Course Descriptions for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021


  • You can download a printable version of the course descriptions listed below.
  • If LLIR cannot deliver a course as specified at registration, we offer you an alternative that is as similar as possible to the original course.

Course Descriptions for Fall 2020 & Winter 2021

Fall 2020, Mornings, Sept. 18 – Nov. 20, 9:50-11:50 a.m.

A. The Environment: Changes and Challenges in the Anthropocene Era with Dr. Romila Verma Instructor, School of the Environment, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

The role of human beings in shaping and altering our environment has led many scientists to name this period as an Anthropocene era. The earth is highly dynamic. To understand the power of human impact on our planet, this course will take you through the past eleven thousand years to today. We will conclude by understanding what the future has in store for us and what we can do to address global challenges like climate change, depleting resources, contamination and population growth.

B. The Art and Science of Aging with Guy Proulx Ph.D., C. Psych. Director of the Centre for Cognitive Health, Glendon College.

Living older and healthy is possible. Close to one million Canadians are in the 84 to 94 age group and the prevalence of dementia has gone down by 20% since the mid nineties. In this course, you will learn about the complexities, myths, and realities of people’s experiences in growing old. We will highlight some of the ingredients in the art of living well in old age. We will also look at different aging trajectories such as optimal aging, normal aging, mild cognitive impairments and dementia. More aging friendly communities and attitudes are needed. As the philosopher Seneca said a long time ago, “life can be long if we know how to use it”.

C. Exploring the Arctic with Mark Terry Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Studies, York University

The global Arctic is sparsely populated yet it is comprised of eight nations: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland & The Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the US. This course examines the beauty, mystery, and dangers of today’s Arctic: the impacts of climate change, environmental transformations, geopolitical land claims, the Northwest Passage, the flora and fauna, and the people who live there. Film screenings will supplement lectures to demystify this beautiful and unusual part of our world.

Fall 2020, Afternoons, Sept. 18 – Nov. 20, 12:50-2:50 p.m.

D. Data-Mining the Deceased: Genealogy, Genetics and Family History with Julia Creet, Professor, English Department, York University; Author of The Genealogical Sublime (University of Massachusetts Press)

Since the early 2000s, genealogy has become a lucrative business, an accelerating online industry, a massive data-mining project, and fodder for reality television. Beginning with her personal experience of a family history search through the histories of the largest (the Mormon database), longest-running (Confucius), most lucrative (Ancestry), and most rapidly-growing (direct-to-consumer genetic) genealogical databases, Julia Creet investigates the history of the industry itself.

E. Modern Russia with Peter Vronsky PhD (University of Toronto), investigative historian, author, lecturer.

Following the Cold War, the USA emerged as the world’s superpower. But within a decade Russia would be back as a threat and adversary, more cunning and more powerful than its bungling Communist predecessor. This series of lectures surveys and offers a new perspective on modern Russia It will trace chronologically a range of key events from the fall of the Romanov Dynasty in a Bolshevik coup in 1917, the rise and fall of the Communist Party and the Cold War, the Yeltsin Oligarchs-Era Russia in the 1990s to former KGB Lt. Colonel Putin’s sudden seizure of power in 2000, internal wars, Crimea and the recent ‘election interference’ in the United States.

F. Ludwig van Beethoven: The Universe in Music with Rick Phillips, B.Mus., M.Mus., Writer

The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Working during the transformative period in Europe at the turn into the 19th century, Beethoven’s music expresses the concepts of the burgeoning Romantic Age and the ideals of freedom and equality. Using many musical examples, this series will explore how Beethoven’s music continues to be relevant and popular today, two centuries later.

Winter 2021, Mornings, Jan. 15 – Mar. 19, 9:50-11:50 a.m.

G. Human Rights, Security and Mass Violence with Dr. Barbara Falk, Associate Professor, Department of Defence Studies, Canadian Forces College/Royal Military College of Canada

Human rights are best protected by states, but at the same time, the worst human rights violations—ethnic cleansing, genocide, crimes against humanity and other types of mass atrocity violence—are either caused by states, or in the name of protecting nations, states, and empires. How has this happened? This course proposes to examine, especially in the 20th century, how and why violence keeps recurring and why it is not unique to one culture or civilization. It will discuss how entire groups of peoples, often on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or political belief, are identified as a security threat, demonized, and subjected to state-sanctioned violence.

H. Environment, Culture and Film with Stephen Scharper, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of the Environment and the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

This course introduces participants, through the lens of feature films, to both the scope and seriousness of present ecological concerns, as well as to some core principles and concepts in the intersection of environment and culture. Some of the topics to be examined will be the precautionary principle, urban/rural dualisms, ecofeminism, deep ecology, and the overwhelming burden placed on poor populations by environmental destruction.

Winter 2021, Afternoons, Jan. 15 – Mar. 19, 12:50-2:50 p.m.

J. China since 1949: Modernization and World Conquest with Olivier Courteaux Ph.D. in Contemporary International Relations, University of Paris-Sorbonne

Seventy years ago Mao and the Communists seized power in China. Until the 1970s, Taiwan held China’s permanent seat at the United Nations. When Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1979 his primary objective was to re-engage China on the world stage. Deng negotiated Hong Kong’s retrocession in 1997 and, more importantly, China’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO). China has since become the new world superpower. When looking at China in the 21st century, the key questions are: what is China up to? and what her true ambitions?

K. The European Union: Integration and Disintegration with Dr. Heather MacRae Associate Professor, Department of Politics, York University

Until recently, it was generally accepted that the European Union was the most successful example of regional cooperation in the post WWII era. However, since 2012, the EU and its member states have bounced from one crisis to the next. Many believe that the European Union has outlived its usefulness while others think that the solution to the myriad of crises lies in further integration rather than disintegration. In this course, we will trace the evolution of European cooperation and the European institutions and look at some of the crises of the Union. These investigations will lead us to consider what the future might hold for the EU and its member states.

L. The Great Broadway Musicals: Reflecting the Era in Song with Jordan Klapman, Professional pianist, bandleader, music director and music lecturer

This course takes a close look at Broadway’s greatest musicals, composers, lyricists— and their greatest songs—to illustrate how The American Musical Theatre has mirrored changes in society, The Zeitgeist, and the ever-evolving “American Dream”. We will also examine the many ways in which Broadway’s greatest musicals have dealt with life’s challenges, while entertaining us. The course will include lectures, Q&A, slide and video presentations, and archival recordings of many of the most beloved Broadway songs of all time.