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Living Cultures, Year 2

Program begins September 2024

The second-year program at Beinn Mhàbu is carefully crafted to integrate Community Studies courses, core to the BACS (Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies) degree at Cape Breton University with the Beinn Mhàbu experience.


The BACS program:

The BACS program at CBU works well with Beinn Mhàbu’s vision of being a cornerstone for community and cultural renewal. It is CBU's inaugural degree program, first offered in September 1975. George Leith, a psychologist, from the Department of Educational Research and Development, University of Utrecht, was the first Dean of this program. The core BACS courses were modelled after an educational approach at Utrecht University Medical School. Leith's experience with the success of this approach provided the foundation for the core Community Studies course curriculum and delivery. [CBU]


The aim of Community Studies (COMS) courses is to facilitate the development of skills valuable to graduates in their capacity as engaged citizens, workers in rapidly changing economic environments, and as creative individuals.


To develop these attitudes and capabilities, Community Studies encourages cooperative, non-competitive pedagogies. Students work together in small groups of six-eight students. A high degree of self-direction and independent organization grow as students conduct research and write essays or plan presentations collaboratively on topics of mutual interest. Students will acquire problem solving, research, analysis, communication, and group skills through experiential and discursive learning. Throughout this process, the faculty advisor adjusts their role depending on the learning needs of individuals and groups.

Alongside these Community Studies courses, Beinn Mhàbu students will complete courses which in CBU's new major in Gaelic Language & Cultural Sustainability, including Language Decline & Revitalization, Ethnography & Research Methods, Gaelic Language, and Music courses. 

The year is divided similarly to the Foundation Year, with four modules of six weeks each, with the whole year running from September to April. There are two week breaks in the middle of both Fall and Winter terms (along with the typical Christmas break), providing students with an opportunity to wrap up projects, prepare for exams, and have a rejuvenating break before immersing themselves in the next course of study.

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Introduction to Community Studies
COMS 1100

Sep 4 – Dec 13, 2024 (6 credits)

Within the context of a small group, students are encouraged to develop and employ a variety of skills including problem solving, critical analysis, research, and writing. Both individual and group projects are required.

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Experiencing Music
MUSI 1101

Oct 28 – Dec 13, 2024 (3 credits)

This course introduces musical fundamentals such as pitch, rhythm, timbre, texture and other elements. By using a wide cross-section of world musics as exemplars, this course helps students

to develop listening and music analysis skills. Students will be introduced to musics both familiar and unfamiliar, providing a culturally diverse musical environment in which to build their vocabularies for describing musical sound and performance. Through hands-on in-class activities and individual analysis assignments, students receive grounding in the basics of music theory and practice as it is relevant to musical traditions in many parts of the world.

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Music and Culture
MUSI 2101

Jan 6 – Feb 15, 2025 (3 credits)

An introduction to the discipline of ethnomusicology, this course focuses on the issues confronting those who study music across cultures. Through the course, students discover the ways in which sounds, settings and significances interlock in diverse musical cultures. Through case studies and the major course assignment, students discover how fieldwork is done, including the process of participant observation, ethnographic interviewing, thick description and research ethics. In the process, broader issues in ethnomusicology are studied, such as movement across distances (e.g., migration), commercial and economic issues (e.g., recordings, tourism), ritual (e.g., religion, life cycle ceremonies) and politics (e.g., nationalism, protest). Each of these issues is discussed theoretically and then examined in several specific (and different) case studies involving music cultures from around the world.

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Advanced Gaelic
GAEL 2101

Sep 4 – Dec 13, 2024 (3 credits)

Building on GAEL 1103, this course is designed to develop students' language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and grammatical awareness.

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Applied Research Methods
COMS 2100

Jan 6 – Apr 18, 2025 (6 credits)

Students engage in group projects which apply the problem-solving skills of the first year and develop additional abilities and techniques of primary research, analysis, and evaluation.

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Language Decline & Revitalization

Mar 3 – Apr 18, 2025 (3 credits)

This course will introduce students to signs of language decline and the approaches by which language revitalization can occur. Case studies from around the world will illuminate methods

of language revitalization.


Ethnography & Research Methods
FOLK 2114

Sep 4 – Oct 18, 2024 (6 credits)

This course will prepare students to conduct ethnographic research and incorporate their research into their writing. Topics covered include the ethics of fieldwork, interview, transcription, field notes, participant observation, object documentation, the uses of photography and video, library and archive research, ethnographic writing, and alternative knowledge transfer. Objects of study include custom, material culture, verbal art, oral history, music and dance.

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Advanced Gaelic II
GAEL 2103

Jan 6 – Apr 18, 2025 (3 credits)

Continuation of GAEL 2101. Emphasis is on the reinforcement of language skills through more complex listening, speaking, reading and writing activities.

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