Let’s Talk Academics: Research in International Studies

I’ve posted a few pieces about the International Studies program as a whole, but I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few specific courses that I am taking and are really enjoying. First up is Research in International Studies with Professor Elaine Coburn.

Course description:

ILST 3505 – Research in International Studies is one of the core courses of the International Studies program at Glendon.  That means, if you are in the ILST program, you have to take this course in order to graduate.  This is a third year course (3000 level), but as long as you have taken one the introductory courses for International Studies, you can take this course.  In our class there is a mix of second, third, and fourth year students who are working towards completing their degree requirements.  The main goal of the course it to develop your research skills, and to understand research within three paradigms that are used in the social science fields (science, politics, and art).  We learn valuable skills for conducting research, and sharing our findings.

The course is split up into three sections that correlate to the three paradigms of research we are learning about.  We are nearing the end of the second section of the course, research as politics, and I am loving the content of the course.  As a class we chose a topic that we would be learning about through a vote on suggestions we made as a class.  We decided on the topic of propaganda and media.  Every week we are assigned readings that help us to deconstruct the ideas of the research paradigms, and Professor Coburn also tries to find readings that relate to propaganda and media.  In class we analyse the contents of the readings to further understand what the authors are telling us.

Why I enjoy this course:

This is one of the best courses I’ve taken in my four years.  The readings are always interesting, and they make you think critically, and question the world around you.  I really enjoy that the class is discussion based, and the class is collective learning with the professor facilitating, and filling in the blanks, rather than the lecture heavy style that is frequently seen in courses.  I find that discussing with our small groups really draw out ideas that I hadn’t thought of the first time I did the readings, and I get to share, and develop the ideas that I had as well.  I am always excited for this class when Wednesdays roll around, because I learn something new every class.


Why I enjoy the professor:

Professor Coburn has an incredible energy in the classroom.  She is a dynamic and enthusiastic professor, and you can really see how much she enjoys teaching.  Her passion for her areas of expertise come through in her teaching, and they provide real life examples for what we are studying.  Professor Coburn talks about herself, and her experiences to explain concepts, but she does it in an interesting and valuable way.  Something that I also really enjoy is that she acknowledges, and brings attention her situated knowledges; she shares that she is a cis gender, white woman, from a family of educators, who has received a very good education, but stresses that that is where her views and experiences come from, and that should not be seen as more important than anyone else’s views or experience, regardless of her position in the classroom as the professor.

In university, I have had two professors who have inspired so greatly to learn, and continue to involve myself in what I’m passionate about – Professor Coburn is one of them. I would recommend you to take a course with her by the end of your ILST experience.

How it compares to high school:

In high school, I never had a research course, or an international studies course.  I would compare this to a history course, or a sociology course (I never took sociology either, but I know it was offered).  We had very short readings for history class, many of my history teachers lectured, we used a textbook, and there were always powerpoints.  Readings in university, especially in an upper year international studies course can be around 20-30 pages. For this course, the readings aren’t too long, and Professor Coburn doesn’t use many technological aids in her teaching, but she writes discussion points on the chalkboard.
(Disclaimer: I’ve been out of high school for a while, and I don’t remember all of my classes all that well :P)

One interesting fact I’ve learned:

I’ve learned a TON in this course, but one of the things that really stood out to me was how organizations and governments could use tourism as propaganda for their country.  It made a lot of sense when we did the reading about it and discussed in class, but it was something I had never thought of before.


If this course sounds interesting to you, I have great news! This class is actually part of the Shadow Program – you can come to Glendon and hang out with me for three hours, and you’ll get to experience what a university class is like!  In grade 12 I did the shadow program, and while the course I shadowed was a 3000 level econ course, and I had no idea what was going on, I still got a feel for what a lecture felt like.

If you have any questions about the course, drop me a line by commenting below, or tweeting me @AshaCGL. I will be posting another post like this in the next few weeks about another course in the shadow program.  Hope to see you around soon!

Song of the Week:
Way Down We Go – Kaleo
Super pretty song, and the video is filmed in a volcano

Vanishing Act – Rajaton
I was listening to Rajaton the yesterday, and thought y’all need some of this magic in your life


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s