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.

Workshop Space Availability

Workshops listing - by category

Workshops listing - Alphabetical:

Democracy: Past, Present & Future

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

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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Economist Readers

Weekly – Weeks 1 & 2 ; Thursday ; 10am – 12pm

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

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 (economist@neodata.com). 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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Empowered – Fitness And Health As We Age

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

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

By mixing hard science with how-to tips, this workshop puts FUN back into Fitness.  We’ll cover the science behind the physical fitness imperative and various ways we can become fit or maintain our fitness as we age.  Participants will learn the basic requirements for exercise for older adults in Canada and Internationally, and how to implement them.  Participants will also learn how to maximize the benefits of exercise through nutrition.  Topics will cover scientific studies establishing how exercise has been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting many illnesses as well as how it can mitigate the impact of illnesses and improve lifespan.  As well, participants will learn about many exercise modalities.  Tips and ways to avoid a sedentary lifestyle will be shared.  Depending on weather and the pandemic, we’ll hopefully find time to get outside and take walks in the woods and maybe even exercise in the park! 

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Europe Between The Wars

Bi-weekly – Week 1 ; Friday ; 10am – 12pm

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

Europe during the 1920s and 1930s experienced great highs and lows. Radical ideas and changes were unleashed in politics, economics, and society, many with unexpected and sometimes devastating consequences. It was also a time of modernization and experimentation in the arts (visual and plastic arts, music, literature, architecture, film, fashion) and in science, medicine, and technology. Women started to come to the fore and the world changed, dramatically and permanently. In this workshop, we will explore the actions, ideas, trends, and innovations of these tumultuous decades, and the people behind them, sharing insights and discussing how they affected and were affected by each other. Participants will present and discuss the person, group, or innovation of their choosing.

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Events of the Fortnight

Bi-weekly – Week 2 ; Friday ; 2pm – 4pm

Term 1 via Zoom; Term 2 Tartu (tbc)     Space available

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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Extraordinary Lives: Workshop On Biographies

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

Term 1 – via Zoom Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)     Workshop full

Biographies recount the stories of peoples lives, placing events, decisions and actions into context. Typically, their subjects are people who have faced significant obstacles in their lives.  

This workshop will focus on biographies, autobiographies, historical biographical fiction, biographical films, and documentaries 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 view the 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. 

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For The Love Of Poetry

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

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

Last year brought to many the power and wonder of poetry. This workshop will be looking at poets from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Emphasis will be on the reading out loud of their work. Participants also will give a short summary of the poets life and work, with the main thrust being to listen and discuss the poetry presented.  

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Gender’s Voice In Literature And Expressive Arts

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

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

Do you view the world through a gendered lens? Join us as we delve further into issues including identity, representation, aging, education, violence, sexuality, race, and relationships. Texts (see list) include novels, nonfiction, audio interviews, speeches, spoken word, art, and movies. Our discussions run the gamut from heartwarming to heartbreaking, from thought provoking to hilarious, and sometimes even irreverent. Members are expected to read, watch, or listen to each sessions text and present once, choosing to focus on the text creator, text analysis, and/or themes and issues 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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Great Gardens Of The World

Bi-Weekly – Week 1 ; Thursday ; 2pm – 4pm

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

Who loves a garden, still his Eden keeps.”  Amos Bronson Alcott 

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”  Claude Monet 

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” Gertrude Jekyll 

Although real travel remains an elusive dream, please join us as we explore the world, trying to define what makes a garden great.  An extensive list of possible gardens and great designers will be provided, but participants are encouraged to choose their own favourite.  Previous choices have ranged from the opulent Villa dEste to the simplicity of Derek Jarmans garden. All members will be required to research and make a 20-30 minute illustrated presentation, leading to animated group discussion. 

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History Of Ideas (1800 – Today)

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

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

The past two centuries represent a spectacular period of discovery, invention and imaginative speculation.  Relativity theory, quantum mechanics, evolutionary theory, artificial intelligence, Freudianism, Marxism, the discovery of DNA and of Deep Time and Deep Order Mathematics, breath-taking advances in cosmology, chemistry, computing and the earth sciences, and new approaches to literature, music and the arts. It is almost impossible to list all the ideas that have transformed the world and our understanding of it since 1800. Each participant will have an opportunity to present on a favorite idea or thinker. Supporting texts include two books by Peter Watson, The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century and Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention from Fire to Freud.   

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