Courses

A Cultural Study of Poverty and Homelessness

This online course invites students to consider the homelessness crisis through the lens of Canadian social policy formulation. The focus is on the connections between policy decisions of the last half century and current problems, as well as evaluation of current policy solutions.

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A Helping Hand: Improving the World with 3D Printing

Victoria Hand Project (VHP) is a Canadian charity, based at the University of Victoria. VHP provides highly-engineered, low-cost, 3D printed prosthetic arms to amputees who are in need worldwide. Using 3D scanning, CAD (Computer Aided Design) and 3D printing, the prosthetic arms can be made customized to each person's unique residual limb.

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A History of the James Bay Neighbourhood

Learn about the history of James Bay, Victoria’s oldest residential district, from the 1840s to today.

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A History of Ross Bay Cemetery

Ross Bay Cemetery is a designated heritage site and one of British Columbia’s most iconic Victorian era cemeteries. John Adams, author of A Historic Guide to Ross Bay Cemetery and long-time member of the Old Cemeteries Society, will trace the origins of the cemetery from 1872 to the present day.

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A Journey through Iran

Iran’s exciting history, its extraordinary rich ethnic and religious diversity.

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An Introduction to Humanities

An introduction to the various ways in which scholars from different disciplines in the Humanities interpret, analyze and evaluate texts.

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An Introduction to the Art and Architecture in the Islamic World

This course will examine the development of Muslim religious and social practices that gave rise to a tradition of “Islamic” art and architecture. We will look at the requirements for educational and complexes of charitable foundations such as hospitals and soup kitchens, and the evolution of places for religious assembly, including mosques.

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Archaeology and Plants

Plants are fundamental to the food systems, and technologies, used by First Nations in BC in archaeological contexts.

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Archaeology and Textiles

Some of the oldest textiles in the world can tell us a lot about how people lived at the time they were made. By considering historical and contemporary textile practices, archaeologists can gain insights about archaeological contexts and artifacts.

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Artificial Intelligence and You

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been called “the new electricity” because it is reshaping every aspect of our lives. But what is AI, and how will it do that?

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Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance

Recent economic crises have made the centrality of debt, and the instability it creates, increasingly apparent. This realization has led to cries for change—yet there is little popular awareness of possible alternatives. This lecture describes efforts to create a transnational economy free of debt.

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China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Multiple Perspectives

China’s Belt and Road Initiative involves development projects in over 100 countries. In this course, we focus on Eurasia where it includes both overland and sea routes designed to kick start regional connectivity and economic growth.

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Chinese Victoria: History of Victoria's Chinatown

The history of Victoria’s Chinese community

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Christmas in Old Victoria

Find out how Christmas was observed in Victoria during the 19th century, from the annual decoration of the churches to the competition between butcher shops for the fanciest store window displays.

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Conspiracies and Radicalization in the "Post-Truth" Era

To better understand the rapid spread of conspiratorial thinking and extremist ideologies.

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Conspiratorial Thinking in the Age of COVID

Our social media networks have become filled with strange claims: that Bill Gates is micro-chipping us through our COVID vaccines, that COVID itself is a hoax, etc. How do some of us come to believe such wild claims?

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Conspiratorial Thinking in the Age of COVID (Mary Winspear Centre)

Our social media networks have become filled with strange claims: that Bill Gates is micro-chipping us through our COVID vaccines; that 5G cell towers are spreading the virus; that COVID itself is a hoax. How do some of us come to believe such wild claims?

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Creating our Tomorrows

How we can manifest an extraordinary future grounded in the truth of love's power to transform.

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Cross Border Management in Comparative Perspective

View the Borders in Globalization: Cross Border Management in Comparative Perspective program page for full details.

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Current Programs and Research at the Institute of Ocean Sciences

Mark Leblanc, Director of the Institute of Ocean Sciences will provide an update on current programs and initiatives at the Institute of Ocean Sciences.

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Detecting Dementia Early: What Do We Know? (Mary Winspear Centre)

Dementia is not a natural part of aging. It is an umbrella term that encompasses all types of neurodegenerative diseases that affect memory, judgement and cognitive skills severely enough to impact daily life.

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Dead (Wo)men Do Tell Tales: The Archaeology of Death

We will explore themes in mortuary archaeology, followed by an in-depth exploration of the evidence for the treatment of the dead from the Viking world.

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Dirty Money, Secret Sex: Political Scandals in Canada

There have been thousands of political scandals in Canadian history, but they have rarely been examined as a collective – it’s always been far too gratifying to witness the stumbles of the powerful to give much thought to the scandals after the fact.

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Doing Philosophy is Learning to Die

In 1580 the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne wrote his essay Doing Philosophy is Learning to Die, recycling many passages and ideas from his favourite Latin philosophers, especially Lucretius and Seneca. We will explore the Latin sources and historical context of Montaigne’s essay as well as his ways of thinking and writing.

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Ecclesiastes and the Meaning of Life

Ecclesiastes (Qohelet in Hebrew) is arguably the most enigmatic book of the Hebrew Bible. This course explores historical, literary and theological aspects of Ecclesiastes and its relevance in present times.

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Emily Carr's James Bay

Emily Carr was born in Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood in 1871 and died there in 1945. Instructor John Adams will bring to life the places, people and events that featured in Emily’s world.

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Empire and Desire: The Ottoman Palace in Western Imagination

Topkapı Palace served as the seat of Ottoman imperial power for 400 years.

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Energy Pathways to Just and Resilient Communities

This lecture will focus on these key questions, exploring the importance of how we make these change to the future flourishing of our communities and the ecosystems we depend upon. 

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Fairfield History

Before 1843, what did the terrain of Fairfield look like, where were the village sites of the Indigenous inhabitants, and how were the streams and waterways used as a shortcut from Ross Bay to the Inner Harbour?

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Forensic Anthropology of the Human Skeleton

This six-part series will examine topics of forensic anthropology and concepts relating to the recovery and analysis of unidentified human remains in a medico-legal context.

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Future Explorations (Mary Winspear Centre)

Throw out your crystal ball and tarot cards and join us for a realistic look at what the future might hold!

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Generations: An Intro to Cultural Anthropology and Korean Studies

In this course we explore cultural anthropology and contemporary South Korea through the concept of generations, which relates persons and things through pasts, presents, and imagined futures.

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Ghosts and Legends of Victoria

As October draws to a close, people begin to think of Halloween. Historian John Adams has been collecting ghost stories from Victoria for 25 years and will share some of the classics and some of the most intriguing during this presentation.

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Good Fire Ahead: Controlled Burning in the American West

What causes modern wildfires, and how did they get to be so destructive? This presentation explores the social and political background of wildfires, first showing 100 years of forest management in the United States, followed by a case study of an Indigenous-led project navigating policy challenges in California.

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Green is the New Grey: Seniors and Medical Cannabis

Over time, the likelihood of developing various conditions increases and many standard therapies may not be effective or associated with intolerable side effects. More and more seniors are enquiring whether medical cannabis might be a safe alternative option.

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Hagia Sophia through Centuries

The majestic Hagia Sophia, Divine Wisdom, built as the principal church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 6th century in what is now Istanbul, saw empires rise and fall.

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Harnessing Spiritual Power for Change

Buddha was a revolutionary spiritual teacher who taught at a time of great change and challenged social norms. Modern Buddhism is just as relevant during this time of significant cultural challenges. To bring about lasting meaningful change, we need to start at the source with our minds.  

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Haunted Victoria

Analyzing Ghost stories trends with John Adams, well-known ghost storyteller.

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Healing Our Past Experience

Do past harms and negative experiences play on your mind? Is there someone in your life you’d like to forgive, but can’t shake the feelings of resentment?

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How Can a Scoop of Water Protect At-risk Species?

This course looks at tracking at-risk and invasive species through the detection of environmental DNA (eDNA) in a scoop of water. Learn how this technique can transform our understanding of ecosystems and our impacts on them.​

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How Do We Manage a Just Energy Transition?

How can we transition to more sustainable and ecological industries, support green jobs and develop resilient communities?

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How to be Fairly Cheerful

Being in a state of constant happiness is an unrealistic hope, but a less ambitious plan can be realized: staying fairly cheerful in the face of life’s disappointments, adversities and frustrations.

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How to be Happy for Others

Someone else’s success may make us feel jealous or resentful. But, is happiness a commodity in short supply? In this course, we will learn how to step out of our self-centred view and rejoice in the happiness of others.

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Human Evolution

Bringing together the evidence from the fossil record, recent genetic advances, and the archaeological data, we will examine the biological and cultural characteristics that define humans, as well as the major theories for how such characteristics evolved.

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Industrial Victoria

This illustrated talk about an often overlooked part of Victoria’s history explores lost industries, the people who owned them and the workers who toiled for them.

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Inner Balance–Inner Peace

Others’ words and actions can dampen our mood or ruin our day. How can we learn to maintain a peaceful mind and transform each interaction into a source of purpose and joy?

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Introduction to Canadian Contemporary Issues

An introduction to contemporary issues in Canadian society including: politics, economic and social structures, cultural and arts policy, science and technology, multiculturalism, bilingualism, First Nations and women's issues.

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Introduction to Canadian Culture

An introduction to the multidisciplinary study of cultural structures and expression in Canada, including such forms as literature, fine arts, mass media and communications.

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Issues and Ideas in Canadian Environmentalism

This course offers an opportunity to explore how the physical environment of this country shapes the Canadian people.

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Kids These Days and the Ongoing Evolution of Language

Current language practices are simultaneously a reflection of historical linguistic states and a window to future linguistic states. In this talk Dr. Alex D’Arcy explores this relationship between past, present and future, problematizing the fact that language change unfolds as a continuous succession of present moments.

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Life Stories: Art and the Stages of Life

Art shapes our experiences of growing up and growing older. This presentation uses artworks to explore the impact of photographs, paintings, textiles and furnishings on our life stories.

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Neoliberalism in Canada: Its Origins, Impact and Future

Neoliberalism has been the dominant logic of governance around much of the world for 40 years, guiding not only public policy but also how we behave. In this talk, Dr. Leifso will review how neoliberal thought was mobilized in the 20th century as well as how neoliberalism was introduced in Canada through provincial and federal policy.

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Neoliberalism in Canada: Its Origins, Impact and Future - Mary Winspear

In this talk, Dr. Leifso will review how neoliberal thought was mobilized in the twentieth century by thinkers such as Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman before being taken up across the world in the 1970s and 1980s.

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"Nerdology:" The Sociology of Video Games and Digital Media

This course will discuss video games as the revolutionary creative and commercial products they are. 

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Networks and Borderlands: Bordering Processes in the 21st Century

In this first lecture, we'll establish the framework for our future discussions. What do borders look like in the 21st Century? Does it make sense to talk about borders in digital spaces, and if so, what do they look like? How do online social movements and ideologies engage in bordering processes?

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Networks of Rage: Far-Right Extremism Online

In this lecture, we will assess how far-right activism in North America has used digital landscapes to effectively transcend national borders. We will examine some of the ways that far-right ideologies emerge, how they use the internet and social media first to organize, and then to spread internationally.

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New Frontiers: The Sociology of Video Games and New Popular Media

You will explore the social, political and moral dimensions of video games in contemporary Canadian and American societies.

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On the Cannibals: Wondering about Eurocentrism

In this discussion seminar we will study Montaigne's developing lines of thought, illustrated by 16th c. images and narratives, and with reference to Montaigne's ancient sources.

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Petty Traitors and Domestic Tyrants: Spouse Murder in England, 1660–1800

This talk will explore the real incidence of, and trials for, petty treason in Britain’s largest criminal jurisdiction, the Old Bailey courthouse.

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Purify your Mind

This course will look at the practices of purification from several different perspectives offering you the ability to unlock new levels of happiness

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Reconnecting to Ourselves and Others

We are all on the same side but in times of difficulty it is easy to feel we are losing touch with ourselves and others.

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Rockland History and Architecture

The Rockland neighbourhood and its homes and families.

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Secrets of Ancient Egypt’s Lost Turquoise Mines

Many have heard of King Solomon’s Mines, but few know of the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadim. High above the Sinai Desert in Egypt lie the ruins of a mysterious temple dating back to the 12th Dynasty.

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Secrets of Ancient Egypt's Lost Turquoise Mines (Mary Winspear Centre)

High above the Sinai Desert in Egypt lie the ruins of a mysterious temple. Using maps, photographs and artifacts, we explore the connection between its rare gems, the landscape and the goddess Hathor.

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Skepticism and Critical Thinking in the 21st Century

In light of growing anti-intellectualism, we are faced with a daunting prospect - a world where facts matter less than popularity, and where certainty threatens to replace truth. We are entering what some scholars refer to as a post-truth age and it is happening at a perilous time.

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Skepticism and Critical Thinking in the 21st Century (Mary Winspear Centre)

In light of growing anti-intellectualism, we are faced with a daunting prospect: a world where facts matter less than popularity, and where certainty threatens to replace truth.

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Social Networks: How Conspiracy Theories Move in Digital Spaces

Today, conspiracy theorists from around the world can come together, share their beliefs, and develop new ones to then be spread through our social media networks. How does this happen? Why do they spread so quickly, and what can be done about it?

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Social Networks: How Conspiracy Theories Move in Digital Spaces (Mary Winspear Centre)

Today, conspiracy theorists from around the world can come together, share their beliefs, and develop new ones to then be spread through our social media networks. How does this happen? Why do they spread so quickly, and what can be done about it?

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Someone Who Made a Difference to the Life of Today (Mary Winspear Centre)

Our daily lives carry the imprint of a chain of people’s actions, often reaching far into the past. Choose someone whose past actions made a difference to modern life, and perhaps your own, and find out more about them.

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Stories in Stone: Rock Art Around the World

For thousands of years, paint and stone have been used all over the world to make art.

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Taming the Wild Elephant Mind

Do you ever feel that your mind is like a wild elephant, your thoughts running back and forth uncontrolled? The great Indian Buddhist master Shantideva reminds us that a wild elephant loose in a populated area will cause massive destruction, but an uncontrolled wild mind can cause even more harm.

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The Art of Self-Acceptance

Buddhist teachings on self-acceptance show us how to be our own friend, teacher and guide. However, we are sometimes our own worst enemy, causing ourselves pain and torment.

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The Changing Face of Victoria's Chinatown in the 21st Century

In 1995 Victoria’s Chinatown was designated a national historic site of Canada because it is the oldest surviving Chinatown in Canada, it was the largest urban centre of Chinese population in Canada until the first decade of the twentieth centu

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The Coastal Regions of Alaska and the Arctic (Mary Winspear Centre)

This presentation gives an overview of the Alaskan and Arctic coastal regions.

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The Emptiness of Identity

In this course we explore Buddha’s wisdom teachings on the true nature of the self and learn to let go of an ordinary you. 

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The First Buddhist Women

Who were the first Buddhist women? What do we know of their lives? In this course you will learn about the first Buddhist nuns and the queens and servants who were devoted disciples of the Buddha’s teachings, though they never entered the monastic order themselves.

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The Myths that Plato Told – Part One

In this discussion seminar we select two of these stories, connecting Plato's treatment with other ancient sources and interpreting the myths in terms of Plato's own philosophy.

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The Neuroscience of Aging

In this session Dr. Krigolson will discuss how the brain grows from conception to birth and then how it ages throughout the lifespan.

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The Novel Human Coronaviruses: Lessons Learned and Future Challenges (Mary Winspear Centre)

In this presentation learn what scientists have learned about the origins of these viruses, how they are apparently transmitted to humans, the possible course of an infection with a particular focus on COVID-19, and the most valuable lessons obtained from the current pandemic.

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The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Understanding the Deeper Causes

The lecture will analyze the reasons behind the Ukrainians’ resilience and the war’s implications for the world.

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The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Understanding the Deeper Causes - Mary Winspear

This lecture will reveal the deeper reasons behind Russian aggression beyond the often-cited but misleading security concerns.

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The Science of Happiness (Mary Winspear Centre)

This course will examine a number of factors that contribute to happiness, and provide hands-on practical exercises to help you find your happiness pathway.

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The Sculpting of Myth and Imagination

The flat lands of Tuktoyaktuk to the ice cap of Greenland and … the little grub that defies hibernation.

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The Social Construction of Borders

Borders help to define citizenship and to exclude the unwelcome and Other. But what of culture? Does cultural identity stop (or start) at the border?

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The Sounds of Coast Salish Languages (Mary Winspear Centre)

This presentation will introduce the sounds that are found in the Coast Salish languages spoken in these territories, including ones in local words like PKOLS (Mount Douglas) and sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ (the new James Bay library branch).

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The Storm Rises: Qanon as Conspiracy and Quasi-religious Movement

Of all the conspiratorial claims to have emerged in the past five years, perhaps the most bizarre—and dangerous—is Qanon, a paranoid, conspiratorial movement that has in recent years taken on an almost religious dynamic. What is this movement? What do its followers believe? Why do some of its more lurid elements feel so familiar? 

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The Storm Rises: QAnon as Conspiracy and Quasi-religious Movement (Mary Winspear Centre)

What is this movement? What do its followers believe? Why do some of its more lurid elements feel so familiar?

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The Wisdom of Proverbs

Proverbs offers a much richer understanding of the meaning of wisdom throughout the Bible and in our own lives. This course uses a combined lecture and seminar format with plenty of time for discussion and questions. 

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The Whole Day Matters: Move More, Reduce Sedentary Time and Sleep Well (Mary Winspear Centre)

The evidence is in: Canadians need to move more, reduce sedentary time and sleep well to receive optimal health benefits.

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The World of Russian Culture

In this course you will explore the world of Russian culture from its early classic art-form to today’s modern digital era. We will look at major cultural events and the most significant works by Russian writers, composers, painters and dancers.

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Thinking About Religion Today

The study of religion is currently characterized by provocative developments calling into question the conceptual basis for this field of study.

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Towards a Federal Europe: Democracy in the 21st Century

The European Union (EU) is neither a federal state nor an international organization-it is something in between. What do we make of this entity?

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Trade and Customs Borders in the 21st Century

Please view the Borders in Globalization: Trade and Customs Borders in the 21st Century program page for full details.

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Transitions

Humanity needs to make a transition away from fossil fuels as a source of energy. What can we learn from the big transitions human societies have faced in the past? Each participant will investigate a transition that they find interesting and share their findings with the group in a presentation meant to stimulate discussion.

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Troy Revisited

Troy is a well-known legendary city and an archeological site in the northwest corner of Turkey. Homer’s Illiad defines a walled-city in front of which the Acheans and the Trojans launched a fierce battle for Helene’s sake.

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University 101

A desire to learn is all you need for University 101. This non-credit course in the humanities is for you if your economic and social circumstances normally pose obstacles to university education (e.g., low income, mental health challenges, single parenthood, homelessness).

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University 102

A desire to learn is all you need for University 102. This non-credit course in the social sciences is offered to people whose personal, economic and social circumstances might pose obstacles to university education (e.g., low income, physical or mental health challenges, work and family responsibilities or lack of opportunity).

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University 201

University 201 is a course for people who have completed at least one of the University 101 or 102 courses. The course runs in all three academic terms and covers a wide range of different topics on a monthly basis.

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Using Particle Physics to Understand the Universe

Particle physics allows us to understand nature at its most fundamental level, whereas astrophysics allows us to understand nature at its very largest scales. How do these two fields overlap?

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Victorian Cities of the Dead

Some of BC’s most impressive 19th century cemeteries are located in Victoria, and instructor John Adams knows them intimately.

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What's Going on at Sandown These Days? (Mary Winspear Centre)

Find out what’s happening on the Sandown lands, at the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture (SCRA).

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What's Happening at UVic Centre for Aerospace Research? (Mary Winspear Centre)

Find out what’s happing at UVic Centre for Aerospace Research near the airport.

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Why Did the Computer Do That? Explaining Software in a Probabilistic World

Have you ever wondered about the role software plays in every system that touches our lives? This talk covers social network software like Facebook, but also software that is making decisions about driving cars, prescribing medicine and recommending hires.

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