New courses at UBC tackle real world problems

Transformative Learning | Strategy 12: Program Redesign
Theme: Collaboration

New classes and labs rolling out this year will give UBC Science students the opportunity to tackle climate change with community partners, transition into first-year as part of a data science cohort program, explore non-animal testing methods, and more.

Please visit the Faculty of Science website to read the full details of the new courses, which are highlighted below.

New lab tackles climate emergency

In response to UBC’s 2019 declaration of the climate emergency, faculty and staff from UBC Science and Arts went to work developing the now-approved Certificate in Climate Studies and Action, and a series of Climate Action Labs (ENVR 201-402) that address pressing climate issues. With the interdisciplinary nature of the courses—combining students from different degree backgrounds and years and community partners from outside the university—students will work together to put what they learn into action.

A new way to help first-year students transition into university

First-Year Focus–Computation, a hybrid program offering online and in-person learning launched in 2021, is geared towards helping students transition into university. Students take courses together in a standard timetable, providing them with a community of classmates, mentors and instructors focused around a central theme: computation. The First-Year Focus Seminar (SCIE 100) is a new addition to the program that provides students with a new way to meet in-person and spend time with upper year undergraduate students who mentor them through different academic, problem-solving, and information literacy skills.

UBC’s first undergraduate data visualization course

To help students take advantage of growing industry demand for data visualization skills, UBC is now offering its first undergraduate option in the field—Introduction to Visualization (CPSC 447). The subject was previously only available in the Master of Data Science program.

Data visualization unites the strengths of computational processing with the powers of human perception, where visual representations of datasets are created in order to help people understand and act on them. Today’s students have to analyze and interpret data all the time, for their studies and in the jobs they will take on after graduation.

Dr. Tamara Munzner, professor in the Department of Computer Science

Better alternatives to animal testing

With the advancement of health research and technology, scientists are now able to implement research methods that don’t require animal testing. While there are many discussions on why scientists should move towards non-animal methods in research, UBC’s new Non-Animal Methods in Biomedical Science (ISCI 434) course shows students how to replace animals in biological science, and introduces them to experts in the field.

Through Strategy 12: Program Redesign, UBC is committed to reframing undergraduate academic program design in terms of learning outcomes and competencies.