Course Exam—HIST 336

History of Canadian Labour

HIST 336 (History of Canadian Labour) is a six-credit course that is designed to provide you with an extensive and detailed investigation of Canadian labour and working-class history.  It consists of eight units, which cover the periods from 1763 to 2000.  This course has no prerequisites, though LBST 200 (Introduction to Labour Studies) or LBST 202 (Introduction to Labour Studies) is recommended.  Note that LBST 200 and LBST 202 are the same course, just offered in two designations.  There is a Challenge for Credit option for HIST 336 if students are interested.

Students should note that this course is six-credits, meaning that it is two courses in one.  You should expect this course to take you twice as long than a three-credit course to complete.  Also, this course is more expensive than a three-credit course; however, less expensive than two three-credit courses, so it could be a good option if students are looking to save a bit of money.  If focused, a six-credit course could even possibly speed up your degree.

This is an individualized study that contains a video component.  Overseas students should contact the University Library (email can be found in the online syllabus) prior to registering in a course that has an audio or visual component.

History of Canadian Labour is made up of eight units, five assignments weighing five percent, ten percent, twenty percent, five percent, and thirty-five percent respectively, and a final examination weighing twenty-five percent.  Throughout the eight units within this course, students will examine an overview of Canadian working-class history, read articles, and view ten video recording on various aspects of working-class and labour history.  In order to receive credit for HIST 336, students must complete all five graded activities and write the final examination.  The final grade is determined by a weighted average on these activities and students must achieve an overall grade of “D” (fifty percent) or better for the entire course.  The final examination for this course must be taken online with an Athabasca University-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre.

Dr. Ingo Schmidt has been working at Athabasca University since 2007 and has been the coordinator for HIST 336 since he started.  He states, “I guess I’m an activist-academic, meaning that I am a long-term activist in labour and international solidarity movements but have also done academic work on unions.  I got my Masters and PhD degrees in economics in Germany and worked as staff economist with the metal workers union, IG Metall, before moving to Canada in 2005 where I had my first job at the econ-department at UNBC in Prince George.”

Alongside HIST 336, he coordinates EDUC 210 (The Canadian Training System), IDRL 496 (Comparative Labour Education), LBST 200/202 (Introduction to Labour Studies), LBST 330 (Workers and the Economy), LBST 332 (Women and Unions), LBST 335 (Global Labour History), SOCI 321 (Sociology of Work and Industry in Canada), MAIS 514 (The Theory and Practice of Trade Unions), and MAIS 650 (Canadian and International Labour Education).

Also, Dr. Schmidt tutors EDUC 307 (Challenges of Multicultural Education), MAIS 514 (Theory and Practice of Trade Unions), and MAIS 650 (Canadian and International Labour Education).

Dr. Schmidt describes the course as one that “goes back to the early days of colonization and follows the emergence and transformation of paid work up until the end of the 20th century.  It also follows workers efforts to organize, mostly but not exclusively, in unions to collectively improve their working and living conditions.  It also considers the role of race and gender in workplaces and workers organizations and the interplay between paid and unpaid work in households.”

When asked to explain the structure of the course, he states that there is “One quiz and four written assignments ranging from short essay to research paper, the final exam does cover the content of the entire course, and there are no participation marks.”

As for what kind of work students can expect in this course, Dr. Schmidt states “Reading, thinking, filtering: Being a six-credit course there’s about double the amount to read compared to the more common three-credit courses.  To make sense of the readings covering a timespan from the mid 17-hundreds to the late 19-hundreds requires careful attention to study questions that help not to get lost in unrelated detail.  In other words: Filtering out more general developments out of the details provided is a key thing in taking this course.”

He continues, “On a formal note: Six-credit courses are fairly unusual, essentially it is like taking two consecutive three-credit courses.  Considering the importance of this course for the Labour Studies Program we would either have two such consecutive courses – or all in one six-credit course.  There’s just too much stuff to be squeezed into just one three-credit course.”

He provides some advice to students who are currently enrolled in the course or considering enrolling, “Be critical; that something is in the study guide or the readings doesn’t mean it’s true.  Always ask yourself whether info and arguments provided add up.  If not, see if you find a way to make sense of things in a coherent way. … Don’t hesitate to ask your tutor.”

Dr. Schmidt believes students will take away “an understanding of how different work and life have been on the lands now called Canada.  Improvements in working and living conditions have always depended on workers’ collective struggles, and in the absence of such struggles conditions would always worsen again.  As a lesson for the future: students with most of their working lives ahead of them may also face the question whether or not to engage in struggles for better conditions.”

Every course has content that may be difficult to students, as for HIST 336, he believes that “The filtering that I mentioned above is the most difficult.  We live in a culture dominated by small little boxes with no connections between them; this makes it difficult to connect the dots, but, without doing so, history all too easily falls apart in so many stories.”

Whether HIST 336 is a degree or program requirement of yours or the topics discussed above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning a lot of history surrounding Canadian labour and working-class history!

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