 400P 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Vesta Sahatciu and Colleen Kennedy
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Christopher Mole
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Location: Buchanan D207

As technology continues its rapid ascent toward dominance in the everyday lives of humans, media responds with new ideas and, occasionally, warnings. We will focus on the impact various forms of media have on views of technology and will explore its potential benefits and detriments to humanity. Each week a different topic will be presented and analyzed, focusing on the philosophical and psychological quandaries that arise from sci-fi media, and use speculative fictional media to explore the implications of technological development.

Interested students from all majors, who have completed first-year English, please send a statement of interest (max 300 words) to with the reason for your interest and any background knowledge you can bring to the seminar. 

The Rhetoric and Sociology of the Causes and Implications of the 2016 US Presidential Election (ASTU 400T 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Sana Fatima and Melissa Teo
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Christina Hendricks
Time: Thursday, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Location: Buchanan D221

In what ways has the 2016 US Presidential election challenged ideas surrounding American identity? How do people see themselves in this context? How will this election, particularly the ascension of Donald Trump and his platform, affect various groups of people? Through the fields of rhetoric, sociology, philosophy, history and more, students in this course will have the opportunity to explore the causes and implications of the recent election. By drawing upon modern rhetorical theories regarding power, intersectional feminist critique and race theory, students will engage in discussions, media analyses and more.

Students from any discipline are welcome to apply. For more information regarding course content and registration, please contact the course coordinators at 

Creative Science (ASTU 400U 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Iris Liu and Iksha Kumar
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Niamh Kelly
Time: Wednesday, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Buchanan B307

The scientific breakthroughs that change the way we see the world are scientists' creative endeavors, therefore, the academic focus of this seminar is on the importance of scientific creativity and the creative process that precedes the hypothesis. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that the creative process takes five steps and we will use these five steps to examine and understand influential academics' creative processes. By the end of the course, students will be able to apply creative strategies towards academic challenges and identify their own creative process that will complement their scientific knowledge. 

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Contemporary Law and Society (ASTU 400V 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Jessamine Liu
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Arlene Sindelar
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Buchanan D323

How does law influence societys behaviours and perceptions? How do ideologies affect the creation, execution, or revision of existing laws? This seminar will explore the relationship between law and society by examining contemporary events through interdisciplinary dialogue. We will consider social, political and economic issues including the topics of indigenous state and government relations from Canada to Taiwan, pc politics in academia, and the sexual assault policy at UBC. This course is of interest to students in the Law and Society minor, but all students are encouraged to apply.

Please send a short letter to including year of study and major, reason for interest, and topics you would like to see explored and ways to approach them 

Eating Disorders, Comorbidities, and Treatments (ASTU 400W 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Bita Zareian
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sunaina Assanand
Time: Tuesday, 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Buchanan B216

This course will examine recent research on eating disorders, their comorbidities, and their treatments. Students will consider the biological, psychological and socio-cultural aspects of eating disorders; the relationship between eating disorders and other mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and suicidal tendencies; and evidence-based treatments for eating disorders, including family therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, pharmacotherapy, and hospitalization.

Students who are interested should send a statement of interest to this email address: Pre-requisites are PSYC101, PSYC102, or any 300-level PSYC class. 

Literature's Legal Ligaments: An Examination of Law and Literature (ASTU 400X 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Jia Faner and Tiffany Syyong
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mark Harris
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Buchanan D205

In his book Law Lit: From Atticus Finch to The Practice, Thane Rosenbaum writes that the law lurks everywhere. This observation on the pervasiveness of the legal system serves as an inspiration for this course, which seeks to situate the law within the literature that has been inspired by it. This course will focus on the intersections and connective tissue between law and literature; especially the ways literature reflects law in society and how the enactment of laws influences the production of literature. Our examination of literary (and traditionally non-literary) representations of law will broaden students understanding of the social, political, and cultural context of the law, thus bringing to the forefront the emotional complexities and philosophical entanglements that individuals and communities face in their dealings with the law. 

War, Folklore, and the Mythos of the Inklings (ASTU 400Y 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Kate Ney
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Robert Rouse
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Buchanan D213

This seminar will examine the cultural and historic contexts of two well-known childrens authors, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, as a foundation for readings from other members in their literary circle, including W. H. Auden, Owen Barfield, Roger Lancelyn Green and Charles Williams. We will first focus on the ways in which this group, known collectively as the Inklings, relied on folklore and myth to rebuild British national identity and then look at the tensions between the emerging Modernist movement and the traditionalism upheld by the Inklings.

Familiarity with Lewis and Tolkien is recommended. Prerequisites are a 200-level ENGL course or a minimum of 36 credits in the Faculty of Arts. To register, send a short statement of interest to 

Trauma/Stressor-Related Disorders and Relationships (ASTU 400Z 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Thalia Lang
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven J. Barnes
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 3:30 pm - 5:00pm
Location: Buchanan B219

This course will examine how psychological disorders caused primarily by trauma or life stressors impact different relationships. Majority of this course will focus on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although other related disorders will be discussed. Through critical analysis of research articles and guest lectures, students will explore the distinct effects of trauma on different populations (military personnel, children, sexual assault survivors, etc.) and their occupational, romantic, and familial relationships.

Pre-requisites include (a) PSYC 100, (b) PSYC 101 and PSYC 102 or (c) either PSYC 207 or PSYC 208. To register, send a statement of interest to saying why you want to join this seminar and what experiences/perspectives you will bring. 

The Question of Filipino Identity (ACAM 447A 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Phebe Ferrer
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Leonora Angeles
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: Buchanan D317

This course invites students to learn and engage with the Filipino diaspora and communities in Canada, through an investigation and deconstruction of Filipino identity. Using a transnational theoretical framework, this course will encourage students to critically analyze the different social constructions of Filipino identity, based on migration, history, colonialism, politics, and other themes. Some examples of the topics that will be covered in class include the Live-In Caregiver Program and the construction of the Filipina as a nanny; the integration of Filipino youth into Canadian high schools; the function of cultural organizations in building community; mixed and liminal identities, particularly of Filipino youth; and looking at the Filipino diaspora through a Queer and LGBTQ lens.  Please note that permission from the Director is not required to register in this course.

Humanitarian Engineering (APSC 498)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Andrew Sheroubi
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Gabriel Potvin
Time: TBA
Location: TBA

This course aims to apply engineering knowledge to humanitarian situations. First we will go over the structure of aid worldwide and the factors that make it sustainable and responsible. We will then explore the role of engineers in this global setting and develop tools and skills to approach a wide range of humanitarian issues. This is done through technical modules that will first cover the issues and then the technical background to address them (with the help of guest lectures from academia or the industry). We will then work in groups to further develop our understanding of the issue and develop theoretical solutions to them. Through this course we will develop our understanding of the world and enhance our problem solving skills while learning about other engineering fields.

Neural Circuits Governing Innate Social Behaviours (BIOL 490A 201)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Alireza Kamyabi
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Michael Gordon
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Life Sciences Institute 1416

The main focus of the seminar is to explore how behaviour could be specified by coordinated activity in a neuronal population. More precisely, the goal of the seminar is to explore the principles that underlie the computational and behavioural functions of a neuronal circuit. With the advancement of experimental methods in systems neuroscience, increasingly more models are emerging that point to distinct neuronal populations as the main functional units in the brain. This seminar is meant to be an exploration of the emerging concepts and findings related to the field of neural circuits.To register and find out more about the seminar, visit the seminar's blog.

A Seminar on Programming Practice (CPSC 490 201)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Finn Hackett
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ivan Beschastnikh
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Orchard Commons 4072

The goal of this seminar is to explore basic programming via discussion and practical experimentation. Students can expect to question, debate, critique and (re)create the basic constructs and patterns they use in programming on a day to day basis.  The main language will be C++ due to the variety of constructs that can be written in it and the interesting variations in accepted practice that exist within communities that use it. To help students reach the level of proficiency in C++ required for the course, workshops will be given on some interesting features and common practices in the language. Some of the topics we will cover include: template metaprogramming, operator overloading, type erasure, inheritance, iterators and ranges, Resource Acquisition Is Initialization, move semantics, and tagged unions.

Please register in CPSC 490.2W1. Students meeting the requiements to take this course will be moved from the wait list into this section. 

Economics of Education (ECON 492A 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Elena Fedortsova
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mark Schmidt
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Jack Bell Building for the School of Social Work 324

The economics of education is about how best allocate scare resources, such as your time and money, to get highest economic outcomes. In this course we will discover the idea of education as аn investment on both individual and societal levels; we will talk about wage inequality and various biases; we will cover the relation of education to crime and many other topics. This course will be a good means to prepare for graduate school by learning to read and understand academic writing. You will develop the ability to quickly read and understand research articles as well as your critical thinking skills. You will also undertake an independent research project, which will be a good addition to your resume!

Disney Revisited: Spectatorship, Identity and Society (FIST 434D 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Jemma Dashkewytch
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Christine Evans
Time: Wednesday, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Irvking K. Barber Learning Centre 460

Children around the world are introduced to cinema through early experiences with Disney, and for this reason Disney has long held a historically pervasive power in shaping society. This course offers the opportunity for students to engage with Disney films and literature to unpack the political, social, theoretical and philosophical implications of Disney representations. Students will use film theory and theories of visual culture to explore how Disney film shapes identity, spectatorship, and society.

Prerequisites for this course are 6 credits (2 classes) of upper level FIST, GRSJ or ARTH classes. If you do not satisfy these requirements, please send us an email at detailing your situation.

Biological Embedding: How Epigenetics, Neurodevelopment + Sociocultural Context Intersect to Shape Lifetime Health + Development (ISCI 490 201)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Sunny Chen
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Barnes
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: Leonard S. Klinck 464

How do lived experiences affect health and development over lifetimes and generations? This interdisciplinary seminar will unpack the interactions of epigenetics, neurodevelopment, environment and experience. Then, students will apply this understanding to develop and evaluate eco-bio-developmental models for various disorders (chosen by student participants).



Human Bio-Psycho-Social Development (ISCI 490F 002)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Saman Fouladirad
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Catherine Ann Cameron
Time: Thursday, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Location: Irving K. Barber Learning Centre 185

This course is designed to develop competent scientists that utilize an integrated empirical approach in studying human development. The seminar bridges the gap that exists across disciplines by utilizing a multimodal approach, allowing students to examine and appreciate the complex interplay of cognitive, physiological, neurobiological, socio-emotional, cultural, psycholinguistic and contextual developmental processes. A main theme of this seminar is designed around students’ applying classroom knowledge to the real world (‘theory into practice’). This inquiry-based learning is designed to develop future scientists that can study, critique and comprehend original basic research, and affords them the opportunity to generate and test their own hypotheses within the developmental sciences.  

Modern Methods in Neuroscience (ISCI 490 101)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Jasmyne Kassam
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jason Snyder
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Location: Leonard S. Klinck Building 464

How do we know what we know about the brain? How can we know even more? This seminar explores cutting-edge neuroscience techniques that borrow from biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science to address these questions. Students will discuss each technique’s scientific basis, research potential, and broader implications for society. This course is intended for students with backgrounds in science or engineering, and has basic science prerequisites.

For more information and to register, please email Registration requires a statement of intent describing relevant course work and other experiences (research, etc.), and motivation for taking the seminar.

Existential Literature (PHIL 489 001)
Term: 2
Coordinator: Etienne Lombard
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Barbara Weber
Time: Wednesday 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Buchanan D214

This course will cover a wide variety of texts, commonly associated with the philosophical and literary genre of Existentialism. In covering these texts as a class, the goal of this course is to put our heads together and come to understand how this literature relates to the philosophy. Perhaps more than any other, this philosophical tradition was extremely influential in the arts. By understanding the relation between the philosophy and the literature we will gain insight in to the tradition’s history, and the philosophy itself. Some examples of works we will study include Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling”, Sartre’s “Nausea”, and Camus’ “The Stranger”.  

Interested students require 3 credits of PHIL at the 200 level or above; or 3 upper level literature credits with any literature department. If you are interested in registering or have any questions, please contact the Student Coordinator at

Development from the “Developing World” (ASTU 400N 001)
Term: 2
Coordinators: Rohina Dass and Chris Coulson
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jenny Peterson
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Location: Math 204

This course will situate the implementation and application of development theories and practice in the Global South, focusing on development for and from within the Global South. We will analyze development, looking more closely at various theories that influence it, the parameters that are considered ‘successful’ and how those are affected by various lenses, countries and ideas. We will delve deeper to look at public lead development, public-private partnerships, and regional trading blocs such as BRICS, development agencies, and banks in the Global South. Through the writing and presentation of a Development Project Proposal, students will gain a solid grasp on how to analyze the implementation of development goals and their impact.

Please send a short letter of intent to Chris Coulsoand~ n ( ) where you can include your year of study and major, reason for your interest in this course, and topics you would like to see explored in this seminar. 

Queer Experiences of Asian Communities (SOCI 433A 103)
Term: 2
Coordinators: David How
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. John Paul Catungal
Time: Friday, 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: IBLC 191

"What does it mean to be queer and Asian? How does queer representation and identity differ in different Asian communities? This student directed seminar will give students the opportunity to investigate the intersections of queer identities and Asian identities. Through a multi-disciplinary framework and a focus on intersectionality, we will examine a diversity of Asian communities globally and the issues and challenges that queer identities within these communities face. We will engage with academic inquiry using many lenses and draw connections across and insight from the Asian communities investigated. Students will work and learn collaboratively to explore the diversity of identity on a macro and micro scale. 

All students are encouraged to apply. Diversity of experience, identity, and academic background are welcome! Interested students should fill out the application form. Any questions or queries may be directed to

2016/17 - Past Seminar Courses

Perspectives in Child Health and Injury Prevention (ASTU 400B)
Coordinator: Andy Jiang
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mariana Brussoni

Educational Psychology: Current Perspectives on Learning and Teaching (ASTU 400C 001)
Coordinators: Victoria Lansdown and Alana Tacy
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Todd Handy

Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ASTU 400D 001)
Coordinators: Juliet Meccia and Nicole Di Spirito
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Barnes

Does Mindfulness Matter: Medical Applications (ASTU 400E 001)
Coordinators: Michayla Pachkowski and Brooke McDonald
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Barnes

Borders: Analyzing 21st Century Migratory and Social Movements Through New Media and Postcolonial Literature (ASTU 400F 001)
Coordinators: Gabe Ricci and Zehra Naqvi
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Laura Moss

Africa and International Relations in the 21st century (ASTU 400G 001)
Coordinator: Nelly Ky
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Katharina Coleman

Women, Politics and the Entertainment Industry in Latin America (ASTU 400H 001)
Coordinators: Ana Merino and Julianna Bouso Rodriguez
Faculty Sponsors: Dr. Jon Beasley-Murray

The Psychology of Torture: Biopsychosocial Consequences of Recurring Interpersonal Trauma (ASTU 400J 001)
Coordinator: Luke Felczak
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sunaina Assanand

Examining the Role of Finance in Society (COMM 490F 201)
Coordinator: Albina Gibadullina
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ron Giammarino

Embodying Our Teachings: Critical Reflections on Our Relations with Land and Community (FNIS 401U 101)
Coordinators: Victoria Cooke and Emily Bailey
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Daniel Heath-Justice

Current Issues on Identity/Questions contemporaines sur l'identité (FREN 420S 201)
Coordinator: Maximilien Azorin
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ralph Sarkonak

Weaving our social fabric: The Sociology of Fashion (SOCI 433A 002)
Coordinators: Cecilia Federizon
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Amy Hanser

Representations of the Ongoing Syrian and Iraq Civil War and Subsequent Refugee Crisis (SOCI 433A 004)
Coordinators: Michael Leff and Aida Mwanzia
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Gillian Creese

Student Directed Seminars

Student Directed Seminars

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

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