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COLUMN: Lakehead finding ways to stand TALL amid pandemic

Third Age Learning (TALL) program has adapted, moved to ZOOM and is offering a five-week series of lectures by acclaimed experts around the theme of happiness
Linda Rodenburg
the Office of Community Engagement at Lakehead University's Director of Community Engagement, Dr. Linda Rodenburg is the driving force behind Lakehead's Third Age Learning program.

Since we are back to virtual events for a little while longer, I thought I would talk about the Office of Community Engagement at Lakehead University (CELL) and the fantastic job they are doing with virtual learning experiences.

Lakehead’s Third Age Learning (TALL) program has been running since before the pandemic, when it was in-person at St. Paul’s Centre. TALL is a five-week series of lectures by acclaimed experts, on a specific theme.

In the before-times, the speaker would talk for an hour, then there was a coffee and cookie break, and then questions would be taken from the floor for a further 45 minutes.

The talks were always lively, informative, and fascinating and the subjects chosen by the organizing committee were always topical and made you want to learn more.

All of this is still true in the virtual format that TALL has been running virutally for almost two years now…although I do miss the coffee and cookies…and of course, the socializing!

There are actually a few advantages with the virtual format: one, if you can’t make one of the lectures, the Zoom meetings are recorded, so you can listen at your leisure; two, if you don’t live locally, you can still attend; three, since the speakers don’t have to travel here to speak, TALL has access to experts from all over the world! And four, if the series has already started, as it has in this case, you can still register and play catch up with the recordings, so you don’t miss a thing!

TALL has had some incredible topics, including Pivot(al): Possibilities for a Post-Pandemic World; Aging Successfully; System Failure: The Changing Economy; and Who’s in Charge: Living with Artificial Intelligence. These programs are run out of both Orillia and Thunder Bay campuses, with CELL and Dr. Linda Rodenburg here in Orillia being the organizing body.

The current TALL offering is called, On Happiness. Now, what could be more germane in this pandemic day and age?

The five-part series started last week, but don’t worry, you can still register and catch the recording. The lectures are live on Wednesday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30, and the series costs $59 to “attend” via Zoom.

Last week’s speaker was Dr. Gillian Mandich, founder of the International Happiness Institute of Health Science Research, and she discussed the science and practice of happiness. She was an informative, engaging speaker, as all the TALL speakers are, and she gave statistics and practical advice on happiness, and how to up your happiness factor.

This week, Dr. Dean Burnett will talk about Happiness in the Brain, and how maybe obsessing about happiness isn’t that good for us. And, Jan. 26, Oksana Kishchuk will use the findings and work from her team’s Happiness Monitor research to discuss how to measure happiness, how happiness relates to other important community metrics, and how it compares to other socio-economic variables. Fascinating stuff!

There are two more awesome speakers in the works after that, so do yourself a favour and register today, through this link.

TALL isn’t the only educational program that CELL is running. The 12 Days of Learning is a program the office put together last holiday season, in our first pandemic winter.

CELL’s Director of Community Engagement, Dr. Linda Rodenburg, could see it was going to be a long, cold, and boring winter, and one that would be tough on local restaurants and businesses as well.

So, she and her team came up with 12 mini Zoom teaching sessions on a variety of topics, partnering with local providers to finish off the experiences. There was a screening of a documentary on the Beatles, which came with a book; a wine tasting; a book on books and discussion with the owner of Manticore Books; a cooking class; and lots more.

This year, the 12 Days of Learning is back, and although some of the experiences are done or sold out, there are still five days for you to enjoy! Topics include the One and Only Hoito (you get to make some!); a beer and cheese tasting, courtesy of Rind and Truckle and Quayle’s Brewery; a cooking class and cookbook with Claire Tansey; and a tea party!

All of the experiences are via Zoom, and all include a drop-off of some kind of material to go along with the experience.

So, make your pandemic winter a little brighter and sign up for the experience of your choice, today, here.

Stay tuned for more virtual experiences from Orillia Museum of Art and History, and the Orillia Public Library, which has language and genealogy classes via Zoom, and book club too! Check out and for more information.

If you have arts news, send it to by Tuesday at noon to be included.