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.

For questions, 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.

Each workshop meets every other week for 6 sessions in each of the Fall and Winter terms beginning as follows:
Week 1 Start (Fall Term / Week Starting September 11, 2023), Week 2 Start (Fall Term / Week Starting September 18, 2023)

Week 1 Start (Winter Term / Week Starting January 8, 2024), Week 2 Start (Winter Term / Week Starting January 15, 2024)

Workshop Details

1848: Springtime of the Peoples

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

1848 was a pivotal year for the development of modern Europe. The aftermath of the French Revolution and the Napoleanic Wars was playing out in almost every aspect of society. Certainly we see this in politics, with reform movement leading to civil disturbances of different levels of violence even up to actual revolutions in many countries. We also see radical changes in governance, education,  finance and economic systems, science and technology, music, theater, architecture, indeed virtually in every human endeavor. It’s true that some of the changes started before, and some of the ramifications didn’t become clear until long after, but the Revolutions of 1848 will be a handy way of referring to these changes.

We expect that every participant will prepare a brief (20-30 minute) presentation, given about 20-24 members in the class. A lower number of participants would allow for longer presentations or more than one presentation per member.

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Artists’ Lives

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

Small group workshop therefore membership will be limited

Join us as we continue our exploration of various artists’ lives, artwork, influences, challenges, themes, philosophies, and legacies. Using various texts (e.g. novels, biographies, films, podcasts, interviews), we’ll also analyze representations of these lives. Possible artists include Yinka Shonibare, Suzanne Valadon, Barbara Hepworth, Käthe Kollwicz, Prudence Heward, Niki de Saint Phalle, Katsushika Oi/Katsushika Hokusai, Daphne Odjig, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Amrita Sher-Gil, Egon Schiele, and Maira Kalman. Members are expected to read, watch, or listen to each session’s text/s and present once. Presentations should include interesting research findings, thought-provoking discussion prompts, and, ideally, some images. Note: this is a smaller-group workshop with one in-depth presentation and extensive discussion per session.

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Celebration Of Song

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Friday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Online via Zoom **NEW**

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.

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China In The Evolving World Order

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Online via Zoom **Workshop Waitlisted**

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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Class and the City

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Online via Zoom **NEW** **Workshop Waitlisted**

Small group workshop therefore membership will be limited

We will read twelve novels, each substantially situated in a different global metropolis. Our focus will be on lives lived in the current era within these urban conglomerates and the particular way urban social political and economic forces can both bring people together and separate them, based on classifications of citizenship, economic class, race, gender and sexuality.

We will read novels set in Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Seoul, Naples, London, New York, Dublin, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, Beirut, and Dubai. Click on Find Out More for the reading list and schedule.

Each participant will select one of the readings to present to the group. Everyone is expected to read every book and be prepared to participate in the group discussion.

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Contemporary Film A

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
In-person **Workshop Waitlisted**

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.

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Contemporary Film B

Bi-weekly:  Week Two;  Tuesday;  12:15 p.m.- 2:15 p.m.
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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Dames: Lives of Notorious Women

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Online via Zoom **NEW** **Workshop Waitlisted**

They spurned conventions and broke rules; they shaped events and changed history; they occasionally shocked contemporaries. ‘Dames’ will explore the lives of extraordinary women who fashioned life on their terms and whose actions and decisions, above all, had impact.

We will focus on exceptional women from a variety of fields. Some ‘dames’ we may discuss are the sovereigns – Catherine the Great and the Empress Dowager Cixi, spies such as Mata Hari, adventurers like Gertrude Bell, artists such as Tamara de Lempicka, scientists like Émilie du Châtelet, and out-and-out influential people such as Imelda Marcos, Wallis Simpson and Coco Chanel.

Presenters will discuss the time in which the dame lived, her decisions, challenges, accomplishments and long term impact.

A list of notorious women will be sent to participants; however, members may propose a ‘dame’ of their choice. All participants will make a 20-25 minute digital presentation.

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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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Documentary Film

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Online via Zoom **NEW** **Workshop Waitlisted**

Join fellow documentary film fans for lively discussions of thought-provoking documentary films available on Netflix, YouTube, or Kanopy. Each member will choose a film from a list which will be sent to all participants and will introduce the film and start the discussion. Two films will be selected for each two hour session. Different aspects of the films may be examined including themes, the director, and the production values. Members will view the films on their own before each meeting.

The sub-genres for the selected documentary films may include science, nature, history, biographies, music, sports, crime, socio-political issues, and technology.

Members will rate the films and we will compare our ratings to the group and online ratings.

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