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 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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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 exploded over the news, provoking great optimism, pessimism, and confusion. In this course, we will cover the history of AI through recent developments including self-driving cars, get a useful understanding of just what AI is - and is not - and explore the positions of figures from Elon Musk to Ray Kurzweil.

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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

Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest, permanent, urban Chinese community in Canada—dating back to the 1858 Gold Rush on the Fraser River.

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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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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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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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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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Euripides' Herakles: PTSD and Tragedy in Fifth Century Athens

Athens in the latter half of the fifth century BCE was a city constantly at war. The audience of Greek tragedy was the audience of Athenian male citizens, all of them veterans of many conflicts. Dr.

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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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Reinvigorating Cancer Fighting T Cells One Nutrient at a Time

All cells in our body require sufficient nutrients to function properly. After an infection, T cells, the soldiers of the immune system, reproduce to form an army that destroys foreign invaders. This process requires an enormous amount of nutrients.

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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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Shakespeare for Fun and Profit

We’re now accustomed to seeing Shakespeare’s plays featured on high school reading lists and as part of university course offerings.

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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 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 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 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 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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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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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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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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