It’s Here! It’s Here! ASIC 200 is Here!

Well, we are finally pleased to announce what was really the true catalyst for this entire “Terry” project. That is, the creation of an undergraduate course, focused on a myriad of global issues, that would rely on the perspectives of both the humanist and the scientist.

In course lingo, this means a kick ass syllabus, where the science student can get his/her arts credit, and the arts student can get his/her science credit. Seriously people, it can’t get any better.

In any event, details are presented below:

– – –

(link to course registration)

NOTE: Right now, the ASIC course is restricted to 2nd year students from the Faculty of Arts or the Faculty of Science (as requested by the host Faculties). However, an undetermined mechanism, for students outside these parameters, to register is currently being discussed, and will hopefully be resolved by mid August. If you’re still interested in the course, we can take your name down on a tentative “waitlist” and will endeavour to contact you as soon as details have been resolved. For now, if you can send that request (with this message copied pasted to, then that would be great.

Calendar Description:
ASIC 200 (3) Global Issues in the Arts and Sciences: Selected global issues explored through the methodologies and perspectives of both the physical and life sciences and the humanities and social sciences. [3-0-0]

2nd Semester, Thursday evenings, 6pm to 9pm.
Note: Evening was chosen due to the difficulty of finding a common free time for both Faculty of Science and Faculty of Arts undergraduate students. As well, due to the slower process for Curriculum approval (having to go through two Faculties, individually and then in agreement with each other), the course is not listed in the initial registration cycle or publications. Evening slot was determined the easiest choice for students, would wished to enroll even after previous determination of their class schedule (besides, it’s not like thursday is “must see TV” anymore).

The rationale for this course is based on the growing salience of the global issues facing human society and the educational challenge these issues represent. Global issues (such as climate change, the spread of infectious disease, the use of genetically modified organisms, and water and food security, among many others) cannot be understood without literacy in both the arts and the sciences. And yet, a student’s education at academic institutions such as UBC is generally centered on one or two disciplines. In effect, our students become highly accomplished in a relatively small number of disciplinary or skill centered approaches. Students are given few opportunities early in their undergraduate experience to develop their understanding of global issues in a way that promotes the necessary literacy in the physical and life sciences and the humanities and social sciences. Therefore, this course will encourage an audience of students drawn from both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Arts, to think about global issues and the responsibilities and obligations of global citizenship in a critical manner. It will encourage them to appreciate the need for new and innovative interdisciplinary approaches (bridging the Arts and Sciences) to solve the complex problems of the 21st century.

In this course, science and arts students will explore selected global issues from the perspective of both the physical and life sciences and the humanities and social sciences. The fundamental philosophy of the course is that global issues cannot be fully understood or addressed without a foundation of scientific or humanistic literacy. In turn, this literacy will provide the background knowledge and understanding required for a productive interdisciplinary examination of global issues. This philosophy will provide the basis for the active participation of students in class lectures, lab experiences, student group discussion exercises, and a major research project with a community engagement component.

Learning Objectives
In this course, students will:

• Acquire a range of analytical perspectives used in the physical and life sciences and the social sciences and humanities to investigate global issues;

• Build an appreciation for the importance of interdisciplinary dialogue in meeting global challenges;

• Actively participate in group exercises to develop team work and leadership ability;

• Develop the skills necessary for active engagement in global issues in local, national, and international civil society which may include proposal writing, fundraising, event planning, and final report writing.

Course Structure
The course material will be presented in lectures, reading material, student group exercises, two lab experiments, and a major research project. Lectures will be delivered to all students in plenary, and will constitute half of the class time. Students will be divided into smaller teams for the discussion exercises (including lab experiences) for the remainder of class time. More specifically:

• the lectures will introduce students to background context, scientific and theoretical principles, and analytical perspectives;

• the student group exercises will encourage students to examine more specific aspects of the course content through inquiry based and/or problem based techniques;

• the two 80 minute laboratory experiences will provide students with an appreciation of the context in which scientific research is conducted and debated;

• the major research project will provide students with practical project design, development, and proposal writing skills and connect them with local community organizations and actors. Students will have the option to pursue this assignment working as individuals or in teams. Student working in teams can choose the option to pursue a community service learning experience through the UBC Community Service Learning Initiative.

Course Context
This course is a joint initiative of the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science. This course will have an enrolment of 90 undergraduate students, with approximately half drawn from the Faculty of Arts and half drawn from the Faculty of Science. Enrollment in the course will be restricted to students with second-year standing. This course will count towards a Arts requirement for Science students, and the lower level Science requirement for Arts students.

Instructors and Operation of the Course
The course will be team-taught by Dr. Dave Ng (Director, Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory, Michael Smith Labs) and Dr. Allen Sens (Department of Political Science, Chair, International Relations Program, Faculty of Arts).

The learning objectives, design, and structure of this course will be guided by Dr. Sens and Dr. Ng. Both have broad experience conducting interdisciplinary teaching programs, through the International Relations Program and the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory, respectively. Dr. Sens will also bring his experience and training in curriculum and course design to the project.

The course will also include one full TAship for one semester for instructional support.

Chad Hyson, the Student Development Officer responsible for the UBC Leadership and Involvement Program, will assist in the development of leadership skill components. He brings extensive knowledge in leadership studies and preparing students to take on leadership roles both on campus and in the greater community.

– – –

Abbreviated Course Outline
(Note two lectures per 3 hour evening block with 15/20 minute break in between)

lectures 1 – 3: Administration. Overview of Global Issues

Unit One – Climate Change
Lecture 4: An introduction to climate change
Lectures 5 – 7: Selected Physical and Life Sciences concepts necessary for literacy in climate science.
Lectures 8 – 10: Climate change: global responses and mitigation.
Lectures 11 – 14: Lab/Group Discussion rotating block. For 4 lectures, the class will be split up into three smaller groups, whereby each subgroup of 30 students will have the opportunity to experience one laboratory exercise and three sessions devoted to their discussion group project. The Lab component for this unit will involve the exploration of urban planning computer modeling, using software developed in Vancouver and used by a variety of municipalities across Canada (

Unit Two – Genetically Modified Organisms
Lecture 15: An introduction to GMOs
Lectures 16 – 18: Selected life science concepts necessary for literacy
regarding technical elements of genetic modification.
Lectures 19 – 21: The GMO: Society and Global Politics
Lectures 22 – 25: Lab/Group Discussion rotating block. For 4 lectures, the
class will be split up into three smaller groups, whereby each subgroup of 30 students will have the opportunity to experience one laboratory exercise and three sessions devoted to their discussion group project. The Lab component for this unit will involve performing DNA fingerprinting/polymerase chain reaction of the students’ personal genome.

Lecture 26: Wrap up/Closing Thoughts

– – –

Grading System
Students will be evaluated on a final exam (30%), student group discussion reports (2 x 15%), discussion assignment on laboratory experience (10%), and a major research project (30%).

Assessment Strategies
• Examinations will focus on the application of analytical perspectives to the global challenges addressed in lectures, lab experience, discussion groups and in course reading material. Students will be required to demonstrate their knowledge of both the physical and life sciences and social sciences and humanities dimensions of global issues.

• Student group discussion reports will be evaluated on the basis of their analysis of the issue under investigation, their analysis as view from multiple perspectives, and the quality of their possible solutions or policy recommendations.

• The lab commentaries will evaluate the student’s understanding of the relationship between data generation and social debate on scientific issues.

• The major research project will be evaluated on the basis of its community engagement content which may include attributes such as project design, quality of writing, community research, policy recommendations, fund raising, event planning, and/or outreach potential.

Related Topics


3 Responses to “It’s Here! It’s Here! ASIC 200 is Here!”

  1. yeshey

    its a rly neat course, its something mnay people have always been interested in but somehow was not able to combine the diversity and depth the course offers. I am looking forward to taking it in my second year.

  2. Stephanie

    “student with second-year standing” – does this mean that students in upper years cannot enroll in this course?

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.