Workshops

Workshops on a range of topics in the arts, sciences, and current affairs are generally offered every two weeks. The workshops are led by member-facilitators, and topics are researched and presented by the members of the class.

Workshops listing - by category

Workshops listing - Alphabetical:

“OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!”: Travel Ideas

Biweekly – Week 1 ; Monday ; 12pm – 2pm

Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)

Join us in exploring new adventures and sharing the exhilaration of discovery!  If you could take your next trip today, where would you go?  If you could plan your next trip today, where would you go? What entices you about this destination?  Alternatively, tell us about a memorable travel experience from the past. 

Each participant will select a destination to research and prepare a 20-30 minute presentation, which will be followed by an informative and lively discussion. 

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Activism and Advocacy Through Art

Bi-weekly – Week 1 ; Tuesday ; 12pm – 2pm

Terms 1 & 2 – via Zoom

Individual artists, as well as small groups of visual activists, create art to engage persuasively with the world:  to change it, to unite a movement, or to draw attention to social issues.  Over the centuries many artists and groups have devoted their careers to sending influential messages through visual art.  In this workshop we will explore the art of select visual activists, and various progressive art movements, through analysis and discussion of their work in light of the cultural environment of their time.
For this full-year online workshop, and in the spirit of the Academy, all participants will present a 20-minute virtual slide talk of an artist-advocate or an activist-movement within their cultural contexts.  By early summer a recommended list of visual activists and influential art movements will be distributed; however, participants may present an artist-activist of their choosing.
We anticipate lively debate and discussion.

Anglo-Saxons (410 – 1066 CE)

Bi-weekly – Week 1 : Wednesday ; 10am – 12pm

Term 1 via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)

Britain was invaded many times, but while the Romans, Vikings and Normans ruled England for many years, the only invaders that left a lasting legacy were the Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxon period spans six centuries from the middle of the fifth century to the Norman Conquest.  

In this workshop, we will look at how they influenced the English language, their contributions to literature – the writings of Bede, Alfred the Great, Beowulf. We will examine the invasions as migrations – where the Anglo-Saxons came from, where the different tribes settled (Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians), how they differed and how they interacted with one another and other tribes such as the Picts, Scots and Irish. Further topics include the effects of the Viking invasions and the Norman conquest on the Anglo-Saxon population.  

Everyone is expected to make one twenty-minute presentation structured around topics selected for discussion.  

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Art Crime: Fraud, Plunder And Theft Of Culture

Bi-weekly – Week 2 ; Tuesday ; 10am – 12pm

Terms 1 and 2 – Via Zoom

Not just the theft of beautiful items for pride of ownership or monetary gain, art crime is the theft of history and the appropriation of culture. Join us to explore topics such as the impacts of archaeological theft and tomb raiding, looting by invading armies, cultural reappropriation, vandalism and free speech, copyright, art crime in the digital age, and the impact of art crime on the future of cultural institutions. And we may even admire the skill of a forger or the daring of a gentleman thief!  

Everyone is expected to give a 20-minute presentation on their topic and to participate in discussions. There is no assigned reading list, but a bibliography will be provided. 

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Artists’ Lives in Literature and Film

Bi-weekly – Week 2 ; Friday ; 12pm – 2pm

Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)

Where does artistic creativity and courage come from? Why do some artists overcome challenges and leave lasting influences? How do authors and directors choose to represent artists? Join us as we investigate various artists’ lives, struggles, choices, influences, and artistic creations using both books (mainly novels) and movies. Members are expected to read or watch each session’s book or film (see text and artist list) and present once, choosing to focus on the artist’s life, artwork, or legacy; literary or cinematic analysis; historical accuracy; and/or issues and themes raised in the text. Note: this is a smaller-group workshop with one in-depth presentation, and extensive discussion, per session. 

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Big Data and Democracy

Biweekly – Week 1 ; Monday ; 2pm – 4pm
Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)

How did Big Data help Donald Trump get elected? How is our own data used to subtly shape our opinions?  Join us for a wide-ranging discussion on the impact of Big Data on our Democracy. Since the explosion of smartdevices and social media, data about us is amassed 24/7.  Learn how this data, called Big Data, is used to create algorithms that affect and influence us.  Find out how companies have made vast amounts by selling our data in the new behavioural futures marketand how the impact stretches beyond what we buy to how we vote and even how we think.  We will contrast current algorithmic determinismwith that of earlier propaganda and how the vulnerabilitiesof democracies may be exploited in both contexts. We will also explore whether BigData can be used for benign purposes and in ways that may actually enhance democracy.   

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Canada at War

Bi-weekly – Week 1 ; Monday ; 2pm – 4pm

Term 1 via Zoom; Term 2 Tartu (tbc)

Canada at War is about Queenston Heights, Vimy Ridge and Ortona. It is also about women’s rights and suffrage, industrialization, labour rights, social welfare and the expansion of government; English-French relations, peace keeping and racism.

Canada at War concerns the battles, both on the field and at the home front, that molded the country we all call home. Canadians have fought in four foreign wars since Confederation, and a few on home soil before then. Associated with each conflict were major diplomatic, political and domestic battles faced by the governments and people of the day with respect to sending and maintaining troops overseas, bringing them home and resettling them, and managing affairs within Canada. Each war resulted in new Canadian policies, laws, attitudes and identities at home and abroad. Presenters will choose to speak on any of these issues and how they made and remade Canada. 

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Celebration Of Song

Bi-weekly – Week 2 ; Friday ; 12pm – 2pm

Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)

Songs are a vital part of our lives. First,participants will give presentationson their choice of historical periods of song, composers (e.g., Cole Porter, Jim Webb, and Lennon & McCartney), performers (e.g., Tiny Tim, the Beatles, Mel Torme), or favourite songs. Second, we will sing the songs we discuss. No experience is required – just enthusiasm for singing. We can sing a capella, or with a karaoke machine or with the accompaniment of whichever instruments members of the course wish to play (piano, guitar, accordion, percussion). 

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China in the Evolving World Order

Bi-weekly – Week 1 ; Wednesday ; 2pm – 4pm

Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)

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 facilitators discretion, it is expected that workshop members will do a presentation on a topic of interest. 

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Cities Of The Future

Bi-weekly – Week 2 ; Monday ; 12pm – 2pm

Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)

In our workshop, we look at cities and human habitations of all sizes and locations in assessing past successes and upcoming challenges to ensure long term liveability, sustainability and people-friendliness.

We have already explored climate change, demographics and population pressure, pollution, logistics, endemics and pandemics, food and water supply, energy, war, pestilence, etc.  But we have only scratched the surface!

This year, we shall prognosticate possible long-term human habitation trends – both active and passive. What can we control and what can we do about what we cannot control?  Are we in trouble?

Our exploration will examine extreme human habitations (deserts, the far north, isolated areas, underwater habitation), otherworldly locations (Space stations, the Moon, Mars, other planets and their moons, Deep Space), sinking” cities (Venice, Amsterdam, Bangkok, Lagos, Miami), among other intriguing topics.

We shall be future forecasters as well as planners. So  start polishing your crystal balls! 

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