Study Groups

Below is a newly updated list of the study group choices for the Winter 2019 term at SLR. They are shown in the chart below. Detailed descriptions can be found beneath the chart.

These 10-week study groups have a fee of $65 each.

Day Time Dates Titles
Monday 9:30-11:30 am Jan 21 – Apr 1 LIVING IN THE AGE OF PLASTIC
Monday 1:30-3:30 pm Jan 21 – Apr 1 DICTATORS
Tuesday 9:30-11:30 am Jan 22 – Mar 26 BEST LOVED BOOKS – FULL
Tuesday 1:30-3:30 pm Jan 22 – Mar 26 THE MUSIC MAKERS
Wednesday 1:30-3:30 am Jan 23 – Mar 27 THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE – FULL
Thursday 9:30-11:30 am Jan 24 – Mar 28 SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
Thursday 1:30-3:30 pm Jan 24 – Apr 4 POTPOURRI – ANYTHING GOES
Friday 9:30-11:30 am Jan 25 – Mar 29 THE COMPLEX

To obtain your own detailed listing, you may print this page or you may click the pdf document below:

Winter 2019 Study Groups (pdf)

Here is the detailed study group listing for the Winter 2018 term. All groups listed will run for 10 weeks. We hope you will find one that piques your interest and you will join us in September.
For some hints on preparing your presentation see Resources Available, at the foot of the courses list, below.



Monday a.m. 9:30 – 11:30
January 21 – April 1 (no classes on February 18, Family Day)Moderators: Herman Sahrmann, Russ Knight

Why do we use so much plastic? Could we get along without it? We have come to rely on lightweight, durable, cheaply produced plastics for disposable medical devices, food packaging, water bottles, mobile phones, automobiles, and construction materials. But plastic waste is an environmental hazard, polluting our water, food and air. Let’s explore how we can enjoy the benefits of plastic while reducing its risks.

Possible topics: clothing from nylons to space suits , diapers, plastic shopping bags, medical devices – specify, robots, building materials from linoleum to counter tops, shoes and soles, dishes and tumblers; our drinking straws, fertility problems, microbeads in toothpaste.

Monday p.m. 1:30 – 3:30
January 21 – April 1 (no classes on February 18, Family Day)Moderators: Sandra Morton, Linda Vandusen

Throughout history, dictators have ruled with an iron fist, attempting to annihilate their enemies and oppress their people in a grab for absolute power. From Nazi despot Adolf Hitler to Cambodia’s genocidal leader Pol Pot to modern day Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong-un, we will examine the life and times of notorious dictators, past and present.

Possible topics: Stalin, Muammar Qaddafi, Franco, Mussolini, Trujillo, Pinochet, Ferdinand Marcos, Batista, Idi Amin, Ho Chi Minh, Robert Mugabe, Manuel Noriega, dictatorship of the proletariat, conditions that encourage dictatorships

Tuesday a.m. 9:30 – 11:30
January 22 – March 26
Moderators: Jane Skinner and Shelley Sorgini

Is there a beloved book that you’ve turned to again and again? Or perhaps a special book has stayed in your thoughts over the years. If so, please join us for Best Loved Books. Participants read a short passage from their chosen book: describe the plot, theme, characters; tell about the author’s life and work; and explain why you love this book – without revealing the ending.

Possible topics:  Bleak House by Charles Dickens; To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee; The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien; 1984 by George Orwell; Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery; The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett; The Stand by Stephen King;  We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson; The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – to name but a few.

Tuesday p.m. 1:30 – 3:30
January 22 – March 26
Moderators: Jeff Keenor and Lynn Hamilton

The group will discuss great composers and their work – classical, operatic, rock, jazz, rap or any body of musical work. Presenters will be encouraged to make available a sample of their chosen composer’s work that the group can hear, and provide information about the composer’s life and the success of his/her work, along with information about style and form.

Possible topics: The life and music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Verdi, Beethoven, Mozart, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Elton John/Bernie Taupin, Lennon/McCartney, Bob Dylan, Rodgers/Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Irving Berlin, John Williams, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter.

Wednesday p.m. 1:30 – 3:30
January 23 – March 27
Moderators: Ljuba Gerow, Bob Gerow

The Ottoman Empire was a state that controlled much of south eastern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. How was it formed? Who and what drove expansion? What were the short- and long-term impacts on the lands and people it controlled? What has it become and what is its influence in international affairs?

Possible topics: Osman 1, Battle of Nicopolis, naval strength, Suleiman the Magnificent, trade, slavery, freedom of religion, Siege of Vienna, Sultanate of Women, astronomy, class structure, impact of World War I, Armenian genocide, Holy Warriors, art, architecture, science, Janissaries, the fall of Constantinople, the Grand Bazaar, carpets, Topkapi Palace, taxation, Barbarossa, the Haram, Roxolana, legal system, fratricide, impact of sea trade routes, the sick man of Europe, Ataturk.

Thursday a.m. 9:30 – 11:30
January 24 – March 28
Moderators: Gary Shawyer, Jim Easton

Social Movements such as Me Too, civil rights and Arab Spring occur when people come together with shared concerns. They intend to bring about lasting effects by encouraging change in their society or by resisting the powers that be. What are some of the social movements that have developed in the past or exist today? Where did they start, and how did they succeed, fail, or change society?

Possible topics: conditions that bring about a social movement, early social movements such as abolition and women’s suffrage, later movements such as Occupy, pro-life, pro-choice, anti-war, green movement, feminism, democracy and social movements, stages of a social movement, social movements and democracy, social movements in non-western countries.

Thursday p.m. 1:30-3:30
January 24 – April 4 (no class February 14; Founders’ Luncheon)

Moderators: Brenda Jackson and Roy Hind

The field is wide open for any topic you think will challenge the intellect, tickle the funny bone, provoke controversy, stimulate discussion or just keep us informed. Do you have some insight that you have always wanted to share with others? Here you will have an attentive and appreciative audience.

Friday a.m. 9:30 – 11:30
January 25 – March 29
Moderators: Michael Johnson and Douglas Leighton

The world’s religions have been used both to perpetrate and support, and to oppose and repudiate, violence. Has violence in the name of religion ever solved a problem? Why do we keep repeating history?

Possible topics: disciplining children, familial relationships, sexuality, capital punishment, genocide, territorial occupation, exclusivism, nationalism, cultural assimilation, warfare and “just” wars, country-specific eruptions of religious violence, clashes of faith, pacifism, anti-violence and non-violence.

Friday p.m. 1:30 – 3:30
January 25 – March 29
Moderators: Diana Lloyd, Susan Collins

History books are filled with the exploits of individual heroes and heroines. How about stories of accomplished or notorious couples? Caesar and Cleopatra, June Carter and Johnny Cash, Pierre and Maggie, Scott and Tessa, Barack and Michelle Obama – what famous couple catches your fancy and has a story worth retelling? Join us as we reflect on the contributions of these dynamic duos.

Possible topics: Victoria and Albert, Samson and Delilah, Napoleon and Josephine, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Elizabeth and Phillip, Barry and Honey Sherman, Mary and Christopher Pratt, Marie and Pierre Curie, Edward VII and Wallis Simpson.

Resources Available

A Presentation Workshop is offered before each term and is led by an experienced presenter. Please see the Calendar for dates and times.
For a comprehensive checklist on preparing your presentation, click on either:
Prepare a presentation (Pdf)

Other Resources

– Access to UWO Library
– DVD and large screen
– Overhead projector and transparencies
– Laptop and projector for powerpoint presentations
– External speakers
– CD/tape player
– Photocopier
– Microphone

Do You Have An Idea For a Study Group?

Study Group programs are selected by the Curriculum Committee one year in advance and proposals are always welcome. Forms may be obtained in the office or you may obtain a copy of the document here:
Study Group Proposal (Pdf)

Please mail or deliver the completed form to the SLR office, Attention: Chair, Curriculum Committee.