I. Winter 2023 LC Course Development
Three teams completed the LC course design process this winter, resulting in new offerings in F23 and W24 in General Education and in two Social Science profiles: Psychology and Social Change and Solidarity.
Carmen-Silva Cristea and Jeff Gandell will utilize a common time block for two new English and French courses under the common title of Voix croisées dans la littérature québécoise contemporaine — Voices Across Contemporary Quebecois Literature. Jeff and Carmen have developed a schedule of readings and class activities that will see the two classes interrogate the question(s) of Quebecois identity across a variety of contemporary texts that are available in both languages – including Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay’s La fille d’elle-même / Dandelion Daughter.
Students in the two classes will meet as a single group for integrative activities intermittently over the semester, both in person and online. They will collaborate in both languages on the development of a website under the title Bilinguefact your air (a phrase borrowed from mid-twentieth century Montreal poet A.M. Klein).
Sara Louise Kendall, Kelly Phipps and Lisa Steffen will launch a new course cluster for the Social Change and Solidarity profile this fall. With the implementation of the new Social Science program, incoming students will have the opportunity to take three courses as part of a single cohort: two discipline courses focusing on an interdisciplinary theme, along with a third course, the new Introduction to Social Science Research (ISSR). Sara and Kelly settled on the idea of “seeing power: social identity and place” as a unifying theme across their Introduction to Geography and Introduction to Sociology courses. Lisa’s IR course will guide students in developing the research skills and mindsets that allow for the definition of complex problems and the identification of root causes.
Students in this cluster will author images and texts that scrutinize local settings like the Cabot Square area for geographical and sociological insights, with special attention to interdisciplinary topics like gentrification, disability justice, climate change, displacement of Indigenous people, and migrant labour, among others. Students will publish their analyses to a new WordPress blog that will be the hub for the research thinking and writing in both the discipline courses and the new ISSR.
Gina Gentile and Stephane Gaskin created a new case-based approach to the vertical integration of first-semester Behavioral Biology with second-semester Biological Psychology in the Psychology profile. The key product of their W23 collaboration is a detailed case study on the nature of nicotine’s biological and psychological impacts. In the first semester course, students will be introduced to the biological basis of nicotine’s effect on brain and body and its accompanying effects on behaviour – and then, the case will be developed in greater depth and detail in the second semester course, culminating in a jigsaw activity where students integrate their knowledge of the biology and psychological side-effects related to nicotine addiction, and the prospects of different treatments for overcoming addiction.
A happy outcome of this project was the realization that there was fertile ground for lateral links between Behavioral Biology and first-semester Introduction to Psychology. From mid-March forward, Sylvia Cox joined Stephane and Gina to explore the ways that the case approach in the contributing discipline Biology course could enhance student understanding in the Intro to Psychology.
II. New LC Clusters for 1st Semester General Studies Social Science
For the first time, selected incoming General Studies students in Social Science will be allocated into five thematically-focused course clusters, consisting of two introductory discipline courses plus the all-new Introduction to Social Science Research (ISSR) course. New students will thus get a taste of the interdisciplinary character of the social sciences; apply what they learn about research methods to an engaging contemporary issue; and make first-semester friends in their program, thanks to the cohort maintained across the three courses. Careful planning and collaboration on the part of the Dean of Social Science, Learning Communities faculty and the Registrar have made this innovation a reality, and all parties will follow with interest the student experience in these new clusters over the fall semester. The five clusters are:
Power and Resistance
300-1R1-DW Introduction to Social Science Research – Tesfa
320-1N1-DW Introduction to Geography – Kendall
330-1N1-DW Introduction to Global History – Lander
Students in this Learning Community will be enrolled in three introductory courses: Introduction to Social Science Research, Introduction to Geography and Introduction to Global History. Linking all three courses are the common themes of power and resistance, as we learn from communities that have lived and fought for just alternatives. Together we will examine the historical roots of inequity, learning about global Indigenous histories and considering how colonialism and capitalism built the world we live in. We will look at how these histories have shaped our surroundings: from studying gentrification in Montreal, to the uneven impacts of global climate change, to Indigenous land defense movements worldwide. Most importantly, we will practice building our own community of care, as we develop hands-on research skills and learn to take care of ourselves and one another along the way.
The Good Life?
300-1R1-DW Introduction to Social Science Research – Shea
330-1N1-DW Introduction to Global History – Steffen
350-1N1-DW Introduction to Psychology – Finch
Students in this Learning Community will be enrolled in three introductory courses: Introduction to Social Science Research, Introduction to Global History and Introduction to Psychology. Linking all three courses is a common theme that explores what is a good life. In Psychology students will learn about external and internal personal factors that affect their ability to live a good life, such as the thoughts and behaviors of others and their own internal self-talk. In Global History, students will examine through the trajectory of historical events since the 1400s what factors contribute to a good life and at what cost to another does one person or nation achieve a good life. In Introduction to Social Science Research students will use the content and ideas generated in psychology and history to begin learning and applying appropriate methodological and research skills.
How Can I Know Who I Am?
300-1R1-DW Introduction to Social Science Research – Steffen
340-1N1-DW Introduction to Philosophy – Redekopp
350-1N1-DW Introduction to Psychology – Finch
Students in this Learning Community will be enrolled in three introductory courses: Introduction to Social Science Research, Introduction to Psychology and Introduction to Philosophy. Linking all three courses is the common theme of self and identity. The Psychology course explores current and historical perspectives in the field, the brain and its many functions, why people behave the way they do, and more. In the Philosophy course, we will explore questions such as the nature of the self (and whether there even is one), how free one is to create one’s own identity, the nature of self-love and self-knowledge, the possibility of altruism, and the existential roots of anxiety. In Introduction to Social Science Research students will use the content and ideas generated in philosophy and psychology to begin learning and applying appropriate methodological and research skills.
Race, Ethnicity and Migration
300-1R1-DW Introduction to Social Science Research – Gosselin
330-1N1-DW Introduction to Global History – Peters
381-1N1-DW Introduction to Anthropology – Howell
Students in this Learning Community will be enrolled in three introductory courses: Introduction to Social Science Research, Introduction to Global History and Introduction to Anthropology. Linking all three courses is the common theme of race, ethnicity and migration. From anthropology students will learn where humans came from and how they migrated over the entire planet, while global history will explore when and why humans shifted from distinguishing between ethnic groups to using the idea of race to oppress non-whites. Through both disciplines students will also investigate what societal events made people emigrate, and how they were received in their new countries. In Introduction to Social Science Research, students will use the content and ideas generated in anthropology and history to begin learning and applying appropriate methodological and research skills.
Gender and Society
300-1R1-DW Introduction to Social Science Research – Shea
330-1N1-DW Introduction to Global History – Rebelo
387-1N1-DW Introduction to Sociology – Beer
Students in this Learning Community will be enrolled in three introductory courses: Introduction to Social Science Research, Introduction to Global History and Introduction to Sociology. Linking all three courses is the common theme of gender as a system of difference and inequality. The history course will investigate the past from the perspective of gender constructions in many world cultures from the 16th to the 20th century, and in sociology, we will explore how gender structures our contemporary everyday lives.
III. Looking forward
Learning Communities launched in Fall 2017 with a total of 6 courses, developed during our first design process. Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 will see 61 courses offered under the Learning Communities banner – the largest number ever. The implementation of the new Social Science program in the fall and the preparations under way for Science’s implementation next year have created contexts favorable to team teaching and interdisciplinary courses. Equally, pilot projects in the utilization of common time blocks in both programs and Gen Ed are creating attractive precedents for “lite” integrations for teachers in General Education who are excited by the possibility of collaboration across departments.
Are you interested in discussing projects for interdisciplinary course development in your department or program? Don’t hesitate to get on touch with us with your ideas and questions! We’d be happy to help in the development of proposals that address key program priorities.
Ian MacKenzie – Learning Communities project lead
Jean-François Brière – Science lead
Pat Romano – General Education and Certificates lead
Annie-Hélène Samson – Science lead
Lisa Steffen – Social Science lead