Lectures and Events

Engage with the community through one of SFU Continuing Studies’ public lectures, events, or forums. Most are free, and admission is open to anyone. Some events require reservations.

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

  • Mon, 02 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Is Canada a Digitally Inclusive Society?
    What does a digitally inclusive society look like? How do factors such as income, social connection, age and gender shape digital inclusion? Most organizations are moving their services online. Employers require online job applications. Family and friends are on Facebook and Skype. But do all Canadians have access to high-speed wireless Internet? Do they have working computer tools and digital literacy skills? What policies are in place to promote inclusion in our emerging digital culture and economy? What more needs to be done?
  • Wed, 04 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Animal Ethics
    One of the most important and fundamental choices we make on a daily basis concerns the food we eat. Does the fact that animals are sentient (capable of feeling pain) matter when assessing our food choices? Does the intelligence of animals matter? Is the vegetarian in a higher moral standing than the omnivore? How should we eat?
  • Thu, 05 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Homeopathy: Another Form of the Placebo Effect?
    Homeopathy, based on the doctrine that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people, is a popular alternative medicine. Considered pseudoscience with little or no evidence-based supporting data, many people claim its value. Is this an example of the placebo effect?
  • Sat, 07 Feb 2015 3:00 PM
    Art Salons | Grace Schwindt: Only A Free Individual Can Create A Free Society
    For more information about the exhibit, please visit the Contemporary Art Gallery website.
  • Tue, 10 Feb 2015 6:00 PM
    Bike Café | Cycling and Generational Politics
    Why does the subject of bike lanes create such emotional responses, particularly among men of a certain age? Does this have anything to do with assumptions about how we should design cities, our transportation priorities, appropriate behaviour and even assumptions about the future? Let's explore.
  • Tue, 10 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Religion as a Cultural System
    What are the ways in which religion influences the cultural values of societies and its individuals? Rather than focusing on religion as a set of specific beliefs and practices, we’ll consider religious traditions that have set a model of reality for all individuals belonging to a certain society.
  • Wed, 11 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Limits of Self-Knowledge
    Socrates said, “Know thyself.” Isn’t that the most difficult thing in the world to accomplish?
  • Fri, 13 Feb 2015 12:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Power/Vulnerability
    Do power and vulnerability come from within? Does vulnerability soften or excite power? If power corrupts, does vulnerability purify?
  • Tue, 17 Feb 2015 10:00 AM
    Philosophers' Café | Fearing and Fighting Malaria and Ebola
    While malaria has plagued and punished human beings for 10,000 years, the first outbreak of Ebola was in 1976. How can we compare, contrast, rate and deal with these horrible illnesses? What are or could be the economic and social impacts of each?

    Guest Speaker: Don Cayo - Don Cayo is a business columnist for The Vancouver Sun with a serious interest in international development.

  • Tue, 17 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Teen Café | Digital Culture
    Is technology making us smarter? Or is it just making us more reliant on even more technology? Are digital books and online media making people duller? What about video games and YouTube? What is the function of physical media in a digital age?
  • Wed, 18 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Love's Bonds
    An exploration of love, sex and friendship.
  • Thu, 19 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Which Environment Should We Preserve?
    Nowadays "environmental problems" is a term on everyone's lips, but what are we prepared to give up?
  • Thu, 19 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Ancient Celts—A Threat to European Civilization
    Guest Speaker: Arslan Iliasov
  • Fri, 20 Feb 2015 10:30 AM
    Philosophers' Café | Is Love the Answer? If so, What Are the Questions?
    Talk, music and actions that reference and are based on love are ubiquitous, persuasive and powerful. What issues can love address? What can it conquer and create? What are its limits?
  • Fri, 20 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Are You Spiritual? Religious? Both? Neither? One But Not the Other?
    What are some commonalities and differences among these? Do you experience "a reverence for the ordinary that can lead [you] to insights and experiences that are anything but ordinary," as Sam Harris puts it in his recent book, Waking Up. There is an engaging and potent conversation waiting to happen here.
  • Sat, 21 Feb 2015 1:30 PM
    Saturday Forum | Making Values Matter: Popular Culture to the Rescue!
  • Mon, 23 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Life Imitating Art — Examining the Ways Everyday Actions Become Dancing
    All day, everyday, all of us are rehearsing gestures, postures and movement phrases as we go through our lives. Is this dancing? When does movement become art? The reason we think it isn’t is because we move with objects - with cars, frying pans, keyboards, etc. Why is chewing not dancing? Does it need music?
  • Tue, 24 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Perils and Promise of Social Media
    The kids seem different. Are they are losing it - addicted to the computer, unable to relate and getting obese? Yet social media has fed revolutionary actions in many countries, encouraging writing and connecting people across geographic boundaries. It is all bad or all good? Do we know?
  • Tue, 24 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Teen Café | “True News”: Where Do You Get Your News?
    What does the popularity of comedy news shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report or Russell Brand's YouTube channel, The Trews: True News, tell us about the public's skepticism toward mainstream news? Should we be concerned about the state of national news media? What can we do to become smarter, more critical consumers of news?
  • Tue, 24 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Neoliberal Diet
    Excess weight and obesity are increasingly salient public health issues in many countries of the world, including Canada. Can this be attributed to increasing incomes coupled with individual bad choices, or are there deeper societal causes, like inequality, which tilt food choices in the direction of energy-dense diets? What is the role of companies in the food industry in contributing or ameliorating obesity? Can education and public policy steer matters in a different direction? If so, how should they be directed?
  • Tue, 24 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Fossil Fuel Divestment and Pension Politics
    Pension policy is a difficult issue to get people engaged with—especially younger people. Fossil fuel divestment campaigns connect environmental politics with the politics of pensions. Are they also a way of getting more people engaged with pension policy?
  • Thu, 26 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Things Are Getting . . .
    …better? Life expectancy is increasing, social prejudices are lessening, Western democracy should be responsive, technology still promises unimagined advancement, etc. Or…worse? Overpopulation, climate change, raw material depletion, growing social inequality, changed ethics, continuing armed conflict, etc.

    Meet in the lobby.

  • Thu, 26 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Bike Café | Cycling and Automated Vehicles
    By most accounts, automated vehicles will be on our streets sooner or later. Will people use automated vehicles instead of active transportation? What policies are needed to ensure that automated vehicles will enable and encourage more walking and cycling?
  • Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Apathy/Responsibility
    What causes failure of responsibility? How can apathy be overcome? Why should anyone give a damn?
  • Fri, 27 Feb 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Vancouver Never Plays Itself: Our City’s Role in Film
    Vancouver serves as the setting for many famous films but usually it is "passing" as other cities, whether as a mid-western town in Juno, Washington state in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey, or New York in Rumble in the Bronx. Does it matter that Vancouver never plays itself? Does the city need its own cinematic history?

March 2015

April 2015

  • Wed, 01 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Value of Philosophical Intuitions
    Philosophical methodology seems to place a great amount of weight on philosophical intuitions. Thought experiments are centered on eliciting intuitions in order to evaluate various philosophical positions. What is the value of such intuition (if any) and can they help us progress in philosophy?
  • Thu, 02 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Drinking Water for Sale
    It is common to see people on the streets carrying water bottles sold under various marketing schemes, including oxygenated water, vitamin water, etc. All of these products are expensive while municipal drinking water is free. Why is this phenomenon so popular? Why do people pay money for drinking water?
  • Tue, 07 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Western Front, WWI and WMDs
    One hundred years ago, key colonial troops commanded by French and British officers marched towards a date with destiny on Germany's Western Front. On April 22, 1915, members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, among others, were exposed to the first-ever “gas attack” of WWI. We'll contemplate the events of this time that live on in a strange admixture of fame and infamy. Was this one of history's most important lessons?
  • Wed, 08 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Enlightened Organization
    Can a company be run successfully without a chain of command? Can workers be trusted unconditionally? What philosophy would be needed to guide such an organization?
  • Fri, 10 Apr 2015 12:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Existence/Essence
    Existence precedes essence. So what? What does this mean? What is essence? What does it add to your existence? Is there an essential human nature? Are you your own essence?
  • Sat, 11 Apr 2015 3:00 PM
    Art Salons | Jeremy Shaw
    For more information about the exhibit, please visit the Contemporary Art Gallery website.
  • Mon, 13 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | To Be or Not to Be—Is This Really the Question?
    What are the challenges of current economic dynamics from the perspective of social expectations, gender roles and stereotypes, and normativity of financial independence?
  • Tue, 14 Apr 2015 6:00 PM
    Bike Café | Car Free Streets in Vancouver
    Many cities around the world have car-free streets or even whole areas with limited motor vehicle access. What streets in Vancouver are good candidates? What measures are needed to ensure that car-free streets are successful?
  • Wed, 15 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Untangling the Ethics of Incentives
    How do incentives affect character and institutional culture? In what ways are incentives manipulative or exploitative, even if people are free to refuse them?
  • Thu, 16 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | What Is Your Name? Are We Our Names?
    Who am I? Who are you? "My name is...." Is the name enough to identify the identity of a person? Why is a name so important?
  • Thu, 16 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Late Joseph Brodsky’s 75th Birthday
    Guest Speaker: Raissa Volkonitskaya
  • Fri, 17 Apr 2015 10:30 AM
    Philosophers' Café | What, if Anything, Are the Limits of Growth?
    Is there a point at which "progress" ceases to be progressive? If so, when?
  • Fri, 17 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | What Is “Story”? What Are Some of Your Stories? Why Do We Tell Stories?
    "Why does anybody tell a story?" asks Madeleine L’Engle. "It does indeed have something to do with faith. Faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically."
  • Tue, 21 Apr 2015 10:00 AM
    Philosophers' Café | Is the Earth Beyond Hope?
    With the litany of maladies on our planet—including Ebola, poison additives in food and global warming—do we have any hope for our grandchildren's lives? What steps might we take as individuals, families and communities to make a difference and demonstrate a model of constructive action?
  • Tue, 21 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Teen Café | Search for the Self
    Do you ever find yourself unable to see representations of your life or identity in literature, film, online media or other sources? Is the recent surge in dialogue about representation of people of colour, strong females and LGBT people important? And how can we work to make things better for future generations?
  • Thu, 23 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Baby Boomers vs. Generation X vs. Millennials
    Following "The Greatest Generation" have been a "Me Generation," an "MTV Generation" and a "Peter Pan Generation," Are these stereotypes at all accurate and/or what can be learned from their application? What future implications do they portend?

    Meet in the conference room.

  • Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Wisdom/Folly
    What need have we for sages? What need have we for fools? Do the wise or do only fools distinguish the two?
  • Fri, 24 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Role of Humanities in Contemporary Society
    Graduate education in humanities has been in crisis for more than 40 years now in North America. What are the career trajectories of graduate students in humanities? What is the purpose of training PhDs in humanities? What are the consequences of this crisis - for individuals and societies in general?
  • Mon, 27 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Beyond Sexual Identity: Are We Ready to Be Pomosexual?
    Does attraction still need to be understood through identity categories like gay/straight and male/female? How would we navigate intimacy in a social world that is beyond sexual identity? What does it mean to be pomosexual and are we ready to be so?
  • Tue, 28 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Community: Lost and Found
    Community: where has it gone? How can we get it back? The loss of community or its lack in Vancouver is often mentioned. What can we do about it? Is the problem money, time, architecture or our political structure? How can we promote community?
  • Tue, 28 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Cloning: Promises and Perils
    It has been almost twenty years since Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. Questions arise about the potential uses of cloning. For example, if it’s technically possible to clone a human, then the technique might also be applied to resurrect extinct species. Should such experiments ever be done?
  • Tue, 28 Apr 2015 7:00 PM
    Teen Café | Religious Relevance
    What is the role of religion in our current Canadian context? Do churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions have a purpose in an increasingly secular world? Where does religious freedom begin and end when it comes to education?

May 2015

June 2015

  • Mon, 01 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Stop Making Sense
    One approach to understanding the world around us is through our rational faculty. However, what is the “quality” of the knowledge that we, as humans, are accumulating this way? Are we just talking heads, without any connection to our hearts? What is our relation to nature? These are difficult questions about what we can know of the world and how we may go about doing this.
  • Thu, 04 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Whose Music Is It?: Associating Styles of Music
    Music, like many human endeavours, feeds and evolves from the ideas, musical or otherwise, present at the time of its development. There is a common thread, at least in Western music, from, for example, classical, jazz, rock-and-roll and metal to hip-hop. Discussion of the links between music styles will be encouraged through listening to examples.
  • Sat, 06 Jun 2015 3:00 PM
    Art Salons | Julia Dault
    For more information about the exhibit, please visit the Contemporary Art Gallery website.
  • Mon, 08 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Food Security
    Industrial farming poses a threat to small scale farming, has reduced varieties of food grown and has produced new strains of fruits and vegetable that are resistant to drought, pesticides, and herbicides. Their long-term impact on human health is not fully known. All these pose a threat to food security.
  • Wed, 10 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Art and Science
    These two great domains of human activity seem very different from one another. How, if at all, are art and science related?
  • Fri, 12 Jun 2015 12:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Love/Fear
    Can love and fear co-exist? Or does perfect love cast out all fear? Is there more in the world to be loved or to be feared? Is love scary?
  • Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:00 AM
    Philosophers' Café | Should Canada’s Foreign and Military Policy Stress Peace Keeping or Peace Making?
    As a middle power with a close relationship to the United States, and history with the United Nations, how can Canada best play a positive role and address its economic and international values and objectives?
  • Wed, 17 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Rethinking the Architecture of Choice
    Exploring ways the smart part of us nudges the not-so-smart part to automatically do what we ought to be doing.
  • Thu, 18 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Mysterious Woman of the Silver Age in Russia: Ida Rubinstein
    Guest Speaker: Lidia Muriel
  • Thu, 18 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Purpose of Art
    What does it mean for art to be “alive”? What is the spiritual in art? Let's discuss what art does for us or what it is supposed to do for us. Why does music affect us so deeply compared to other art forms? What role does rationality (logic) play in the creation of art? Why is art often ambiguous?
  • Fri, 19 Jun 2015 10:30 AM
    Philosophers' Café | Catch of the Month: Top Stories in the Media Now!
    What event, story or media message since our May Café do you posit is most significant? What features make it so? What impact could it have on future events or messages?
  • Thu, 25 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | The Future of Religion?
    Most religions (divinely inspired or not) explained natural phenomena and provided spiritual guidance. Yet (arguably) science and social networks now better address these concerns. As the Pope now acknowledges the Big Bang theory and "radical Islam" recruits disaffected westerners to jihad/sharia law (but two examples), what does "our" future hold?

    Meet in the lobby.

  • Tue, 30 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
    Philosophers' Café | Thinking About Medical Tourism: What Are the Ethical and Equity Impacts?
    When Canadians travel abroad for surgery or other medical care, they are engaging in medical tourism. What impacts could this have in Canada and abroad? Who has responsibility for the impacts of medical tourism?