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Capilano Universe: Building Bridges Between Communities

Leonard George remembers the exact moment the seed for the Capilano Universe lecture series was planted. It was 2010. The CapU psychology instructor had just learned that North Shore libraries were the most heavily used per capita in Canada, and was struck by the idea that public libraries would be an excellent way to connect with the community. And what better way to engage the community than have faculty share their passions? Passionate pedagogy, he calls it.

“Our university is a kind of universe,” says George. “It has such breadth of interests, activities and passions. It’s also a community that is nested inside other communities. I wanted to knock down some of those walls and share the riches.”

The series began with the North Vancouver District Public Library and grew to include West Vancouver Memorial and North Vancouver City libraries, as well as libraries in Burnaby and Gibsons.

The first lecture was given by Rajiv Jhangiani in Lynn Valley in 2011. The topic: the psychology of genocide.

“The place was packed, maybe 90-100 people,” recalls George. “That was a big thrill as I wasn’t sure if anyone would show up. We got off to a roaring start.”

Since then, the series has covered everything from the archetypal psychology of Game of Thrones to the experience of women in prisons to the pursuit of happiness. Now in its eighth year, its success is a testament to George’s dedication as the initiative has virtually no budget and is presented entirely by volunteers. This year, George passed the torch to psychology instructor, Danielle Labossiere.

“My baby has waddled away from me, but I have complete confidence in Danielle’s ability to pull it off,” says George.

He hasn’t stepped away completely though, and will be presenting as part of this year’ series.

“It’s all about building bridges between communities. We’re showing the community that Capilano University is a fascinating place filled with passionate people who love to share their knowledge and skills, which is what we do in our classrooms every day.”

Leonard George

“It’s all about building bridges between communities. We’re showing the community that Capilano University is a fascinating place filled with passionate people who love to share their knowledge and skills, which is what we do in our classrooms every day.”

Leonard George

Check out this year’s Capilano Universe lectures.

Written by: Shannon Colin
Photography by: Abigail Saxton

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