Getting “ENGAGED” With Your Breadth Courses

Getting “ENGAGED” With Your Breadth Courses

By: Lauren Kresowaty
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With summer course registration in full swing, many of you are probably pulling out your hair trying to fulfill your annoying “breadth requirements!” I know that sweating it out in front of your computer combing through the Student Information System for appropriate courses that fulfill breadth requirements AND fit with your schedule can be pretty annoying. But actually taking the courses doesn’t need to be annoying at all.

The perils of registration period aside, it may help you to think of your breadth requirements not as boxes to be ticked, hoops to jump through, or obstacles deliberately put in place by a cruel bureaucracy hell-bent on tripping you up, but as opportunities. “Yeah yeah,” you say, “the university wants its graduates to be well-rounded critical thinkers. I KNOW. But what does completing my breadth requirements have to do with engagement?”

Well, that depends on your attitude. If you resent taking courses outside of your major/minor and see them only as a means to an end (i.e. another ticked box on your degree status report), you probably won’t enjoy yourself much, and your feelings about your world when you leave the class will probably be the same as the feelings you had going in. But if you allow yourself to be affected by the breadth courses you take, they can provide useful tools for helping you tackle issues you care about. If you’re able to see more sides of a problem, you’ll be better able to solve it. It might be helpful to think of your breadth courses as hitherto undiscovered sides of the same thing: the world and its problems. If you pay attention and try to stay open to what your breadth courses have to teach you, you may find this knowledge coming in handy down the line.

The breadth course that opened my eyes and helped shape my beliefs about the world was Introduction to Sociology (SA 150) offered by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Looking at the society I lived in through a new lens helped me figure out how I wanted to participate in my world, and what kind of Canadian/global citizen I wanted to be. Though I never took another Sociology course, I know I was positively shaped by my experience. But you don’t need to take Sociology in particular. There are a lot of courses offered by the university that deal with subjects that are vitally important to our communities. For example, did you know that SFU has a Department of Gerontology? With an aging population, it’s going to be important that we understand aging and its effects on an individual or society. Or what about Health Sciences? Or First Nations Studies? Your breadth may not necessarily be relevant to your major or minor, but it could definitely be relevant to your community and your place within it.

When you actually go to take your dreaded breadth coursework, it’s important to remember that the courses can’t do all the work for you. They provide information, insight, and tools. It might be up to YOU to make the connections to the causes and issues you’re interested in. But you’re a smart cookie, and you care, so I know you’ll make the links just fine.

Happy enrollment!

Posted on March 25, 2013