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Living Language: Science and Society

The first University-wide course in Language Sciences, Living Language: Science and Society, will be offered in September, 2018. 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.

Cross-listed as APSC 402, ASTU 402, FRST 402, LFS 402, LLED 402, and PHAR 402, it will be co-taught by Professors Janet Werker (Psychology) and Mark Turin (Anthropology, First Nations and Endangered Languages).

This course will first be offered in Winter I 2018 (September - December 2018), Tuesday and Thursday 2:00-3:30pm in Orchard Commons (ORCH) 3018.

For September 2018, Living Language will be capped at 40 students drawn from all faculties at UBC. The class structure comprises in-class lectures by Professors Werker, Turin and invited language leaders across campus and in the wider community, together 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. Student reflections include both individual written and oral work, small group discussion and constructive critique of one another’s work, as well as in-class assignments where students will work in interdisciplinary groups to address specific questions of problems.

To learn more about the Professors' backgrounds and visions for student experience, read their Q&A article about the course on the the Faculty of Arts website.

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

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.

How to register?

Living Language is cross-listed 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 email for waitlist information or consult with your Faculty Advisor to choose the appropriate option for you.