Welcome to the Global Engagement Seminar Program

The Future of Nature - ARTS 490, Winter 2020

Oil Rigs in Belridge California by Burtynsky

Credit / Courtesy:  Photo: Edward Burtynsky, Courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

Bring your intellectual curiosity and commitment to engage in interdisciplinary discussions about the future of nature!

We are witness to massive cultural and societal developments with the increasing industrialization of agriculture, desertification, urbanization, global tourism, as well the intensification of extractive economies. All the while, we’re also learning about technological efforts intended to reproduce the natural world, and that bring us closer to “the wilds”. Every day we are exposed to the impacts of climate change. As students, scholars, policy makers, and practitioners, the impact of the human footprint on the natural environment requires our attention. 

With these issues among others in mind, the 2020 Global Engagement Seminar Program (GESP) is proud to announce this year’s course ARTS 490: THE FUTURE OF NATURE. Senior undergraduates (3A, 3B, 4A, 4B) from any faculty or affiliated college are invited to apply today

Students will have the unique opportunity to interact with leading experts as the 2020 Jarislowsky Fellows, Edward Burtynsky award winning climate photographer and documentary filmmaker, and Mike Davis, scholar, activist, and award-winning writer. Read more about the Jarislowsky Fellows.

The Jarislowsky Fellows, along with course instructors, Dr. Brendon Larson (Professor and Associate Dean – Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Environment) and Dr. Angela Carter (Associate Professor, Political Science) will lead this year’s seminar.

This is not a lecture course. It is a site for new beginnings, where students will have the opportunity to think critically and to engage collectively to engender problem-solving ideas and public-facing projects. Working collaboratively throughout the term, students will be given the opportunity to develop high-level transferable skills: they may design a public exhibit, write a policy brief, conduct research for a scholarly paper, produce a short film, or some combination of these among other project options. The seminar culminates in the annual high-level Global Engagement Summit where students’ ideas and projects are shared with the campus and local communities.

       WHEN                                                                       WHERE

         Thursday evenings                                                                      Balsillie School of International Affairs

        6:30 pm to 9:20 pm                                                                     67 Erb St W, Waterloo



  1. Nov. 27, 2019ARTS 490 still open for applications
    forest with large clear cut section

    Bring your intellectual curiosity and commitment to engage in interdisciplinary discussions about THE FUTURE OF NATURE. APPLY FOR ARTS 490 TODAYAs of November 25, 2019, we are accepting applications on a rolling basis until the class reaches its cap.

    Thursdays 6:30pm - 9:30pm
    Balsillie School of International Affairs

    Open to senior students
    (3A, 3B, 4A, 4B) from across faculties and affiliate colleges


  2. Oct. 14, 2019Public Talk by Brian Rudrick Visiting Scholar Dr. Kyle Whyte

    "Not Done Critiquing Wilderness Areas, National Parks & Public Lands" 

    Please join us for a public lecture by Dr. Kyle Whyte, the Brian Rudrick Visiting Scholar in Philosophy. Dr.

  3. Oct. 1, 2019Meet the first 2020 Jarislowsky Fellow!
    Edward Burtynsky with special camera equipment

    This year's first Fellow is EDWARD BURTYNSKY. He is regarded as one of the world's most accomplished contemporary photographers. His remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes are included in the collections of over sixty major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Tate Modern in London, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California.

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  1. July 23, 2019Truth and Lies in AI
    Bias in the Black Box interactive exhibit

    We all know about “fake news.” Most of us think we can tell the difference. After all, we keep informed, or at least try to. But what are our sources of information? How reliable are they? If the internet is involved, you already know that a high dose of skepticism is necessary. So how can we know for sure that we’re getting the truth?

  2. July 8, 2019AI at Work
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  3. July 1, 2019Machine Learning Bias
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