Current Courses

Spring 2017 Courses

| HRM | Chester | Mahone Bay | Liverpool | Truro |

If your chosen course is listed as FULL, consider adding your name to the wait-list for the next time this course is offered, or if we are able to secure a larger classroom. Simply email your request to:

‡ = these courses are in partnership with Halifax Public Libraries ‡ with half the available seats reserved for SCANS members registered in the courses;
NO CLASSES on *Monday May 22 (*Victoria Day).
Download the Spring Term 2017 Course Brochure here (PDF)


1. A Social Cultural View of African Nova Scotian History  [register here]
Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard [bio] HRM: ‡ Woodlawn Public Library ‡ [location]
Mondays, 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 1, ends Jun 12 (no classes *May 22)
This course offers students an opportunity to explore the rich history and cultural traditions of the African Nova Scotian experience. We will examine the history and contemporary issues facing African Nova Scotians (ANS) through this social-historical lens. Participants will be able to discover the ways in which race, sex, gender, class, disability, sexual identity and age affect ANS, particularly the impact on health and well-being.
Reflections on the lived reality of oppression and traditions of survival, resistance, activism and critical hope will be addressed. Finally, participants will explore creative ways to bridge differences and build alliances to effectively work with the African Nova Scotian community.
2. Capitalism: From Early Promise to Contemporary Gloom  [register here]
Daphna Levit [bio] HRM: ‡ Capt Wm Spry Community Centre - CMPR ‡ [location]
Mondays, 1:30 to 3:30 (6 wks) Begins May 1, ends Jun 12 (no classes *May 22)
Theories of human organization are the concern of philosophers since the earliest records of history, and capitalism originated in the minds of great thinkers as a philosophical concept. It evolved over time to be the world’s foremost economic system.
Over the centuries, many critical thinkers, including theologians, political scientists, sociologists, economists and philosophers have expressed forceful views about this widely practiced system. With its dominance, the voice of its dissenters has also grown louder. This course will examine through history the basic assumptions and arguments about capitalism. We will consider the views of some of the sharpest minds in the western world who considered capitalism as a great force for good in the world as well as some who vehemently opposed it. Among the latter we will consider socialists and fascists who might be particularly relevant in the contemporary gloom of unleashed forces.
3. “Heart and Hearth”: A Study of Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘The Death of the Heart’ and Henry James’ ‘The Spoils of Poynton’  [register here]
Victoria Rosenberg [bio] HRM: Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, Rm 15 [location]
Tuesdays , 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 2, ends Jun 6
Both novels, James’ published in 1896 and Bowen’s in 1938, explore the connection between possessions (the “hearth” of the course title) and relationships (the “heart”) and the destructive force the former exerts. We will study each novel by focusing on specific sections and analyzing them in detail. To begin we will look at the first chapter of “The Death of the Heart”. Participants are urged to read the first section, “The World”, in preparation for our opening discussion. Bowen divided the novel into three sections, conveniently allowing us to allot one section for each of the three classes on the novel. The second half of the course will be devoted to the James novel - not as long as the Bowen but, as usual with James, complex and problematic. Victoria Rosenberg will be using the Penguin edition of the James and the Anchor edition of the Bowen. If you want to follow along in the analyses, look for these editions, but any copy will see you through –the words are obviously the same, though the page numbers differ.
4. A Beginner's Guide to the Italian Renaissance: Part 1  [Course FULL!]
Greg Galbraith [bio] HRM: Parkland Clayton Park, Cameron Hall [location]
Tuesdays, 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 2, ends Jun 6
This course is a visual romp through 14th and 15th century Italy. It is designed for anyone curious about an age that saw a more analytical and intellectual approach to life take hold, as the focus of attention shifted from the Church to humans and the world around them. While the majority of time will be devoted to the art and artists of the era, time will be given to the significant events, notable personalities, and the underlying spirit that spurred an expansion of thought, creativity and commerce that rivaled, if not surpassed, the Classical World. This course will focus largely on the city of Florence, the epicenter of the Early Renaissance, but also note the contributions by other influential Italian city-states to this transitional era.
5. Shakespeare and Old Age  [register here]
Alan Young [bio] HRM: ‡ Bedford Public Library ‡ [location]
Tuesdays, 1:30 to 3:30 (6 wks) Begins May 2, ends Jun 6
The phenomenon of old age and the aging process are of considerable significance in a number of Shakespeare’s plays. One thinks of such characters as Polonius in Hamlet, Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, or Adam in As You Like It. In some plays, concepts of age and the process of aging are given particular prominence. King Lear is the most detailed and complex of these, and it will provide the centrepiece for the course. Significantly, The Tempest, written towards the end of Shakespeare’s career, is another work, along with the earlier As You Like It, which explores issues of age and aging.
It is hoped that those signing up for the course will endeavour to read/re-read King Lear, but this is by no means a requirement. In approaching the subject-matter of this course, the instructor will offer some historical pointers regarding concepts of age and aging in the Elizabethan and early Stuart period, comparing them with our own often very different and evolving perceptions. Clips from TV and movie productions will be used to illustrate the course.
6. A Short & Incomplete History of Oil & Foreign Policy  [Course FULL!]
Michael Collins [bio] HRM: Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, Rm 15 [location]
Tuesdays , 1:00 to 3:00 (6 wks) Begins May 2, ends Jun 6
“The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones, and the oil age will not end because we run out of oil".
(Sheik Yamani--Then Saudi Arabian Oil Minister)
The first part of my working life, I was in the oil and gas industry in England, Canada and then Saudi Arabia. I was always fascinated by this incredible industry which has supported the western world's economic development and its military power. So, allied with my second career's span of economic and social history, this course is a short look at a highly technical, very well managed industry complete with national and international political input and skullduggery which still largely supports our economy and way of life.
The course consists of six topics and includes discussion of:
1) The birth of the modern industry
2) Standard Oil and John D. Rockefeller
3) Russia as an Oil Colossus and the emergence of Shell Oil Company
4) The Desert Kingdom
5) World War and the sinews of Industrial War
6) Suez 1956 and Eisenhower's crucial decision.
7. Issues in Environmental Law, Forest Ecology and Nova Scotia's Forest Industry   [register here]
Jamie Simpson [bio] HRM: St. Andrew’s Community Centre, Seniors Room [location]
Wednesdays , 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 3, ends Jun 7
The course will explore issues in two main topics: (1) environmental law and (2) forest ecology and management. In the first topic, we will look at how law can be used to tackle environmental issues. We will look at judicial review (the dance between courts and government), endangered species litigation, and environmental rights. For the second topic, we’ll explore our natural Maritimes’ forest, how it has changed, and its prospects for recovery.
8. Love in Western Literature, Part 3: The Renaissance  [register here]
Barry Mills [bio] HRM: Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, Rm 15 [location]
Wednesdays , 1:00 to 3:00 (6 wks) Begins May 3, ends Jun 7
The period is roughly 1500 to 1750. The lead work is Don Quixote, for “the knight of the woeful countenance” caused the world to see that love fares better when it is less idealised. Love in literature is rarely seen in full flower in any one literary genre. We may find love represented here, there, so in this course participants are not obliged to read lengthy works, but rather, will receive brief, relevant texts, or hear passages read aloud. Shakespeare’s women – Beatrice, Portia, Rosalind, Cordelia – are woman brought down from the chivalric pedestal, or woman no longer spurned as Eve. Men were still the writers, but now they came not only from the courtier, warrior or prelate castes. Middle class lawyers, merchants, school teachers and, eventually, professional authors brought forward new views on womankind. The ballads and love lyrics of shepherds and tinkers were appreciated by collectors. Drama modified classic examples until even something called “domestic tragedy” could be countenanced. Comedy becomes sophisticated and currently relevant, on occasion departing from the stage to appear in novel form. “The Battle of the Books” was waged throughout these 250 years with the modernists eventually gaining the upper hand over the classicists. Man, woman and love were now represented more complexly in art, music and letters. Modernist views were informed by experimental science, exploration, trade and new modes of government. The classicists’ models were esteemed, yet were seen as static. Love represented in Western literature therefore presents a history of genres.
9. Glimpses of Georgian and Victorian England  [Course FULL!]
Michael Collins [bio] HRM: Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, Rm15 [location]
Thursdays, 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 4, ends Jun 8
This period covers the time of Britain's ascent as the world's first industrial, financial and military superpower. Also, it marks the appearance of the world's First Industrial Nation and the rapid move from a monarchial rule to the type of representative democracy still existing in the United Kingdom and Canada.
This dynamic situation led to huge challenges to existing society and rising social problems as noted in the books of Charles Dickens and the work of Karl Marx. Victorian society struggled and in many places started to prevail to match these problems.
This six week unit will cover:
1) Georgian England: Who were the Georgians and what type of society existed?
2) The Industrial Revolution: An impossibility to cover fully in less than two hours rather than two years but we will have a 'go'.
3) Colonial Trade and Empire: What conditions prevailed to allow a country off the NE coast of Europe to establish a seagoing and largely Asian Imperial system?
4) Reform or Accommodation: One of only two European countries to escape the revolutions in Europe of 1830 to 1870. In doing so, Britain changed the electoral system from minority aristocratic rule to one that was to lead to the present set up.
5) Society and Social Problems: A myriad of social problems inside a growing industrial system. This system allowed the country to start tackling these problems while the lower classes of most of Europe remained in poverty.
6) Victoria and her Imperial Age: A country at the zenith of power and a monarch who represented that power but was herself politically powerless, and the role of Bedford in perpetuating this system.
10. Atlantic Regional Development, Part 2: Since Confederation   [register here]
Alan Wilson [bio] HRM: St. Andrew’s Community Centre, Seniors Room [location]
Thursdays , 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 4, ends Jun 8
While Part 2 of this course continues with the theme of “particularism”, it also examines successive and varied impacts on industrial prospects and growth, on federal fiscal and political relations, on French/English frictions - many arising from major war experiences and from global environmental threats. For some, it sparks the idea of Maritime Union. The cumulative effect of these new factors has been to raise questions of continuity, cohesiveness and identity in matters of culture, public finance and governance across a region rooted in tradition.
11. Classical Music Undressed: Take 2  [register here]
Jennifer Farrell [bio] HRM: ‡ Halifax Central Library, O’Regan Hall ‡ [location]
Fridays, 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 12, ends Jun 16
Did you know that when Johann Sebastian Bach was young, he got into a knife fight after insulting a colleague? Or that Handel was a “foodie”? Or that Beethoven was extremely clumsy? These surprising facts and many more will pepper a visual and auditory exploration of the cultural and political contexts that formed the backdrops to the most famous works of select composers from the 17th through to the 19th centuries. An enhanced version of the course offered for SCANS in Spring 2015, “Classical Music Undressed: Take 2” will include more biographies of composers that strip them bare of the pedestals on which we normally place them, and highlight the more intimate details of their lives and personalities. This iteration of the course will also include additional live music excerpts performed by Dr. Farrell and special musical guests. As always, no musical experience or previous knowledge of music history is required.
12. Astronomy: Part 2  [Course FULL!]
Gary Welch [bio] HRM: Parkland Clayton Park, Cameron Hall [location]
Fridays, 1:30 to 3:30 (6 wks) Begins May 5, ends Jun 9
Although Astronomy: Part 2 builds on the background presented in Part 1 you will still enjoy this course if you missed the first part. Astronomy: Part 2 voyages into regions strange and wonderful, addressing some perennially fascinating questions: Are we alone? What is the fate of our earth? What is dark matter? We'll learn about the lives of stars, and about their bizarre deaths. Why does a star explode in a supernova? What are neutron stars, pulsars and black holes, and what convinces astronomers that they really exist? We'll examine our home galaxy - the Milky Way - and learn about the uncountable other galaxies of deep space. Finally, we come to the study of the universe as a whole: Cosmology. How do we know that space is expanding? Did the Universe really have a beginning? What will happen in the far future? Is ours the only universe?
13. Jewish and Israeli Dissenters of Zionism: Seldom Heard Voices, Part 1   [register here]
Daphna Levit [bio] Chester: St. Stephen’s Hall [location]
Tuesdays, 2:00 to 4:00pm (6 wks) Begins May 2, ends Jun 6
Considering the current number of incompatible ideologies in the global political sphere and their turbulent impact, the disputes about Zionism are timeworn, obstinate and of lesser immediate dramatic interest. Yet the turmoil in the Middle East is often attributed to the existence of the State of Israel and the injustices perpetrated in the name of Zionism, a movement that has existed since the end of the 19th century. There is an oversimplified convention that divides the concerned public into a Jewish, Zionist, pro-Israel camp versus an anti-Semitic, Jew-hating camp opposed to the State of Israel, although many early founders of Zionism would likely be appalled by its contemporary derivation. And many contemporary Israeli dissenters are silenced by the pervasive nationalism that seeks to entrench militant Zionism.
Little is known about the early detractors of the Zionist Movement and even more rarely heard are the opinions of Israeli intellectuals, born after WWII who grew up in Israel with a shared language, literature and music that oppose the evolution of successive extreme nationalist governments and policies, who have well founded criticism of Zionism and its evolution. They are silenced from within Israel and from without by the loud chorus of powerful Jews in the diaspora. This course attempts to give some of them a voice.
How and why did the Zionist movement begin? Who were its founders? Who were its followers? How did the Jewish intelligentsia regard Zionism? Is Zionism just another word for Judaism? From Martin Buber (1878- 1965); Albert Einstein (1879-1955); Yeshaya Leibowitz (1903-1994); Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) to contemporary and still living academics and philosophers in Israel, this course will focus on the ethical complexity of this ideology.
14. Spy School 101  [register here]
Hugh Williamson & Ian MacVicar [bio] Chester: St. Stephen’s Hall [location]
Thursdays, 2:00 to 4:00pm (7 wks) Begins May 4, ends Jun 8
Spy School 101 will provide a basic introduction to the field of intelligence, and its darker cousin “Espionage”. The class will examine both the real world of government intelligence agencies and their activities, and the fictional world of spying, in print and on the screen. The library and its resources, both hard copy and electronic, will provide a gateway for research and discovery into the ENIGMAtic world of information “Hide and seek” played by governments, business, and some surprising other parties as well.
15. The Art of Aging Well  [register here]
Marjorie Willison [bio] Mahone Bay: Mahone Bay Centre [location]
Wednesdays , 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 3, ends Jun 7
It dawned on me that I was getting older, so I started studying the aging process. I will explore ideas for aging well, with time to share for your own experiences – such as downsizing, and decluttering so your kids don’t have to; ideas to make you rich(er); finding purpose and meaning in life after retirement; how to reduce the risk of dementia; staying functional and upright; thriving with mental health strategies and attitudes; building better relationships; making new friends as old friends fade away; staying involved in community life. There’s a lot for us to talk about!
16. An Introduction to Chinese Culture  [register here]
Wang Yongmei [bio] Mahone Bay: Mahone Bay Centre [location]
Thursdays , 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 4, ends Jun 8
By approaching and looking at different aspects of life, this course will attempt to demonstrate the core cultural values which make Chinese culture different from others in the world. The main goal will be to explore Chinese ways of life, ways of thinking and ways of behaviour by looking at Chinese history, philosophy, language and arts. This class will help participants come to a better understanding of China and its people.
17. Six Controversies  [Course FULL!]
Norman Pereira [bio] Mahone Bay: Mahone Bay Centre [location]
Fridays , 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 12, ends Jun 16
This is a discussion class. Norman Pereira will introduce each class’s topic and participants will pick up the discussion and move it forward. A suggested list of Readings/Online Viewings will be provided in April. The following are the topics for each class.
1. What is Islamophobia?
2. Donald Trump (Part 1) - The First 100 Days – What effect will Trump have on the future of American politics?
3. Donald Trump (Part 2) - The First 100 Days – What is America’s new role in the world?
4. Can the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict be resolved?
5. What is Hate Speech and how best to combat it?
6. Who is Vladimir Putin and what does he want?

18. Women in History: Untold, Unsung  [register here]
Michael Collins [bio] Liverpool: Trinity Church Hall [location]
Wednesdays, 2:00 to 4:00pm (6 wks) Begins May 3, ends Jun 7
Many female university students have told me they hated their ‘Women’s Studies’ courses. So, I included courses on women who had been ‘role models’ even if many of them were not widely known. The role of women in history is very badly documented. This course is heavily involved with western industrialized nations mainly due to research limitations.
The six-week course will include such topics as:
1) 19th Century Women: As education and opportunity started to become more widespread (started is the word) women in the Arts and public life became prominent.
2) The Vote: Heavily based on the United Kingdom experience which was replicated across ‘western societies’ but not always as popular history records.
3) War and Opportunity: In Economic and Social History, the World Wars of the 20th Century (particularly WW2) accelerated the participation of women into vital areas and started to change established views on gender models.
4) Arts and Crafts: Always huge areas for women, now started to spread across class lines.
5) Politics and Power: From Elizabeth I to present day UK.
6) Science and Technology: Very unreported success, some due to how awards were delivered and others for reasons hard to fathom.

19. A Practical Guide to (Your) Consumer Behaviour  [register here]
Tony Schellinck [bio] Liverpool: Trinity Church Hall [location]
Thursdays , 2:00 to 4:00pm (6 wks) Begins May 4, ends Jun 8
Every moment of every day we are consuming goods and services. Consumption behaviour is the most predominant behaviour we humans do. Why do we consume these particular products? Can we and others consume them in a way that is better for us and the world around us? By understanding some basic principles around consumer behaviour, you will be better able to appreciate why people purchase and consume the way they do. From a practical point of view, you will observe human behaviour differently after taking this course. There will be several opportunities to apply your knowledge and do simple observational research into consumer behaviour during the course for those class members interested in collecting data for discussion and analysis in the classroom.

20. A World That is No More: Yiddish Stories from Eastern Europe  [register here]
Rabbi David Ellis [bio] Truro: Douglas St. Rec Centre [location]
Tuesdays , 1:30 to 3:30pm (6 wks) Begins May 2, ends Jun 6
Yiddish had been a spoken language of the Jews for centuries. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a creative group of writers used it as a literary language. We will read stories from the classic writers - I. L. Peretz, Shalom Aleichem (author of the Tevye stories as the basis of Fiddler on the Roof) and others, and explore the setting of Jewish life in eastern Europe. We will note, despite the religious and cultural distances, that the stories are not far from Nova Scotians in their small town life. There will be some occasion to follow the movement of Yiddish into the new world, in Hollywood and the music industry and the labour movement.
21. Around the World in 80 Days: a 19th Century Photographic Journey  [register here]
Alan Griffiths [bio] Truro: Parkland Truro, Edinburgh Hall [location]
Wednesdays , 10:00 to noon (6 wks) Begins May 3, ends Jun 7
At 8:45pm on Wednesday, October 2, 1872, Phileas Fogg, accompanied by his valet Passepartout, set out by train to travel "Around the World in 80 Days." Such was the task of our intrepid heroes in the novel of Jules Verne as they strove to win a bet of 20,000 pounds. In this course, there will be perils and excitement along the way as it follows the route they travelled through London, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Japan, America and back to the United Kingdom. Instead of train and steamer tickets, we will follow the route somewhat loosely, taking dangerous detours to ruins, meeting odd characters and participating in political upheavals as well as seeing the world through the photography of the time. We'll look into the history of photography in the different countries we tumble across and ponder why they were so different. It will be an enjoyable jaunt through the Victorian world of around 1872.
No understanding of the techniques of photography is required and questions are always encouraged.
22. Fishes: Biology, Ecology, and Conservation  [register here]
Andrew Hebda [bio] Truro: Douglas St Rec Centre [location]
Fridays , 1:30 to 3:30 (6 wks) Begins May 5, ends Jun 9
Aimed at the 'informed layperson,' this course covers all things fishes: basic fish anatomy, diversity in structure, ecology (habitats, modes of making a living), diversity in habitat use, physiological requirements, and life histories. Then, it moves into discussions of regional ecology, conservation, and Nova Scotia’s role in the grand fish 'scheme of things.'

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