Fall 2022 - HUM 101W D100

Introduction to the Humanities (3)

Class Number: 6204

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    WMC 3260, Burnaby



An introduction to issues and concepts central to the study of the Humanities. Through exposure to primary materials drawn from different periods and disciplines, students will become acquainted with a range of topics and ideas relating to the study of human values and human experience. Students with credit for HUM 101 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Jacob Lawrence painting
Jacob Lawrence,  "for freedom we want and will have, for we have served this cruel land long enuff... -a Georgia slave, 1810" (1956)

Who am I? Where do I come from? What happens when I die? Can I truly know myself? Am I a free agent or is my life determined in advance by God, nature, or dharma? Vastly different from the questions guiding most of the natural and social sciences, these are some of the fundamental questions that we as human beings––across wide historical, social, and cultural divides––are compelled to pose. These sorts of questions stand, therefore, at the very heart of the humanities.

This course provides a broad introduction to the humanities by examining what has recently become a rather controversial idea, namely: the idea of freedom. It traces differing accounts of freedom from Sophocles’ tragedy of Oedipus, J.S. Mill’s influential defence of individual liberty, Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, and the post-war French existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre, to the debate between Indian intellectuals and leaders of the Independence struggle, B. R. Ambedkar and M. K. Gandhi, over the nature of caste or the idea that the mere fact of birth determines one’s place in the social order. We also examine African-American philosopher and prison abolitionist, Angela Y. Davis’s lectures on the meaning of freedom, as well as Leanne Simpson’s Indigenous notion of freedom as the on-going practice of radical resistance to settler colonialism.

Insofar as this course is designated as writing-intensive, it pays particular attention to crafting polished, well-structured essays.


  • Essay 1 (750 words) 15%
  • Essay 2 (1250 words) 20%
  • Essay 3 (1750 words) 25%
  • Class participation 20%
  • Final Exam (90 min) 20%


This course counts towards the lower division requirements for students in a Humanities major or minor program as well as the concentration in Public Engagement and Intellectual Culture.



B. R. Ambedkar, The Annihilation of Caste (9781784783525)

Angela Y. Davis, The Meaning of Freedom (9780872865808)

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance (9781517903879)

Other shorter readings are either available online or will be provided.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html