Lectures by Topic

Since 2013 HTAL has been offering high quality lectures for retired citizens who espouse lifelong learning. The lectures offer diverse perspectives under the umbrella of Understanding the 21st Century and focus on defined categories supporting this theme.

The Arts and Humanities

Alvin Lee: The Humanities in the 21st Century – Fall 2013

Patrick Deane: Answering the University’s Critics – Spring 2014

Louise Dompierre: The Future of Art Galleries – Spring 2014

James Sommerville: Live Music in the 21st Century – Spring 2014

Jackie Maxwell: Theatre in the 21st Century – Fall 2014

Barry Hughson: An Innovation Agenda for the National Ballet – Spring 2015

Antonio Cimolino: Victory and After – Fall 2015

Heather Bambrick: Jazz: Music of the People – Fall 2016

Gemma New: Subject to Interpretation – Spring 2017

Don Thompson: Irrationalities, Nudges and Bubbles in the Contemporary Art Market – Fall 2018

Vivian Lewis: Putting Bertrand Russell in His Place – Spring 2019

Abigail Richardson-Schulte: From Silence to Full Orchestra:  My Life & Music – Fall 2019

Gabriella Marceau: Motion Picture Censorship – Winter 2021

Adam Nayman: Contradictory Morality and Humour of the Coen Brothers’ Movies – Winter 2021

Tim Carroll: The Shaw Festival’s Next 60 Years – Fall 2021

Dr. Ellen Ryan: Late Life Creativity for Artists and Amateurs – Winter 2022

Astrid Hepner: An Instrument for Every Child – Spring 2022

Nathan Fleet: The Filmmaking Scene in the Hammer – Winter 2023

Biology, Medicine and Health Care

Dan Dunsky: Social Media Revolution – Spring 2013

Jack Pasternak: High Hopes for Personalized Medicine – Spring 2013

Sandra Witelson: Sex Differences in the Brain: Their Consequences – Spring 2013

Geoff Norman: How Doctors Think – Fall 2013

Mick Bhatia: Human Stem Cells – Spring 2014

Francesca Grosso: Navigating the Health Care System – Fall 2014

Laurel Trainor: Music and the Brain – Fall 2014

Jack Pasternak: Understanding Human Diversity in the 21st Century – Fall 2015

Mehran Anvari: Robots in Surgery – Spring 2015

Kevin Smith: The Elusive Pursuit of Integrated Care and Caring – Spring 2015

Jean Clinton: What’s the Fuss about the Early Years? – Spring 2016

John Buttars: Medical Assistance in Dying – Fall 2016

Ann Herring: The Coming Plague – Fall 2016

Norm Buckley: Patient Engagement in Chronic Pain Research – Spring 2017

John Bienenstock: Bacteria and Behaviour – Fall 2017

Ellen Ryan: Fostering Resilient Aging – Fall 2017

Richard Heinzl: From Hamilton Mountain to the Frontlines of Humanitarian Aid & the Frontiers of Medicine – Spring 2018

Alison Sekuler: Vision, Aging and the Brain – Spring 2018

Stanley Zlotkin: Solving a Global Nutritional Challenge – Fall 2018

Anne Martin-Matthews: The Future is Aging – Spring 2019

Mark Poznansky: How Synthetic Biology will Change the World – Spring 2019

Peter Beiling: The Kids are all Right?  Innovations in Youth Mental Health & Services – Fall 2019

Karen Kidd: What Happens Once We Flush the Toilet? Impacts of our Drugs on Aquatic Life – Fall 2019

Dr. Greg Rutledge: Covid-19 Experience – Fall 2020

Dr. Bill Scarth: The Aging Population, the Pandemic and Fiscal Policy – Fall 2020

Dr. Gerry Wright: Are We Approaching a Post-Antibiotic Era? – Fall 2020

Sharron Johnston: Humour Your Stress; plus documentary “Laughing and Crying” – Winter 2021

Karen Mossman: Viruses: Friend or Foe- Fall 2021

Dr. Jennifer Heisz: Move the Body, Heal the Mind – Winter 2022

Dr. James McKillop: Medical Cannabis – How Effective? – Winter 2022

Kristen Parise: Sex, Chocolate and Your Pelvic Floor – Winter 2022

Zain Chagla: Coronavirus: Past, Present and Future – Spring 2022

Dr. Sheila Singh: Developing Novel Immunotherapies for Patients With Glioblastoma – Spring 2022

Sean Wharton: Managing Elevated Weight As We Age – Spring 2022

Dr. Harriet MacMillan: Recognizing and Responding to Family Violence – Fall 2022

Andre Picard: Neglected No More – Long Term Health Care – Fall 2022

Hendrik Poinar: The Causes and Consequences of the Black Death – Fall 2022

Dr. Gerry Wright: Infections and Society: The McMaster Global Nexus Initiative – Fall 2022

Dr. Norm Buckley: Coping with Chronic Pain – Winter 2023

Dr. Randi McCabe: Coping with Anxiety – Winter 2023

Dawn Bowdish: The Perils of Being Born in the Fall: How Infectious Disease and Vaccines Impact Life from Birth to Death – Fall 2023


Joe Berridge: Living in the Big City – Spring 2014

Terry Cooke: Hamilton in the 21st Century – Spring 2015

Paul Johnson: A City is not Great…Until It Is Great for Everyone – Spring 2016

Richard Harris: Hamilton on the Cusp – Spring 2017

Matti Siemiatycki: Infrastructure Decision-Making in Ontario – Fall 2017

David Crombie:Greater Golden Horseshoe (Next 25 Years) – Fall 2017

Nancy Bouchier & Ken Cruickshank: People and the Bay:  Hamilton Harbour Then and Now – Spring 2018

Doug Saunders: Maximum Hamilton: The Past, Present and Future Of the Region’s Population History – Spring 2018

David Galbraith – Cultural Landscapes and Sense of Place:  RBG as a Case Study – Fall 2018

Steven Buist: Code Red:  What do the Vital Signs Tell Us About Our City? – Spring 2019

Ty Shattuck: Vision for MIP in the Coming Years – Spring 2022

Paul Takala: The Evolution of the Library in the 21st Century – Fall 2022

Bill Curran: The Idea of North – Contemporary Canadian Architecture – Spring 2023

Climate Change

Andrew Miall: An Earth Sciences Perspective – Fall 2013

Gordon McBean: Climate Change – Fall 2014

Savitri Jetoo: Avoiding the Ostrich Syndrome to Climate Change – Fall 2015

Bob McNutt: Fracking:  Its Character and Consequences – Spring 2016

Simon Donner: Living Islands – Spring 2017

Catherine McKenna: Issues pf the Environment and Climate Change – Fall 2018

Manzoor Qadir: Looking Beyond Conventional Water Resources – Spring 2019

David Novog: Confronting Climate Change – Identifying the Pathways to Net Zero 2050 – Fall 2021

Judy Major-Girardin: A Watershed Moment: Greening McMaster’s Campus for Teaching and Research – Spring 2023

Jim Willwerth: Implications of Climate Change on Niagara’s Grape and Wine Industry – Fall 2023

General Interest

Tyson Lambert: Recipes for Valentines – Winter 2021

Paul Zammit: Gardening for the Soul – Winter 2022

Paul Zammit: Container Gardening – Winter 2023

Global and Canadian Politics and Economics

Martin Horn: Understanding the Economic Crisis – Spring 2013

Virginia Aksan: Turkey in a Dangerous Neighbourhood – Fall 2013

Atif Kubursi: The Arab Spring – Fall 3013

David Mulroney: China and Canadian Foreign Policy – Fall 2014

Bill Scarthe: Income Inequality – Spring 2015

Charlotte Yates: Sticks and Carrots:  Government and Labour In the Canadian Auto Industry – Spring 2015

Matthew Mendelsohn: The 2015 Federal Election:  The Stakes for Ontario – Fall 2015

Kasi Rao: India’s Rise: Implications for Canada – Spring 2016

Jennifer Clapp: Trade: Opportunity or Threat for Global Food Security – Fall 2016

Stephen Heathorn: The Ruin of the 20th Century Returns:  Brexit and the Revival of European Exclusionary Nationalism – Spring 2017

Hugh Segal: Canada and the Two Freedoms – Spring 2017

Renu Mandhane: Current Issues in Human Rights – Fall 2017

Bob Rae: Moving from Truth to Reconciliation – and Making it Real – Spring 2018

George Soleas: Transformation at the LCBO & the Future of our Market – Fall 2018

Sunil Johal: The Past, Present and Future of Work -Spring 2019

Stephen Heathorn: Walking Through the Rubble of Brexit: Understanding the Exposed Social & Political Fractures – Fall 2019

Lucan Way: Can Western Democracy Survive the Loss of White Dominance – Fall 2019

Joseph Wong: Why China Needs to Democratize Sooner Rather than Later: Lessons from its Democratic Neighbours – Fall 2019

Dr. John Mighton: Extreme Equality: How to Use Math to Create a More Equitable and Prosperous Society – Fall 2020

Diana Fu: China’s Rise to Power – What This means to Canada – Fall 2021

John Veugelers: Rise of the Political Right in France – Fall 2021

Judy Fudge: Governing Forced Labour in Supply Chains: Canada in a Global Context – Spring 2022

Paul Berton: Consumerism, consumption and Capitalism – Spring 2023

Bonnie Ibhawoh: Can Human Rights Exist Without Human Duties – Spring 2023

Leo Nupolu Johnson: Foundations of the Future: What We Build Ends UP Building Us – Spring 2023

Viviana Patroni: Enduring Inequality in Latin America – the Unravelling of Democracy – Spring 2023

Rick Monture: Indigenous Education at the Mohawk Institute, McMaster University, and the Woodland Cultural Center – Fall 2023

Stephen Heathorn: Still shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic? Britain, post Brexit – Fall 2023

Media Revolution

Dan Dunsky: Social Media Revolution – Spring 2013

Robert Harris: Where Have All the Mass Media Gone? – Fall 2013

Ron Deibert: Cybercrime – Fall 2014

John Preston: The Promise and Perils of Nanotechnology – Fall 2015

Ron Deibert: The Internet After Snowden – Fall 2015

Norm Archer: On-Line Health Management Systems – Spring 2016

Janice Neal: How The World of Journalists Is Changing – Spring 2016

Dan Dunsky: The Effects of Digital Disruptions on Society – Fall 2016

Steve Paikin: Fighting the Good Fight against ‘Alternative Facts’ – Spring 2018

Jim Magahey: How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Is Transforming Healthcare – Fall 2018

Dr. Tim Davidson: Understanding 5G – Fall 2020

Adam Nayman: History of Toronto Cinema – Winter 2021

Religious Fundamentalism

Graham Roebuck: Religious Martyrdom – Spring 2013

Lorne Dawson: Why Have Some Canadians Become Terrorists? – Spring 2014

Liyakat Takim: Sectarianism in the Muslim World – Fall 2016

James Reilly: Religion, Nationalism and Political Polarization in the Modern Middle East – Fall 2017


Cliff Burgess: What Is the Universe Made Of? – Spring 2013

Harvey Levenstein: Fear of Food: a History of Why We Worry About What We Eat – Fall 2014

Faizan Rehnatullah: Retrieving Samples From Mars – Fall 2021

Blake Ledger: Out of This World: Perspectives and Stories From an Astrophysicist – Winter 2023

Myriam Nafte: Forensics in Crime Solving – Fall 2023

Covid Cancellation Spring 2020

Jennifer Heisz : Physically Fit, Mentally Flexible

Ted Barris: That Others May Live: More Than a Motto Among Military Medical Personnel

Diane Saxe: Climate Changes Everything

Joe Berridge: Perfect City: Toronto, Hamilton and the World in the Age of Cities

Shannon Kyles: People or Places: Can We Have Both?

Gary Draper: Alice in Wonderland; the 21st Century Stories of Alice Munro



I wanted to take a moment and thank you and the Board for putting together this program. I am new to HTAL and had been waiting for the in person sessions to resume. It has been an engaging and thought-provoking experience, something many of us seek at various levels.


Registered Lecture Attendee

Thank you very much for all the time you and the speakers devote to making an interesting lecture series!


Registered Lecture Attendee

Very engaging speaker. Very strong ideas and messaging, He made me want to look for ways to build up the community.

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey

Thought this was a very inspirational and informative talk. Thought provoking. Kept talking about it with friends after.

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey

Another highly engaging session with a passionate speaker.

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey

Absolutely fantastic. WOW! What a great speaker.

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey

Superb and thought-provoking.

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey

I loved this lecture. I could have listened to it for at least two more hours!

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey

Good topic and timely-thinking about our world and local issues too.

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey

It’s fun to go to something you’d never pick yourself because it’s part of a series.

Quotes from Spring Series Anonymous Survey