FASS in the Class: The off-campus visit

Bring FASS to your classroom

Bring SFU and FASS to your classroom with our guest speaker opportunities! We have a roster of highly successful FASS graduate students who are keen to share their research and career journeys with your students. Each speaker will bring a unique perspective to their presentation and will add value to the learning experience by sharing their knowledge and expertise in a humanities and social sciences subject. 

Presentations are subject to change and limited to availability.

Presentations list

All lined up: How and why humans and nonhumans wait - Ideal for: Human Geography, Social Justice, and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

This presentation examines a social phenomenon we participate in multiple times a day: waiting in line. Sometimes these line-ups are visible, but increasingly they are not. Why do we follow systems of queueing, and when is it important that humans (and nonhumans) are seen to be waiting? Is lining-up a sign of order or disorder? Through examples of real-life queues, students will learn basics of queueing theory, and be introduced to people who study what it is to wait in line.

Brushing Up on Fingerprints - DNA Fingerprinting and Crime Scene Investigation - Ideal for: Law Studies, Explorations in Social Studies, and Science 

Presented by Payten Smith

Forming in the womb, each person holds an identifying marker - their fingerprint! Unique to the individual, no two persons to date have been found to hold identical fingerprints. Due to this, crime scene investigation typically involves the examination and comparison of fingerprints to identify who may have been involved in a crime. Topics in this discussion will include tentative and positive forms of identification, Ident officer roles, fingerprints and how they form, biometrics, and fingerprint alteration. A hands on activity will also be included to allow participants to get the chance to identify, dust, and lift their own prints!

Content Warning - this presentation will touch on some sensitive content including: crime scene investigation, case examples, and fingerprint alteration. Although some content may be challenging for some viewers, information is only shown for the sake of learning and will be relayed in a respectful and lighthearted manner.

Cemeteries: Life in the City - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

Can anybody visit a cemetery? Are you allowed to play sports in a cemetery? Do people live in cemeteries? -- Your presenter (who was once invited to live in a cemetery) will answer these questions, and will ask students to consider cemeteries as more than mere places of death. Students will be invited to consider the multiple roles cemeteries could play as community green space.

Citizen Participation in City-Making - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

This presentation explores the ways in which ordinary citizens can help make practical improvements to spaces in our city. Students will explore interventions of various "artist-actionists" who help raise awareness about traffic flows, promote greater use of public spaces, raise awareness of the need for public amenities (drinkable water, washrooms) and increase food security. Students will be introduced to concepts such as guerrilla gardening, ephemeral art, and tactical urbanism, and will be invited to imagine interventions they could make in spaces they use.

Cognitive Science in the Classroom: How to Actually Study Smarter - Ideal for: Psychology

Presented by Robin Barrett

More than 50 years of educational and cognitive psychological research has been done to better understand human learning and memory, but how can the average student make sense of all that data to actually use this information in their own study habits? By introducing some of the key research findings in this field, Robin will introduce your class to what they call “The RISES Principles”, a set of evidence-based study methods that have been shown to reliably improve learning outcomes in learners across all areas of study. Students will get a chance to practice some of these techniques and see for themselves just how easy they are to learn, how much more they can learn with them, as well as some common difficulties in implementing them that learners should be aware of and how to navigate those difficulties effectively.

Perfect for Psychology, but suitable for all classrooms interested in improving study habits of students.

Conspiracy Theories: A Philosophy Approach - Ideal for: Philosophy and Political Studies

Presented by Sherif Salem

Conspiracy theories have been increasingly popular over the past years. Why this is the case? What are conspiracy theories to begin with? Why are they appealing to many people? Can they be defended? What are their social and political implications? This talk aims to contemplate these questions from a philosophical perspective. Yet, I do not claim that we will reach any final answers!

Dumped! An exploration of landfills and dump sites - Ideal for: Human Geography, Social Justice, and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

This presentation explores dumps and landfills as sites of hidden value. While often transported to the outskirts of cities or to neighbouring towns, the trash we dump becomes an archive and a place of life and livelihood. Garbologists examine our former lives at dump sites; biologists track their micro-ecologies; and informal recyclers clean the waste stream by picking out materials that will have a second life.

Environmental Stewardship, Urban Infrastructure, and Magical Thinking - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

This presentation explores what happens when the goals of multiple stakeholders (local, provincial, federal, transnational) conflict. Using the case study of the contested sewage treatment plant in Greater Victoria, students will examine why it took so long for the province's capital city to start treating its sewage. Looking at the political, environmental, and scientific messaging that contributed to confusion over the need for a treatment plant, students will be invited to offer examples of current issues clouded by mixed-messages.

Follow-the-thing: Learn about humans - Ideal for: English, Human Geography, and Social Justice

Presented by Kate Elliott

This presentation explores how human lives are inextricably entangled in the lives of the objects we make and use in everyday life. Students will be introduced to scholars who track the journeys of "things" to learn about how humans live and work. Although thing-following stories were first popularized through children's literature, they play an important role in the marketing of more things, and in raising awareness about issues of sustainability and justice embedded in labour practices and resource extraction.

Forensic Entomology - Insects, Time of Death and Body Movement in Crime Scene Investigation - Ideal for: Law Studies, Exploration in Social Studies, and Science

Presented by Payten Smith

BUGS?! Insects are used in investigations?! Often being the first at a scene, insects can assist in many facets including time of death estimates, body movement or transportation, and histories of trauma. This presentation will explore forensic entomology, or the application of insects to criminal legal matters. Through discussing both blowfly lifecycles and insect succession, participants will get the chance to learn how science can be used in investigations to piece together what may have occurred. Participants may also get the chance to handle insects dependent on season and availability.

Content Warning - this presentation will touch on some sensitive content including: crime scene investigation, death, decomposition, and myiasis. Although some content may be challenging for some viewers, information is only shown for the sake of learning and will be relayed in a respectful and lighthearted manner.

Gentrification in Global Cities - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

This presentation explains what we mean when we talk about gentrification, and offers chronologies of how this happens in cities that compete in a global context. Some case studies will demonstrate how this process affects urban environments and people. Students will be invited to examine gentrifying forces in places familiar to them.

It’s a fact! Or is it? The turbulence of gender. - Ideal for: 20th Century World History, English, and Social Justice

Presented by Reema Faris

Societies and cultures tend to think about gender as a system of binaries. That is, as two distinct and opposing categories of sex, gender, and gender presentation: male/female, man/woman, masculine/feminine. In this traditional approach, people can be certain about the identity of individuals and where they fit in the general scheme of life. But is gender really all that certain? What about those who do not fit in to either of the two boxes? And how do different theories about gender help to shed light on these questions? It is an important topic to explore because the concept of a gender binary has meant that many people, especially women and minorities, have been unable to claim agency (the ability to act on their own), economic independence, social freedom, reproductive choice, safety, and security. In this way, the gender binary helps to create and sustain social hierarchies. It is a key factor in perpetuating power, privilege, and status. However, there are always those who speak up and speak out to challenge the gender binary system in the struggle for equality, social justice, and fairness.

Life on the Front Lawn - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

As we examine the evolution and role of lawns in urban and suburban communities, students will be introduced to questions about ideas of "home" and social control through neighbourhood regulation of residential green space. Following an analysis of the ways lawns can affect human behaviour, students will explore the ways in which the choice of a lawn impacts other species. Students will be introduced to the Rights of Nature and to movements that promote this ecological philosophy

Linguistics: Approaching Human Language as a Puzzle! - Ideal for: English, English First Peoples, BC First Peoples, and Contemporary Indigenous Studies

Presented by Lauren Schneider

This talk provides an overview of the field of linguistics. It answers questions about what linguistics is, what linguists do, and the types of jobs students can pursue in the field. To do this, I present language puzzles and demonstrate some methods of problem solving. The scientific study of language is made up a number of subfields, including but not limited to phonetics/phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and discourse/pragmatics. I provide an example of the type of work that I do as a linguist working with an indigenous language of B.C., and present alternative careers in the field to give students an idea of the various avenues that linguistics can lead to.

Palaces of the Mind: Ancient Techniques to Study Smarter in the Modern World - Ideal for: Psychology, Art, and History

Presented by Robin Barrett

The Method of Loci, first described by ancient Greek scholars and made popular today by Sherlock Holmes, is one of several Mind Palace techniques used for memorizing and organizing information. For oral cultures around the world, Mind Palace techniques have been instrumental in preserving cultural knowledge, history, and laws. This workshop is designed to give students a comprehensive introduction to the technique, its history, and some of the scientific research that’s been done to better understand it’s usefulness in the modern era. Mind Palaces are surprisingly easy to build, and the majority of time spent in the workshop will be used to help students build their very own mind palace in the classroom using the Method of Loci that they can use to study smarter for school and their personal hobbies.

Put that Book Down! The Trope and the Truth About Women and Reading - Ideal for: English and Social Justice

Presented by Reema Faris

The new Netflix series Bridgerton often show friends Eloise Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington reading or being told to put their books down. It is a new cultural representation of a historical trope. Societies view women readers with fear, anxiety, and suspicion because women who read are different. They are dangerous because they will learn, they will know too much, they will want more from life. Women have always challenged attempts to control or stop their reading, with different degrees of success around the world or based on different identities. Today, it is more important than ever to examine the relationship between women, reading, and power because the appearance of literacy being available to all women, especially in so-called equal-access digital environments, may be more of an illusion than real. Reading is still a key factor in women’s ability to understand life, wonder at the world’s beauty, build solidarity, make meaning, and fight for change to conditions that continue to limit their participation as citizens.

Serious Games – Serious Science: How Video Games are Changing the Way we do Research - Ideal for: Psychology

Presented by Robin Barrett

In this talk, Robin will talk about their experience navigating an interest in psychology as a high school student, and how this interest helped them find a pathway into the world of eSports data science. After discussing some tips for the class on how to think about their dream job, Robin will give a brief tour of some of the latest findings from cognitive science which have used replay files from esports games to study human learning and sportsmanship. Following this, Robin will showcase how studying esports in university has helped several of their friends get jobs in other industries ranging from the tech field to marketing research. Students will leave this workshop with a better understanding of the types of careers that exist in cognitive psychology and will also engage in discussions as to how they can apply the findings from eSports research to better understand their own fields of interest.

The Social Echoes - "Learning to Unlearn" – Ideal for: B.C. First Peoples, Contemporary Indigenous Studies, Law Studies, and Social Justice

Presented by: Soraya Janus

Through exploring the symbolism of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ The Flight of the Hummingbird, we hope to find ways to invite relations with people in our own communities by assuming a position of curiosity, respect, and humility. We must first delve into our own ontological securities, and begin to unravel who we are as individuals. Through the use of relational learning we will supply our audiences with the opportunity to learn and unlearn, to be guided and not to impose. Our goal is to unpack and reiterate the importance of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action by listening to Indigenous voices, experiences, and histories. Together, we can build a framework for justice, where stories are heard and amplified, and where the truth is acknowledged. We encourage a circle that nurtures a diverse, inclusive, and safe space which enables everyone to have part in the conversation. As the hummingbird parable reminds us, no effort is too little or too small. With that, let's learn how to be a better ally.

Tales of Rubbish Thinkers - Ideal for: Human Geography, Social Justice, and Urban Studies

Presented by: Kate Elliott

This presentation offers an introduction to the ways we think and write about waste and value, beginnings and endings. Participants will engage with the ideas of philosophers and artists who invite us to take a second look at what we cast aside as worthless. Their stories question ideas of waste as an end-point, suggesting that "waste" is not so much what we do but rather how we think.

Urban Dirt  - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

Where do cities hide their dirt? Who performs urban "dirty" work? Why do we cover so much of the soil in our cities with pavement and asphalt, and how does this affect the quality of the dirt in our cities? This presentation will  look at why the idea of "dirt" carries stigma when, as a finite resource, it is so valuable. After a quick look at organizations like the Depave movement that uncovers and cares for dirt in urban spaces, students will be invited to think about how they might care for the soil in their own communities.

Urban Space, Surveillance Regimes, and Social Control  - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

This presentation explores how spaces in cities are designed in ways that tell us who is allowed to be there and what activities are (or are not) permitted. What does this tell us about humans and the spaces we use? Students will be invited to examine public spaces in their own lives where there might be examples of hostile or defensive architecture, to discuss reasons why those spaces need "defending," and to collaborate in an imagined re-design to make a space welcoming and accessible.

Virtual Reality Research: An Intro to the Digital Frontier - Ideal for: Psychology

Presented by Robin Barrett

As virtual reality headsets become increasingly affordable, more and more people and businesses are seeing the potential for virtual reality to make an impact in their lives. Already, VR has been used to create digital training platforms, virtual communities, research environments for studying human psychology, and of course, games. In this workshop, students will be introduced to the world of virtual reality, with a special emphasis on research being done by labs at SFU. Following a discussion of what uses they think virtual reality might have in helping society, students will be introduced to the various roles involved in bringing an idea to reality and be encouraged to begin work on their own projects in virtual reality, whether it be making games, products, or building their own experiments into psychology. Resources for getting started are free and available to any student with a computer, whether or not they have a headset of their own.

What do We Mean When We Talk about Street Trees?  - Ideal for: Human Geography and Urban Studies

Presented by Kate Elliott

Are street trees part of the urban forest? What valuable services do the trees on our streets offer the city and the humans within it? As we look at street trees in the Lower Mainland, students will explore the many roles these trees play, the benefits they offer if appropriately selected, and the damage that can result if they are not.

What's Involved in Death Investigation? Forensic Taphonomy and Crime Scene Investigation - Ideal for: Law Studies, Explorations in Social Studies, and Science

Presented by Payten Smith

Is everything we see on TV true? What happens to the body after we die, and how can this assist in crime scene investigations? This presentation will discuss crime scene investigation techniques and decompositional processes. In other words, it will examine what happens to the body after death and touch upon the patterns that coroners and medical examiners look for when working to determine what occurred at a scene. Topics will include investigative techniques, who is involved in an investigation, and decompositional changes.

Content Warning - this presentation will touch on some sensitive content including: crime scene investigation, death and homicide, early and long postmortem changes and case examples. Although some content may be challenging for some viewers, information is only shown for the sake of learning and will be relayed in a respectful and lighthearted manner.

Book Your FASS Guest Speaker!

To book FASS in the Class, fill out the request form. You can request multiple presentations with one submission.

Book Now

Contact us

For further information, please contact Kaitlan Davis, Coordinator, Recruitment, Community Outreach and Engagement.

Looking for department-specific presentations?

We also offer program-specific presentations with departmental advisors!

Learn more about departmental presentations