First Year Seminar Courses (FYSM) 2022-23

First-year seminar (FYSM) courses are small classes (usually with 30 students) designed to give students the opportunity to discuss and research topics of interest in a core subject area. Most university students are in their third or fourth year of study before they have the opportunity to take seminar courses. As a Carleton University Bachelor of Arts (BA) student, you are provided with this experience at the first-year level through enrolment in your First-Year Seminar.

Fall 2022 Courses

Netflix and Politics

FYSM 1611 A
Instuctor: Mira Sucharov

Grab your popcorn and prepare to be immersed in the political and social world of Netflix! In this first-year seminar, we will examine an array of issues of contemporary and historical relevance by watching and analyzing current film and television offerings. Closer to the time of rollout, Prof. Sucharov will select a dozen movies or shows on Netflix that illustrate particular socio-political dynamics. Sometimes these themes are intentional and overt; other times it will be up to us to spot them. Themes to be discussed might include electoral politics, gender and sexuality, race and racial justice, class and poverty, doping in sports, politics and the media, animal rights, mass incarceration, and international conflict.

Erin Tolley

Gender, Race and Political Exclusion

FYSM 1611 B
Instructor: Erin Tolley

Political discourse frequently invokes the perspective of the “median voter” or “universal man,” and democratic institutions are presented as fair, objective, and neutral. This course questions these assumptions, dissecting the ways in which the political playing field is uneven. We will look at how gender and race shape legislation, public policy, and institutions and thereby influence political opportunities and outcomes. Students will be challenged to think critically about political inclusion (and exclusion) and to apply this lens to historical and current events. An emphasis will be placed on academic skills development, including active class participation, focused reading, and writing in several genres.

photo of Andrew MattanPolitics of the Internet and Social Media

FYSM 1611 C
Instructor: Andrew Mattan

Whether it is online surveillance, internet voting, or Justin Trudeau’s Instagram page, the internet and digital technologies, like social media, are changing how politics is done. This seminar-based course examines exactly how these digital tools are impacting politics—both in theory and in practice—and explores the ways in which individuals and institutions are employing these technologies in a political context. In doing so, the course will examine both how government institutions, political parties, elected officials, advocacy groups, and the news media use digital technologies and how such use impacts the role and position of citizens. Finally, the course will question whether and in which aspects the internet and social media act as a democratising force, hinderance, or has no affect at all.

Winter 2023 Courses

Fiona RobinsonFeminism is for Everybody: Understanding Feminism in Contemporary Politics

FYSM 1611 D
Instructor: Fiona Robinson

This course allows students to see beyond the myths in order to understand what feminism is all about, and what role it has to play in contemporary politics. We examine key concepts in feminist thought — including gender, masculinity and femininity, and intersectionality — through reading the work of feminist theorists and exploring issues in feminist politics – such as gender-based violence and reproductive rights and labour. The course explores a diverse range of thinkers and approaches, including black feminisms, Indigenous feminisms, postcolonial feminism and queer and trans-feminisms.

The Politics of Things: From mRNA to the LRT

FYSM 1611 E
Instructor:  William Walters

Many of our most heated controversies revolve around objects and materials. Think of CO2 emissions, or closer to home, Ottawa’s creaky LRT system. In these and countless other situations, politics is bound up with disputes over objects, technologies and materials. In political science textbooks material things hover in the background. This course will place them centre stage. From energy pipelines to mRNA vaccines and plastic bags, each week will focus on a different material object. Using this perspective we will illuminate a wide range of questions including climate change, sexuality, colonialism and decolonialism, citizenship and inequality. The course will also encourage students to work in a variety of media. Short assignments and exercises could include video production, a field trip, a podcast and essay writing.