Study Groups

Read more about our Study Groups (below).
For Study Group Locations and Times, see our Newsletter to the (right).

Colloquy Cafe

Members examine words as concepts by bringing their life experiences to the analysis of such subjects as “justice”, “poetry”, and “normal”. At the end of each meeting, suggestions are made and voted on for the next discussion’s subject; and the new word can then be thoughtfully considered in advance.

The purpose of each analysis is not to reach an agreed-upon conclusion but to discover the varying interpretations of each concept.  For instance, in the discussion of “childhood”, members’ understanding of when childhood ends differed greatly.  One person said his childhood ended when he began to stand up to his authoritarian father.  Another individual believed her childhood ended when she accepted the inevitability of death.

By means of such discussions, participants appreciate how life experiences affect not only one’s interpretation of language but also our understanding of one another.


Culture has been up and running since 2013-14. Emphasis has been placed on studying cultural bases and differences.  In addition to each group member reading the same selected book, we supplement with additional relevant writings and then analyze and discuss one or more chapters at a time until the book is finished. Examples of books used include Geography of Thought, Metaphors We Live By, A Brief History of Humankind/Tomorrow, and China Rules. 


The Film Group meets in a member’s home for viewing and discussion.

Begun in 2010 with an intended format of documentaries only, members quickly decided not to limit selections.  Foreign films, documentaries, and English language films are equally popular.  Among the most memorable are The Scent of Green Papaya, 1993 drama, Vietnamese setting, French production; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, 2003 drama from South Korea, and The Singing Revolution, 2007 documentary from Estonia.

General Relativity

This group is by nature limited to those with a substantial math background and with a solid grounding in classical physics at the undergraduate level.

The book used is Gravity by James Hartle (Addison Wesley). It works its way toward Einstein’s Equations from the bottom up. Whatever can be deduced with limited mathematical structure is done first. Hartle develops the math as needed as he marches along.  This approach had appeal because it is easier to see the physical phenomenon explained in simple and intuitive terms, without the weight of the whole formalism obscuring the same. It has negative aspects, because you have to be careful that earlier assumptions indeed hold in the broader formalism, and there is an inevitable amount of handwaving – albeit it can all be ultimately demonstrated via the fuller formalism.


The Neuroscience Group began in 1996 in response to the heading of a chapter in Dava Sobel’s book Longitude: “Time is to the clock as the mind is to the brain”. This couplet elicited the question that if the clock is organic and time is a man-made construct, and if the brain is organic, then what is the mind and what does it do? If it thinks, what is a thought?

Over the years the group’s readings have been enthralling and diverse. The topics have ranged, for example, from human brain function to theories of consciousness to the behavior of octopuses.

The group is currently exploring the relationships between human thought and artificial intelligence (AI). Expertise in neuroscience or AI is not required. Bring your curiosity about the human mind and the roles in AI in modern living. (Hello, Siri. Hello, machine learning.)

The Reading Experience

The Reading Experience is an unusual book club because it spends several monthly meetings in the reading and comparing of volumes that approach a similar theme in different ways. Examples of such themes are “Memoir,” “Where and When” and “Friendship.”

The Reading Experience is designed for any individual who loves good literature. Expect spirited discussion. Bring your desire to learn, enjoy and experience life through the eyes of others.

Inside Politics

With the goal of encouraging respectful, informed discussion of difficult issues, this non-partisan discussion group was formed to consider hot political topics of the moment. All opinions are welcome and encouraged.  We attempt to learn from each other, rather than change anyone’s opinions. The group’s philosophy is that open airing of all viewpoints can increase understanding of others and potentially lead to insights not accessible from more rigid perspectives.

Discussion is based on an agenda of important issues for each month. The facilitator is a retired California Assistant Attorney General who has been leading similar non-partisan political discussion classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of UC San Diego for the last fifteen years.

Inside Politics is open to all persons interested in current events and civil discourse.

Dining Events

JUST LUNCH is a gathering several times a year at different local restaurants.
There is no particular topic…it’s just lunch.

SUPPER WITH SCHOLARS meets at Humphreys La Jolla Grill on the first Thursday of each month, from September through November and January through June. Participants suggest topics, and one is chosen for the evening’s discussion.

Social Activities

GARDEN PARTY AND BOOK EXCHANGE is held in July at a member’s home.  Guests bring finger foods and a book to exchange.

HOLIDAY PARTY is held in a member’s home in early December.  Lunch is catered by a local restaurant.

SDIS Current Newsletter


What Members Say

“I was looking for something like the study groups. I'm so glad I found SDIS. My life is richer because of it. “


"At SDIS I get to spend time with some terrific, interesting people."


"I've been stimulated intellectually by SDIS activities and have been delighted by the people I've met.I have been encouraged to write when I otherwise wouldn't have, and have been introduced to subjects I didn't know about."