Profs defend, relish bird course status


“Yay, I made it,” said Gillian Turnbull, laughing when The Ryersonian told her two of her classes made the list of Ryerson’s bird courses, according to

Turnbull teaches Music and Pop Culture and Music in the City, just two of the 81 courses deemed bird courses by the website. That puts Ryerson in seventh place out of the 37 universities featured on the site.

The University of Waterloo ranked first with 341 bird courses, with the University of Toronto and York University rounding out the top three.

Turnbull said students enjoy her courses because “it’s a break from accounting, or business courses with heavy workloads.”

And while she admitted students do get good grades in her class, she argued that’s because “(they) are happy to be there. I don’t have to motivate (them).”

Mustafa Koc, who teaches Food and Foodways, another course on the list, said that he “(doesn’t) want to make it easy, because when it is easy it is not stimulating.”

He added if students don’t invest time and effort into something, they won’t get anything out of it.

“My goal is to intrigue students, and make them aware (of) a sociological perspective on food,” he said.

Colin O’Farrell created the website 10 years ago when he realized that students had no resource for finding good electives.

And by “good,” O’Farrell meant easy.

“University is challenging and people need courses to bring their GPAs up,” he said.

But when it comes to electives, easiness is in the eye of the studier, said O’Farrell.

“Organic chemistry is on the list at Waterloo, which is a notoriously difficult course.”

O’Farrell said he lets the community of students decide which courses are listed and only intervenes when fake courses and bad language are posted online.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on October 9, 2013.

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