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Liberal Arts Blog

SFU Continuing Studies

Our Fall Courses and Events are Online!

June 27th, 2014

Fall? What? Yes, just when you think summer has finally arrived, Fall is in the air.

Well, not quite, but our fall line-up of courses is now available to you, and what a line-up it is! We’ve got something for practically everybody, ranging from free events and courses on evenings and Saturdays for everybody and courses in the daytime for Adults 55+.

The range is truly amazing, too, covering a host of fascinating topics in the liberal arts (history and literature), in science, in politics and also taking in photography, art and music and archaeology. From touring the Galapagos Islands to understanding the secrets of the universe and its planets and black holes our stretch couldn’t be larger.

Why not check us out online now and plan an exciting fall of learning and discovery?

And, oh, yes, our print brochure will, of course, be off to you in the post shortly, but that’s only a skeletal view of what’s happening. Because of space restrictions and print costs, our online version is the only one that gives you the complete picture: it contains the full description for each week’s course, required or recommended reading (if any) and an extended (rather than a short) biography for each instructor.

Hit us up today … and we’ll look forward to seeing you in the fall!

Registration for our FALL COURSES AND EVENTS in the Liberal Arts and Adults 55+ Program begins on July 23 at 10:00 a.m.

Don’t Get Left Behind . . .

June 25th, 2014

Starting July 1, 2014, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation will come into effect. This means that we can no longer send you emails unless you “opt-in” to receive further email communications from us about our courses and events.

You might have received an email from us about this. If you “opted-in,” then we’ll continue to be in contact. If you didn’t receive that email – or didn’t act on it – you can still “opt-in” by going to sfu.ca/continuing-studies/contact.html.

We really want to stay friends … but the legislation coming into effect makes it depend on you!

Cool and Weird: Need Makeup, Food, Medicine? One Stop Shopping in Ancient Egypt

June 18th, 2014

Diana Cruchley writes about her experience in one of our Summer classes: A Matter of Taste: An Introduction to Food History, taught by Roberta S. Kremer.

We go to the cosmetics department for makeup, to the grocery store for food, and to a drug store for medicine. For an ancient Egyptian though, this would be an alien thought. A single item like lotus or honey (use it to stiffen your wig) could be SIMULTANEOUSLY a food, a cosmetic and a medicine. The Egyptian “day” in A Matter of Taste also revealed:

    • Egyptians had bad teeth and lots of hieroglyphs describing pain remedies. Why? They had NO SUGAR – just honey and natural sugars – but their mortars for grinding flour where made of stone, and the little stone flecks would grind away your teeth.
    • Just like today, one of the remedies for a toothache was to pack the tooth with cloves
    • Egyptians drank beer all the time – the water was unsafe.
    • Egyptians ate hummus from a recipe we would recognize today.

Diana Cruchley, passionate learner, used to attend random classes at university as an undergraduate just because she “heard the prof was good.” A former District Administrator in Langley, Diana is an award winning educator and an author who gives workshops for teachers (and seniors) across British Columbia, Alberta and in the United States.

The Adults 55+ Liberal Arts Program Graduation Ceremony

June 14th, 2014

The Adults 55+ Liberal Arts Program Graduation Ceremony
On Tuesday, morning April 15th, Room 1415 at SFU Harbour Centre witnessed the fulfillment of several dreams, with the University’s Chancellor, Dr. Carole Taylor, presenting Liberal Arts Certificates for Adults 55+ to nine students: Lois Beckett, Myrna Campeotto, Norma Clark, Marcel Préfontaine, Sue Robinson, Corinne Sawchuk, Binki Segal, Paula Cameron Shore and Norma Tiessen.

The award honoured the completion of 128 hours of courses in the Program, with the successful completion of a paper the vital component in each course taken.

Present at the ceremony were Dean of Continuing Studies, Dr. Helen Wussow, Program Director Roz Kaplan and Scott Ricker, President of the Seniors Lifelong Learners Society. An informal question-and-answer period, rather than a formal address, was featured.

The Liberal Arts Certificate is an option for students who wish to add a new dimension to their learning experience, by reflecting on how the courses they’ve taken have contributed to their appreciation of the subjects and changed their way of thinking.

Congratulations to all on a goal achieved!

Cool and Weird: How we got really, really smart . . . again

June 12th, 2014

Tricia Sirrs writes about her experience in one of our previous Spring classes: Under the Sea: Introduction to the Underwater Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean, taught by Robyn Woodward.

So they found Christopher Columbus’ lost flagship the other day?  We knew where it was.

We knew because Dr. Robyn Woodward told us.  She’s an adjunct professor in SFU’s Department of Archaeology, a governor of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and vice-president of the prestigious Institute of Nautical Archaeology.  She also hunts shipwrecks.

So, everybody knows that Christopher Columbus came from Spain in 1492, and discovered North America, while trying to get somewhere more important.  That’s old news.

He had a fleet of three ships, the Pinta, the Nina, and his shabby old flagship, the Santa Maria. He also had a crew that included experienced seamen who were also convicted criminals.  They were given a choice:  go discovering with Chris, and perhaps fall off the flat earth, or discover the joys of a lifetime in prison.

Things went fairly well for the first few months, but then came the festive season.  Time for a crew party on the deck of the flagship, with the sailors celebrating as only 15th century sailors could.

Eventually, everyone passed out, leaving only the cabin boy to drive the ship.  The poor kid didn’t know enough to keep the Santa Maria well clear of the coastline, and ran it aground just off the coast of Haiti.

That’s where shipwreck scavengers found it a few weeks ago.  If someone had asked us, we could have told them where it was.

All things being well in the underwater world, Dr. Woodward will be back sometime next winter to teach another class.  Watch for it.

The Liberal Arts and Adults 55+ program will be offering a class titled “Northern Europe’s Underwater Archaeology” by Robyn Woodward in Fall 2014. Look for it in our Fall 2014 brochures coming out in July.

Tricia has written everything from ad copy to annual reports, from websites to speeches, and from film scripts to here’s-to-you toasts. She moved here from Calgary six years ago, and has been taking classes at SFU ever since. She’s now thinking of starting another business: ghost-writing family “legacy” biographies.

Cool and Weird: How we got really, really smart . . . twice

June 9th, 2014

Tricia Sirrs writes about her experience in one of our previous Fall classes: Financial Crises: Selected Topics, taught by Ted Cohn.

Ukraine in crisis?  We saw it coming.

You can learn the most amazing things – sometimes cool things, sometimes I-didn’t-know-that things, and sometimes really weird things – from classes offered in SFU’s Adults 55+ program. 

In fact, those of us who took the Financial Crises course from Professor Ted Cohn in October, 2013, knew exactly the weekend Ukraine would unravel.  Because he told us.

Professor Cohn correctly predicted that Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych would get cold feet about signing the first stage European Union membership agreement, a step that would have brought Ukraine closer to the West but would be sure to bring on the not-to-be-messed-with wrath of Mr. Putin.

Thanks to Professor Cohn’s heads-up, we were ready when a day or two before the agreement was to be signed – all the other countries were in town, ceremonial pens in hand  –  Yanukovych balked, and bolted.  And all hell broke loose.

We’ve been dazzling our friends and families with our international affairs expertise ever since.

And hopefully, Professor Cohn is coming back in the fall of 2014 to teach another class in what really makes the world go round.  Watch for it, but sign up the day registration opens: his courses fill up fast.

What was the second class that made us seem really, really smart?  Coming soon on this blog; watch for it, too!

The Liberal Arts and Adults 55+ program will be offering a class titled “The Politics of Financial Crises” by Ted Cohn in Fall 2014. Look for it in our Fall 2014 brochures coming out in July.

Tricia has written everything from ad copy to annual reports, from websites to speeches, and from film scripts to here’s-to-you toasts. She moved here from Calgary six years ago, and has been taking classes at SFU ever since. She’s now thinking of starting another business: ghost-writing family “legacy” biographies.

Cool and Weird: Russian Opera

June 5th, 2014

Diana Cruchley writes about her experience in one of our Spring classes: Russian Opera, taught by Harvey De Roo.

The display of Russian culture during Sochi was astonishing, and made me more then interested in learning more about the country. So Russian Opera seemed to be a perfect idea in the 55 plus series.  The first amazing fact was that the three major operatic composers, including Rimsky Korsakov were amateurs.  That is, they all had full time jobs that did NOT involve composing operas, or, in fact, any kind of music.  This week’s opera was Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin, although he never actually finished it.  In fact, it was in bits and scraps – some scenes from one act, some parts from another as he tried to find time to complete it. When he died Rimsky Korsakov finished it, pulling the whole thing together.

More importantly, from this operatic illiterate’s point of view, the best part of the opera we watched was Bordodin’s music used in the musical Kismet, which they call “The Dance of the Maidens” but which we know as Stranger in Paradise.  For me, it’s nice to know, that something I really like, is “classical.”

Take my hand
I’m a stranger in paradise
All lost in a wonderland
a stranger in paradise
If I stand starry-eyed
That’s the danger in paradise
For mortals who stand beside an angel like you.

Diana Cruchley, passionate learner, used to attend random classes at university as an undergraduate just because she “heard the prof was good.” A former District Administrator in Langley, Diana is an award winning educator and an author who gives workshops for teachers (and seniors) across British Columbia, Alberta and in the United States.

Cool and Weird: Before Time: Six Milestones in World Prehistory

June 2nd, 2014

Diana Cruchley writes about her experience in one of our Spring classes: Before Time: Six Milestones in World Pre-History, taught by David Maxwell.

In between stories of how humankind spread around the planet, and the proof we have for it, David Maxwell casually drops in a few interesting “things you didn’t know.”

Why did they call the people of North America redskins? Well, they often coloured their bodies using red ochre, a natural earth pigment – so that when Europeans arrived they referred to their red skins, and the name stuck.

Speaking of names that stick. Why was an Eskimo called an Eskimo? The Algonquin and the Cree both have related words that mean “eaters of raw meat.” David Maxwell says that it often happened that your native guide on the trip, when asked what is the name for a particular thing, would attach a name they knew and the European would dutifully write it down. “Who are they?” asks the explorer. “Oh, they are the eaters of raw meat,” says the guide. And so the explorer dutifully writes it down. It is now more common to say Inuit.

How about that the Iceman discovered in 1991 had over 50 tattoos on his body? The more we change, the more we stay the same – although it is believed that, rather than being decorative, these incisions, made with a thin point and rubbed in with charcoal may have been intended as a therapy to relieve pain.

And, David Maxwell doesn’t like it that we call Berengia a land bridge across which the people of Asia came to North America during the last ice age. He says that it implies that it is a little skinny thing that you balance on with both arms out. Instead it was over 1000 miles wide, and you just followed the game without realizing you were even going to another continent. Cool…in more ways than one.

Diana Cruchley, passionate learner, used to attend random classes at university as an undergraduate just because she “heard the prof was good.” A former District Administrator in Langley, Diana is an award winning educator and an author who gives workshops for teachers (and seniors) across British Columbia, Alberta and in the United States.

Cool and Weird: Musical Heartthrobs

May 28th, 2014

Lorna Court writes about her experience in one of our Spring classes: Divos: Six Men Singing Pop, Rock and Opera, taught by Neil Ritchie.

Even though Neil Ritchie calls his course “6 Divos” he might as well have called it “6 Heartthrobs”. Whatever your taste or generation, this course is for you. Neil’s choices range from Pavarotti to Sting; Nat King Cole to Frank Sinatra; or Elton John to Jon Vickers. Every week my classmates and I keep time with the music and secretly swoon with its rich magic, and the memories the songs and singers evoke. Last week was Nat King Cole, and there was a whole lot of swaying and shimmying in the room!

But for me it was week one and Elton John. My generation grew up with his killer songs and crazy glasses. We played his songs at our dances, on our dates, and on the radio when we were supposed to be doing homework. When he played the Pacific Coliseum we raced to be part of that audience, lighters aloft, SO proud of our seats in the nosebleed section. EVERYONE talked about his glasses! At an age when we were all wearing contact lenses, there he was flaunting the most flamboyant collection of eyeglasses we’d ever seen. (Maybe it WAS OK to be “4 eyes” after all?)

Oh yes, we were fans, but as adoring adolescents we took Elton John and his art at face value. It’s only thanks to Neil Ritchie (6 Divos; Feb 2014), that I’ve learned more about Elton John’s background and work style. I didn’t even know that wasn’t his real name! He was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, and performed as “Reggie” until he rebranded himself using the names of his first bandmates, Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. Did you know he writes almost all his songs within an hour? AN HOUR! (So he could have written a hit by the time our class took its morning break!) He likes his lyricist to finish first, then he takes the words, sits down at the piano and usually an hour later, voila!

But sometimes even geniuses cut it a little fine and get themselves into trouble. In this case it happened with Princess Diana’s funeral. As everyone knows, Sir Elton John was one of the Princess’ close friends, so sang at her funeral. However, it turns out that he’d planned to compose a brand new piece for the occasion, but he and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin got their wires crossed. As always Elton waited for Bernie’s lyrics before composing his music around them. In this case he didn’t receive the lyrics until the night before the funeral, which would normally have been fine, except that Bernie had misunderstood what Elton wanted. Apparently Bernie thought his assignment was to re-write the lyrics to “Candle in the Wind” for Diana, so that’s what he did. By the time Elton discovered the mistake the pair were out of time, so instead of working on a new composition, Elton spent the night memorizing the words for “Goodbye England’s Rose”. (The dedicated lyrics worked, the performance was perfect. “Candle in the Wind 1997” sold 33 million copies and is considered the best selling single of all time, although Elton John has said he will never perform that version again, at least not unless Princes William or Harry request it.)

Roll on next week! We still have Sting, Jon Vickers, and Old Blue Eyes to go!

Lorna came to the 55+ program with an arts education and a business background, so is now revelling in as wide an array of courses from other disciplines as possible — Physics to Fashion, Astronomy to Archeology.  (She says it’s incredibly liberating to know these are courses that it’s impossible to fail!)  As a Headhunter Lorna conducted thousands of interviews, examining the  backstories behind the events and choices that shape people’s lives.  The same curiosity led her to these courses, and she finds them addictive!

SFU@The Roundhouse: Free Seniors Week Event on June 3

May 28th, 2014

The Adults 55+ Program celebrates Seniors Week 2014 in British Columbia (June 1–7) with a free afternoon event, from 2-5 p.m. at Yaletown’s Roundhouse, co-sponsored by the Adults 55+ Program, The Roundhouse and the SFU Seniors Lifelong Learners Society.

This celebratory afternoon consists of three parts: (1) a 40-minute talk by Antone Minard on SuperNatural BC’s supernatural stories, (2) a 40-minute talk by Josh Labove about food sources and food security and (3) a breakout into round tables discussion, moderated by the speakers and other SFU Liberal Arts and Adults 55+ Program instructors, to consider the ideas deriving from the two talks.