The SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) has launched a unique line-up of courses and lectures for the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The semesterly three and four credit courses and speaker series aim to prepare students to confront national problems and issues in coming years.
“I hope we are able to reach quite a few citizens and have them think about their own relationship to Canada and the Canada they want to see,” said FASS associate dean Dr. Catherine Murray.
The program launched on January 18 with a lecture by SFU economist Krishna Pendaker on economic mobility and inequality in Canada. The lecture series is geared towards students new to the faculty to help them “feel more comfortable with the range of ideas, the diversity of arguments, [and become] familiar with academic ways of thinking about very complex national events like the Canada 150,” explained Murray.
The FASS also awarded grants ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 to nine courses across the faculty, some new and others revised from department curricula, to incorporate Canadian content and cover travel and honorariums for special guests among other costs. In addition, three FASS elective courses are scheduled to provide students with experiential learning opportunities.
The elective course curricula designated under the course numbers 150, 250 and 350 include opportunities to obtain credit for the lectures series, partnership with community organizations to organize events around the Canada 150, and student-run public events on the occasion of the national anniversary respectively.
Murray called the 150th anniversary “a turning point” in Canadian history and hopes to engage the SFU community in questions around citizenship and national narratives through the program.
“It’s causing us all to think forward to our next one hundred years,” noted Murray. “While we represent a certain set of values of citizenship which are celebrated around the world, there’s a lot of work to be done.”
This semester, two special courses are being offered, a history and urban studies course on design in Canadian cities and a micro-economics course featuring three guest lectures by a specialist on the Canadian context. Upcoming lectures will touch on aspects of diversity, happiness, and crime. According to Murray, the faculty chose presenters whose research has been academically recognized and is important to Canadian issues.
“This is their wish for Canadian academics and students going forward,” said Murray.
The faculty hopes the program will prompt participants to explore the meaning of Canada and redefine citizenship.
“We will be quite happy if people learn a little bit more about important issues in Canada,” Murray noted. “There are choices ahead and [students] will be the leaders of those choices.”