Discovery University

Discovery University offers university-level courses to people living on low incomes or experiencing homelessness, taught by instructors from Ottawa’s universities – Carleton University, University of Ottawa and Saint Paul University. There are no course fees and course materials are free. Ten-week classes are offered twice a year. Interested in becoming a student? Fill out our application form for Winter 2022 below!

Significant Spaces: Location, History, and Affect

Course Description

Despite having a wealth of information at our fingertips online, we often know relatively little about the history, dynamics, and stories about the buildings, streets, & neighbourhoods we move through everyday. These environments influence us in untold ways: “we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”(Churchill). Yet we rarely think about how the built environment came to be, and how it continues to influence us: our behaviours, sense of self, and our feelings towards particular locations. This class looks at various theories of space & place to determine why we feel the way we do about certain locations, and how we can change our relationship with the material environment. Who we are and how we act are largely influenced by the places we have encountered in the past, and continue to navigate through in the present. However, we should avoid a purely materialist view of the environment, which sees the spaces around us as “only things” or “only matter”. Instead, we must begin to re-think space in all of its social, material, historical and imaginary aspects. How can we “read” the environment? Why do we care about the places that we do? Can knowing more about a place change how we relate to it? How is moving through a city akin to a story? How might we rethink cities in order to create a sense of place, or a deeper attachment to neighbourhoods? They are the types of questions we’ll be looking at in this class, as we attempt to answer: “What does it mean to be ‘here’? 

About the Instructor

My name is Chris Eaket and I currently teach at the University of Ottawa and Carleton. My areas of specialization include Spatial Theory, Theatre, Science Fiction, and Digital Humanities. I’m mostly concerned with how we can attach stories to places, either through the use of technology (locative media) or various art practices (site-specific work). When I think about places that are personally significant to me, it’s usually because there’s some kind of memory or story attached to it: here’s the house I grew up in; here’s where so-and-so wiped out on his bike; here’s where that first kiss happened; this is where I learned to drive; here’s where my friends and I used to come on the weekends. Our memories cement our emotional attachments to places, and those places are intricately woven into our sense of identity. This is why I think it’s important to study spaces and places, share stories about them, and reflect on how our relationships with certain locations come about in the first place. Those are also the major concerns of this class. 

Course Times

From Friday, January 28th 2022 to Friday, April 1st from 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Further details about the program will be outlined in the acceptance letter. There will be a welcome session from 6:00pm until 7:00pm on 26th January. 

Course Location

The course will be held every Friday in the University of Ottawa’s Desmarais Building, vaccination and proof of vaccination are required to access OttawaU property. Discussion groups will be held via Zoom meetings. All additional information will be included in the welcome pack for successful candidates.

Letters from Winters of Yesteryear

Course Description

This special winter course will provide participants an opportunity to be exposed to some important speeches/deeds/actions of major public figures. Participants – as equal partners with the professor – will have a rare occasion to think and talk about the impact those figures have had on our lives. In order to succeed, each participant will have to:

1. Read each week a short text on one of the eight selected figures;

2. Analyze the main facts about the person’s life, his/her accomplishments and the relevance he/she has nowadays on our perceptions, behaviours or thoughts;

3. Think about the potential choices offered to all concerned

a) to solve the mystery of their aura,

b) to gauge the conflict opposing those who believe and those who do not, that each one of the personalities’ relevance is of the outmost importance,

c) to share with other participants some ideas that are raised publicly (and some that are not raised) about these 8 major figures of our times. 

The “textbook” is a collection of 8 short articles that each summarizes, in different ways, the social, cultural and political contributions of our personalities. 

About the Instructor

Professor Clinton Archibald has taught Public Policy and Governance at the University of Ottawa, for thirty years (1975-2005). He then taught Public Ethics at Saint Paul University, for seven years (2006-2013). He now teaches Ethics and Social Responsibility at the Université du Québec in the Outaouais (UQO). He is also as regular political commentator on radio and television stations, both in Ontario and Québec. This will be his third course at Discovery University/Ottawa Mission (the first one took place in 2010, second in 2018). He has referred to as one of the most popular professors in the yearly rankings of Canadian universities, in Maclean’s magazine, over the years. 

Course Times

From Friday, January 28th 2022, to Friday, April 1st from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Further details about the program will be outlined in the acceptance letter. There will be a welcome session on from 6:00pm until 7:00pm on 26th January. 

Course Location

The course will be held every Friday in the University of Ottawa’s Desmarais Building, vaccination and proof of vaccination are required to access OttawaU property. Discussion groups will be held via Zoom meetings. All additional information will be included in the welcome pack for successful candidates. 

Digital Darkroom: Photoshop and the Constructed Image

Course Description

In the 1992 essay The reconfigured eye: visual truth in the post-photographic era (MIT Press), educator William J. Mitchell asserts that a digital photograph cannot be accepted as traditional photography. The reason is simple: digital images do not result from the physical print of light that passed through the lens, just like a film camera would do, but rather result from the translation of light into a coloured pixel. This shift in the photographic mechanism might be irrelevant for a lot of us, but it is enough for Mitchell to encourage digital photographers to do two very revolutionary things: embrace digital language, embrace digital manipulations.This class is not only an opportunity to learn basic Photoshop skills to enhance your digital photos; it is also an invitation to reflect on both the issues related to contemporary digital culture as well as Photoshop as a medium.Students are expected to bring their own digital photograph(s) on a USB stick every week, taken prior to this class. Students without photographs on a USB will be able to use photos from the Internet. No formal photo shoot will be organized.

About the Instructor

My name is AM Dumouchel and I am a visual artist working with photography, sculpture and installation. I teach photography in the visual arts department at the University of Ottawa.Through digital collages, I love to craft my large-scale photographs without the use of cameras, collecting my material on search engines, by scanning miscellaneous objects and by digital manipulation. This way of working allows me to reflect on different aspects of human experiences in the digital era. In parallel with my art practice, I am an illustrator of extreme metal albums. I look forward to meeting you all!

Course Times

From Friday, January 28th to Friday, April 1st 2021 from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Further details about the program will be outlined in the acceptance letter. There will be a welcome session on from 6:00pm until 7:00pm on 26th January. 

Course Location

The course will be held every Friday in the University of Ottawa’s Morisset Building, vaccination and proof of vaccination are required to access OttawaU property. All additional information will be included in the welcome pack for successful candidates.

Priority will be given to new Discovery University students. Please note, there will be NO discussion groups for this course.