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 Seminars at 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 14 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 (2020-2021 Fall/Winter Session)

The Age of Reason and the New World

Professor: John Noyes
Subject: German
Course Code: GER194H1F
Time: Wednesday 10:00 – 12:00
In this course we will examine the growing awareness of the strange new world beyond Europe in the so-called Age of Reason. How did writers respond to the challenges of radically different cultures? What did their way of life… Read More >

Biodiversity & the City

Professor: Chelsea Rochman
Subject: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Course Code: EEB197H1S
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: Fabian Parsch
Subject: Mathematics
Course Code: MAT198H1S
Time: Thursday 13:00 – 15:00
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… Read More >
Fabian Parsch

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: SOC196H1S
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

Media Worlds & East Asia

Professor: Michelle Cho
Subject: East Asian Studies
Course Code: EAS197H1F
Time: Wednesday 13:00 – 15:00
The term “world-making” is often used nowadays to refer to transmedia storytelling, or the creation of story-worlds across serial narratives in a range of entertainment media, such as novels, games, film series/franchises, TV shows, comics, and webtoons. This… Read More >

Political Spaces

Professor: Rachel Silvey
Subject: Geography
Course Code: GGR198H1F
Time: Tuesday 13:00 – 15:00
Is space political? In what ways? What are the implications of thinking about politics geographically? How do political conflicts both invoke and transform space and place? What kinds of alternative political relationships to space and alternative… Read More >

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

Professor: Danny Heap
Subject: Computer Science
Course Code: CSC197H1F
Time: Wednesday 15:00 – 17:00
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 >
Danny Heap

Probabilities Everywhere

Professor: Jeffrey Rosenthal
Subject: Statistics
Course Code: STA198H1F
Time: Wednesday 15:00 – 17:00
This course examines the meaning and mathematics of probabilities, and how they arise in our everyday lives. Specific topics may include: the nature of coincidences, the concept of luck, games involving dice and cards, long run averages in casinos, margins of…. Read More >
Jeffrey Rosenthal

Psychology and History of Drug Use

Professor: Suzanne Wood
Subject: Psychology
Course Code: PSY199H1F
Time: Wednesday 11:00 – 13:00
This seminar will examine the historical and contemporary use of drugs. Students will be introduced to the general psychological and neuroscientific mechanisms by which drugs affect human behavior, and explore highlights of current research… Read More >

Religion & Violence

Professor: Doris Bergen
Subject: History
Course Code: HIS196H1S
Time: Wednesday 10:00 – 12:00
In this seminar we will explore the complex roles of religion in cases of extreme violence. Working chronologically backward from the 1990s (Rwanda, former Yugoslavia), we will consider cases from a number of locations and decades in the… Read More >

Representing Disability

Professor: Katherine Williams
Subject: English
Course Code: ENG197H1F
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 >

Story Worlds and the Cinema

Professor: Bart Testa
Subject: Cinema Studies
Course Code: CIN196H1F
Time: Wednesday 10:00 – 12:00
Films create story worlds, imaginary environments in which characters live and act, and where events, large and small, transpire. Some story worlds are elaborate, fanciful constructs (think of Disney’s animated films). Others stay close to reality (think of “docudramas”). But across the spectrum, all of them are framed by… Read More >
Bart Testa


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. 15 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.