First Year Seminar Courses (FYSM) 2020-21

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 2020 Courses

Fiona Robinson

Are you a Feminist?
Understanding Feminism in Contemporary Politics

FYSM 1611 A
Instructor: Fiona Robinson

How do you respond when someone asks you ‘Are you a feminist?’ or ‘What do you think of the #MeToo movement’?  Heightened by the power of social media, the term ‘feminism’ seems to be everywhere.  Justin Trudeau has proclaimed that he is a proud feminist.  Beyoncé is also a feminist. But are their feminisms the same?  What does it mean to be a feminist?  How does feminism relate to other ideas and movements in politics?  This course will examine the politics of contemporary feminism, using examples from Canada and around the world.  Each week we will read and discuss issues related to contemporary feminism through readings from the popular press/social media, as well as scholarly articles on feminist theory and gender studies that complement and provoke questions about these issues.  The aim of the course is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the arguments guiding contemporary feminist movements in the context of domestic and international politics today, and with the intellectual tools to make informed judgements and decisions about your own guiding beliefs.  Throughout the course, we will also spend time focusing on practical skills required for academic success.

Kathlean Fitzpatrick

Canadian Indigenous Relations

FYSM 1611 B
Instructor: Kathlean Fitzpatrick

Are you interested in exploring the dynamics of Canada’s relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples?
Did you know that you are a Treaty Partner with Rights and Responsibilities? Do you want to be an active participant in the decolonization process through experiential education?   Do you want to learn more about Idol No More? Are you willing to look with a critical eye to Canada’s colonial past to build a better future? Do you want to be part of the truth and reconciliation process?

The First-Year Seminar in Canada/Indigenous Relations will offer students the opportunity to engage with one of the most pressing human rights and social justice issues in contemporary Canadian and International politics.

This course introduces students to key topics and issues in contemporary Canadian Indigenous Relations, and the historical context in which they emerged. We will look at: the pre-contact foundations of Indigenous Nations; the colonial encounter and the centrality of the Treaty Relationship; 19th-century colonialism and the institution of the Indian Act; the development of the Indian Residential school system and policies of assimilation; First Nations, Metis and Inuit strategies of resistance and survival, including the centrality of language, art and culture; indigenous activism, organization and resurgence the self-determination and decolonization; Canada’s response under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and, the role of International Law and International Indigenous movements in the Canadian Political context.  As a first-year seminar, this course will be student-focused and student-driven with an emphasis on critical thinking and class participation in the discussion and seminar presentations.

The Politics of Brexit

FYSM 1611 C
Instructor: Achim Hurrelmann

In January 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU). This first-year seminar will use the case of “Brexit” to introduce core themes of political science, especially from the subdisciplines of comparative politics and international relations. Topics will include the European Union as a supranational organization; British EU-skepticism and its historical roots; the politics of the Brexit referendum campaign; public opinion on Brexit and factors that explain voting behaviour; the challenges of negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU; and the implications of Brexit for Canada. The course will combine online material provided on cuLearn with a weekly 90-minute seminar session. In the last four weeks of the course, students will work in groups, under the instructor’s close supervision, on their own Brexit-related research projects. In addition to introducing core themes of political science, the course will also practice university-level learning, research, reading, and writing skills.

Winter 2021 Courses

Politics on Netflix

FYSM 1611 D
Instuctor: Mira Sucharov

This course will examine an array of political issues through feature film, documentary and television. Film offerings will be selected by the professor closer to the time, depending on what is being featured on Netflix in early 2021. Themes to be explored may include American politics, war and conflict, race, mass incarceration, doping in sports, gender and sexuality, politics and the media. Through the seminar, students will also hone their critical thinking, research, reading and writing skills, setting them up to succeed in future courses in political science and related fields.

Power, Liberty and Public Policy: From Ideas to Practice

FYSM 1611 E
Instructor:  Noah Schwartz

Do you care about political issues like the environment, public health, civil rights, and gun control? Do you ever read the news and think to yourself: why do these things happen? Do you want to learn more about how important decisions are made that impact your life? This course is for you.

Over the next twelve weeks, we will be working together to find answers to several important questions. What is public policy? Who makes it? Why does it matter? The course will introduce you to the basics of public policy, with a focus on exploring what theory can tell us about key issues. The first half of the course will introduce you to some important theories that help us navigate through the murky waters of complicated political issues. In the second half of the course, we will explore important issues in public policy like environmental/conservation policy, firearms policy, public health, and policing, and applying what we learned in part one to these practical, real-world debates.

As this course is a first-year seminar, you will get to explore the course content in a small group. This means you will get the chance to discuss the course material and readings with your peers, take part in hands-on learning activities, and tailor certain elements of the course to suit your interests and career goals.

Together, we will explore the role of power in politics and discuss the delicate balance that policymakers must strike between promoting the public good and protecting individual liberty.