Workshops 2024/2025

Workshops / courses are held on a wide range of topics including the arts, science, history, current affairs, and film. They are developed and led by Academy members who act as facilitators. Some workshops operate as discussion groups where a member may lead a discussion on a chosen topic. In other workshops, members research and deliver presentations on the subject of their choice and lively discussion follows.  Workshops are offered in-person at Tartu College, 310 Bloor Street West, Toronto or online via Zoom. Academy members may register for up to 4 workshops.

You must first JOIN / RENEW membership (click JOIN / RENEW at the top of the website) and then you may register for your preferred workshops.

If you have already joined / renewed your membership, to register for another workshop, remove or change a workshop, or request to be added to a waiting list, email

In accordance with current health guidelines, masks are encouraged but not required for in-person events.

Most workshops meet every other week for 6 sessions in each of the Fall and Winter terms beginning as follows:
Week 1 Start (Fall Term / Week Starting Sept. 9, 2024), Week 2 Start (Fall Term / Week Starting Sept. 16, 2024)
Week 1 Start (Winter Term / Week Starting Jan. 6, 2025), Week 2 Start (Winter Term / Week Starting Jan. 13, 2025)

Workshop Details

20th Century Influencers

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person  **NEW**  

Before the age of the internet, the social media influencers of our time were TV, film and books. They wormed their way into our society and our lives. Everyone knows the dashing James Bond and remembers the impact of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now and Star Wars. There were ground-breaking and trendy TV shows like MASH, All in the Family, The Simpsons and Cheers. What about some of the influential books of the period – To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid’s Tale, Silent Spring or the Female Eunuch? And who hasn’t been personally influenced in a vacation choice by something seen in a movie or TV show or read in a book? Each person will present an approximately 20 minute presentation where they will discuss the history and details about the “influencer“ and its influence on the world/society in general or its influence on them personally.

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Artists’ Lives

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Tuesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms, Online via Zoom

Join our continued exploration of artists’ lives, artwork, influences, challenges, themes, philosophies, and legacies. We’ll also analyze representation of these lives and consider connections to our own world through a group of 12 artists reflecting diverse art forms, materials, time periods, ethnicities, lifestyles, and experiences. Each workshop participant presents once and can chose to focus on some or all of the above. Presentations, which usually run 20-40 minutes, should include interesting research findings, thought-provoking discussion prompts, and, ideally, some images, building in ample discussion time. Much of each session is spent on in-depth discussion by a group of very engaged participants. Tentatively, our 12 Year 4 artists are: Pacita Abad, Vanessa Bell (Duncan Grant), Lalla Essaydi, Alice Guy-Blaché, Saul Leiter, Tamara de Lempicka, Zachari Logan, Amanda McCavour, Alphonse Mucha, Wangechi Mutu, Remedios Varo, and Eva Zeisel. Please see the attached “Is The Artists’ Lives Workshop For Me?” document.

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Assassinations in History

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Thursday;  2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person  **NEW**  

On learning of the death of Abraham Lincoln, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli told House of Commons, “Assassination has never changed the history of the world.” Was Disraeli right? In this workshop, we will seek to answer that question by studying the role that assassinations have played as an instrument of political change from ancient times to today while we at the same time use the events to learn about the history of various countries and periods. Each participant will research, prepare and make a 20 to 25-minute presentation covering the context, target, perpetrator, motive, method and consequences of the assassination.  Presentations will be followed by an equal amount of time for Q&A and round-the-table discussion of such questions as, when is assassination justified, why is it more common in some societies than others, what is the relationship between assassination and terrorism and how are assassinations best prevented?

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Celebration of Song

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; Hybrid; Simultaneously In-person and Online Via Zoom **NEW FORMAT** 

Songs are a vital part of our lives. First, participants will give presentations on their choice of performers (e.g., Tiny Tim, the Beatles, Mel Torme), composers (e.g., Cole Porter, Jim Webb, Lennon & McCartney), historical period or favourite songs.  Second, we can choose to sing the songs we discuss acapella or with accompaniment.  Just listening is welcome as well. Third, we explore what makes music appealing.  It’s relaxing, fun and informative.

This year we will be offering Celebration of Song using the Hybrid mode, with some participants participating on Zoom and simultaneously, some participating in-person at Tartu. Participants will need to choose their Hybrid option as they register – either on-line via Zoom or in-person at Tartu. Facilitators will need to be consulted if you need to change your option choice during the year.

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China in the Evolving World Order

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; Online via Zoom 

For the past several years this workshop has studied the rise of China, the US response, and their ensuing conflicts that affect Canada and the global order. The workshop will consider a range of current events, issues and policy options as they emerge and evolve in a world fraught with uncertainty. Subject to the facilitator’s discretion, it is expected that workshop members will do a presentation on a topic of interest.

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Contemporary Film A

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person 

Please join us for lively discussions of contemporary films. At each meeting we choose two films released since 2019 and available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Kanopy, to view before the next class. Decisions about cinema films will be made on a case-by-case basis. Films may be from any genre — indies, art films, documentaries, block-busters, anime. Members will propose films for group consideration, volunteering in turn to create a presentation and lead a discussion on one of the films chosen, stimulating debate. Two presentations per class will focus on aspects such as themes, production values, take-home values.

After rating the films individually, we compare our class rating to the Internet rating. 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.

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Contemporary Film B

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Tuesday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; Online via Zoom

Come and join our Zoom discussion group where participants each select a current film available for viewing on Netflix. Two films will be presented at each workshop and all aspects of the film will be discussed. Members are expected to have viewed the two films recently and in advance of the workshop to ensure lively and congenial discussion. Think of Film B like a tasting menu in a fine restaurant. In the same way as you’d try dishes on a tasting menu at a fine restaurant that you would otherwise never think to eat, in Film B you’ll view films that you would otherwise never think to watch.

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Democracy: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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

The workshop will cover a number of subjects including addressing the tensions within a democracy (populism, protecting the interests of minorities, intolerance etc.), the mechanisms for moving from dictatorship to democracy (e g Poland, Spain, Iraq and The Gambia) and the safeguards needed to minimize the risk of democracies sliding into dictatorships. 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 minute presentation leading to a discussion of the topics. There is no assigned reading list and extensive workshop notes will be provided.

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Documentary Film

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Two Terms; Online via Zoom

Documentary films are a powerful medium that can be used to inform, educate, observe, persuade, expose, improve, and challenge ideas. In this workshop, participants will watch documentary films available on various streaming services including Netflix, Kanopy (free with a library card), CBC Gem and YouTube and then we will discuss the films at each meeting.

The categories for the films may include science, nature, history, biographies, music, sports, crime, socio-political issues, and technology. Each member will select a film of their choice and will introduce the film and start the discussion. Members will view the films on their own before each meeting. Two films will be selected for each two-hour session. Different aspects of the films may be examined including new or interesting ideas or information, themes, the director, the cast, and production values.

Join us as we engage in lively discussions of thought-provoking documentary films.

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Economist Readers

Weekly;  Week One and Two;  Thursday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person and Online via Zoom

This group will meet to extract the wit and wisdom in politics, business, finance, culture, literature and science from this influential international journal. Subscription copies can be delivered by mail (phone 1-800-456-6086) or electronically ( At each session, the group selects about eight articles and the discussion is begun by the proposer of each article with a short introduction to the article.

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