Interdisciplinary class discusses the power of language

Transformative Learning | Strategy 14: Interdisciplinary Education
Theme: Collaboration
Professors Mark Turin (Anthropology) and Janet Werker (Psychology) co-teach Living Language: Science and Society
Dr. Mark Turin (Anthropology) and Dr. Janet Werker (Psychology) co-teach Living Language: Science and Society

At UBC Vancouver, one unique course is encouraging undergraduate students from multiple disciplines to come together and explore the power of language. Cross-listed in six faculties, Living Language: Science and Society is a result of the interdisciplinary efforts of Dr. Janet Werker, Professor in the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Mark Turin, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology.

The class enables students to lead their own exploration of language as it applies to all domains of human life – from the creation and acquisition of spoken language to writing systems, texts of all kinds, arts, culture, science and technology. “We hope this will better enable [students] to harness their knowledge – both directly and in successful communication with others – as they move forward in their lives,” said Dr. Werker.

Offered for the first time in September 2018, Living Language: Science and Society was the first university-wide class in language sciences. The course is an example of UBC’s efforts to encourage stronger collaborations, in alignment with Strategy 14: Interdisciplinary Education of its strategic plan. UBC has also identified Interdisciplinary Education as one of the institution’s six priority areas for the next two years.

To learn more about the Living Languages course, read the Faculty of Arts’ interview with Professors Janet Werker and Mark Turin.

“Through my research, I have learned just how much happens at the intersection of disciplines, and I am really excited to model that for our students. Interdisciplinarity reflects the backgrounds of our students, their needs, and the way our complex and interconnected world works […] The result of our collaboration is a course that speaks to many of the goals of UBC’s new Strategic Plan, and will take us all in new directions.”

Dr. Mark Turin
Associate Professor of Anthropology, First Nations & Endangered Languages Program, and co-instructor of Living Language: Science and Society