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

Rule Breakers in the Arts

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Tuesday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
via Zoom

Rule Breakers in the Arts

“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: TBD

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
via Zoom **  WORKSHOP FULL **

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: TBD

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
Via Zoom  ***Workshop Full***

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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The Web of Natural Science

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Thursday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD

Our natural world is a web of wonder, beauty and complexity. In this workshop we will take a broad look at natural phenomena through many scientific disciplines. These may include psychology, chemistry, physics, geology, bacteriology and more. We will see that there are many ways in which scientific studies overlap to inform our everyday existence. Each session will focus on an article of your choice, generally from the current year of the journal Scientific American. Other source material may include scientific magazines such as Discovery Magazine, Science News, Science, and The New Scientist.

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The World of Opera: Listening and Learning

Bi-weekly; Week 2; Wednesday; 10 am – 12 pm
Location: TBD

This workshop aims to touch the entire world of opera: from its early beginnings in the 16th C. to the modern day. We will learn about and listen to the music of the historic opera repertoire, the most beautiful music in the world, and view exciting performances on stage by the most enthralling voices. There will be presentations around individual composers, opera history, periods of opera, famous singers through the ages and much more. You may be a real enthusiast or a complete neophyte… this workshop will appeal to and engage everyone.

Participants will be expected to prepare and deliver a 15-20 minute presentation on the topic of their choice. Technical help will be available to those who may need assistance with sound or visual content in their presentation.

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Women’s Stories and Histories: 1920s-1930s Paris

Bi-weekly; Week 1; Friday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD  ***Workshop Full***

Join us as we dive into the many underrepresented, fascinating, and very interconnected lives of 1920-30s Parisian women writers, artists, booksellers, publishers, hosts, and partners, such as Alice B. Toklas, AnaÏs Nin, Caresse Crosby, Coco Channel, Colette, Djuna Barnes, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, Jean Rhys, Josephine Baker, Mina Loy, Natalia Goncharova, Natalie Clifford Barney, Sonia Delaunay, Sylvia Beach, Tamara de Lempicka, and others. Each woman forged a crucial part of her identity in Paris and changed established ideas of how to live and create as women. Members are expected to present once and read the texts (e.g. a novel, a biography) assigned to some of the sessions (see attached list). Note: this is a smaller-group workshop with one in-depth presentation and extensive discussion per session.

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