What is BISC 100 / 101

In our previous blog post we gave you an overview of the new First Year Program. We recognize that many of you are making your final decisions and we want to make sure that you are doing so with as much information as possible. That’s why we are following up right away with some frequently asked questions about the two first year core courses: BISC 100 and BISC 101.

BISC 100: Thinking Locally and BISC 101: Acting Globally are brand new courses that are exclusively offered to first year students studying at the BISC. In preparing for the implementation of the First Year Program, and specifically BISC 100 and BISC 101, input was sought from faculty, students and Queen’s and BISC administrators. We are confident that these courses will be extremely beneficial to students and we’re excited to share them with you in September!

What topics will be covered in BISC 100 and BISC 101?

BISC 100: Thinking Locally will explore concepts of location, identity and boundaries that are at the heart of all academic inquiry across the Humanities and Social Sciences. It will do so by looking at case studies related to our British setting, like the idea of a unique British national identity, the debates on what constitutes English heritage, or the more recent controversies on immigration.

BISC 101: Acting Globally will take the concepts introduced in BISC 100 and expand them to a global scale. Students will engage in an analysis of the ways which people interact globally, focusing on basic patterns of international interaction, such as trade, imperialism, war and peacemaking. Current global issues will be a focal point for discussion and problem-solving activities.

What are the Field Studies for BISC 100 and BISC 101?

There will be two major field studies per term for BISC 100 and BISC 101. These will take place in cities such as London, Brighton, Liverpool and Paris. The field studies will be relevant to the course content and will include active and collaborative exercises such as developing and analyzing digital maps of cities to explore the ideas of identity and culture. These activities will challenge you to think critically about paradigms and the implications that these have on the way that we organize global affairs. Further examples of field studies can be found at http://www.queensu.ca/bisc/academics/programs/first-year.

Does BISC 100 and BISC 101 restrict my options?

No. Your first year of university is all about exploring options and we want to encourage that as much as possible. All Bachelor of Arts (Honours) plans are open to BISC students. The Admissions Team and Academic Advisors are on hand both before and during your time at the BISC to provide their expertise about course selection and requirements.

Students will select four disciplinary courses per term from a range of first year offerings. In addition, departments such as History, Sociology and Drama accept BISC 100 and BISC 101 as full entry into their degree plans, while Geography and Film and Media Studies accept BISC 100 when combined with a relevant term-length course offered in the Winter term as entry into their plans. This means that, combined with your disciplinary classes, students will have access to up to seven options for plans (majors, medials and minors). This is two more options than first year students who study on the Kingston campus.

The interdisciplinary elements of the First Year Program have been skilfully combined with the traditional disciplinary elements of first year offerings at the BISC. Both elements are central to a strong undergraduate education and to the BISC First Year Program.

Will class sizes be larger?

Each student will be assigned to a core weekly seminar group of 15 students for BISC 100 and BISC 101 that will be led by a BISC faculty member. The small class sizes will allow you to develop positive and productive working relationships with faculty and your peers. These relationships will be further enhanced by opportunities to work in other small groups or one-on-one with faculty members. In addition to your weekly seminar group of 15 students, some skills seminars and lectures will be delivered in sections of up to 30 students and, where advantageous, some specialty lectures will be delivered in a larger lecture group.

Small class sizes are a defining feature of all BISC offerings and is something that we will not compromise.

What does “co-taught” mean?

Each faculty member on BISC 100 and BISC 101 teaching team will be assigned to core seminar groups of 15 students. This will be the key arena where you will engage in an in-depth exploration of the course content. In addition, each member of the teaching team will be responsible for delivering lectures and skills seminars that relate to their area of expertise.

Mitch Piper
BISC Assistant Project Manager

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