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:

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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Human Brain: Refreshed!

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

Terms 1 & 2 – via Zoom     Space available

Arrest cognitive decline… Join our workshop. We are back for a second year and have not exhausted any of our topics. We will explore many different points of view of the human brain drawn from sources as diverse as neuroscience, evolution, art history, psychology, physiology, molecular biology, technology, the senses, consciousness, sleep, and brain imaging. Each participant will get to choose from a wide variety of topics and then prepare to give a 20-25-minute presentation. Topics will be in the Workshop notes.  

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Investigative Journalism That Changed The World

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

Terms 1 & 2 via Zoom     Space available

For centuries, investigative reporters have faced legal threats, hostility and physical danger to fight corruption, expose abuses of power, and promote accountability. 

Together we will explore the great pieces of investigative journalism on topics such as lynching, Dachau, McCarthyism, Watergate, the My Lai massacre, Fast Food Nation, opioids and the war on terrorism. Is investigative journalism a dying form? We will consider its relevance in the time of fake newsand discuss formats from social media through 60 Minutes and Propublica. 

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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Jazz Appreciation

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

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

Jazz music is considered to be America’s greatest original art form and is well known for its creativity and innovation. Since its emergence at the beginning of the 20th century, its evolution has been closely woven into the tremendous changes and upheaval in American society.

Our Jazz Appreciation workshop features examples and discussions of various different eras and personalities and how the evolution of jazz has reflected and contributed to those changes.

Each participant is requested to select a musician, personality, or genre and prepare a presentation of approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Examples of recorded music should be provided to share with the group and time allowed for group discussion to follow.

This is an enthusiastic, highly interactive and fun class in which all are welcome from curious beginners to those who have enjoyed all aspects of jazz for many years. Wherever possible, we invite a guest musician to explain and illustrate the role of their own instrument in jazz.

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Let’s Just Laugh!

Bi-weekly – Week 1 – Thursday – 12pm – 2pm

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

In this fun-filled workshop, we will explore the various genres of comedy including Stand-Up, Sketch, Improv, Satire and Slapstick and the many contexts in which comedy is delivered such as Sitcom, Late Night, SNL, movies, plays, literature, cartoons and more! 

Learn what makes us laugh and share what makes you laugh.  Find out the secret of comedy writing in all its forms.  If ‘laughter is the best medicine’, then it’s more urgent now than ever to find your funny bone!  Enjoy the humour as participants share their favourite examples of comedy in the workshops.  Participants may even try their hand at writing and presenting their own comedy in front of the class at the end of term, but only if they wish, no pressure whatsoever! 

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Memoir Writing and Reading

Biweekly – Week 1 ; Monday ; 10 am – 12 pm

Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)     Space available for new members only

Memoir, unlike autobiography, is the art of reminiscing about particular events, people and/or time periods in our lives and is becoming increasingly popular. As in previous years, participants will present extracts from their own writing. Ideas/prompts are offered to stimulate writing in class and provide a source for longer pieces. Time will be given to share these explorations in a supportive and inviting atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to provide constructive feedback to sharers (who request it), as learning from others (and from published memoirs) is a significant component of this workshop. 

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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: Portraits Then and Now

Bi-weekly – Week 1 – Thursday – 2pm – 4pm

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

Portraits and self-portraits have been a fundamental part of painting, sculpture, and photography and still fascinate us. We will look at a variety of portraits by such artists as Rembrandt, Egon Schiele, Alice Neel, Cindy Sherman, and others.   We will also explore questions such as What do portraits tell us about the artist and/or the subject?”,   “How have portraits been used throughout history?”,  “How have portraits changed over time?”, Are portraits done by male and female artists different?”, and  “How has photography influenced portrait painting and sculpture?”  Each participant will do a 15–20-minute presentation, followed by a discussion.  An art background is NOT required for this workshop. 

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Modern Middle East

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

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

Our continuing goal is to understand the issues that consume civil society in the Middle East as it struggles to find status and stability in the modern world.  This region is home to powerful ethnic, religious, and cultural loyalties that are centuries older than the national borders marked on todays map: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, the Gulf States, Yemen, Egypt, and Turkey.   Appropriate study topics would include Arab and Kurdish nationalism; Persian, Islamic, and Jewish history; the Arab Spring; regional conflicts and various Islamist movements – as well as the role of powerful regional leaders, their arguments and influence.  We will also examine related global issues (old and new), including shifting alliances; climate change and the future of oil; human rights and refugees; capitalist-socialist polarization, pandemics and terrorism. 

In consultation with the facilitators, each workshop participant will choose a topic to research and present to the group for discussion. 

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Movers & Shakers Born in Our World since 1800

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

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

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries spawned many remarkable men and women, from all walks of life, who greatly influenced the world around them, for better or for worse.  In this workshop we will examine their lives and legacies. The only proviso is that they MUST have been born after 1800. There are many outstanding examples to choose from in science and medicine, the arts and entertainment, business and finance, politics and law and, increasingly, social consciousness.  Participants may choose their own favourite character, first come, first served. Everyone will be required to research and make a 20 minute presentation, illustrated if possible, to be followed by group discussion.     

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