OLi Workshops 2024

Our existing OLi workshops are intended as sources of professional and personal development or corporate training. They are samples of our work and the expertise of some members of our network. They are designed for those interested in pursuing the link between public policy, foreign affairs AND science, technology and innovation.

They may help you build knowledge and develop your on-line presentation skills. They may aid you in your bid to improve foreign language skills. One or two are ideal as ice-breakers and to hone your sense of humour as well as grapple with the history of science and diplomacy.  Who knows? You may find new peers, clients or advisors with whom to network.

We can assemble other workshops on the request of clients. We can help you produce your own workshop series. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Participants at our small-sized workshops agree to share their names and Email addresses so they can follow up with one another as they please, though exceptions to this guideline may be made if workshops are unusually large and not all attendees are known to the organizers.  Please contact us with any questions or for more information.


As current consultants or former implementors within departments, agencies and organizations that contribute to public and foreign policy, deliver international aid programs or shape the international agenda, members of our network tend to be practitioners within the area of international affairs rather than scholars of the field.  Members of our network have worked in or for Canadian, American and European government agencies, the UN, international NGOs and development banks. We can recruit academic and private sector expertise as needed for a given subject area. The founder of this company and coordinator of related networks has worked at many of Canada’s federal government funding agencies for science and technology, related line departments, the S&T unit of the Canadian department of foreign affairs, and projects in low income countries.

Topics, prices, timing

Below is our syllabus for which we have some background.

Topics requiring an expert or more, and who we have on the sidelines, are marked with an “E”. The final price, if not already stated, will be calculated by taking their quotes into account. These cases are marked with “TBD”, meaning “To Be Determined”.  Workshop timing is stated in Pacific Time (PT) and Eastern Time (ET) in North America, and in Central European Time (CET).  If you live outside these regions, you can determine what time the workshops are held in your own time zone by checking the World Clock Meeting Planner.

A.  Building our Scientific Literacy in Health Innovation

  • Immunotherapy as an emerging approach for cancer  ~ E

For 2023 and beyond, we are developing an OLi workshop intended for individuals with cancer, caregivers of people with cancer, and others wishing to develop a better understanding of the basic science, research, innovation and relevant public health policy in Canada and elsewhere. Our focus will be on understanding the burgeoning field of cancer immunotherapy.

There is a massive amount of material already available on this topic. The problem for many is how to organize it, how to ensure it is authoritative, and then how to absorb it. A pedagogical approach is required, but also, sharing and discussing findings.  Our objective is to point to and assemble learning resources that are credible.  Depending on how the service evolves and financial support we may secure, this workshop would recruit expert speakers to speak to groups.  The initiative is in its formative stages so if you are interested in this topic, now might be a good time to be in touch with us.

There is another dimension to this workshop series. Remaining cheerful and optimistic, surrounded by friends, colleagues and family is important for healing or just being, when serious disease such as cancer is a threat. However, some afflicted people experience the opposite — friends may flee, or fall away. So, as part of our approach, we are introducing a novel concept, namely, making new friends through artistic creation. We will link this scientific series with a concurrent series of on-line voice acting and theatrical production workshops.  All of the plays to be read are comedies.

Contact us if you are interested in this topic.

B.  Science, Technology and Innovation to Address Climate Change (STI4CC) 

  • OLi STI4CC community of interest

Over the past years OLi-works has brokered a loose coalition of interested and independent consultants into a community of interest that meets regularly to discuss developments and topics in the realm of energy, and applications of science, technology and innovation for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Our perspective is based on international expertise and field experience, often in low income countries, or in agencies with an international scope. A description of our pilot to convert this community into a subscription service is described here.

If you would like to join our community for monthly discussions the cost is $35 CAD per person, which covers for 2023. No discounted price is offered, but the first drop-in is free. Normally the STI4CC workshop takes place the third Monday of the month, 11h00 PT, 14h00 ET and 20h00 CET.  Welcome!  For more information, contact us.

  • Global clean cooking  ~ E

Over 2020-21 a trio of us came together to collectively develop a White Paper championed by Ken Robertson, but whose source and technical design were contributed by Steve O’Gorman. Ken is a former NGO founder and current overseas development consultant. Steve likewise has many years of experience in overseas development. Our White Paper described the potential of co-deploying thermal energy storage devices with solar-powered micro-grids for cooking in rural communities. We were addressing the major challenge of hazardous biomass-based cooking by 2.8 billion of the world’s people, most of whom are women and girls.  The identified sustainable development goals (SDGs) for this project were SDG5 and SDG7. Two graduate students at the University of Calgary’s Sustainable Energy Development Program (SEDV) worked diligently with us over the year. New to energy projects in low income countries, the students identified the key obstacles that exist to prevent an expansion of clean cooking to rural communities in Tanzania, and identified a model that has been deployed in Bangladesh and that might be adapted, with suitable modifications.

We remain interested in off-grid energy solutions and global clean cooking as a project area to pursue. If this topic is one you are pursuing, please feel welcome to contact us for a discussion..

  • An American perspective on COP 29  ~ E

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will hold its 29th meeting of the Community of the Parties (COP) in Baku, Azerbaijan November 11th to 22nd, 2024.

On this topic one of the experts associated with our network called STI4CC (Science and Technology to Address Climate Change) keeps watch on developments, and prepares updates of his workshop series on demand.

Mr. Arthur Levin, J.D., formerly a delegate sent to the climate negotiations by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations (UN), views developments from a global and American perspective.

This workshop may serve as a climate change primer workshop, ideal for local, regional or national decision-makers who are collecting perspectives from various sources, are short on time and expect their questions answered within a small group discussion.  They may need a deeper understanding of both the scientific and political dimensions at the global level, the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and prospects for the future.

Mr. Levin’s workshop can be adjusted for other audiences, providing credible, “capsule learning” in an hour from a unique perspective that links sector developments in energy and climate change on the one hand, and ICTs on the other. How does the latter provide a solution to the former? Contact us to arrange a workshop, and to find out.

Price and scheme:  A one hour session, normally CAD $400 (but negotiable for small not-for-profits). Ideal for a group of five to fifteen, seeking a presentation and discussion.

C.  Professional English; Deciphering International Affairs and Foreign Policy

  • Perspectives on Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats (2012)

One approach for professionals from science, engineering, health or other technology backgrounds to tackle public policy and international affairs, and to practice their English through debate, is to begin with mainstream books that are accessible, well researched, and by authors with recognized qualifications.  The books (and authors) may be loved or detested by social scientists and others but a little controversy piques the conversation. 

For the purpose of launching a general discussion and workshop, we have chosen Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (2012)The author of this book, Ms. Chrystia Freeland, is the Minister of Finance for the Government of Canada, as of August 2020. She is also the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. A brief bio for Ms. Freeland is here. We have assembled a short-list of book reviews here

Currently Offered:

  Fridays, 11h00 PST, 14h00 EST, 20h00 CET.

Price and scheme: Drop-in, $10/person, minimum 5 people.

D.  Creative English; History of Science and Technology and the Theatre

  • Science, Diplomacy and Shakespeare

We have designed an OLi workshop to enrich and polish English and gain further appreciation of the literary arts. Using theatre as our inspiration, this workshop will help you develop further confidence in speaking, learn new English words and practice performing as a voice actor. We read plays on-line, so, over time, you learn to speak with the aplomb of a celebrity.

We also promise a few laughs. The play scripts, written by creators at OLi-works, are modern adaptations of some of Shakespeare’s comedies.  We record the sessions so you can hear yourself in the “take-away”, if you have opted to perform.

Three themes are highlighted in this OLi workshop series: 1) the level of science and technology in the age, 2) the authorship debate and 3) the nature of the regime and diplomacy.  Details are here.

Currently offered:

  Wednesdays, 17h00 PT, 20h00 ET, or at a negotiated time in the case of small groups. We can accommodate CET timing if there is demand.

Price and scheme: Drop-in, 1-hour sessions; first session free, then CAD $5/person in a bundle of 5 sessions for CAD $25. No need to come every consecutive week though. You can come when you’re inclined until your five sessions are over. Gift cards are available. See the details or contact us.

E.  Re-booting or Improving Other Oral Language skills

Thinking of marketing on-line to new locations, or travelling again when it is safe to do so?  We offer language workshops that are intended as oral, conversational practice that might be part of one’s own devised course of learning. There are ample, often free and excellent resources on the Internet. The challenge for many learners, though, is talking in the target language and being understood.

We have designed our OLi language workshops to provide a weekly incentive, to be informal and fun, and to furnish a setting to meet other learners and potential friends at different locations, including the target countries where these languages are spoken. From time to time we feature experts who speak to us in the target language.

Each workshop has a native speaker assigned as a facilitator. We are using a standard format for these, with more details here. To determine what time the workshops are held in your own time zone, check the World Clock Meeting Planner.

  • French conversation – Bonjour!

  Thursdays, 08h00 PT, 11h00 ET, 17h00 CET – Intermediate

  • Spanish conversation – ¡Hola! 

   Mondays, 13h30 PT, 16h30 ET – Intermediate

Here’s a photo of our first workshop of 2021.

  • Swedish conversation – Hejdå!

  Saturdays, 11h30 PT, 14h30 ET, 20h30 CET – Beginner

Additional sessions with different timing and facilitators may be arranged if the number of subscribers grow. Contact us if you want to inform us of your preferred times.

Price and scheme for all of the language workshops above: One free drop-in, then if you wish to proceed, a commitment to at least three workshops. These are 1 hour sessions at $15/person. Our policy on cancellations and payments is here. 

Minimal technology

Participants will require high-speed Internet access, a device (computer/laptop, tablet or mobile phone), headset with microphone, or a built-in microphone in a private, quiet setting. The total length of time for signing on, introductions, presentation and discussion at an OLi workshop is set at one hour.

Is anything for free?

Normally, we are happy to provide up to 1 hour of free, one-on-one training, including on how to make on-line payments. Contact us to book a time.

Why OLi workshops instead of on-line courses?

  • Our OLi workshops are designed to allow everyone – facilitators, experts, participants – to talk, make on-line presentations, engage in live Q&A and network. Unlike webinars, our workshops are oriented to small groups.
  • OLi workshops provide you with a rehearsal platform and supportive audience in the on-line space. Your participation, delivery and language will be enhanced with practice, and we can help you with your own presentation material if you desire to showcase your own expertise.
  • Networking among attendees is encouraged – you may make friends in far-away places!
  • Our workshops are informal, oriented to the development of your marketability. There are no tests.

Your suggestions welcome

Please feel encouraged to be in touch with us on any of the topics above, and to indicate your interest in registering, if you are so inclined. If you have a subject you wish to see included in the syllabus, let us know. If you wish to make your own workshop, we can help you. Contact us for details and a quote.