Why GSR 984?
It is the theory that decides what we can observe. Or modified slightly, It is our theories and thinking that decides what we can observe." - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
GSR 984: Thinking Critically is a non-credit course for Masters students, Ph.D. students, and post-doctoral fellows. This seven-week course is offered from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Monday afternoons in the 2015-2016 fall and winter terms. The course provides a multidisciplinary and multicultural setting for students to develop the creative and critical thinking skills required for professional practice.
GSR984 focuses on foundational frameworks of thinking (often invisible to us) that are used for almost everything we do in our personal and professional lives. The key theme, creative and critical thinking involves a process of thinking about thinking in which identifying our assumptions and reflecting to enhance learning and thinking, are built into every session. Each session includes reflective activities to help ensure that the course content and activities remain grounded in the realities of work and life.
By taking GSR 984 you will:
- Identify a number of professional skills you need to focus on as you develop your professional and personal goals.
- Become aware of your conceptual frameworks and develop thinking skills, to identify assumptions and biases in your and other’s thinking.
- Develop an appreciation of differences in the thinking in diverse disciplines and how to interact within multidisciplinary groups.
- Learn to appreciate the importance of group dynamics for problem solving and learning.
- Develop a personal understanding of how disciplinary excellence requires reflection on how you think, what you believe, and how you act
About this Course
The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." - Henri Bergson, French Philosopher and Educator
GSR 984 provides a multicultural and multidisciplinary environment in which graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are expected to develop new and unique understandings and skills for their professional and personal lives. Meeting weekly with peers from disciplines across campus in face-to-face small groups, students collectively engage in problem solving of case studies to explore a wide range of professional issues and challenging questions. GSR984 focuses on foundational frameworks of thinking (often invisible to us) that are used for almost everything we do in our personal and professional lives. The key theme, creative and critical thinking, involves a process of thinking about thinking in which identifying our assumptions and reflecting to enhance learning and thinking are integrated into each session.
Through multidisciplinary and multicultural discussions students uncover their own knowledge frameworks and assumptions. They discover ways in which personality, human thinking, social contexts, cultural beliefs, and fields of study subtly but deeply shape our ways of knowing and acting, often without our awareness. Students develop mutual appreciation of each other’s’ vantage points that enrich their own academic fields, research, friendships, and future professional practice.
The course works to meet concerns expressed by Tri-Council Granting Agencies and the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies about the need to include a wide range of professional skills within Canadian graduate programs to enable graduate students to excel in responsibly engaging and leading our complex global communities into the future, to making a difference.
For more information on course topics and discussions, check out our course blog at: Beyond Disciplinary Excellence.
If you want to read more about this course and foundational skills, download the Full Course Overview: GSR 984.
Course Instructors & Community of Practice
The format, content, goals, facilitation, and administration of GSR 984 have been discussed and developed via a Community of Practice (CoP). A Community of Practice is a flexible organization made up of a wide range of individuals interested in a common purpose. The GSR 984 CoP benefits from the input of a wide variety of expertises from communities within and outside of the University of Saskatchewan. Other guest facilitators may also lead and participate in some of the discussions.
Course Instructors: Trisha Dowling (Professor, Western College of Veterinary Medicine) & Kim West, Educational Development Specialist, The Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness
Graduate Student Facilitator: TBA
Course Requirements & Evaluation
- Attend all seven class sessions.
- Come prepared, by reading and interacting with the on-line material (posted on Blackboard) before class.
- Participate in the group discussions.
- Write a short, focused reflection exercise after each session (~20 to 30 min maximum).
- Write a reflective essay at the conclusion of the course.
Ask Our Students
In past years, graduate students have found GSR 984 an exciting opportunity for exploring, challenging, and expanding their ways of knowing and communicating. Visit our Accolades tabs to find out what our graduates have to say about this course, and why you should consider taking it to further your professional career. You can also watch the short video to learn what six of the more than 200 graduate students who have participated in GSR 984 say about their transformative experience in the course:
Please note: if you are using Internet Explorer, you must hover your cursor directly above this note to view the video controls. If you are not able to view the video, try using either Safari or Firefox.
Registration for the fall and winter terms of GSR 984 (2015-2016) will begin May 15, 2015.
Who should apply?
Current Masters or PhD students and post-doctoral fellows at the University of Saskatchewan are encouraged to apply. The course will be offered from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Mondays in the 2015-2016 fall and winter terms.
Visit our Accolades tab to find out what our graduates have to say about this course and why you should consider taking it. The "About this Course" tab will help you learn more about whether this course is a good fit for you.
How to apply
Interested students must submit an application to the Gwenna Moss Centre to receive permission to register in GSR 984. Applications are processed in the order they are received and spaces are limited.
Please read the application form carefully. If you are not a current graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan or if your information is incomplete we will be unable to process your application. You will be notified via your campus email address as to whether or not your application was successful.
The application form below is downloadable as a fillable PDF. Please download the PDF, open it in Acrobat (not Preview) following the instructions below:
1. Save your file as Last name_First name_GSR984app
2. E-mail your application form to: firstname.lastname@example.org with "GSR 984 Application" in the subject line.
|Week 1||Introduction to reflective writing and how culture influences our interpersonal interactions and communications.|
|Week 2||How unexamined societal and cultural structures influence our thinking and behaviour.|
|Week 3||How personal assumptions about talent, intelligence, and failure shape our learning and creativity.|
|Week 4||How ‘innate’ personal preferences (personality) shape how we think about questions/problems.|
|Week 5||How culturally and societally constructed concepts, such as leadership and teamwork, influence how we approach our profession and other aspects of our lives.|
|Week 6||Introduction to negotiation.|
|Week 7||Summary reflection exercise and assessment of course.|
The format, content, goals, facilitation, and administration of GSR 984 have been discussed and developed via a Community of Practice (CoP). A Community of Practice is a flexible organization made up of a wide range of individuals interested in a common purpose. The GSR 984 CoP benefits from the input of a wide variety of expertises from communities within and outside of the University of Saskatchewan. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of several key individuals within the Community of Practice, without which the GSR 984 course would not be what it is today:
Richard Cassidy, Professor Emeritus
Dr. Richard Cassidy, professor emeritus and one of the original developers of GSR 984, passed away on June 19, 2013.
Richard’s inspiration and passion, insightful design, hard work, and humour guided GSR984 for 16 years. His collaborative leadership engaged many liked-minded colleagues. Faculty and community leaders joined Richard as facilitators for various sessions with students to probe together our “thinking about thinking.” His initiative, pedagogy, and humanity touched more than 500 graduate students.
John Thompson, Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Gerry Seniuk, Retired Chief Judge of Saskatchewan
Dr. Jayne Hudson, Retired School Principal with Expertise in Consensus Decision Making
In 2006 a number of former GSR 984 students were asked to offer their perspectives their experience with GSR 984. These students took GSR 984 from 2 to10 years ago, and have different disciplinary and work experiences, as indicated below. Many of the outcomes identified by the students were tranformative, and included such aspects as: exposed and challenged previous assumptions; developed recognition of the importance of multidisciplinary discussions of ideas; learned about the limitation of human thinking; developed new perspectives and skills that continue to influence research, work, and everyday living.
Disciplinary Background of Former Students Providing Statements:
- Sociology, PhD student, U of S
- Exploration Geology, PhD, Perth, Australia
- Commerce, PhD, new faculty at Wilfred Laurier University
- Chemistry, PhD, Weyeth Pharmaceutical, Virginia
- Education and Accountant, PhD student, U of S
- Philosophy, PhD student, Laval University
- Engineering, Environmental Activist, MSc student, U of S
- Private Business and Education, MEd, U of S
- Geography, PhD student, Waterloo University
- Geochemistry, PhD, Technology Transfer Consultant, Universität Potsdam, Germany
Summary of Statements From Students (click to expand)