FASSFirst Courses

Enrollment for Fall 2019 courses will open in July 2019

FASSFirst courses are specially designed to help new FASS students make a successful transition to university and connect closely with their professors and peers during their first term

  • Each offering is limited to 25 students
  • Led by the best teachers and mentors in FASS
  • Courses available only in the Fall term, to help you lay the groundwork for future academic success and foster your academic skills
  • Earn a writing (W) or breadth (B-Soc/B-Hum) designation towards your WQB requirements (with final grades of C- or higher) 
  • Complete units that count towards your BA degree graduation requirements

What will be taught?

  • Anything from science fiction to pop music, from drug policy to sustainability, but with a special focus on the academic needs of first-year students
  • FASSFirst courses are different every time, and are not part of the regular curriculum: these topics are taught only in these seminars
  • FASSFirst seminars will surprise you and will introduce you to the full scope of the humanities and social sciences
  • FASSFirst seminars will call into question your own ideas about traditional subject matters, and they will lead your interests in surprising and unknown directions 

What will I learn?

  • Writing: Your marks will be based largely, if not entirely, on written work. You will be expected to write frequently, and sometimes in low-stakes contexts.
  • Peer Engagement: You will be expected to engage productively with your peers, both in and out of the classroom. The aim is to help you to learn how to rely on others in academic contexts.
  • Research: You will be expected to learn the basic methods of academic research, including how to navigate and make use of the research resources SFU makes available to you (including the library and the instructor).
  • Time Management: To learn better time management, some assignments will be constructed in such a way that you are required to plan your work in multiple stages.

How do I enroll?

Enrollment for Fall 2019 courses will open in July 2019.

You will be able to find the FASSFirst courses on goSFU under FASS 101. Each section (D001, D002, etc.) has a different topic—just select the section in which you wish to enroll.


Fall 2019 Courses

Reading, ‘Riting, and Rising Up

FASS 101W D001 
Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30 am - 12:20 pm 

Dr. Brenda Morrison (Criminology)

Stories are powerful. Stories engage us in narratives of who we are and who we want to be, individually and collectively. Through the power of story, experiential exercises and Indigenous ways of knowing, we will explore themes of rights, justice and reconciliation, as they relate to our own lived experience and that of others.

We will invite guest speakers to share their own lived experience, and explore how they used writing to rise up and enable communities grounded in equity, diversity and inclusion. Together we will create a métissage of the stories we weave together that ground resilient communities.

The Language of Social Media

FASS 101W D002 
Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30 am - 12:20 pm 

Dr. Maite Taboada (Linguistics)

This course examines the characteristics of language use in social media. We will study the adaptation of face-to-face conversation to the constraints of online interactions, and how paralinguistic aspects (intonation, gesture, facial expressions) are conveyed.

Special attention will be given to the opinionated nature of much online interaction, and the role that figurative language (metaphor, irony, sarcasm) plays in conveying opinion. Other topics will include the features of different types of online genres, multi-lingualism, and the discourse structures specific to communication through social media.

Inuit in Film

FASS 101W D003 
Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30 am - 12:20 pm 

Dr. Pamela Stern (Sociology and Anthropology)

Inuit comprise one of the three primary Indigenous peoples of Canada; yet most Canadians know about Inuit largely through their representations in film. The first ever ethnographic film, Nanook of the North, was a made about Inuit from Northern Quebec. This course will use ethnographic and fictional films about Inuit to introduce students to Inuit peoples and cultures.

Students will be invited to:

  1. interrogate how Inuit lives and cultures are represented in classic and contemporary films
  2. consider what the filmmakers—some of whom are Inuit—choose to present about Inuit culture and social conditions
  3. identify persistent filmic images or tropes about Inuit life and contrast these to more complete and complex ethnographic representations; and finally
  4. consider the responses of Inuit and non-Inuit audiences to the Inuk (singular of Inuit) of film

Food U.

FASS 101W D004 
Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30 - 4:20 pm 

Dr. Sarah Walshaw (History)

You are in a relationship with food. Status: it’s complicated.

Eating is a personal and political act and this course will provide students with the inter-disciplinary tools to build self-knowledge through journaling, investigating family/community history and mapping local and global food source/distribution networks (foodwebs).

Together we will engage with the complex economic, political, and moral terrain of foodways in the contested past, the rapidly changing present, and the uncertain future. Whether motivated by personal goals, community identity, or social justice, students can pursue individual interests while learning from (and sharing food!) with their peers.

Disneyfication: Disney Adaptations and Cultural Ideology

FASS 101W D005 
Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30 - 4:20 pm 

Dr. Nicky Didicher (English)

Did you grow up seeing Disney films? How did that affect the ways you see the world? Did you grow up never or rarely watching Disney films? Does that make you different form people who did?

The Walt Disney Company is in the business of making money by remaking cultural materials such as fairy tales and historical narratives (among other activities), but it also promotes particular worldviews and social values, e.g., gender roles, capitalism. This course explores five Disney “Princess” films from 1950 to 2009: Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and The Princess and the Frog.

We will compare them to their source texts and discuss them in relation to their cultural contexts, looking at what they tell us about Western culture and how it has changed (or not). Students will develop skills in using research databases, collecting evidence from film and print sources, and creating academic essays that take a stand. There will be built-in peer review processes and opportunities to revise work both before and after it is marked the first time.