Earlier Programs

Fall 2013 - India: The Next Superpower


India is home to 1.2 billion people, 23 official languages, all the world's major religions – and the world's fastest growing democracy. How do we understand this land of astonishing diversity and entrepreneurial energy? 

"The most important country for the future of the world" E.P. Thompson, British historian

October 24: Why India matters – Kasi Rao, Vice-President Asia Pacific Foundation

October 25: Moving the Canada-India relationship from Why? to How? – Kasi Rao

October 31: Bazaar practices – Ritu Birla, Director, Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto

November 1: The Meaning of Yoga – Ram Murty, Head, Department of mathematics and statistics, Queen's University

November 7: Rival visions – Joseph Wong, Director, Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

November 8: Indian Music and Dance: A new ancient tradition – Margaret Walker, Director, School of Music, Queen's University

November 14: Four millennia, four religions – Mathieu Boisvert, Professor, Département de sciences des religions, Université du Québec à Montreal

November 15: South Asian Political Conflicts and Religion – Mathieu Boisvert

November 21: Culture of innovation – Dilip Soman, Professor of marketing at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

November 22: Modern Indian prose and poetry – Shobna Nijhawan, Associate professor in the department of languages, literatures and linguistics, York University

November 28: Art and patronage in India – Stephen Inglis, Curator, Maharajah exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Six "Story of India" films before the lectures

  1. Beginnings October 24

  2. The Power of Ideas October 31

  3. Spice Routes and Silk Roads November 7

  4. Ages of Gold November 14

  5. The Meeting of Two Oceans November 21

  6. Freedom and Liberation November 28

A feast of food and film: Sunday, November 3

The food – a sumptuous 3-course luncheon prepared by Meena Mohammed, host of Cobourg's Northumberland Heights Inn

The film – "Three Idiots," a comedy-drama that is the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, introduced by Ken Prue, owner of Northumberland Mall Theatres.

Spring 2013 - Truth and Truthiness

Facts bombard us. One fact contradicts another. Some facts are hard to understand. Others question our understanding of the past or of justice or deny what our senses say. *  A term coined by the American political satirist Stephen Colbert; a "truth" that a person claims to know because it "feels right" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

March 28: Truth in the criminal justice system – Martin Friedland

April 4: Why the most important questions are the hardest to answer and the easiest to get wrong – Georges Monette

April 5: Personal evidence and trust as a context for truth – Tory Hoff

April 11: Righting history: How we search for the truth about the past – Michael Bliss

April 12: Discovering the Discovery of Insulin – Michael Bliss

April 18: Truth in the news – John Honderich

April 25: Truth in language and thought – Brendan Gillon

May 2: Photography and the Expectation of Truth – Simon Clements

Fall 2012 - Design in Your World

Design touches every part of your life. From cars to dish soap to magazine ads - design influences the choices you make. It can even alter your mood. What do designers know that we don’t? 

October 31: The heart of the machine: Design has always influenced our lives. But it wasn’t until the 1800s that it became a conscious, concerted response to the needs of its time. How did the forces of industry, commerce, and politics compel and inspire artists, architects and craftspeople to design products and images that would define the 20th century?

November 1: What good is design?: Will Novosedlick is VP business development at Idea Couture Inc. in Toronto. He has created and repositioned brands for many industries and is a nationally recognized thought leader, speaker and author on brand communication.

November 8: Solving the right problems: integrated design: Today we expect designers to balance business success with environmental responsibility, cultural relevance and consumer delight. What can we learn about the techniques of integrating products, systems, services and spaces to ensure innovative solutions? Find out from examples in healthcare, finance and the built environment.

November 9: Understanding human-centred design: a hands-on experience: Helen Kerr is co-president of KerrSmith Design in Toronto and an associate professor in graduate studies at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U). Almost every household in Canada has an item designed by Helen Kerr. She has been recognized at the highest level by the Industrial Designers Society of America and Phaidon Press.

November 15: Seeing design: out from under the radar: From the first crude micro-organisms, design is everything, everywhere. Form, function, material, colour, texture, smell, taste, sound: design can appear to be miniscule or the catalyst for change on a global scale. How do we incorporate design ideas to seemingly “undesign” areas of our lives? And where will that take us?

November 16: Before and after: recent design interventions: Esther Shipman is curator of architecture & design for Cambridge Galleries’ Design at Riverside, and was formerly assistant commissioner for Canada to the 11th International Biennale of Architecture in Venice in 2008.

November 22: Graphic design: bringing ideas to life: It has been said that "graphic designers are the visual ambassadors of ideas: their role is to translate, communicate and occasionally even agitate..." What type of projects are they involved in? How involved is the design process? Follow two case studies and learn how graphic design impacts the world in which we live and how it often affects the choices we make.

November 23: Why are there 284 holes in my new shoes?: Bob Hambly is the creative director of Hambly & Woolley Inc., a Toronto-based, multidisciplinary graphic design firm he co-founded with his partner, Barbara Woolley. Over the past 20 years, the firm has received over 350 national and international design awards.

November 29: A short history of Canadian design: A vibrant design consciousness emerged in Canada in the 1930s. From Clairtone’s radical Project G stereo that became the epitome of “bachelor pad” cool, to the wedge-shaped Contempra phone that quickly prompted homeowners to replace their boring telephones, Canadian design has entered our homes and shaped our lives. Rachel Gotlieb is senior curator at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto and serves on the OCAD U’s On Site Gallery Advisory Board. She co-wrote Design in Canada since 1945: fifty years from teakettles to task chairs (2004) and was founding curator of the Design Exchange in Toronto.

November 30: Design in Renaissance painting: Odilia Bonebakker is an art historian and curator specializing in Renaissance and Baroque art. She curated the international exhibition Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the National Gallery of Canada (2004) and has published and lectured internationally. She is completing her PhD at Harvard University.

December 6: The matter of taste: design in the home: Despite the rise of “good design” after 1945, every champion of clean lines and functionalism was matched by vociferous defenders of tradition and historical form. One’s choice was perceived to reflect character and temperament: were you conservative and conformist, or progressive and open-minded? How does aesthetic choice explain why “avocado green” and “harvest gold” were once so wildly popular?


Spring 2012 - The Next 20 Years: How Your Life Will Change

Physicists, scientists and other innovators are developing prototypes for the materials, medicine and computers you’ll use tomorrow. How will their discoveries affect your daily life, your health and longevity, the way you communicate and travel? 

Fall 2011 - The DNA of Modern China
Only by appreciating China’s ancient and recent past can we comprehend how it is transforming our everyday lives. Examine influences, past and present, affecting China’s growth today and in the future. 

Spring 2011 - Colour and You: How Colour Shapes the World and Your Life
Learn about the colours of  the heavens and what they tell us the link between colour and contentment; how colour in the hands of masters can influence how you perceive the world; what your brain knows about colour that you don’t, and the colour of music. 

Fall 2010 - Language change and social change, from grammar to emoticons
New words are introduced, old words gain new meanings, communications grow global, pop culture morphs, texting creates a vocabulary of contractions, and – tragically – traditional languages die. 

Spring 2010 - City building and place making: architecture for the 21st Century 
The 21st century is posing new challenges to the quality of life and economic opportunities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe – the densely populated region around the west end of Lake Ontario that includes Northumberland County.

Fall 2009 - Our Hills and Heritage: Five views of Northumberland County
How has our county developed since the first years of settlement? What clues in the landscape help us understand Northumberland's place in Canadian literature and art? 

Spring 2009 - Memory: What, How and Where We Remember 
Why do we forget certain facts and experiences while others remain firmly in our minds? Does technology help or hinder? Do certain types of attention influence memory? Is recollection under hypnosis possible? How do some cultures convey knowledge by means of spirit mediums?

Fall 2008 - Nudes & Neutrons: Leaps of Imagination in Art and Science 
An exploration of the relationships between science and art, including how the arts have affected science and how scientific discoveries have moved visual artists, musicians and writers. 

Spring 2008 - Ice

How the science of ice shapes the earth, about how it has stimulated the evolution and nurturing of life, and about efforts to tame it for our own use. 

Fall 2007 - Bricks, Bohemians, & Passionate Lovers
Gary McCluskie, Clayton Scott, and Iain Scott speak on Toronto's new opera house, Puccini's "La Boheme", and Verdi's Greatest Love Duets.

Spring 2007 - Enjoying Opera

Opera is about romance, passion, love, hate, deception, gorgeous music and sumptuous sets – a feast for the ear and eye. Learn about it from one of Canada’s most knowledgeable opera experts, Iain Scott. 

Fall 2006 A - Lectures on six great books
The Bible, The Odyssey, The Theban Plays in the Fall and The Aeneid, Metamorphosis, and The Inferno in the Spring.

Fall 2006 B - Quebec and Its Place in Canada
Lectures and seminars that deepen our understanding of 21st century Quebec, breaking down our stereotypes of Quebec and its peoples, its cultural vibrancy, its institutions, and its history.

Spring 2006 - The Age of Great Cathedrals
The complexity and beauty of the Gothic Cathedral is explored in 6 lectures with accompanying seminars, and three special events. 

Fall 2005 - The Idea of Democracy in a Global World

The concept and reality of democracy our interconnected world is explored and analyzed by leading thinkers. 

Spring 2005 - Islamic Civilization and its Influences on the Western World

Six lectures and four seminars address the religion and culture of pre-Islamic Arabia, the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, and the modern Islamic developments in theology and philosophy. 

Elizabeth Ivory