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Living Language: Science and Society

Registration is now open: APSC 402, ASTU 402, FRST 402, LFS 402, LLED 402, and PHAR 402

Don't see your faculty here? Read our info sheet to find out how to register.


In this interdisciplinary 3-credit 'transition-out' course, 3rd and 4th-year students examine, integrate and apply their subject-specific knowledge through the lens of language and the framework of the language sciences, with a focus on themes of real-world importance.

The class structure is comprised of lectures by Assistant Professors Stickles, Odic, and invited language leaders across campus and in the wider community, along with student-led reflections and presentations. Through the course, students will lead their own exploration of language as it applies to all domains of human life, from the creation and acquisition of spoken language to writing systems, texts of all kinds, arts, culture, science, and technology. Students will engage in group discussion with their peers and will complete short written assignments that include individual reflections and longer, more in depth, explorations. Working in small interdisciplinary groups, students will design an action-oriented final project to be presented in-class at the end of the term. Read more in this info sheet.

This course includes modules such as:

  • Language & Wellbeing: Health, Environment, Sustainability, & Diversity: Featuring discussions of how language intersects and informs our relationship to our health care systems, the relationship between language and sustainability, and language and biodiversity. Readings will be assigned in ecolinguistics; and the links between linguistic diversity and biodiversity, such as how traditional knowledge of ecosystems (e.g. medical plants) is embedded in local, often endangered, Indigenous languages.
  • Language and Social Change: Topics will include the role of language-based discrimination in the legal system; official language policies and the impacts of language policy planning; and the implications of how and where First Nations languages occur in public settings (e.g.: land acknowledgements, signage on campus, the recent Edmonton CFL name change).


Living Language is co-taught by Assistant Professors Elise Stickles (English Language and Literatures) and Darko Odic (Psychology) and is cross-listed in six faculties as APSC 402, ASTU 402, FRST 402, LFS 402, LLED 402, and PHAR 402. Enrolment for this course will be limited to 40 students. Please consult with your academic advisor or read through this info sheet to choose the appropriate registration option for you.

This course is designed for upper level students in any discipline and from any Faculty who are interested to learn more about how language works and what it does. There are no pre-requirements, other than a commitment to deep intellectual exploration, a willingness to be challenged, and a readiness to reflect on what you have learned in your discipline through the lens of language.

A picture of the Reconciliation Pole at UBC, in front of which Mark Turin is speaking to the Living Language class


This course will be held in Winter 1 2021. Registration for fourth year students opens June 29th, and for third year students, July 13th to 15th. Please refer to the UBC Vancouver Academic Calendar for the deadline for registration. Sign up via the form above to receive an alert when registration opens!


We are anticipating in-person course delivery this year, in line with UBC's plan to return to on-campus activity in September, 2021. UBC Okanagan students may be able to take this course - please email to enquire.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • identify the building blocks and characteristics of language and demonstrate how these shape the ways we think and interact with one another and our communities
  • critically assess how language is used in your chosen field of study
  • reflect on and apply what you have learned in your chosen field of study outside the classroom in critical and creative ways
  • use your enriched understanding of how language functions to communicate your field’s insights to broader audiences
  • be open to learning and listening beyond your discipline
  • recognize the power of language in science and society and when it is harnessed to manipulate rather than inform
  • collaborate with peers across disciplinary lines


To learn more about students' and the co-instructors' experiences of the course, read:


For more information or to request a copy of last year's syllabus, please email

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