The Persian Empire
Bi-weekly; Week One; Friday; 12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
This workshop offers every member the exciting opportunity to actively participate in exploring the history and culture of the Persians. Far from being the barbarians of the Greek imagination, the Persian Empire was sophisticated, powerful, economically strong, and intellectually gifted. We will examine the rise and spread of this Empire from its modest beginnings to the time it dominated as history’s first great superpower, ruling the largest of all ancient world empires. We will meet the Great Kings of Persia, the queens, the tax-collectors, the soldiers, the eunuchs and the concubines; discuss their religious ideas, their politics, where they lived, and why they are so absent in Western histories.
Every participant will be expected to participate in discussions and provide a presentation on topics chosen from ‘THE PERSIANS’ by L. L. Jones, (Basic Books 2022) using whatever accompanying research they have discovered.
The main idea of this workshop is that we will all have fun learning from each other about a brilliant, complex and influential civilization. Come join us!Read More
Events Of The Fortnight
Bi-weekly; Week One; Friday; 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
This workshop is focused on discussions of current events. Members suggest topics of interest; they are expected to be aware of events reported in the various media and to come prepared to discuss them. Each session will begin with a listing of the proposed events of interest, followed by a short introduction of each event by the member who suggested it, and then by discussion.Read More
The History Of Women
Bi-weekly; Week Two; Thursday; 12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
We will discuss the role women played in society throughout the ages from hunter-gatherers to modern times. While women are over half the population, standard history and anthropology texts say little about women and what they accomplished. And though it is a story often left untold, assumptions about women’s roles abound. However, current scholarship is changing those assumptions and the findings may surprise you.
We will examine many similar findings about women that demolish the myth of the ‘weaker sex’. We will shine a light on the little-known history of women, and to do so we will enlist the work of modern historians, archeologists, anthropologists, biologists, economists, and sociologists. In disentangling the past, we will learn about the stellar accomplishments of little-known female artists, writers, and scientists as well as ground-breaking discoveries by women that were credited to men.
Participants may choose to present from a wide range of topics.Read More
Exploring the World of Podcasts
Bi-weekly; Week One; Wednesday; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Podcasts are a relatively new use of technology to share information, expand our understanding of the world as well as to entertain us while we go about our active lives. There is a topic for every interest. This workshop aims to explore the world of podcasts by examining those that tackle a variety of topics (example: The Daily by New York Times journalists) to ones that delve deeply into specific subjects (Science Friday) to ones that tell a story (The Memory Palace). We will examine how to choose podcasts that are both reliable and enjoyable. Workshop participants will select a topic, and explore up to three podcasts on that topic. Each presenter will recommend that fellow participants listen to one of their chosen podcasts prior to the presentation and discussion which the presenter will lead. Presentation topics may include the biographical sketch of the podcast host(s) and guests, format and style, and quality of the information.Read More
Bi-weekly; Week Two; Monday; 12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Object Lessons utilises the growing field of material culture studies to examine the hidden lives of ordinary objects. We will create a critical framework based on the series of concise books, essays, and a blog by the same name – a joint effort of Bloomsbury Press and The Atlantic magazine. There are many titles in the series, which continues to expand. Participants can choose a book or an essay to share. Examples of recent titles are Veil, Cell Tower, and Coffee. They can also bring a personal item to analyze with the group. To glimpse the intrigue that the analysis of objects can bring to the fore, you can consult the series website:
The Brains Behind Scientific Revolutions
Bi-weekly; Week Two; Monday 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
The ways we interpret the physical universe and its actions has changed significantly throughout the ages. We no longer consider the ‘Four Elements of Matter’ or the ‘Humours of Living Organisms’ to be a sufficient explanation of how things are. In this workshop we will investigate the people behind the changing theories and their motivations from earliest astronomy to the state of science we have today.
Workshop participants will be expected to research this development and make a short (approximately 30 minute) presentation to the group. More information and suggested topics will be posted to the Workshop notes.Read More
Democracy: Past, Present and Future
Bi-weekly; Week One; Monday; 12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Can democracy be saved? Join us for a wide-ranging discussion about democracies, how they flourish and how they fail. We will discuss what differentiates democracies of the past, present and future and what mechanisms are at play that undermine or enhance democracies. How do democracies become dictatorships and how do dictatorships become democracies? How are societal tensions amplified such that democracies are threatened? What is populism and when did it start? Is there a difference between manipulation of the electorate in the past, through propaganda, versus today through data derived from social media and other means? How are the vulnerabilities of democracy undermined today and what can we learn from the past in order to enhance democracies in the future.
Each participant will prepare a 20-25 minute presentation leading to a discussion of the topics.Read More
The Supremes: Function and Impact of Our Supreme Court
Bi-weekly; Week One; Thursday; 12:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Are you interested in learning more about the highest court in Canada and how it shapes our country’s laws and policies and impacts Canadian society? Do you want to find out about the Supreme Court’s rulings affecting social, moral and ethical issues including reproductive rights, human rights, medical assistance in dying, the environment and indigenous rights? This workshop provides the opportunity to delve into the reasoning of the Court on significant issues affecting us all and to discuss the rationale for the decisions. We will also look at how our top court in Canada operates and how it compares with the US Supreme Court. Regardless of your background, this opportunity to discuss these ground-breaking decisions and issues is sure to provide valuable insights. No technical knowledge of the law or terminology is required and participants have flexible options for presentation.Read More
Extraordinary Lives: Workshop on Biographies
Bi-weekly; Week Two; Monday; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Biographies recount the stories of people’s lives, placing events, decisions and actions into context. Typically, their subjects are people who have faced significant obstacles in their lives.
The workshop will focus on biographical books and films that interpret the lives of noteworthy individuals. World leaders, celebrities, business gurus, spies, popes, and heroes will be considered.
Each two-hour session will feature two biographies – preferably one book and one film per session. Each participant is expected to choose either a book or film, and give a brief presentation about their selection at one of the workshop sessions. Participants are encouraged to read the books or films discussed in the workshop. A list of book and film biographies will be circulated and the workshop schedule will be determined in consultation between participants and facilitators. Discussion will typically focus on challenges individuals faced within the context of their times.Read More
Contemporary Film A
Bi-weekly; Week One; Wednesday; 12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Please join us for lively discussions of contemporary films. At each meeting we choose two films, released in the last 5 years and available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Kanopy, to view on our own before the next class. Films may be from any genre — indies, art films, documentaries, block-busters — or whatever moves the class when voting. Participants will volunteer in turn to create a presentation on one of the chosen films, stimulating discussion and reactions. The two presentations per class will focus on aspects such as themes, production values, and take-home values.
We rate the films individually, and then compare our class rating to the Internet rating, just for fun. In preparation for the first session, the co-facilitators will contact registered members with an invitation for two participants to volunteer. They will have the one-time opportunity to select and present a film of their own choice.Read More