Trinity College Courses

Trinity offers several College 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 - 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 2018-2019

CCR 199Y1Y  The Vikings and their Descendants

The Vikings first entered the annals of recorded history late in the eighth century, and the impression that they made on the civilized people whom they encountered was decidedly negative.  Vikings were depicted by many of their contemporaries as bloodthirsty pagans, ferocious and crafty warriors with a diabolical ability to raid and pillage nearly anywhere throughout the then-known world.  Although the brutality of Viking raids is undeniable, modern scholars of the Early Middle Ages have developed more nuanced perspectives on the Vikings by studying the characteristics of their material culture, the poetic and memorial texts that they composed, and by evaluating their accomplishments as explorers, pioneers and agents of inter-cultural commerce.  The legacy of the Vikings’ activities can not only be traced in the historical development of present-day Scandinavian nations, but is also part of the heritage of the peoples of Britain, continental Europe, the Mideast and even the Atlantic coast of Canada.  Aspects of Viking culture have—for better and worse—inspired artists, writers, composers, intellectuals, explorers and even politicians in the centuries since the last longship sailed, and images of the Viking persist in present-day literature, art, music, sport and popular culture.  This course explores the history, cultures and literatures of the Viking Age, and considers how (and why) the Viking past remains part of present culture.

SII 199H1S Health for the 21st Century

This will be a course on the increasing inter-relationship between knowledge/science, the institution which generates it (the university), and government. To inform public policy increasingly governments are reaching into academia as a source for scientific evidence or for expert opinion to write reports or chair expert committees.

This course will have two foci. The first will delve into British and Canadian academic and government activities in a field at the cutting-edge of population health, the determinants of health. It will look at important work done by a Canadian (and former faculty member of U of T) who had close ties to two British academics each of whom wrote a seminal government report.

The second will take the exploration of science one step further in that today it is not only used as a means to an end (e.g., to inform policy on health determinants), it also becomes the end itself. In this application we seek new knowledge because that new knowledge actually becomes a new and commercializable product. This means that knowledge is now a commodity that can be packaged bought and sold like any other commodity and this has important ramifications for universities and our economy. This section will explore the importance of scientific research and its commercialization to the new economy and in this an additional component (business) to the triumvirate in the class title. It will look at activities in Canada and important reports that have come out of Britain as well as other countries.

Where appropriate the course will draw upon guest speakers, archival, and library resources from within Trinity College and the U of T. Student assignments will look at actions that can strengthen the outcomes in each of the focus areas.

TBB 199Y1Y L0041 Great Ideas in Social and Political Thought

This first-year seminar is designed as an intellectually exciting overview of selected thinkers in the classical tradition of social and political thought.  We begin, in the Fall Semester, with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and the Federalist Papers; and we continue in the Winter Semester with early-modern thinkers from the time of the 18th Century Enlightenment to the 20th Century. 

TBB 199H1S Section L0041 Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (died 524) was the greatest scholar and statesman of Rome after its conquest by the barbarian Ostrogoths. When he was unjustly sentenced to death for treason, he wrote one of the great classics of Western literature, The Consolation of Philosophy. C. S. Lewis remarked of the work that “until about two hundred years ago it would, I think, have been hard to find an educated man in any European country who did not love it.” Boethius confronts the most intractable questions of suffering humanity: Why do bad things happen to good people? What is the point of living a virtuous life? Do we really have free will, or is choice an illusion? In this seminar, we will learn about Boethius’s world and his philosophical sources, and we will analyse the argument he offers in the Consolation. We will then see how Boethius’s ideas were taken up by medieval and modern writers. We will also spend time looking at manuscripts and early printed books in the Fisher Library. Assessment: three short papers and class participation.

PMU199Y1Y 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 challenges 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, multiplication, 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

TRN 190Y1Y Critical Reading and Critical Writing

This seminar helps students enhance their ability to write well for courses across the university. Students in TRN190 move through stages of the university research and writing process, learning to find the best research in university databases and to use that research to analyze literary and nonfiction readings that explore current issues. With an awareness of pressures from our neighbour to the south, the class examines primarily Canadian and US fiction and memoirs that highlight problems faced by groups persistently treated as “Other,” such as Indigenous people, immigrants, Muslims, people of colour, the incarcerated and the mentally ill. We consider roles of digital technologies, music, and art in situations where control and exploitation may be countered by resistance and efforts to find common ground. The course’s readings range from a post-9/11 novel by Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid to a graphic memoir about growing up gay in a rural community. And approaches to the course readings are equally diverse. TRN190 students have applied research from numerous fields (e.g., international relations, sociology, philosophy and computer science) to discuss the issues and texts that most interest them. Lively and probing analysis of the course topics is spurred by the seminar’s active-learning format, based on in-class activities, discussion, group work, and Q&A sessions with thought-provoking authors who visit the class as we study their works.  

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.