First Year Seminar Courses (FYSM) 2021-22

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 2021 Courses

Fiona Robinson

Are you a Feminist?
Understanding Feminism in Contemporary Politics

FYSM 1611 A
Instructor: Fiona Robinson

What does it mean to be a feminist? 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.

Power, Liberty and Public Policy

FYSM 1611 B
Instructor: Alina Sayfutdinova

With political polarization fastly becoming the defining issue of our time, there is a pressing need to generate a more precise understanding of government actions and the intentions that determine such actions. In this class, we will develop an in-depth understanding of what public policy is and why we sometimes justify government involvement in solving social problems.

This course will explore many of the paradoxes inherent in public policy research by focusing on the highly controversial topics that inspire today’s most meaningful public debates, such as gun ownership, policing /prisons, healthcare (child care etc.), social assistance and environmental issues (pipelines).

photo of Taylor Green

Technology and Democracy

FYSM 1611 C
Instructor: Taylor Green

In this class, by first discussing what democracy means, we investigate the role technology plays in our democracy. From social media and biotechnology to artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, we look at what our current relationship is to technology and examine potential impacts on democratic politics. Whether technology directly influences our politics is a question to be interrogated throughout the course.

Winter 2022 Courses

Politics on Netflix

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, policing, doping in sports, politics and the media, animal rights, mass incarceration, and international conflict.

photo of Louise Cockram

Canadian Parliamentary Politics

FYSM 1611 B
Instructor:  Louise Cockram

Parliament is the theatre of Canadian democracy. Through watching question period or committee proceedings we have a window into the debates that affect our lives as Canadians. Yet, Parliament is often derided by media commentators and political scientists as ineffectual and hopelessly partisan. How do we make sense of Parliament as an essential, yet flawed, part of Canadian democracy? In FYSM 1611B we will explore key debates on parliamentary politics in Canada, such as (but not limited to):
– Does Parliament do an effective job at scrutinizing government decisions?
– Should Senators be elected rather than appointed?
– How can MPs meaningfully represent their constituents in the House of Commons?
– Is there too much party discipline in the House of Commons?
– How well has Parliament adapted to virtual sittings during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Erin Tolley

Gender, Race and Political Exclusion

FYSM 1611 C
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.