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Remember, it's never too late to register for a class, even after it's begun. You can always catch up with any sessions you may have missed by watching the video recordings of previous sessions. The time remaining to register before the first class session is below, so stop hesitating and get to it!

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In-person classes, live-streamed Zoom sessions and video recordings

  • • This course is offered as an in-person course at the EarthDiverse Centre in Hamilton, New Zealand, live-streamed via Zoom if you live elsewhere, and as video recordings of the live sessions if you cannot attend the regularly scheduled class.

Date & Time:

Begins Wednesday 21 February 2024

  • • This course meets on Wednesdays from 11:00am-1:00pm beginning on 21 February 2024 (New Zealand time) and meets for 3 consecutive weekly sessions. The final session will be held on Wednesday 6 Mar 2024.

  • • If you live outside of New Zealand and wish to Zoom in to our live class sessions, check the nearest local Time Zone equivalent below:

Time Zone equivalents:

for live-streaming Zoom Sessions from New Zealand. If your Time Zone doesn't suit our live-streamed class, you can also access our courses by watching the live-recorded sessions that are posted to the course webpage each week, usually within 1-2 days.

  • Honolulu, Hawai’i: begins Tue 20 Feb 2024, 12:00-2:00 pm

  • US Pacific: begins Tue 20 Feb 2024, 2:00-4:00 pm

  • US Central: begins Tue 20 Feb 2024, 4:00-6:00 pm

  • US Eastern: begins Tue 20 Feb 2024, 5:00-7:00 pm

  • London, UK: begins Tue 20 Feb 2024, 10:00 pm-12:00 am

  • Bangkok, Thailand: begins Wed 21 Feb 2024, 5:00-7:00am

  • Singapore: begins Wed 21 Feb 2024, 6:00-8:00 am

  • Sydney Australia: begins Wed 21 Feb 2024, 9:00-11:00am


HIS216: Size Matters: A History of Humanity’s Perception of the Universe

  • • Once upon a time the universe was small, compact and user-friendly, merely a solar system wide with us in the middle, as befitted our cosmic importance. Mankind’s place, meaning and destiny was comfortably assured in this diminutive of settings.

  • • Today we find ourselves no longer the centre of attention, nor inside a pocket-sized cosmos specially made for us. We stare out at billions of galaxies, black holes and limitless voids of space.

  • • This series of 3 lectures will trace the history of these huge shifts in perspective and how they have impacted the lives of those who lived through these changes, especially those in the modern era.

Session 1

Wednesday 21 February 2024

From Stonehenge to the poet Dante. The universe is human in size and God-drenched. Copernicus and Galileo upset the apple cart. The fallout from this as seen in the works of Donne, Shakespeare, Pascal and others. Later the Romantics will try and restore some order but Newton and Laplace bring this into question.

Session 2

Wednesday 28 February 2024

The universe grows into a giant with the advent of more powerful telescopes in the Victorian era. Thomas Hardy, Nietzsche and others give unsettled voice to the phenomena. Others like the Pre-Raphaelites, Queen Vic, and the Pope try to sound reassuring.
lesson 2 image

Session 3

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Edward Hubble the game changer. Multiple galaxies, black holes and the redshift. The existential confrontation with the new universe and how people like Bultmann, Beckett, Camus, von Trier and others try to cope and come to terms with this gargantuan new reality.
lesson 3

Course curriculum:

Week by week new material will be posted throughout the duration of the course. Video recordings of each weekly session will be posted here after 1-2 days after each class.

    1. EarthDiverse Course Information

    2. EarthDiverse Zoom instructions

    1. A History of Humanity’s Perception of the Universe

    1. Session 1: Copernicus and Galileo set the stage

    2. 20240221 T1.1 HIS216 Size Matters PDF

    3. 20240221 T1.1 HIS216 Size Matters video

    1. Session 2: The aftermath of more powerful telescopes

    1. Session 3: Edward Hubble and the Existential Confrontation

Additional course info:

  • Videos and PDF content of class presentations or whiteboard notes are uploaded weekly after each live session
  • Begins on Wed 21 Feb 2024
  • NZ time: Weds 11:00am-1:00pm

Meet our Instructor:

History, Literature & Philosophy Instructor Peter Dornauf, MA Dip Tchg

Peter Dornauf has taught in secondary schools, Wintec and Waikato University collectively for over 25 years. He is a well know Waikato artist, art critic and a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. His book “Days of Our Deaths” serves as the basis for one of Peter’s other popular EarthDiverse courses, “A Cultural History of Death.” Peter also teaches our “The Spiritual in Modern Art” course and continues to develop additional EarthDiverse courses for future Terms.


All in-person classes are held at the EarthDiverse Centre located at 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (located just north of the Hamilton Central Bus Station) (entrance is located on the side of the building, see map below). Those looking for parking for our evening classes can park just in front of the building in any of the available car parks. Daytime parking can be found in our dedicated car parks, or free 2-hour on-street daytime parking can be found just in front of Anglesea Street.


Distance Learning:

This course has distance-learning options for those unable to attend the live class sessions in Hamilton. Students have three options for attending our courses once they have registered:

  • Attend in-person classes in our Hamilton classrooms at the regularly scheduled day and time.

  • Attend our live on-line classroom sessions via Zoom at the regular scheduled day and time.

  • Watch the live-recorded class sessions at your leisure, at a time, day and place more suited to your schedule.

Distance-Learning options:

Live Zoom sessions or Video-Recordings

  • • In addition to our in-person classes in Hamilton, our courses offer distance learning options for those unable to attend classes in-person. Live-streamed Hamilton classes are available via free Zoom software for those living outside the Waikato. Live-streaming allows you to participate fully in your own learning, ask questions of the instructor and participate fully in the same way as if you were in the physical classroom.

  • • Those unable to attend the scheduled date and time of the actual class sessions, or those who need to miss a class or two due to previous engagements or unexpected illness, can watch any or all of the live-recorded video sessions on their computers, laptops, tablets or mobile devices and study at their own pace and in their own time.

  • • Detailed instructions on how to access our distance learning components will be sent after completing your registration. There are no additional fees for this service. However, distance learners will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with a good quality web-camera (tablet devices and mobile phones can also access our live-streamed classes), a built-in microphone (most modern laptops have built-in microphones) or a headset with a microphone. You will also need to download and install the free Zoom software on your computer or device. Those accessing the video recordings will be able to do so with a simple web browser on any device.

Pricing options:

• All prices are in New Zealand dollars and include GST. • Unwaged includes students, seniors, retirees and unemployed. • Prices remain the same regardless of your chosen method for accessing this course.


Those who cannot make the class meeting day and time via live Zoom sessions may consider accessing this course through the weekly recorded video sessions. Class videos are usually posted within 1-2 days of each live class session and are available for your own personal learning on a day and time of your choosing.

  • • This course has no assignments, quizzes, tests or exams.

  • • You will not need to purchase any additional course materials.

  • • PDFs of class presentations and video recordings of each session are posted 1-2 days after each session for the duration of the course. You are most welcome to come, sit back, relax, listen, take part in, and enjoy the classroom sessions and discussions without having to take notes!

  • • All classes encourage questions and group discussion

  • • There are no refunds for missed classes.

  • • If you’re attending in-person, course fees include tea/coffee/snack at each session. Help yourself!

  • • Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge.


All materials are included in the course fees. These are developed by our instructors and distributed as PDF files as the course progresses.

  • • Course materials are provided to all registered students as digital materials made available to you on the course webpage for download (accessible after registration). There is no need to purchase any additional texts for this course, although you may choose to do so to supplement your learning.

  • • You will only require a pen or pencil, a notebook for taking your own class notes. Any notes that our instructor writes on our class digital notepad are posted to the class webpage on your dashboard as a PDF file so that you can print these out at home and add them to your own notebook.


A keen desire to learn about the history of humanity's perception of the universe.

  • There are no prerequisites for this course.

  • This course is open to all learners aged 10 years and above.


Love your courses!

Vicki Jacobsen

I have so enjoyed and appreciated all of the courses I have attended.  They have spurred long held interests and I am looking forward to pursuing the knowledge and the way of considering and understanding I have gained from you and your programmes. (2022 Term 2)