Study Groups & Events

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 a couplet heading a chapter in Dava Sobel’s book Longitude: “Time is to the clock as the mind is to the brain”. The couplet elicited the thought 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? After some discussion with SDIS members, a study group was formed to find answers.

The focus of the study group became clearer as it rejected studying brain pathology, clinical syndromes and other inquiries of brain disorders. Focus was helped by the many newspaper articles about brain research on brain anatomy, localization of specific functions, effects of stimulation of specific areas of the brain, and use of implanted wires in certain areas of the brain.

Some of the authors read are:  Francis Crick, Daniel Dennett, Joseph LeDoux, Steven Pinker, S, Dawkins, E. O. Wilson, E. S. Ramchandran, Michael Gazzaniga, Christof Koch, Richard Feynman, A. Damasio, M. Kaku.

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.

Study Group Locations & Times


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.”