Critical Perspectives

(Ways of Looking)

Critical Perspectives (Ways of Looking) is a co-curricular opportunity available to all Daniels first-year undergraduate students. It aims to strengthen our community and critical thinking, directly addressing pressing issues of our time and place: the climate crisis, racial and spatial justice, indigenous allyship, land stewardship, the rise of AI.

Critical Perspectives is optional: an open resource, a greeting to our new students, a suggestion for some summer reading, and a gathering of friendly voices. It has four parts:

  1.  A Reading List of essays or book excerpts,
  2.  A series of Video Interviews from Daniels faculty and staff,
  3.  A Writing Workshop, offered in-person or online in August, on the joy of reading and writing, logic and rhetoric, or ‘sketching with words,'
  4.  A Screening and Seminar Series to be launched in the Fall.

Engaging with some of these materials, media, and workshops, will create a common starting point to your liberal arts education, uncover different ways of looking at the world, foster shared understanding and solidarity.

Reading List

These critical texts discuss our relationship to nature and rights, indigenous worldviews, the earth and its materials, technology and the Commons; they address issues of power and colonialism, spatial and racial justice, planetary warming and the Anthropocene.

Link to Readings

Video Interviews

How do we read? We've asked some of our faculty and staff to reflect on a number of questions, including:

  • What was the last thing you read?
  • How does reading fit into your daily life?
  • How do you make connections among different readings?
  • What do you like reading most?
  • Do you read on a screen or paper?
  • What is a book that changed your life?

Writing Workshop

The Writing Workshop will take place in person at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, or online, between August 12–19, 2024. 

This eight-day workshop offers incoming students practical tools and exercises to become better writers, and to explore the joy of writing. No matter if English is your first language or not, these tools and exercises could be of help throughout your studies, in writing essays, and in forming your ideas.

This workshop will have six sessions (every morning 9am-noon). You will get small writing exercises in class, some compact writing assignments to work on during the rest of the day, and one slightly bigger assignment to be completed over the weekend. The assignments will be discussed in peer reviews and group sessions. There will also be collective readings of good, bad, and funny texts, to get a better understanding of the mechanics of writing, and to see when, why, and how words matter.

Whether you are passionate about writing or not, whether you are confident or insecure about your skills, whether you are hindered by a writer’s block or cannot stop your flow of words: this workshop is for you.

How to Register

The Writing Workshop is open to all incoming 2024 Daniels first-year undergraduate students who have activated their UTORID and email.

Details to follow shortly.

Screening and Seminar Series

A Series of evening Film Screenings/Seminars will take place in the Fall-Winter of 2024-25 at the Daniels Faculty. Open to the Daniels community, each of these events will feature a film screening, a presentation / seminar by a Daniels faculty member, and an open discussion. First-year students will be able to make connections among the Films, Seminars, Readings, Videos and Workshops.

The Series’ title, films, and participating faculty will be announced on this page in the Fall.