First-Year Foundation Seminars at Innis


Learning at University

Whether you’re interested in a small class experience, or learning from professors who are passionate about their area of research, the First-Year Foundation (FYF) Seminars are exciting options to consider. Choose a FYF Seminar that sparks your curiosity. These Seminars will help you build the skills to succeed in university study in any discipline.

Innis Is Here to Help You

In a FYF Seminar, you can build foundations for learning and hone skills to inquire, search, and analyze. You and fewer than 30 A&S peers can enroll in a FYF Seminar on a current topic taught by an outstanding professor who also takes on the role as your guide to university learning. At the same time, studying in an area where your professor is a specialist is likely to fuel your own interest in what is happening in the world around you.

FYF @ Innis

There are 145 FYF Seminars offered in A&S this year. All FYF Seminars:

  • are courses for degree credit,
  • are limited to 30 or fewer students,
  • have breadth designations,
  • may in some cases fulfill program requirements.

There are 13 FYF Seminars at Innis. These are all half-year courses (0.5 FCEs). They are taught by professors from departments of A&S who have agreed to partner with Innis College. All the FYF Seminars at Innis:

  • give enrolment priority to Innis Year One students for the first week of course enrolment,
  • connect you with peers at Innis,
  • are offered at or close to Innis College,
  • familiarize you with a learning strategist and librarian.

Have any questions? Check out our FAQs.

COURSE OFFERINGS (Fall / Winter 2021-2022)

Biodiversity & the City

Professor: Donald Jackson
Subject: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Course Code: EEB197H1F
Time: Tuesday 10:00 – 12:00
Most of us are urban creatures, but we as people are not the only urban creatures. In this seminar we will explore the diversity of animal and plant species comprising the ecological community that we call “Toronto”. We will learn their names, whether they are endemic… Read More >

Cryptology: The Mathematics of Secrecy and Security

Professor: Asif Zaman
Subject: Mathematics
Course Code: MAT198H1F
Time: Wednesday 9:00 – 11:00
How do we send our own confidential information through secure channels, and how can we break codes to uncover the secret information of our adversaries? The mathematical field of cryptology is dedicated to answering… Read More >

Dystopia: Religion and Gender in Science Fiction

Professor: Laura Beth Bugg
Subject: Religion
Course Code: RLG198H1F
Time: Wednesday 10:00 – 12:00
This course will examine the “what ifs” and imagined worlds of ideal utopias and oppressive dystopias through the lens of religion and gender in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and… Read More >

Environmental Writing

Professor: Andrea Williams
Subject: Innis College
Course Code: INI196H1F
Time: Tuesday 10:00 – 12:00
From environmental disasters and ecological collapse to climate change denial and celebrations of nature and wilderness, we will explore the diverse ways humans imagine and write about the natural world and the consequences of such writing. We will study a variety of… Read More >
andrea williams headshot

Genes, Genomes and Us

Professor: Maurice Ringuette
Subject: Cell & System Biology
Course Code: CSB196H1S
Time: Thursday 14:00 – 16:00
With the completion of the human genome sequence, we now have access to more information than ever before about our genetic make-up. This course addresses topics such as what are genes, how are they identified and how does knowledge about genes… Read More >
Maurice Ringuette

Global Cities and Urban Refugees: Connecting South and North

Professor: James Johnson
Subject: Sociology
Course Code: SOC196H1F
Time: Tuesday 11:00 – 13:00
The majority of refugees and asylum seekers today live in cities, above all, in the Global South. This course will introduce and critically assess key theories and concepts on forced migration in relation to cities from a global perspective. By drawing on a wide range of… Read More >
James Johnson

Mobility and Borders

Professor: Rachel Silvey
Subject: Geography
Course Code: GGR198H1F
Time: Wednesday 12:00 – 14:00
This course examines the political geographies of transnational migration. It asks how spaces of migration and mobility are political, and how migration politics are tied to inequalities wrought through intersecting histories of race… Read More >

Our Vampires, Ourselves (E)

Professor: Erol Boran
Subject: German
Course Code: GER194H1S
Time: Friday 10:00 – 12:00
Vampires are among the most fascinating figures of popular culture. Since Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) – and, in fact, well before that – they have been haunting the human imagination in various shapes and forms. This course examines the figure of the vampire… Read More >

Power, Resistance and the Graphic Novel

Professor: Max Mishler
Subject: History
Course Code: HIS194H1S
Time: Wednesday 13:00 – 15:00
This course will look broadly at the question of power and resistance in the Americas (Canada, the United States, and Latin America) through the prism of graphic novels. Each week we will read a graphic novel related to… Read More >

Psychology of Student Success

Professor: Ashley Waggoner Denton
Subject: Psychology
Course Code: PSY194H1F
Time: Tuesday 13:00 – 15:00
University life presents students with all sorts of challenges as well as amazing opportunities for learning and growth. While there are many different ways to define a “successful student”, the goal of this seminar is for everyone to develop the knowledge, skills… Read More >
IMG_0058-Edit-Social Media Wide Crop_SmallResize - Ashley Waggoner Denton

Representing Disability

Professor: Katherine Williams
Subject: English
Course Code: ENG197H1S
Time: Wednesday 13:00 – 15:00
Understanding disability as a cultural concept—not a medical condition or personal misfortune—that describes how human variation matters in the world, this course asks: how do literary texts represent physical and intellectual disability? Reading drama… Read More >

Shocking Artists, Shocking Art

Professor: Elizabeth Legge
Subject: Art History
Course Code: FAH198H1S
Time: Monday 15:00 – 17:00
Art causes scandals for many reasons, provoking a range of consequences, including censorship, cuts to government funding of the arts or even destruction of the work in question. In this course we will consider a number of kinds of art scandal arising from… Read More >

What, Who, How: Privacy in the Age of Big Data Collection

Professor: Francois Pitt
Subject: Computer Science
Course Code: CSC197H1F
Time: Friday 12:00 – 14:00
The rapid advance of technology has brought remarkable changes to how we conduct our daily lives, from how we communicate, consume news and data, and purchase goods. As we increase our online activity… Read More >


Have any additional questions that aren’t listed below? Please contact Jannie Chien, Innis College Program Coordinator at

What is a First-Year Foundation (FYF) Seminar?

A First-Year Foundation Seminar is

  • an opportunity to develop university-level learning skills
  • a class with 30 or fewer students
  • an interactive class led by a professor. It combines lectures and group discussion
  • offered by a U of T faculty member from one of the academic departments of the Faculty of Arts & Science
  • designed to spark curiosity
  • intended to provide new students an opportunity to get to know a professor in an academic setting.

How are the FYF Seminars different from the FYF Ones Program?

Each of the seven Colleges plus the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy sponsors a First-Year Foundation (FYF) Ones Program. Each Ones Program is a distinctive academic experience. Ones Programs are a collection of first-year courses around a theme. The Ones Programs also include experiential learning opportunities. Click here to learn more about the Innis Ones Program called The Creative City.

What is so special about the FYF Seminars at Innis?

Innis encourages every Year One student to take a First-Year Foundation (FYF) course – either a Seminar or a Ones Program (described in the FAQ above).

FYF Seminars at Innis
There are about 150 FYF Seminars in Arts & Science. 13 FYF Seminars are being hosted at Innis College and give Innis students an opportunity to take a seminar at their own College. These Innis courses have some distinctive features:

  • a tentative marking scheme and reading list is available before course enrolment;
  • Innis students have priority enrolment access into these courses for one week before other A&S students;
  • classes are held at or very close to the College;
  • students have a chance to study with fellow Innis students and an outstanding professor who is especially interested in supporting student learning;
  • the courses offer the support of a librarian and a learning strategist;
  • the class contributes to the academic community at Innis;
  • the course builds student confidence to access the resources and supports to thrive at university and beyond.

Am I still a first-year student if I have transfer credits?

For purposes of the FYF Seminars, a first-year student is a student admitted to Year One who is entering university-level study in A&S for the first time and with fewer than 4.0 transfer credits for work completed as a high-school student.

Can I take a First-Year Foundation Seminar after my first year?

No. First-Year Foundation Seminars are reserved for students in their first year of university study.

Is it true that these courses do not have final exams?

Yes. True. The First-Year Foundation Seminars do not have final exams in the Final Examination Period. There may be a term test in the last two weeks of classes, but that test will never be worth more than 25% of the final grade.

Is there a maximum number of FYF courses I am permitted to take?

Students are limited to 1.0 FYF course.

Is there a maximum number of FYF Seminars I can enroll in before classes start?

The ACORN system will not prohibit first-year students from signing up for more than one FYF course (Seminar or Ones Program) but students are encouraged not sign up for courses unnecessarily because it deprives other first-year students of the chance to enrol in one.

Are there high school prerequisites for any of these courses?

A few FYF Seminars (e.g. certain MAT and STA Seminars) have a high school math prerequisite.

Do the FYF courses count towards the Breadth Requirement?

Every FYF Seminar belongs to a breadth requirement category.

Do the FYF Seminars fulfill program admission requirements?

FYF Seminars typically do not fulfill program admission requirements. In some cases, FYF Seminars can be used to fulfill academic program completion requirements. For further information, contact the academic department or program offering the relevant FYF Seminar.

Are there any exclusions to First-Year Foundation Seminar courses?

In rare instances, other courses are exclusions to FYF Seminars. ENG197H1F at Innis is one of those instances. The FYF courses called ENG196H, ENG198H and ENG199H are exclusions to ENG197H1F at Innis.