Engaging the Senses with The Walrus

As an online student, I miss not using more of my senses for learning. Although each student has their preferred learning style (visual, auditory, tactile) learning goes deepest when multiple senses are engaged.

My brain gets fogged in when I rely too heavily on one sense. To combat the fogginess of too much solitary reading, I seek out opportunities to exercise my other learning styles. There are a wealth of worthy online lectures I can watch, but nothing beats getting out in the real world where I can see, hear, touch.

I recently attended a Walrus Talks event in Ottawa. The Walrus Talks are hosted by the non-profit Walrus Foundation (the same folks who publish The Walrus magazine) and bring together the best speakers to present different facets of a fascinating topic. The talk I attended was on the Arctic. During the evening, seven speakers spoke for seven minutes each on such varied aspects of the Arctic as biodiversity, business, language, culture, and teenagers. Afterwards, audience members had the opportunity to converse with the speakers at a reception or just mingle and enjoy complimentary food and drink.

The Walrus Talks visit major Canadian cities each year, covering a wide variety of topics of interest to Canadians. Last year, The Walrus Talks addressed energy, water, innovation, youth leadership, and migration, among others. The next Walrus Talk, NexGen (Calgary March 9,) addresses what kind of leadership we need for the next fifty years. Tickets for most Walrus Talks are $20 ($12 for students) and can be ordered in advance (and should be?many Walrus Talks events sell out.) Check the events page for future listings.

In 2017, The Walrus Talks will be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday with a series entitled Conversations about Canada: We Desire a Better Country. From March 1 to May 31, The Walrus Talks will make one stop in each Canadian province and territory. Each event will feature four youth leaders and four members of the Order of Canada who will focus on the future of Canada, each from their own perspective. This series of talks is free?with the exception of Montreal?but seats must be reserved in advance. For those not able to attend any of the tour dates, the events will be streamed live online and rebroadcast on CBC radio.

Previous Walrus Talks?including the one I attended on the Arctic?are available for viewing on YouTube. It’s not quite as good as being there?viewers miss out on the energy generated by riveting speakers, not to mention the reception (free food and drink!) afterwards?but the fascinating subject material and knowledgeable presenters make each worth a view.

Public lectures stimulate because they engage the senses and demand full attention. As a student, The Walrus Talks get high marks with me because they engage all of my senses, expand my knowledge, and reenergize my brain. The next time The Walrus Talks near where I live, I’ll be there’senses fully engaged.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.