Trinity College Courses
Courses for First-Year Students
Trinity offers several courses intended to enhance the academic role the College plays in the lives of its undergraduates, especially its first-year students. These are credit courses approved by the Faculty of Arts and Science and do not have prerequisites.
Why Take a Trinity College Course?
- participate actively in small-group discussions;
- learn to think critically and to communicate clearly;
- study with Trinity faculty - outstanding scholars with a strong interest in teaching first-year students;
- get to know other Trinity students and build a "home" base within the College and the University.
Seminar Courses for 2013-14
CCR 199Y1Y Raiders, Traders, and Invaders: the Vikings and their Descendants
Views on the Vikings are as mixed today as they were throughout the medieval period, and it can be hard to find an unbiased perspective: the Vikings themselves left few contemporary written records, and the reliability of oral accounts allegedly transmitted across many centuries is open to question. By contrast, the Vikings’ victims were often literate and often Christian, and sought to depict their attackers as instruments of diabolical wrath. What is clear is that the Vikings used their swift and efficient ships to penetrate almost every corner of the then-known world, and indeed to push the boundaries further, heading East deep into Russia, South into the Mediterranean and to Byzantium and beyond, and West as successive settlers of Iceland, Greenland, and (for a time) North America. Moreover the descendants of the Vikings had a deep impact in many lands, not least in England (where they seized the crown), in Normandy (where they seized power and branched out again to conquer England), and in the expanded Scandinavian homelands of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden where they still remain, and from where their bloodlines have emigrated further all over the world, not least into Canada. This course will cover aspects of the histories, cultures, languages, and literatures of these remarkable peoples across more than a millennium.
CCR 199Y1Y More than Just a Dinner Party: High Style and Serious Attitude in the Literary Salon of 1830s Paris
Money, Love, Heroism, the Occult, War, Revolution, Royalism and Opium; such were the variety of subjects explored in a literary salon in Paris around the year 1830. In an age of uncertainty (the Napoleonic Age over, the restored Monarchy faltering under a mad king), a generation of writers, artists and musicians was searching for meaning. Several met regularly in the elegant drawing room of the Arsenal library in Paris, creating what is called a salon. Along with exquisite food, music and dance, they took a steady diet of wit, debate, humour and passion. We will explore their works as well as the literature, music and art of those who inspired them. Victor Hugo, Balzac, Stendhal, a young Franz Liszt, the artists Delacroix and David d’Angers all had attended. Finding inspiration in Byron’s poetry, Hoffmann’s tales, Goethe’s and Scott’s legendary works and the music of Berlioz and Chopin, their ideas about artistic style and conviction have influenced Western culture to this day. Readings are in English or English translation.
TBB 199Y1Y Great Ideas in Social and Political Thought
There is a tradition in social and political thought that has come to be called “classical” because the ideas constituting that tradition have stood the test of time. Among those ideas, some have acquired a timeless status and may be regarded as valid, trans-historical insights. Other ideas in the tradition have not necessarily proved themselves to be valid, but they too have stood the test of time, proving fruitful as perspectives and conceptual tools with which to approach significant questions, problems, and issues. With this in mind, we will read and discuss selected excerpts from the works of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche.
PMU 199Y1Y Physics and Technology for World Leaders
This course provides students with the necessary background to understand core issues in physics and technology, so that those of them who become the next generation of world leaders will be prepared for the scientific and technological changes that confront diplomats, political leaders, and CEOs. They will acquire the familiarity with current and emerging issues in physics and technology to be able to sort through the tangle of advice - some good and some bad - they will receive from special interest groups, physicists and engineers, and their own advisors. Physics is the foundation of chemistry and biochemistry, and thus of modern medicine and medical research, as well as the basis of information processing and the technology of everyday life, such as iPads and scanners. The possibility of quantum computation and new protocols for data security are based on current research in physics. We will consider these, as well as topics such as climate change, new energy sources, the possibility of terrorist nuclear attacks, and new spy technology, where any reasonable discussion must be based on the critical physics concepts of atoms and heat, electricity and magnetism, visible and invisible light, nuclei and radioactivity, energy and power. The course will not involve mathematics beyond the very simplest facility with numbers, mulitiplication, division, and orders of magnitude.
Text: Physics and Technology for Future Presidents: An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know, by Richard A. Muller. Princeton University Press, 2010.
XBC199Y1Y Science and Social Choice
Scientific discoveries shape how we see ourselves and decisions we make about how we live our lives and run our societies. We hear statements describing the latest fruits of life sciences research such as "Scientists have found a gene for X," "Y causes cancer," and "This discovery may lead to a cure for Z." We will explore the meaning of such statements and current experimental approaches that lie behind them. We will also discuss the broader implications of research findings for making social decisions. Topics will include: genes and genetic determinism (are you your genes?); evolutionary explanations of behaviour and disease; scientific uncertainty and its communication to the public; peer review and scientific authority; uncertainty and the precautionary principle in environmental and health policy; factors that shape the biomedical research agenda; basic versus applied research and the path from discovery to application. Students from all backgrounds are welcome.
TRN 190Y1Y Critical Reading and Critical Writing
This seminar is for students who wish to sharpen their skills in written communication through critical analysis of literary texts and high-quality essays. The works studied in each year’s seminar may range from a classic nineteenth-century novel to works that have appeared in the last decade. By reading the texts in light of research from diverse fields, members of this class can explore issues of human psychology and society that are relevant to their own self-understanding and decision making. Along with this focus on strategies of self-reflective critical thinking, TRN 190Y also emphasizes stages of the writing process, from concept to finished paper, with detailed practical guidelines on how to write effective university essays. In addition, the small class size allows each student to receive extensive individual coaching from the professor, as well as providing ample opportunity for active learning through class discussion and presentations.
A lecture-plus-seminar course open to first-year and upper-year students
TRN 200Y: Modes of Reasoning
The first term of this course is concerned with reasoning expressed in the form of arguments as understood in logic. Emphasis is placed on learning how to recognize, analyze, and evaluate arguments in ordinary English and on learning techniques for constructing and defending an argument in support of a claim.
The skills learned in the first term are basic skills required for success in many areas of university work, including the study of law. Students who have taken the course have found these skills helpful in their other courses and in writing scholastic aptitude tests, such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
In the second term, the class puts to work a number of the skills learned in the first term, by studying ethical reasoning and legal reasoning. We examine a variety of methods of ethical reasoning and criteria for evaluating such reasoning, and we do so partly by studying the reasoning used in discussions of a selection of contemporary social issues. When we turn to legal reasoning, we consider some of the same issues, only this time from a legal perspective. Our main focus in this part of the course is on the nature of judicial reasoning (i.e., the reasoning of judges). In exploring this topic, we examine the reasoning used in a selection of legal decisions, including decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in cases involving the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.