Special Topics Day is an opportunity for the entire College community to engage differently, outside the classroom and in different formats. Special Topics Days are days where we make room in our regular academic schedules to delve into specific topics more deeply. These days provide ample opportunity for collaborative leadership between students, faculty and others in the community.

During the final Special Topics Day of this academic year on 20 February, students and adults where encouraged to go “analog.” Through a variety of workshops, the participants explored how connectivity and technological devices influence our lives, attention, mindfulness and experiencing our world in the here and now.

To go analogue, student WIFI access was turned off for the entire day, devices were left in student’s rooms and the day’s schedule was arranged on post it notes on a wall inside the cafeteria. Spontaneous workshops were encouraged and there was even a hand-drawn map of a meeting place for a session to be found.

All students were provided with a tiny notebook, with a cell phone screen print-out on the cover. Every time participants felt the urge to check their phones, they were encouraged to make a note in the booklet to serve as a reminder of humanity’s dependence on technological devices.

Sessions ranged from sunrise and sunset walks, sports like football, yoga and canoeing, to art classes, meditation, campfire stories, theatre improv and discussions on news and peace in the Middle East. In the “The Power of Sound,” for example, students shared music and harmonising differences with percussion instruments.

“We had to come up with a memory and an emotion that was attached to it and then drum it. Others had to guess what we were trying to convey. It was an amazing experience and Juan Daniel, one of the workshop leaders, realized quickly what I was getting at,” explains Esperanza, a second-year student from Ontario.