The continuing education program offers special interest and educational courses with a difference focusing on art, archaeology, culture, history, science, literature and writing, music and life skills.

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Tue 22 Oct 2019 - Tue 26 Nov 2019

18:00 - 20:00

6 Sessions
24 spots remaining.

The earth’s climate is warming. New temperature records are being set around the world on a regular basis. Severe weather events are becoming more regular and affecting more people. In Australia, droughts are becoming longer and more severe and winter rainfall in southern Australia is decreasing.

How can we adapt to live in this warmer world? What can we do to prepare ourselves for these changes? What impacts are these changes going to have on a local, regional and global scale?

Explore many of these aspects of climate change through lectures from some of the experts in their fields both from ANU and other agencies.

Course outline

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Understand the impact and threats to both human and natural environments of climate change, locally, regionally and globally
  2. Understand how can we adapt to climate change both on an individual and societal level
  3. Understand the costs/benefits in changing to a reduced carbon world.

Who Should Enrol?

Anyone Interested in learning about climate, environment, sustainability.  

**This is designed as a companion course to 'Sustainable Futures' **

Mon 14 Oct 2019 - Mon 02 Dec 2019

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
15 spots remaining.

Have you ever thought about whether you're free, how you should behave, whether things really are as they seem, or whether it is reasonable to believe in God? See how far you can go with these and other fundamental questions in this course.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: The big questions and how philosophy handles them
  • Topic 2: Questions and answers from the classical world
  • Topic 3: The existence of God
  • Topic 4: Are we free?
  • Topic 5: The mind-body problem
  • Topic 6: Knowledge and the self
  • Topic 7: Existence and the self
  • Topic 8: Ethical questions

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should have an understanding of the major themes and issues of western philosophy.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in learning more about philosophy.

No dates are currently scheduled.

Teacher: Brad Tucker

This course is being offered online and face-to-face. To enrol as an online student, please check the box at enrolment point. Live streaming and presentation links will be provided closer to start date.

Look up and behold - the wonders of the Universe! Discover planets, stars, black holes and much more in this introductory course. And no maths or physics required! Weather permitting, observe the cosmos using the outreach telescope of Mt Stromlo's Observatory.

Course outline

  • Introduction to astronomy: a brief look at the way the picture of the universe has changed over centuries, the people who changed it and the tools and methods they used. You'll be introduced to some basic concepts of earth's place in the universe and why the night sky changes over the course of days to years.
  • The private lives of stars: a look at how stars form, live and die. How do you measure the properties of stars? How does our sun compare? Introducing the "colourful zoo"; white dwarfs, red giants, black holes, etc, and the all-important H-R diagram.
  • Planets and planetary systems: planetary systems are the left-overs of star formation. You will look at the planets of our own solar system, and the hundreds of others that have been discovered in the past decade. You will also look at the "tiny bits"; comets, asteroids and meteors. Finally, you will consider the possibility of life on other worlds.
  • Galaxies: are the basic unit of the universe. You will look at the various types of galaxies, their formation and interactions. How does our galaxy, the milky way, compare? Learn about dark matter and why we can't see it as well as the mysterious jets that some galaxies emit.
  • Cosmology and the future of astronomy: what can you tell about the age, size, and current state of the universe? Finally, we look at the future of astronomy and check out some of the projects underway in Australia and overseas.
  • Observing night : come warmly dressed for a peek through several telescopes at some of the things we have been discussing. You'll also check out what can be seen in the night sky without a telescope. (This week is weather dependent and may be moved to the following week.)

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should:

  • have an appreciation of the science of astronomy
  • be able to identify and apply techniques of observation to our galaxy and beyond
  • be able to identify some of the modern technologies that are applied in this research field and understand how this has impacted our modern life.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone who has looked into the night sky and wanted to discover more about what you see. Astronomy speaks to the heart of our human pursuit of discovery and exploration. If you have a passion for understanding the Big picture then this course is for you. No prior knowledge of Astronomy (or maths) is necessary.

No dates are currently scheduled.

Teacher: Dr Kiara Bruggeman

Science is inescapable these days; it’s in your home, your job, and probably your pocket. Lucky for us science is fun!

Get into some of the most common science buzz words; nanotechnology, smart materials, and biomedicine. We take you on an in-depth and hands-on look at why and how these things work. Explore how modern medicine targets cancer cells when delivering chemotherapeutic drugs. Appreciate how a computer works from the atoms up, and make your own silver nanoparticles. Our focus is on the atomic and molecular level chemistry of materials. What makes them act or react?

The great news is that a science background is not required!

Course outline

  • Topic 1: Biomedical (3D printing, decellularized organs, diagnostics)
  • Topic 2: Nanotechnology/Working at the Nano Scale (atoms to bulk)
  • Topic 3: Nanoparticles (silver, sunscreen)
  • Topic 4: Computers
  • Topic 5: Phase Diagrams and Smart Materials Sneak Peak
  • Topic 6: Smart Materials 2: stimuli-responsive (removing electronics from sensors)

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you should have an understanding of atomic and molecular level chemistry of materials, what makes them act or react, and how material properties are affected by the nano vs bulk scale and they are used in everyday life.

Who should enrol

You will require a willingness to learn. Get involved in simple laboratory work (following the safety instructions is mandatory).

No dates are currently scheduled.

Teacher: Gordana Platisa

The greatest minds are critical thinkers. Enhance your thinking skills and learn the strategies of critical and creative thinking. By zooming in on core structure of arguments and evaluating their strength you will be on your way of taking control over daily spin and information overload. By applying imaginative problem-solving you can build basic scientific reasoning to help your decision making in everyday life.

Course outline

Through a series of workshops, this practical course is aimed at improving critical and creative thinking skills. First, you get trained in removing the trivial/repetitive information and detecting the core argument. Your detective skills in finding missing assumptions and relevant context will be upgraded.

Second, the course deals with argument evaluation through a wide variety of sources focusing on current issues debated in the media and in popular culture. If you have a particular area of interest (science, law, religion, medicine) the evaluation practice can be tailored in that direction.

  • Topic 1: Why critical thinking matters? Socratic method. Detective work: Identifying argument structure and types of arguments.
  • Topic 2: Zooming in: argument mapping, working out context. Dealing with vagueness and ambiguity. Politics of obfuscation.
  • Topic 3: Argument evaluation. The truth and credibility of reasons. Flaws in reasoning. Fresh red herrings and slippery slopes revisited.
  • Topic 4: Strength of inference: does it follow? Levels of certainty and the importance of black swans.
  • Topic 5: Establishing true causation. Inductive and deductive reasoning.

Learning outcomes

With the help of this course, you will learn how to better use their critical thinking skills as well as unlearn some of the bad thinking habits. You will be able to identify what is really being presented to them in an academic context, in a professional context, as well as in everyday situations that require problem-solving and imaginative thinking.  This course can help enhance the general understanding of the crucial issues of our times as well as enable students to have much more enjoyment and pleasure in getting closer to the truth.

Who should enrol

Those with an interest in developing their thinking powers.

No dates are currently scheduled.

Teacher: Brad Tucker and Emma Tucker

Are we alone? Are there aliens out there? Will we ever visit them on their planet or even live on another planet? Explore life in space, the creation of our planet, the parameters for searching for and finding life elsewhere, and the possibilities of becoming an inter-planetary species.

To listen to Brad talk about this course, click on the image below.

This course is being offered online and face-to-face. To enrol as an online student, please check the box at enrolment point. Live streaming and presentation links will be provided after enrolment.

Course outline

  • Week 1 - Life and Astronomy: This will be an introduction to life in space from the context of astronomy.  What does astronomy has to say about how realistic it is that other life forms exist, and can we visit them?  We will explore topics such as exoplanets, the types of life that could exist, all centred around the Drake equation.
  • Week 2 - Living in space: We will explore the nature of living in space and being an inter-planetary species.  We will examine the health effects of space travel and how it will impact future exploration. 
  • Week 3 - What if there is life in space: What happens when we ask the question "Is Anybody Out There" and the answer is yes?  We will explore topics such as what happens to us if they are there and what happens to them? If life is possible, why haven’t we found?  We will also examine how the laws of physics impact the practical aspects of space travel and living in space, including whether life from space has come to Earth.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should,

  • have an understanding and appreciation of life in the context of the Universe
  • be able to identify and explain the current issues of both living in space and space travel for species
  • have some understanding of the questions and discussion of 'aliens' in both your everyday life and in society.

Who should enrol

Anyone who has ever wondered if we are alone - but has wanted to know more. If you've asked any of these questions and wondered whether it is possible to live in space - this course is for you!  No prior knowledge of astronomy (or maths) is necessary.

No dates are currently scheduled.

We are often told that we are living in a post-modern environment, but what does that really mean? Find out in this course, which will explore the challenges presented by post-modernism while explaining how it came about.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: Pre-Modern and Modern approaches to philosophy
  • Topic 2: Romanticism and modernity
  • Topic 3: Hegel and Schopenhauer
  • Topic 4: Nietzsche and art
  • Topic 5: Heidegger and existentialism
  • Topic 6: From structuralism to post-structuralism
  • Topic 7: Foucault and history
  • Topic 8: Derrida and language

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should have an understanding of the major theme and issues of Western philosophy.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in learning more about philosophy.

No dates are currently scheduled.

This blockbuster course will look at movies that deal with major philosophical issues, or ‘the big questions’. For those wanting to further their understanding of philosophy or love movies, discuss a range of movies by well-known directors including Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Kurosawa. So the question is, "do you take the blue or the red pill?".

Course outline

The first movie – in bold type – on each week’s list will be the main topic for discussion, so course participants are encouraged to watch these movies before the class.  But the more movies you watch, the better, of course.

    • Week 1: Philosophy and Film - Plato’s Cinema.
    • Week 2: Knowledge and Scepticism - The Matrix (1999), Rashomon (1950).
    • Week 3: Mind and Consciousness - Ex Machina (2015) , Blade Runner (1982)
    • Week 4: Us, the Universe, and the Future - 2001 a Space Odyssey (1968), Solaris (1972, 2002), Blade Runner (1982), Alphaville (1965), Metropolis (1927).
    • Week 5: Ethics 1: Choices and Actions - Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989), Rope (1948), Lifeboat (1944), Bicycle Thieves (1948).
    • Week 6: Ethics 2: Morality and/in War? - Breaker Morant (1979), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Fury (2014).
    • Week 7: Freedom, Society, and Alienation - Minority Report (2002), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Taxi Driver (1967), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), Antz, (1998), Metropolis (1927).
    • Week 8: Metaphysics, Meaning, and God - The Seventh Seal (1957), Wings of Desire (1987), The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935).

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will be well acquainted with the central issues of western philosophy, and will possess a deeper understanding of our own cultural environment.

Who should enrol

Film buffs with a thirst for big answers!

No dates are currently scheduled.

Ethics is the most important area of philosophy and the one which most affects our daily lives.

Course outline

Ethics is the most important area of philosophy and the one which most affects our daily lives.  As well as examining the major approaches to ethics in western philosophy, this course will encourage participants to refine and re-evaluate their own ethical positions.

  • Topic 1: Kinds of Ethics
  • Topic 2: Ethics and Consequences
  • Topic 3: Ethics and Duty
  • Topic 4: Peter Singer – Australia’s Greatest Philosopher
  • Topic 5: Modern Ethical Alternatives
  • Topic 6: Ethics and Evolution
  • Topic 7Case studies in Ethics
  • Topic 8The Post-Modern Challenge to Traditional Ethics

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course you should:

  • be familiar with the major ethical approaches in western philosophy.
  • be able to analyse and to re-evaluate their own ethical decision-making processes.

Who should enrol

Those who have an interest in ethical questions.

What past participants had to say

"I particularly liked how Walter drew students into conversations. He carefully directed the flow of conversation around a topic while giving space to the views of everyone in the session. I learnt a lot from expressing my own thoughts as well as from the thoughts of other students. He also presented the material in a very engaging way using digital content thoughtfully to mix up the lecture format."

"Walter is a knowledgeable and engaging teacher."

No dates are currently scheduled.

Environmental sustainability is the greatest challenge of our time. We see the magnitude of the challenge in the decline of the natural world. But the causes of this decline, its consequences, and its solutions are all about us humans. Learn the basics of sustainability and discover cutting-edge research, and inspiring solutions from researchers at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

The course will cover a diverse range of natural and social science aspects of sustainability. Each session will involve a different topic with a combination of lectures and exercises. Speakers are mostly emerging young researchers at the forefront of their disciplines from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society. The course co-ordinator is Dr Steven Lade, a visiting researcher from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

Course outline

Content may be modified depending on teacher availability.

  • August 7 - Steve Lade - Introduction and historical timeline of sustainability
  • August 14 - Juliana Lazzari - Biodiversity science
  • August 21 - Claudia Munera - Adapting biodiversity conservation to climate change
  • August 28 - Justin Borevitz & Helen King - Regenerative agriculture
  • September 4 - Bronwyn Wilkes - Food systems and human health
  • September 11 - Kate Harriden - Indigenous perspectives and water
  • September 18 - Anna Lukasiewicz - Justice and sustainability
  • September 25 - Nick Abel & Steve Lade - Climate, politics, and what can I do

Learning outcomes

At completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify the biophysical changes being experienced on our planet
  • describe how sustainability underlies human wellbeing
  • identify how we can build sustainable futures at the individual and societal level.

Who should enrol

Anyone Interested in learning about climate, environment, sustainability.  

**This is designed as a companion course to 'Living with climate change' **

No dates are currently scheduled.

Physics doesn’t lie so why is there so much heat and controversy generated by this debate?

The science behind global warming has been developing for over 150 years and many climate scientists have spent much of their careers in investigating and trying to understand the physical processes involved and the implications for the future. If you are confused about the competing claims with respect to climate change, here is your chance to interact with some of the world experts in their fields from the ANU on the actual science associated with climate change and its impacts.

Audio and pdf versions of the presentations will be made available online through the CCE student portal.

The contents of the course make it suitable to be considered for Professional Development for those people who are working in the areas of climate change such as mitigation, adaptation and health and a certificate of attendance will be provided. 

Week 1:

Weather and climate basics - Clem Davis

  • Why do we get weather?
  • The difference between weather and climate
  • How do we categorize climate and climate of Australia?

Climate drivers of Australia and the world and their impact - Emeritus Professor Janette Lindesay

  • ENSO, IOD, SAM, monsoons, ocean currents

Week 2:

Week 3: 

  • Micro climates. How do they affect us? - Margi Bohm
  • Local climate change: What is happening in the Canberra region? - Clem Davis

Week 4:

  • What are the likely future impacts on humans and ecosystems and how do we respond? Eg health, survival, fires, food security, infrastructure etc   Mitigation, Adaptation - Professor Mark Howden
  • Climate change and health - Dr Liz Hanna

Week 5:

Week 6

This course will be presented by ANU academics who are experts in this field.

Links to ANU Presenters

Tue 22 Oct 2019 - Sun 08 Dec 2019

18:00 - 20:15

9 Sessions

Teacher: Ian Fraser

Understanding birds will explore all aspects of birds – origins, ongoing evolution, structure, behaviour, ecology and conservation issues – with an emphasis on Australian and local species. No prior knowledge required. Includes two field trips to identify and discuss local species.

Course outline

Topics covered include

1 - The Definition of a Bird; bird ancestors and evolution

  • Definition
  • Ancestors
  • Evolution of the Australian Avifanua

2 - Bird–watching Techniques and Tools

  • Field Guides
  • Reference Books and Tapes
  • Binoculars
  • Telescopes
  • Techniques

3 - Basic Adaptations

  • Understanding flight
  • Maximum Size – mechanics
  • Minimum Size – temperature control
  • Feathers
  • Skeleton and Musculature
  • Wing Shape
  • Respiration and Circulation
  • Digestive Tract and Feeding; Excretion
  • Reproduction, Nests and Eggs (to 78/2)
  • Senses and Vocalisations
  • Swimming
  • The Flightless Option

4 - Australian Bioregions and Habitats

  • Bioregions
  • Habitats

5 - Bird Ecology and Behaviour

  • Community and Population Ecology
  • Migration and Nomadism
  • Territory
  • Flocks
  • Colony
  • Reproductive Strategies
  • Courtship
  • Feeding Strategies
  • Climate Change and Birds

6 - Brief Introduction to Taxonomy 

7 - The Australian Bird Fauna – an outline

  •  Considers all the Australian bird families in order, with mention of, and some detail about, all local species.

Course dates

7 Tuesday evenings: 22 October - 3 December

2 Field trips: 8am - 11am, Saturday 30 November & 7 December

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone who would like to discover more about birds.


Ian Fraser is a naturalist, author, conservationist, ABC broadcaster and adult educator who has lived in the ACT since 1980. He ran natural history tours all over Australia for 34 years, and has been accompanying groups to South America since 2007. Ian chaired an ACT government environmental advisory committee for 10 years, and served on it for 20 before that. He was the ‘voice of natural history’ on local ABC radio for over 20 years, and has written nine books on local and wider natural history themes, including two guides to Namadgi National Park and two local wildflower guides. His latest, Birds in Their Habitats; journeys with a naturalist, was published by CSIRO in 2018. Two previous CSIRO titles were awarded Whitley Certificates by the NSW Royal Zoological Society. His blog, Ian Fraser Talking Naturally, has accumulated well over 400,000 readers since 2012. He has run training courses in natural history for Tidbinbilla volunteers since 2008, and has taught various courses at the ANU’s Centre for Continuing Education since 1998. In 2001 he was awarded the Australia Plants Award, and in 2006 the Australian Natural History Medallion, both for work in conservation and education; in 2018 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for ‘services to conservation and the environment’.