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September 13, 2001 Not yet registered? Here are some courses for all tastes



by Anna Bratulic

Concordia’s course calendar includes all sorts of intriguing courses, and here’s just a sample.

Personal finance is popular online

Personal Finance started in the fall of í999 and was the first course in the Finance Department to be offered over the Internet.

“Lots of people were coming up with courses online, and I wasn’t impressed because there was no theory to guide the design,” says Associate Professor Arshad Ahmad.
For his PhD dissertation in education, Ahmad devised a theoretical model and used it to create his Personal Finance course. It has evolved to include such tools as simulations and communications software.

The course attracts about 400 students every term, and Ahmad does not put a cap on enrolment. While that may seem like a hefty load for one teacher, Ahmad has designed the course so that much of the teaching is delegated to other specialists. For example, students can e-mail relevant questions to company executives and other experts.

Sport, fitness and the law

“People now know that they have rights. They used to get injured and would just pass it off. Today, they’ll take you to court,” said Professor George Short, who will be teaching this course.

The daily newspaper headlines are proof: Knowledge of the law has become crucial for sports administrators. This course will look at a variety of legal cases from a North American perspective, dealing with such issues as mandatory drug testing, rights of the disabled, AIDS and sports, and gender equity.

Short says that, in general, Canada is following the American propensity to litigation, and since pleading ignorance of the law does not stand up in court, people can find themselves in a lot of hot water if they don’t know the basics.

The first part of each class will feature one facet of sport law, and the second part will look at a specific case. The final project requires students to take a topic discussed in class and apply it to a real or hypothetical situation. For example, the student may decide to develop an AIDS program for a sports organization.

Learn to paint from life

How is painting a person different from painting a tree? In addition to the technical and formal aspects of painting from life, there is a psychological dimension, says Professor Leopold Plotek.

“You don’t look at a tree and wonder what it’s thinking, but you do look at a woman (or man) and wonder what they’re thinking.”

His course Calme, Luxe and the Model is in its fourth year, and allows students with a serious interest in painting from life the opportunity to work with models. The techniques and changing aesthetics of works from Delacroix to Picasso will be discussed and critiqued, but most of the time will be spent on oil painting.

The unusual title of the course is derived from a poem by Beaudelaire. Plotek is not too fond of the name, because it can mislead people to think that the scope of feeling model painting can depict is limited to pleasure and enchantment. “Art focused on the human body expresses not just delight, but tragedy and longing as well.”

Photo journalism for scribes

There was a time when newspaper rooms were staffed with “two-way men” who played the role of both reporter and photographer, but by the late 1960s, increased specialization meant that reporters wrote and photographers snapped.

Lack of money might see the old two-way rise again. Low-budget community papers cannot afford to hire a separate photographer. As a consultant to the Quebec Community Newspapers Association, Michael Dugas gets to speak to the editors of local publications.

“Publishers have been telling me that when they hire a journalist, they notice that these people can’t shoot [pictures]. But who better to do it, when you think about it?”

Students taking the course Photo Journalism will be provided with digital cameras (which the industry uses almost exclusively nowadays) and will be expected to go out into the field and e-mail back good shots.

Eye-opening data on plants

Did you know that belladonna, a poisonous perennial, was used by women in the Middle Ages to enhance their eyes (hence the name, “beautiful lady”)? The plant produces alkaloids known as atropine. Even today, ophthalmologists use it to open our eyes wider during check-ups.

And did you know that certain plants produce a steroid called diosgenin that affects the nervous systems and blood supply of herbivores, but that this same compound is used as an active ingredient in birth control pills for humans?

“Plants use these compounds as their own defense mechanisms. We use these compounds the same ways that plants do,” said Professor Bhindi Mangat, who teaches Plants and Your Health.

The course, which is in its second year, will cover basic plant biotechnology with emphasis on the pros and cons of genetically modified plants, medicinal plants and herbs, and aromatherapy for the non-biology student. For many of those enrolled, it will be their first academic venture into the world of biology and chemistry.

More new course in the next CTR.