Andrew Kirsch: “Discussion with a Spy: What CSIS is, What it does, and Why It’s Important to Know More About It” (Spring Talk #4 Summary)

How does spying happen in Canada, and should we be worried about it? Andrew Kirsch’s Spring Talk was an interesting presentation of what has become a currently topical issue in Canada. He is a former Canadian intelligence officer, now working as a consultant in cybersecurity with Kirsch Consulting Group. His intention in the talk was to illuminate what our Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) does, the threats and challenges to come, and how we can better protect ourselves and our country.

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Dr. Jean Marmoreo – “MAiD: Where We Have Come, Where We Are Going” (Spring Talk #3 Summary)

A well-attended Academy Spring Talk at Innes College featured Dr. Jean Marmoreo, a Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) assessor and provider since the enactment of Bill C-14 in 2016. Dr. Jean has been a family doctor for over 46 years, with an eclectic resume ranging from academic and author to trekker and marathon runner. She offered a comprehensive and thought-provoking examination of “the journey so far and the road ahead” in MAiD in Canada. Her presentation used beautiful visuals of vast and remote regions of Canada as a metaphor for the journey that the medical community and MAiD patients have followed in the last several years.

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The Persian Empire

Bi-weekly;  Week One; Friday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
In-person **NEW**

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!

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10 Benefits of Lifelong Learning

Experience the Benefits of Lifelong Learning! When we reach “retirement age”, we have also gained a lot of wisdom to share with others. If we can all integrate lifelong learning into our lives, we will reap many benefits. The following are ten specific benefits that lifelong learning brings to our lives.

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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.

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The History Of Women

Bi-weekly;  Week Two; Thursday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
In-person **NEW**

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.

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Exploring the World of Podcasts

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
In-person **NEW**

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.

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Object Lessons

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday; 12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
In-person    **NEW**

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:

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The Brains Behind Scientific Revolutions

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

In-person **NEW**

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.

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Democracy: Past, Present and Future

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Monday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
In-person **NEW**

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.

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