Zafar Adeel, executive director of SFU's Pacific Water Research Centre, is teaching the special topics course in advanced water security this fall semester.


Water security, hands-on big data and “living” literature highlight new courses

September 06, 2016

By Marianne Meadahl

SFU students will benefit from myriad new courses and programs this semester, from zeroing in on solutions for water security and community health, to honing skills in unraveling big data and broadening their writing reach through the new World Literature Lab.

Water as a human right and the urgent need to protect our water resources are among topics being explored in a new course offered in SFU’s Faculty of Environment. Zafar Adeel, executive director of SFU's new Pacific Water Research Centre, is teaching the special topics course in advanced water security.

Students will investigate water security from myriad global perspectives, including human rights, political science and development economics, and cover policy dimensions such as public health, sustainable agriculture and energy generation. Students will develop practical solutions to key international water challenges and better understand how water intersects with societal development.

“Our goal is to offer insights into how achieving water security constitutes the keystone for eradicating poverty, achieving human well being, and assuring sustainable economic growth,” says Adeel, who suggests that water “is and will continue to be among the most important global issues in the years to come.”

Meanwhile, 30 students are participating in the Health Change Lab at SFU’s Surrey campus this fall, developed by SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and the Beedie School of Business RADIUS social innovation lab. They’ll work with community stakeholders to create projects that will impact health and wellbeing in the community (see separate story).

Also in Surrey is a new Introduction to Punjabi language course, being offered this fall through SFU’s Language Training Institute. Students will learn to read and write Punjabi at a basic level and will also gain an understanding of Punjabi culture.

Learning from Big Data (STAT 440) is a course being taught by Luke Bornn, an assistant professor of statistics at SFU. Bornn first taught the course at Harvard University, where he is now a visiting scholar. Students tackle challenges using enormous data sets in a project-based setting, learning to work with peers while learning from each other. The new course, along with Introduction to Data Science (STAT 240) are designed to meet the growing need to figure out what we can learn from data and how to turn it into knowledge.

For writing enthusiasts, the first-year World Literature Lab is designed to immerse students in “the powerful ways” in which language and literature shape the world. The course offers an exploratory approach to writing through the lens of world literature, including academic, creative, personal and trans-lingual writing.

Among other courses, a new breadth course on science policy and innovation, taught by political science professor Andy Hira is designed to teach science majors about policy concerns, spanning across disciplines.

Also new this semester, the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) and the Beedie School of Business have launched their joint Business of Design (BoD) program, combining business and design and guiding students in creating, producing and launching real, sustainable produces and businesses.

A new major and minor program in law and philosophy, designed for students intending on pursing a law degree, is also now available. Meanwhile a new minor in Labour Studies expands that field while a revamped Urban Studies certificate deals with crucial issues of urbanization and urban policy.