Statistics and Zoology Partnered Up for Term 2!

Agnes Lacombe’s biology students generate new data every single semester. That was good news for John Petkau’s statistics students looking for real-world data to challenge their hard-learned skills. This pairing offered all the students an opportunity to work with upcoming experts in their field and to produce professional quality results.

What’s really striking about this pairing is that there was absolutely no compromise in course material. Both sets of students gained much more. The biology students focused on developing their research questions and interpreted the results while the statistics students saw unadulterated data sets and the sorts of real world questions that their skill sets can help answer.

Photo Credit: Breakmould


Arts One and Science One Mix It Up Over Supper

Arts One and Science One may seem like a conventional pair. Both programs inhabit the 3rd floor of Irving K. Barber, both are composed of incoming freshmen students, and both programs focus on interdisciplinarity. They’ve got a lot in common, except for spending time together. UBC Mix decided to change that.

When UBC Mix first approached Christina Hendricks, the director of Arts One, she was very open to the idea. “We spend all our time together on this floor, but the students are so focused on their courses and projects that they don’t really talk to one another,” she confided. It wasn’t hard to get Gordon Bates, the director of Science One on board. Then Fok-Shuen Leung and Brandon Konoval took the lead and organized the first of what we can only hope will be many dinner lectures.

Arts One and Science One students joined together on November 5th, 2010, at the Social Lounge and Dining Hall at St. John’s College. The evening began with a lecture by Kishor Wasan, director of the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative. Students then enjoyed supper at communal long tables with conversation flowing in Oxonian style. This certainly sounds like our tastiest Mix partnership!

Photo Credit: alumroot


ASIC 200: Global Issues in the Arts and Sciences

[The following is a reprint of an article from the UBC Sustainability website. ASIC 200 is taught in part by Allen Sens, one of our UBC Mix supervisors. The course embodies all the values we look for in a good Mix project!]

Although the arts and the sciences may seem like completely different worlds, one course at UBC is bringing them together and crossing faculty boundaries to offer students a rich and integrated academic experience.

ASIC 200: Global Issues in the Arts and Sciences is one of only a few courses at UBC that belongs to both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science. The course is taught by one instructor from the sciences and one instructor from the arts and welcomes an equal number of arts and science students every year, resulting in a true mix of ideas in the classroom.

“When a student comes to UBC we compartmentalize them right away. For the most part they either go into arts or science and there’s not a whole lot of academic interaction, and in fact, there may be none for some of our students. I think the real value of the course is reinforcing the need for that integration,” says Dr. Allen Sens, ASIC 200 Instructor and Senior Instructor in the UBC Department of Political Science. He specializes in international conflict and conflict management.

The course has been running for four years and focuses on providing students with an interdisciplinary, and broad, perspective on global issues that empowers them to become engaged citizens.

“Most of the global issues that we face, such as climate change, genetically modified organisms and global poverty, are really grounded in both physical and life sciences and the social sciences and humanities. In other words, to understand the nature of these challenges you have to know, or be literate, in both the arts and sciences,” Dr. Sens says.

ASIC 200 is one component of The Terry Project which was created by Dr. Sens and co-instructor Dr. David Ng, a geneticist and Senior Instructor at the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC. Terry, as it’s affectionately called, offers students a multi-level exploration of global issues through an integrated speaker series, a website and the course.

“The Terry Project really is an umbrella, if you like, for a set of activities that try to enhance interdisciplinary science and arts teaching and learning at UBC,” says Dr. Sens.

In the classroom, students participate in lectures, two lab experiences and a group project, with both Dr. Sens and Dr. Ng present at every session. Dr. Sens says this team teaching model makes for an interesting discourse.

“I think there’s value in that the material isn’t compartmentalized. I am there if any issues come up on a social sciences and humanities side while Dave is lecturing about the physics of climate change, for example. On the other hand, Dave is there to answer any science-related questions that arise out of a discussion on the politics of climate change, so having both of us in the classroom reinforces the integrated nature of the material.”

With so many global issues to explore across two disciplines, Drs. Sens and Ng designed the course to focus on select global issues—and to meet the learning needs of all students, which is an ongoing challenge. “When designing the course, I think the biggest challenge we faced was focusing on what the absolute need to know material was,” Dr. Sens says.

“The second challenge we faced was an awareness that a lot of the science material might be quite familiar to many science students, but unfamiliar to arts students. We also noted that the reverse would be true, so the challenge for us as instructors was, how can we make sure that we’re teaching at a level that doesn’t bore one half of the class, but is over the head of the other half of the class?  I’m not sure we’ve ever achieved that perfect balance, but I think we’ve gotten better.”

The ultimate goal of the course is to open students’ eyes to new ideas and perspectives. “All that we’re really after is that awareness, since we can’t give them all the material in second year,” he says. “What we’re giving them is this tool that says, be aware that in virtually anything you decide to go on to do, there’s going to be a science and an arts dimension to it, and you need to be alert to this and know where to look and where to go to get information on both dimensions.”

One of the incentives for taking the course is that science students can take it to satisfy their lower-level arts requirement, and arts students can take it to satisfy their lower-level science requirement, but Dr. Sens says the course offers much more than just academic credit.

“I think students come out of ASIC 200 with the most important message, which is that you don’t have to be an expert in arts if you’re a science student, and you don’t have to be an expert in science if you’re an arts student, but you’ve got to be familiar with how these worlds are important when it comes to the big global issues of our time.”

Story by Madelen Ortega, Sustainabiltiy website writer, Article reprinted from http://sustain.ubc.ca/teaching-learning


UBC law and journalism schools partner to investigate wrongful convictions

UBC law and journalism schools partner to investigate wrongful convictions

Canada’s first journalism-law student partnership on wrongful convictions has been launched at the University of British Columbia, with graduate journalism students and law students investigating miscarriages of justice in B.C.

Priority will be given to the more than 20 murder cases on file with the UBC Faculty of Law’s Innocence Project, which was founded in 2007.

Canada has exonerated more than 40 wrongfully convicted individuals in the past 25 years, including last week’s case of Ivan Henry, who was acquitted of a series of rapes after spending 27 years in prison.

Tamara Levy, Director of the UBC Law Innocence Project, a criminal lawyer and adjunct professor at UBC, said that she is looking forward to working with the journalism students because “they bring unique skills that will help us shed some light on our investigations and move them forward more quickly.”

“There are several people who have been exonerated in the United States as a result of the work of investigative journalism students, either alone or in conjunction with law students,” said Levy, “and I’m excited to be involved with the first such collaboration in Canada.”

This semester, three first-year students from the UBC Graduate School of Journalism have been chosen to join 10 law students and 24 supervising counsel on the UBC Law Innocence Project. The partnership also permits future journalism students to research and investigate UBC Law Innocence Project cases under the guidance of UBC Journalism Prof. Peter Klein.

The partnership involves an intense curriculum that includes reviewing thousands of pages of trial documents, tracking down previously unknown witnesses, and consulting with forensic experts.

Mary Lynn Young, Director of the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, said “this is a great opportunity for students to learn investigative journalism skills in collaboration with law students and lawyers as they work on reviewing, investigating and remedying important claims of innocence.”

The UBC Law Innocence Project has identified several possible cases of wrongful conviction and hopes to put its first case forward for ministerial conviction review by the end of the year.

Learn more at www.innocenceproject.law.ubc.ca

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Prof. Tamara Levy
UBC Law Innocence Project
Cell: 604.671.2502
Office: 604.827.3616

Prof. Peter Klein
UBC School of Journalism
Cell: 778.389.4812

Prof. Mary Lynn Young
UBC School of Journalism
Cell: 604.202.1706

Basil Waugh
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.2048
Email: basil.waugh@ubc.ca