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America 1900–1950: Sleeping Giant, Room W201

New Room: W201

New! America was attracting many of the best and brightest who yearned for a better existence and whose focus was clearly upon the future, not the past. Whatever evaluative tools one uses, economic growth, population expansion figures, natural resource availability or political representation of the citizenry, America was emerging as a premier world power, even if we were reluctant to embrace that role. Although we did have some serious unresolved issues, old empires in the rest of the world were collapsing, monarchs were being overthrown and colonial subjects were in rebellion against their imperialist overlords.


American Empire: Grand Republic to Corporate State, Part 1. Room W126

Revised! We trace the evolution of the United States, from its colonial roots to the lofty status of global power by 1919. This captivating transformation is captured in a variety of ways beginning with the quest for land prior to and following the American Revolution up to the Spanish American War in 1898.  Manifest Destiny, the real American pastime, began as an agenda of Continental expansion to become a program of globalism. Other facets of the burgeoning Corporate State are explored:  the demise of the Citizen-Soldier concept; the rise of Big Business; control of the nation’s money; the scourge of slavery; the Confederacy as a revolution; the concept of American government ─ republic or democracy;  the growing industrialization of the Grand Republic versus the “working class.”


American Political Thought, Part 2. Room W105 -CLOSED

Continued! This course provides a fundamental understanding of the theoretical foundations underlying the development of American political institutions. Part II continues our historical journey to include the Transcendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau), the Utopian Socialists (New Harmony, Oneida Community, Brook Farm), the Social Darwinists (William Graham Summer, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller), the Critics of Capitalism (Henry George, Edward Bellamy, Eugene V. Debs), the Imperialists and Anti-Imperialists (Frederick Jackson Turner, Rev. Josiah Strong, Alfred Thayer, Mahan vs. Mark Twain and the Anti-Imperialist League) and the Populist and Progressive Movements (with selected reformers and “Muckrakers”).

America’s Presidents: 20th Century – Room W103-CLOSED

New! An intimate and compelling look at the men who have defined and re-defined the modern Presidency and led the country through some of the most turbulent and consequential moments in our history. We focus on both their public and private lives.  Using all new award winning videos, PowerPoint slides and handouts, we explore their history and discover what to expect from the person to be elected president of the US in 2016. We examine Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

Antietam to Appomattox: Civil War Battles. Room W101

New! We discuss the great battles of the Civil War:  Antietam, Shiloh, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Sherman’s March to the Sea.  Each session combines a lecture, discussion and the viewing of a film on the battle in question. 

Armchair Travelers, Room W219

New Room: W219

Another Adventure! Join Milt and Marion as they revisit Cuba.  Then onto South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia and then by train to Johannesburg.   We sail the Black Sea to Istanbul. There we visit the wonderful tourist attractions, including those off the beaten track.  Lastly, we tour parts of southern Europe.


Big Ideas, Little Words: Personal Ethics… Room E220

Big Ideas, Little Words:  Personal Ethics through the Eyes of Benjamin Franklin, Confucius and the Rabbis of The Ethic of the Fathers 

New! Can you explain your ideas of personal ethics in twenty-five words or less?  What do people who lived in the 6th century and in the 18th century have to say about the proper way to live their lives?  Come explore where YOU stand on the morality of right and wrong.  Lively discussion and arguing your point are welcome.


6 sessions


Countdown 2016 – Room W223 -CLOSED

Timely! In less than a year, the next president of the United States will be elected. During the period, the identity of that person will become clear.  That is because in 20 key states, including Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Connecticut primaries will be held. By the end of the primaries, candidates from both major parties should emerge. Will Trump stay on top? Will Hillary maintain her lead with Democrats? Who will be the Vice Presidential candidates?  All these questions and more are answered as the class learns about the latest polls, key debating contests, potential battleground states and most of all who is likely to be our next President.  Join us for debate and discussion, all occurring during one of the most exciting segments of the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Current Affairs – W208 CLOSED

Ongoing! Framed by the week’s trending news, this course relies on rigorous yet respectful debate to enhance our understanding of divergent viewpoints in the reporting of current events.  Discussions address politics, sex, religion and their effects on contemporary culture – issues that give life depth and meaning.  We focus on developing critical reasoning skills by examining the pre-conceived biases that affect our personal objectivity. 

Drawing Flowers – Room W232 -CLOSED

New Room: W232

New! This course focuses on a different flower each week, looking closely at the parts and discovering what characteristics make it different. We draw the flowers in pencil with emphasis on accuracy and form.  The facilitator supplies flowers and gives a short lecture on botany, examining the details of the flower closely using microscopes.  We learn how to create form by shading using a single light source. Come and create a flower portfolio! 

Please bring the following materials to class each day:

  • Good quality sketch book – 9″x12″ or 11″ x 14″
  • Pencils , 2H, H, B, 2B,4B
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Something to hold a flower – bud vase or jar 
  • Loupe or magnifier

Week 1 – Lilies
Week 2 – Daffodils
Week 3 – Roses
Week 4 – Chrysanthemums

Evolution of the Universe – Room W103 CLOSED

New Room: W103

Evolution of the Universe: From Nothing to Everything 

New! The universe started with the Big Bang.  But how did it start from nothing?  As armchair scientists, we explore the wonder and mystery of the beginning and how the universe evolved from subatomic particles to atoms of hydrogen, to stars and galaxies and to planets with life forms.  Come and find out how you are related to stardust and what a brief moment in time humans have been on planet Earth.

Exploring Mixed Media–CANCELLED

Diversified Art! This course is designed for exploration and expansion of your knowledge and skills and is suitable for all levels of experience.
Activities include:

  • working with monochromatic media (newspapers, corrugated cardboard) 
  • layering texture and color, using stencils and overlays 
  • layering images from magazines and photographs
  •  working with grids
  •  creating a substrate on which to draw 

Filthy Lucre – Room W129

New! An easy question to answer is, “How much money do you have?”  A far more difficult question is, “What is money?”  Is it, as the Bible tells us, the root of all evil, or is it the lubricant of economic growth that leads to a broadly shared prosperity? In this course we examine the history of money and banking from their simple Mediterranean origins to their contemporary complexity, from Babylon to bitcoin.

Genealogy : Beginner – Room W107-CLOSED

Genealogy and Computers: Beginner

Dig Again! This course is designed for computer and genealogy novices who have some knowledge experience with personal computers and/or the Mac. We will be using Norwalk Community College’s PCs. Throughout the course there are instructions on computer basics as well as the fundamentals of genealogy.

Both courses (Beginner and Intermediate) begin with a discussion of students’ genealogy objectives; subsequent classes will be customized to meet group interests. There are thousands of resources available online for genealogical research, but where does one start? We explore sources for census taking, marriage, birth, death, immigration, naturalization, military records, city directories and newspapers. Students learn the best methods for finding, analyzing and organizing documents; the advantages and disadvantages of creating family trees online; and other means for organizing finds for posterity. Optional homework is provided for those who want to dig deeper.

Each course is limited to 12 students to allow for individual attention.  Students will be able to switch from one level to the other if they feel they made the wrong choice initially.

Genealogy and Computers: Intermediate – Room W107

New! Students in this course should be computer literate and comfortable using a PC and Windows. Mac users can follow instructions on a PC and adapt them for Macs. Students should be familiar with genealogical research.

Both courses (Beginner and Intermediate) begin with a discussion of students’ genealogy objectives; subsequent classes will be customized to meet group interests. There are thousands of resources available online for genealogical research, but where does one start? We explore sources for census taking, marriage, birth, death, immigration, naturalization, military records, city directories and newspapers. Students learn the best methods for finding, analyzing and organizing documents; the advantages and disadvantages of creating family trees online; and other means for organizing finds for posterity. Optional homework is provided for those who want to dig deeper.

Each course is limited to 12 students to allow for individual attention.  Students will be able to switch from one level to the other if they feel they made the wrong choice initially.

Great American Songs & Stories, PepsiCo Theater

Return Engagement! Dr. Joe continues the musical journey of the Great American Songbook through the early 1940’s.  He shares his extensive knowledge of behind the scenes stories about the composers and lyricists and their music, including Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter and others.  Dr. Joe discusses the clever lyrics of each song and treats us to his musical creativity by playing these melodies for us on the piano. 
Presented in the Pepsico Theater or the GeneralRe Forum. 

I Love to Read – Room E225

Always New! Join six LLI members as they lead interesting and lively discussions of contemporary titles and old classics.


March 14 — Magna Carta by Dan Jones. Facilitator  Michael Mugnolo 
Over eight hundred years ago on a meadow by the River Thames, an incompetent despotic monarch met with his nobles to make a number of concessions in an attempt to save both his crown and the head it wobbled on. Within months, the king reneged on his obligations and England descended into a bloody civil war.  Nonetheless, their agreement, now known as The Magna Carta, survives as what Winston Churchill termed “the foundation of principles and systems of government of which neither King John or his nobles dreamed”.


March 21 — Euphoria by Lily King. Facilitator Heather Hopkins 
A fictional work inspired by the lives of three young anthropologists – Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune and Gregory Bateson – and the time they spent together in the early 1930s on the Sepik River of what was then known as the Territory of New Guinea. The novel takes us into the native lives and customs they encountered and the world of academic rivalry, while at the same time revealing the love triangle that changed everything for  them.


March 28 — Lost Horizon by James Hilton. Facilitator  Mark Albertson 
Reviewer Harold G. Martin once labeled this book a romance, not in the sense of a standard love story but rather the romance or affinity for an ideal world– a Utopia? Conway, a lifelong British Colonial functionary, finds in Shangri-La an escape from what he considers overrated virtues of duty and self-denial.  As opposed to his younger companion, Mallinson, who sees only revulsion with the promise of Shangri-La–a society of the most sordid variety peopled by those who are at best inferior.  Does Conway understand the changing nature of the world around him?


April 4 — Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Facilitator Richard Auwarter 
The author, a marathon runner, sets out to discover the secrets of the blissful Tarahumara Indians isolated by Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyon. He has the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. From science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, numbers of ultra-marathoners are pushing their bodies to the limit. Finally, a climatic race in the Copper Canyon that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe.


April 11 — Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane.  Facilitator Miwako Ogasawara 
This novel, loosely based upon a real scandal, is regarded as Theodor Fontane’s masterpiece.   Seventeen year old Effi, a daughter of an aristocratic family, is married off to an ambitious career officer old enough to be her father.  Left neglected in her father’s new post in a northern city, Effi falls into the trap of a dashing womanizer.  Their affair leads to a tragic consequence years later.  Along with Madam Bovary and Anna Karenina, Effi Briest forms a trilogy of the 19th century adultery novels.


April 18 — Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.  Facilitator Morgan Corrigan 
First published in 1958, the book eschews the temptation of depicting pre-colonial life as a kind of Eden and is a relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism.    His Ibo protagonist, Okonkwo, is a self-made man who has worked all his life to overcome his father’s weakness and has achieved, finally, a great prosperity and even greater reputation among his fellows in the village of Umuofia. Okonkwo is a champion wrestler, a prosperous farmer and also husband to three wives and father to several children.

Introduction to Pastels – Room W244-CLOSED

Soft Art! Students discover the beautiful art of pastels. This is not mere chalk, but a beautiful, exciting and versatile medium of pure pigment in every color imaginable.  Students explore the various types of pastels, surfaces, application methods and under-painting techniques. An introduction to design, composition, color and values are given through hands-on demonstrations and observation. Experience in painting or an artistic background is not required – just a willingness to experiment, explore and be creative.

Iraq: A History – Room W103 -CLOSED

New Room: W103

Back Again! Iraq, as a modern nation among the family of nations, turned 83 on October 3, 2015.  On October 3, 1932, the British Mandate ran out and Iraq joined the League of Nations. Iraq was hardly sovereign, being under the sway of Britain until the 1958 Revolution. This tortured nation was the product of the colonial aspirations of the British and French, imperialists seeking to expand their empires in the Middle East in expectation of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.  Such agendas of aggrandizement came at the expense of the indigenous peoples living in the Middle East.  We trace the evolution of one of the most storied epics in human history, beginning with Ancient Iraq, followed by Islamic Iraq, Ottoman Iraq, British Iraq, American Iraq and culminating with the current tragic aftermath.


Living Morally and Ethically – Room W219

New! Ethics are the principles which govern our social living, while morals and values govern our personal living.  Their source is in the human capacity to understand (know) what is true and to desire (love) what is good for ourselves and others.  Skilled use of these two human capacities enables humans to build societies based on knowledge of their reality and a sympathetic life in common with others who share that reality.  The key is learning to choose and “own” our moral and ethical decisions as we cumulatively make these choices throughout our lives. After reviewing how these human capacities work, this course proceeds as a group learning project in which participants engage in discussion of specific issues that they choose.

Modular Origami–CANCELLED

Fold Again! Modular models consist of one unit that is folded multiple times and pieced together. This is a repeat of the modular concept, but all models are different and suitable for all abilities. We explore a wide range of units. Projects include decorative and practical models.

For the first class, the instructor provides paper and discusses types of paper and tools needed for the remaining sessions.


Once Upon a Life(Time)- Room W128 -CLOSED

Remember! Writing one’s memoir is no longer for the rich and famous.  In addition to recording special memories, writing about the events of one’s life can offer unexpected benefits: boosting memory, assisting in the grief process and sharing your journey with family and future generations. Participants learn the characteristics of the genre, how to focus and begin writing and how to find one’s “voice.”  Students organize their writings and refine their stories through discussion and comments from the instructor and other classmates.  Whether you have written before or never recorded a word, this course offers a creative and peaceful environment in which to write, reminisce and share your milestones. 


Photographic Art 19th–21st Centuries- Room E225 -CLOSED

New! The world of photography is bold, wide and imaginative! Explore the world of journalism following the careers of war correspondents to the Appalachian back country of mountain people.  Surrealist photographers of the early 20th century are paired up against amazing fashion photographers. The 21st century heralds a whole new genre of artists. Photographers covered include Gordon Parks, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Mathew Brady, Margaret Bourke White, Helmut Newton and Cindy Sherman and many more. Come join the fun! 

Pirates Around the Globe – W129

Sail Again! As long as there has been boating, there have been pirates. We travel the seas around the world and find pirate activity in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Madagascar. We find during which centuries they lived and how they fought. In each period we will meet some famous pirates and consider if there is any truth in pirate myths.


Politics via Film: America at War – Room W105

View Again! his course uses the medium of film to explore America’s wars during the 20th century.  We analyze the roles of America’s Presidents in each of its wars and show how films—both documentaries and dramas—can be used to explain our country’s military experience.



Relationships: Personal & Professional – Room W206

New Room: W206
Additional date: 4/11/2016

New! Be the Stars of the Show! In a friendly atmosphere conducive to a lively discussion, participants start to express their ideas and experiences about what makes for successful relationships, both in the workplace and on a personal level. Individuals are encouraged to share their thoughts on what works in today’s society, as well as the criteria for successful relationships and everlasting friendships. We discuss the age-old question of whether or not men and women can be friends, healthy conflict resolutions and other topics that surely spark your interest.




Rodgers & Hammerstein – Room W131 CLOSED

New! Opening new vistas in the American musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein forever changed the nature of the genre.  Incorporating the latest research, this course takes a close look at their remarkable innovations and cultural context.  Selections from their classics include Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, Flower Drum Song and The Sound of Music. Some of Rodger’s lesser known collaborations with Hammerstein and other works such as Victory at Sea are also explored.

Significant Moments in Early American History – Room W101

New! In a series of eight lectures and class discussions this course focuses on significant moments in early American history that formed our unique system of government. Each of the subjects may be interconnected or separate, dependent upon the topic and all are relatable to the present day. The topics are given to students prior to the first class in booklet form with questions to be answered in the discussion period. All members of the class are expected to participate in the discussions in support of, or in opposition to any views presented.

Six Viennese Operettas, Room W124

Lighter Versions! We view video excerpts from six Viennese operettas including The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus, Wiener Blut, The Count of Luxembourg, Countess Mariza and Gypsy Love.  These are very fun musical/theater events with great singing, dancing, amusing plot twists and a light touch.  Unlike in opera, nobody dies.  All are set in or around Vienna and were written about 100 years ago.  This is a temporary break from our long running series on opera.  Lighten up, people!

The 1960’s Revisited – Room W105

New Room: W105

Back Again! Revisit the 1960’s—America’s most turbulent decade, the one that changed everything.  Using video, handouts and PowerPoint slides, we reflect on this period of monumental social and political change.  We explore the new music, fashion, politics, civil rights and technology of the 1960’s and take a close look at the people, events and discoveries that defined how Americans came to think about their government, their place in the world and even about themselves. 

Through the Looking Glass: Examining our Dreams – Room W223

Inner Thoughts? We explore and honor our own dreams by engaging in dream practices that are rooted in antiquity and have been updated in light of contemporary understanding about dreaming.  We add to our understanding by examining dream interpretation through the lens of psychologists like Freud and Jung.  Participants  are encouraged to share their dreams for analysis.

Watercolor Beginner – Room W243

Paint Again! Become a budding artist.  Discover the joys and challenges of watercolor.   This course offers step-by-step guidance in techniques–brush strokes, color mixing and composition–that create realistic landscapes, seascapes and still life paintings.  Pre-created scenes are available for purchase.

Do not purchase any art supplies until you receive a list at the first class.  If you already have supplies, bring them.  The facilitator offers supplies for purchase.

This course is limited to 25 students 

Watercolor: Intermediate – Room W131

More Painting! If you are an intermediate-level watercolorist, here is a chance to improve your technique. This course is a step-by-step guide to painting traditional landscapes, seascapes and still life.  We cover these techniques: textures, perspectives, transparent washes, masking, planning and composition. 

Bring paints (tubes preferred), a palette, your favorite brushes, watercolor paper and a water container to class.  Some pre-created scenes and supplies are available for purchase.

This course is limited to 25 students.


Why Smart People Make Bad Financial Choices – Room W231

Why Smart People Make Bad Financial Choices:  Understanding the Basics of Behavioral Finance/Economics

New! Recent best selling books by Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thayer have introduced the ideas of behavioral finance to a larger audience.  In this course we look at these ideas to help us understand why we make poor decisions about our investments, savings and spending.  PowerPoint slides, handouts and online materials are used to illustrate these concepts.

Women, Art and Society, Room E121 -CLOSED

New! Although women have always expressed themselves artistically, art has been defined and dominated by male artists for many decades.  But now there is a tremendous range of women’s activities in the visual arts.  We look at how women artists differ from men in terms of their acceptance, position and point of view artistically. Many assumptions are explored and discussed in this exciting and thought-provoking course for both men and women.


World War II: War in the Mediterranean – Room W126

Continued! This is the third in a multi-part series on significant naval battles of the Second World War. This course focuses on strategic actions in the Mediterranean theater of operations and the desperate struggle for control of critical sea lanes as war raged throughout North Africa and Europe.