IGS Course Descriptions

Below are the descriptions of current IGS courses. For more details about IGS course offerings view the IGS Course CataloguePlease note that the course descriptions below are based on previous versions and are subject to changes.

The overall aim of this course is to help you develop the knowledge & skills essential for conducting proper quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research designs, as well as critically analyzing, discussing, and communicating it. This course is an introduction to experimental design and research methodologies where quantitative approaches are appropriate.

There will be particular focus on research design for Digital Arts and Humanities.

As the digital humanities (DH) are a relatively new discipline, research methods are diverse. They include: general research management; humanities research questions; implementation through a wide array of technologies, collections techniques, programming and analysis techniques; and research outputs in textual, visual, and multimedia formats.

This seminar explores the structures, relationships and institutions through which digital data and technologies are produced and employed. We critically examine who is included, what is excluded in the digital means of production and what this situation means for our understanding of society. Drawing upon postcolonial, Black feminist and Indigenous thinking, we will consider who makes and maintains digital ‘things’, who has access to the digital means of production, whose voices are left out of the digital cultural record, and how we can begin to address this situation through a digital project. We will position the rapid collection of vast amounts of digital data, ‘Big Data’, and the ethics of data-centric approaches, in terms of social groups, perspectives, and narratives that are silenced in the digital cultural record.

Indigenous Research Methods (IRM) is a core seminar for graduate students pursuing studies in relationship with, by, for, and alongside Indigenous Peoples today. It prepares students for exploring, engaging and relating major ideas (philosophies, concepts) and methods (approaches, practices, bodies of knowledge) deemed central to the physical, social, spiritual, material and intellectual project of Indigenous well-being, health, empowerment, strength, protection, and self-determination.

This course engages IGS students in the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural investigation of key epistemological and methodological questions articulated by leading international qualitative researchers. Topics include feminist, anti-oppressive, Indigenous, decolonizing, arts-based and community-based approaches to qualitative research, and students will explore notions of positionality, reflexivity, intersubjectivity, accountability, relevance, and reciprocity.

This seminar course is designed to familiarize students with a broad range of research methods and methodologies, including some of the practical, ethical and philosophical issues associated with academic research in the social sciences. The emphasis will be on advanced qualitative methods with a strong emphasis on ethnographic research as a politically engaged form of social inquiry and the part it plays in understanding our world. This seminar will have both practical and conceptual goals.  Methods and techniques will include participant observation, recording field notes, interviewing, visual and sensory data collection, archival research and experimentation with different writing styles. From methodology to analysis, graduate students will learn to design their own research proposal, evaluate qualitative data and develop their research presentation skills. Students will also read and discuss a core set of required readings and develop practical research skills through a series of in-class workshops and research assignments.

This seminar-based course prepares graduate students to excel in their academic, professional and scholarly pursuits by engaging topics related to professionalism and scholarly communication. It is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

The objective of this course is to build among students an understanding of how they are positioned in relation to research in Urban and Regional Studies.  The course reach, however, is both broader and more interdisciplinary than simply being a course in Urban and Regional Studies.  Instead, students from a wide range of social science and arts backgrounds can profit from the course.  Subjects canvassed in the course are tailored to the students in the course.  Accordingly, the course has had a different set of readings each time it has been offered over the past three years.  The course starts from the interests of students attending each year and builds off that base.  At the same time, there are important concepts that get dealt with regarding student interests and expertise.  Issues and subjects canvassed in the past years include situated knowledges for social scientists, rent-gap theory (which is now being applied across a wide range of disciplines beyond urban studies), Southern Theory, Feminisms and Urban Studies, Black Geographies, Queer Theory, Poststructuralist Political Economies, Neoliberalism and Neoliberalisation.

Sustainability research happens in every faculty at UBC Okanagan, and it is desirable, when tackling complex environmental challenges, to draw on as much of it as possible. Each discipline, though, brings to the table its own conception of what counts as knowledge and how it is attained and validated. This course teaches you to recognise and respect disciplinary differences and commonalities, and then to communicate and collaborate across disciplines, as necessary preconditions for undertaking successful interdisciplinary research.

The overall objective of this course is to expose students to the challenges and opportunities for moving society towards sustainability. That we, collectively, need to move our global society onto a sustainable path is broadly agreed. What that path is, and how to move from the current path to a sustainable path is not agreed. The overall purpose of this course is to engage the participants with the process of change, emphasizing the roles of knowledge and institutions.

The class will be built around a unifying theme that is currently important in the area of sustainability and resilience. You will be informed about the theme on or before the first day of classes. Your instructors will organize guest speakers and seminar topics that explore various issues related to the term theme. Central to these explorations will be the role of knowledge mobilization and policy.

Community-based research (CBR) and closely-related approaches, such as community-based participatory research (CBPR) and participatory action research (PAR), have received growing attention in anthropology, sociology, human geography, development studies, public health, social work, nursing, education, urban planning, and other disciplines over the past several decades. Historically, these approaches owe a great deal to the transformational pedagogy of Paolo Freire and the action research approach of Kurt Lewin, approaches that are both directed towards overcoming social inequalities. CBR is not a set of methods, but an overall orientation to research that fundamentally changes the relationship between researchers and researched. It is distinct from standard research approaches in epistemological and ethical terms because of the high value it places on the knowledge generated through community relations, collaboration, and public engagement.

In this course students will become familiar with the broad range of theories and principles that inform community-based research, will develop knowledge of, and appreciation for, the broad range of situations in which it is applied, its advantages and limitations, and will develop the core skills essential to the effective design of their own CBR project.

This seminar course explores the intersection between power, culture and theory as it relates to global studies.  It considers seminal texts from the humanities and social sciences. These are rooted in various conceptual perspectives, including variations of classical realism, post-modernism and post-Marxism.   We explore the relation of global studies to various disciplines, including politics, economics, anthropology, health sciences, philosophy, literature and fine arts, sociology and history.

This course offers a graduate-level introduction to the interdisciplinary field of global studies. It is a team-taught seminar: faculty from different departments on campus will give presentations on topics in their research areas, ranging from transnational migration and digital media to theorizing feminist solidarity across borders, to global religion, to genocide and crimes against humanity. Additionally, the course is aimed at helping students strengthen their academic research and writing skills through composition exercises and methodological discussions.

Governance refers to the manner in which authority to make policy decisions is distributed and stakeholder consent is obtained. Governance can refer to an entire political system, a sector of the economy, a technology or an organization, and thus is a concept and literature of relevance to students in a variety of social science disciplines. The concept of governance has developed in response to the growing realization that the exercise of authority is no longer confined entirely to the institutions of government. Stakeholders, experts, organized advocates, public servants, their clients, politicians and citizens all possess knowledge that is vital to the governing process. The objectives of this course include providing interdisciplinary students with a framework through which to understand governance systems and arrangements, and to evaluate the effectiveness of these arrangements with attention paid to how they may help or hinder the achievement of desirable public policy outcomes. This course surveys a variety of governance arrangements with attention to applying conceptual frameworks to real‐life cases of governance and public policy successes and failures.

This section of IGS 590 focuses on the theorization of life and death in relation to power, as proposed by 20th-century thinkers following Michel Foucault. The class investigates how and why the “biopolitical paradigm” has emerged, and studies its insights into politics, by tracing the different ways in which thinkers have conceptualized biopolitics and its broader implications.

First theorized by Foucault during the 1970s, biopower is the power over “life itself,” or the sovereign and state power to make live and let die. In this course we will spend the first six weeks examining Foucault’s writings and lectures on this concept, which operates through both the biopolitical regulation of populations and the disciplinary institutions and discourses brought to bear on individuals. After becoming familiar with the historical and theoretical framework Foucault provides, we will consider recent reappraisals of biopower, centering feminist, antiracist, postcolonial, and queer perspectives. Readings in the second half of the course will cover topics such as: racialization; reproduction; neoliberalism; biomedicalization; gender; nationalism; the policing of bodies and borders; the carceral state; and necropolitics. Students will be encouraged to apply theoretical and empirical work on biopower to their own research interests.

This seminar engages with social theory to understand how conflict and social inequalities are produced, maintained and resisted in society with a focus on violence in everyday life. Theory is a means of understanding and explaining the social world around us. Social theory allows for seeing patterns, forces, and power relations, encouraging us to make sense of all kinds of social phenomena – ranging from everyday interactions between friends to decades of violent colonization.

In this course, student will be exposed to a selection of different approaches to understanding violence (both explaining violence and violent acts and those who experience violence). We will focus on many forms of violence from interpersonal violence to structural forms of violence. In doing so, we will explain the relationship between violence and social inequalities (with a focus on the intersections of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and the division imposed through colonialism). Students will read a broad range of primary text by sociologists, socio-legal scholar, philosophers, women’s and gender studies scholars. The assigned reading will help students familiarize themselves with the various theoretical debates and empirical positions in controversies related to violence and social inequality. Students are encouraged to use the course to think about how social theory can apply to their own substantive topics.

This is an advanced seminar in historical theories and methods that is designed to support advanced historical research at the undergraduate honours and postgraduate levels. We take as our starting point that “the archive” and “archives” are the common ground of all historical inquiry, whether they be written, oral, material, or other kinds of sources and whether they be found in libraries, museums, archives, public records offices, private homes, collective memory, or the landscape. Each week, we will problematize and critically explore one genre of archives, methods of reading them, and their use to dis/prove certain historical theories and narratives. Finally, we will be ponder how historical archives have been used, abused, produced, and decoded by historians.