Workshops are held on a wide range of topics including the arts, science, history, current affairs, and film. Workshops are developed and led by Academy members who are called “facilitators”. Members research and deliver presentations on the subject of their choice, and lively discussion follows.


Workshops listing

Opinions B

Bi-weekly; Week 2; Wednesday; 10 am – 12 pm
Location: Tartu (G1)  

This version of Opinions will meet at Tartu at the earliest opportunity, but until then will meet via Zoom.  Once in Tartu, there will be no concurrent Zoom.  Members who wish to enjoy Opinions via Zoom only should enrol in Opinions A”. 

Participants will discuss articles taken from a wide range of journals, newspapers, and other sources. Topics should be substantive enough to be worthy of discussion. The group will consider the case made by the author in the light of experience, alternative points of view, and other material that may be offered by the presenter. Participants are expected to read articles chosen for review, take turns introducing an article and starting the discussion, and are encouraged to suggest suitable articles from their own reading. 

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Paradigm Shifts

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Tuesday; 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
via Zoom

Paradigm is defined as: “a model of something, or a very clear and typical example of something.”

“Paradigm shift” has its origin in science but is applied today from everything from science, politics, advertising, and pop culture.

Examples from history would be realizing the world is round, not flat; the earth is not the center of the universe; the discovery of the new world; the germ theory of disease; the first use of horses in warfare; various political revolutions; the rise of a new religion.

Our Workshop will search out the most significant change in each field and resulting impact on the world. (presenters’ choices) with 12 fields to draw from for each workshop session. Each workshop session will have 2 Paradigm shifts presentations.  There will be some disagreement, therefore we will vote at the end.

Note: Everyone is expected to make a 20-25 minute presentation on a chosen topic.

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Reading Colonialism and its Aftermath – section A

Bi-weekly; Week 2; Wednesday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: Via Zoom  **  WORKSHOP WAITLISTED **

We will read mostly fiction, possibly memoir, and perhaps include documentary film about colonialism and its lasting effects, from the points of view of the colonized, rather than of the colonizers. We will explore twelve colonial projects of Europeans and their descendants in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, East, South and West Africa, and the Americas.

Some of the writers we are considering are Chinua Achebe, Natasha Brown, TsiTsi Dangarembga, Amitav Ghosh, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Andrea Levy, Viet Thanh Nguyen, MG Vassanji, and Katherena Vermette.

Each participant will select one of the readings to present to the group. Everyone is expected to do all the reading and be prepared to participate in the group discussion.

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Reading Colonialism and its Aftermath – section B

Bi-weekly; Week 2; Tuesday; 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Via Zoom***NEW***Fall Term only ***WORKSHOP WAITLISTED*** 

This is a shortened, online version of Reading Colonialism and its Aftermath A with only six sessions and six books, meeting virtually between September and the end of November. 

We will read books written from the points of view of the colonized, rather than of the colonizers, to explore colonial projects of Europeans and their descendants in West, East and Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Canada.

The books are:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by M G Vassanji

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Assembly by Natasha Brown

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Each participant will select one of the readings to present to the group. Everyone is expected to do all the reading and be prepared to participate in the group discussion.

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Reflections on Reading: Challenging Assumptions

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Wednesday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: Tartu (G6)

If you’re a bibliophile, this is the workshop for you! This workshop is inspired by a 3-part series from CBC Ideas called ‘Reading With a Grain of Salt’.   We will explore questions about reading and books.  Why do we read? Does reading make you a better or more intelligent person?  Is there a valid difference between literary fiction and popular fiction? What is the impact of the Internet on reading? Why are book clubs so popular? Each participant will make a presentation and all participants will be expected to read 2-3 articles prior to each presentation. We are happy to provide assistance and topics and references will be available.  Come and share your own reading experiences and challenge some of our assumptions about reading.

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Rule Breakers in the Arts

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Tuesday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
via Zoom
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” (Pablo Picasso).  Giants of the arts, those who broke, and continue to break the rules, take us to new worlds, experiences, thoughts and emotions.  Some invented a new way to view the world; some changed how we experience images, colour or movementand others explored the science of their day to create unique art.

In this full-year online workshop we will examine exceptional artists and movements from a variety of arts: painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, film, drama, music and dance.  Presentations will discuss the standards of the discipline at the time, artists’ game-changing innovations, and the consequences of these new art forms.

A list of categories and suggested artists will be sent, however participants may propose artistic rule-breakers of their choice.  All participants will make a 20 minute digital presentation.

The facilitators hope to plan in-person additional sessions in 2022-23 to encourage participant collegiality, an important aspect of the Academy.

Let’s discover and learn together!

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Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll – The Impact of the Swinging Sixties

Bi-weekly; Week 2; Thursday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: Tartu (G1)

Part reminiscence and part historical gaze, this workshop has something for everyone!  Rarely has an era of history been as influential as the sixties.  Whether a walk down memory lane or a dig into the history of the era, this workshop will unearth surprising insights.  Was this the best of times or the worst?  What is the legacy of the swinging sixties and how did it shape our lives today whether in the culture, music, art, relationships, therapeutic drugs, psychotherapy, activist movements and more?  Join us to explore the influences that shaped the sixties and their wide-ranging impact.  Each member will pick one aspect of this era for their presentation from a list provided by the facilitators or one of their own choosing.

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Tales of Two Cities – Montreal & Toronto

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Tuesday; 9:30 am – 12 pm

The ALLTO and MCLL (McGill Community for Lifelong Learning) organizations are pleased to announce an innovative joint workshop starting at 0930 am on alternate Tuesdays next fall. The workshop will be facilitated by Lorne Huston (MCLL) and Andris Rubenis (ALLTO). “Tales of Two Cities – Montreal & Toronto” will involve Zoom participants, in Montreal and Toronto, exploring the comparative histories and cultures of the two cities in the pre- and post-WW1 eras (Fall and Winter terms, respectively). Areas of attention will include the Indigenous Pre-contact Era, the founding of the cities, effects of various wars, bilingualism and multiculturalism, politics, and commercial and cultural evolution. The planned format will involve a presentation by each city, shared and followed in each case by general discussion. The facilitators have assured participants that they will be able to wear Canadiens and Maple Leafs jerseys if they wish.

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The Dawn of Everything

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Monday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: Tartu (G1)

This workshop is based on the book The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow. They argue that the perception of our ancient ancestors as primitive and childlike was formed in response to European interactions with other civilizations in Asia and the Americas in the 1500s to 1800s. Further, they argue, inequality is not the inevitable price of civilization and early societies operated in a great variety of ways. Agriculture, animal husbandry and large cities did not always lead to societies governed by hierarchy and domination. So-called “primitive” societies may have been much more involved in organizing their communities.

Each participant in the workshop will research and prepare a 20-minute presentation on a chapter/topic in the book. We will then engage in a lively discussion on how our understanding of humanity’s past has been affected (or not), and new ways in which we could organize society based on this understanding. All participants should read the book before the workshop begins. A listing of possible topics will be provided by early summer, or participants may choose a topic of interest from the book.

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The Victorians

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

To many the idea of the Victorian Era conjures up images formed by literature and popular culture – the two extremes of Young Victoria and Oliver Twist. But noted historian A. N. Wilson refers to it as the “period of the most radical transformation ever seen by the world.” Victorian Britain ruled the waves and vast tracts of the globe’s surface, and her industries dominated the markets of the world. It was a time of innovation and exploration; empire building; global trade; the growth of democracy, the flourishing of arts and literature; and unimagined developments in science, technology and engineering. But it was also a time of rapidly growing urban and industrial centres; of crowds, dirt, disease, and crime; of great opportunities for the growing middle class along with unimaginable poverty.

Join us to explore the profound transformation of the era – changes that continue to impact us today; and to investigate the hypocrisy of an age when public face and private reality were very different.

Each participant will be required to give a 20-minute presentation on a topic that particularly interests them.

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