8 New Student Directed Seminars in Arts

From the Psychology of Modern Dating to the Philosophy of Hip-Hop/Rap and Policing in North America, explore these fascinating student-directed courses for Winter Term 2.

If you want to dive deeper into a topic outside of what is currently offered at UBC and meet other students who share your interests, student directed seminars may be for you! Unlike many of your other classes at UBC, these opportunities enable you to have a role in shaping many aspects of the course. From helping to form the syllabus, to choosing readings and leading class discussions, these student directed seminars empower you to design your own learning experience in a peer led environment.

Arts Studies 

Cyberpsychology and Digital Technology Addiction (ASTU 400K 201)

Do you struggle to put down your phone or to click away from shopping sites when you should be taking notes in class? Does that make you “addicted” to technology? This course will examine topics in cyberpsychology – the study of psychological experiences in human- technology interactions – with a focus on behavioural addictions to technology. You can expect to read literature about cognitive and clinical psychology, ethics, public health, and UI/UX design.

Coordinator: Cindy Zhang, Psychology
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Luke Clark

The Psychology of Modern Dating (ASTU 400M 201)

Dive into the psychology behind dating apps, websites and social media to answer the question: What are the new dating scripts within technological platforms and how are they changing our pre-existing dating behaviours? In this seminar, you will explore concepts of self marketing, online attraction, matching algorithms and digital courtship through scientific articles and textbook “The Psychology of Modern Dating” (2020) by psychologist Shawn Blue. The course syllabus is inclusive to all sexuality, gender and identity experiences.

Student Coordinator: Nahanni Musiani, Neuroscience
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Barnes

Psychedelics & Sacred Plant Medicines: Holistic and Neurobiological Approaches (ASTU 400L 201)

Come prepared to critically examine facets of psychedelics, including function at the neurobiological level, ethical considerations regarding Indigenous knowledge systems and traditional uses, therapeutic potentials, and harm reduction.

Student Coordinators: Dana Hunter, Psychology and Kailey Baxstrome, Cognitive Systems
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Lilian May


Exploring the Concept of Progress in History (PHIL 488 001)

Every year the United Nations releases a “Sustainable Development Goals Report,” which provides a global overview of progress towards a list of goals. The 2022 report found that due to COVID, “years or even decades of development progress have been halted or reversed.” The question that this seminar seeks to answer is: What precisely is meant by global progress and what role does it play in the world today?

Student Coordinator: Nick Halme, Philosophy
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sylvia Berryman

Introduction to Eastern European Philosophy (PHIL 486 001)

Learn about a variety of diverse philosophical thoughts that have been occurring in Eastern European Philosophy since the 18th century. Throughout the course, you will discover some of the most influential Eastern European philosophers from the 18th century until the present from Russia, Serbia, Poland, Ukraine, and other regions. Readings include original texts in translation as well as peer-reviewed secondary sources that will help you understand the nuances of examined texts.

Student Coordinator: Artem Meshcherin, Philosophy
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Veta Chitnev

Topics in Environmental Aesthetics (PHIL 487 001)

Aesthetics is a subdiscipline within philosophy that incorporates areas of judgement, value, and ethics into aesthetic experience of art and the environment. However, the considerations applied to environmental aesthetics are unique and require distinct attention compared to works of art like paintings. This seminar introduces various topics in environmental aesthetics such as Kantian attitudes, issues of objectivity, cultural divergence, and the experience of the natural environment from gardens to animals. This is a discussion-based course where you will share your research with your peers and visit local sites for a real-world experience of natural aesthetics.

Student Coordinator: Rayva Nelson, Political Science & Philosophy
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Dominic Lopes

Philosophy in Hip-Hop/Rap Music (PHIL 489 001)

In this seminar, you will examine a variety of philosophical topics through the lens of hip-hop/rap music. You will learn about hip-hop/rap and its place in history as a fundamentally African-American art form and seek to understand how this context might contribute to the often anti-oppressive and at times hyper-individualistic worldviews projected through the music.

Student Coordinator: Oliver Bontkes, Philosophy & Psychology
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Anders Kraal

Political Science

The Politics of Policing in Canada & the United States (POLI 308Z)

In recent years, public discourse regarding policing in Canada and the United States has gained considerable momentum. Spanning the 2020 protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, the recent sweeps of the unhoused population in the Downtown Eastside, and the 2023 National Inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting, the institution of policing has been called into question. In this seminar, you will examine and critically engage with the policing systems in Canada and the United States as they exist today and through history.

Student Coordinators: Maya Buchanan, Political Science and Arsh Singh, Political Science
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Carey Doberstein

About Student Directed Seminars

The Student Directed Seminars program provides upper-year undergraduate students (in third year or later) the opportunity to propose, coordinate, and lead their own 3-credit seminar class with a small group of peers on a topic not currently offered at UBC.