Elective Courses

The Engineering Communication Program offers Humanities and Social Science electives designed to fit into engineering students’ schedules more easily than many courses offered outside of the faculty, and focus on engineering, science, and culture. Further information about Engineering Certificates is available here.

Fall Term

APS 320H1F Representing Science on Stage

Instructors: Deborah Tihanyi and Lydia Wilkinson

In this course students will explore representations of science and scientists on the stage, through critical and theatrical examination of play texts. The focus of the course is twofold, exploring the message–scientific theory and its impact–and the medium–theatre–and how these work together to transmit meaning. Classes alternate between discussion based seminars and practical studio work. This dual approach provides opportunities for students to pursue topics of interest covered in the plays, while learning more about theatre practice and performance techniques, including acting, directing, stagecraft and dramaturgy. Note that while an interest in theatre is an asset, previous experience in performance is not required and will not hinder participation in the course. View APS320 poster here.

APS 325H1F Engineering and Science in the Arts

Instructor: Dr. Ken Tallman

This course studies art by focusing on its connection to engineering and science. Beginning with current examples of art, and then working back through time, the course will emphasize the longstanding tradition of extending the artistic imagination to technical pursuits. Taking examples from architecture, sculpture, painting, and the performing arts, the course will explore how these artistic disciplines have grown through their connection to engineering and science. At least two classes will include field trips to view art in Toronto. View APS325 poster here.

APS 445H1F The Power of Story: Discovering your Leadership Narrative

Instructor: Dr. Penny Kinnear

This course offers a rich introduction to relational, authentic and transformational leadership theory by focusing on narrative and the power of story telling. In order to develop their own leadership and engineering narratives, students will practice story-telling techniques by learning about the mechanics of stories, improve their public speaking by engaging in regular storytelling practice, explore their personal histories by reflecting on their identities, and develop critical thinking skills regarding the stories (meta-narratives) that surround us, particularly as they relate to engineering problems/ethics. This is a highly experiential course with a focus on reading, discussion, practice and reflection.

Winter Term

APS 281H1S Language and Meaning

Instructor: Dr. Penny Kinnear

The course explores the nature of language and meaning-making across linguistic, discipline and cultural boundaries through an introduction to selected theories linguistics and applied linguistics. This foundation will provide diverse frameworks students will use to develop an understanding of how meaning is made in different linguistic, cultural and disciplinary situations. The course will examine how vocabulary and syntax choices enable and constrain the way people use language to make meaning. Students apply the theoretical knowledge of language and language learning to their own written and oral language performances and hone their own skills in deploying written and oral professional engineering language. In conjunction with this, theories of translation and bilingualism will be introduced to challenge assumptions about the universality of meanings. View APS281 poster here.

APS 321H1S Science and Technology in the Popular Media

Instructor: Alan Chong
APS321 will not be offered in 2018-19 while Professor Chong is on sabbatical leave.

This course examines how science is represented by the popular media, focusing on science journalism as well as popular science books and multimedia. Through a mix of lecture and class activities/discussion, we’ll explore the tools that go into making popular science articles, books, and videos, how they are shaped by the institutions around them, and how they can shape the public understanding of science. With this theoretical understanding of popular science, students will be permitted to examine current issues in popular science of their own choosing (such as the controversy behind climate science), or explore how recent major scientific developments (such as the pursuit of the Higgs boson) have been portrayed in the media. Through critical reading of recent popular science texts, we hope to identify both effective rhetorical techniques for communicating to non-specialists and the impact of popular media’s “spin” on science and technology studies. View APS321 poster here.

APS 322H1S Language and Power

Instructor: Dr. Robert Irish

This course asks: why do some ideas gain traction while others drop? What makes something persuasive? To answer this question, we will read ancient masters like Aristotle and modern writers like Malcolm Gladwell. We will explore how our own worldviews shape and are shaped by persuasive elements in our culture. By understanding rhetoric – the art of persuasion – we will learn not only to analyze persuasion strategies in politics, science and popular culture, but will also engage in our own acts of persuasion. Through the course, students should gain an ability to understand themselves and their world, and to express ideas in ways that have impact. View APS322 poster here.

APS 324H1S Engineering and Social Justice

Instructor: Dr. Peter Weiss

This course explores the relationship between engineering and the concepts of social justice to develop the skills needed to take practical action in a complex world. It develops personal responses to ideas of justice, bias and marginalization as these affect Engineers and Engineering in general, domestically as well as globally, in projects as well as in contexts such as the workplace and academic environment. Readings will be drawn from current writers on Engineering and Social Justice and students will rehearse action through theatre techniques developed to enable communities to practice and critique action.

Summer Term

APS 323H1 Writing Lab

Instructor: Dr. Peter Weiss

This course examines and practices four “voices” that we use for communication: poet, analyst, story-teller and scientist/engineer. Readings from such theorists as Bruno Latour, Jack Austin, Kenneth Burke will be balanced by examples of poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing. Students will use journals with bi-weekly prompts to document their responses to the material. In addition, they will create their own examples of the various forms.