Course Descriptions - Spring 2011
This is a don’t-miss event. Especially if you are new to the Academy, you’ll want to be there. It is your chance to get together informally with course facilitators and fellow members of the Academy, to renew connections, pick up pre-class handouts if there are any for your course and find out about any changes in the course schedules. Bring a friend or neighbor to find out what the Academy is all about, too. But let them know that many of the courses may already be filled by February 8.
The Spring 2011 course offerings are divided into Literature, History, Science & Social Science, Philosophy & Religion, Fine Arts & Music, Economics & Policy Issues, Experts & Entertainers and Building Skills.
BANNED BOOKS & CENSORSHIP
See details under the heading Economics & Policy Issues.
Science fiction uses imagination to echo the current world with its myriad problems and concerns and predict what it could be like in the future. It is a way to examine our world and compare the author’s assessments and predictions with modern reality. Sci-fi provides us with a new setting for the classical morality play with the continuing battle between good and evil. Participants are expected to respond critically and creatively to the selected short stories and films. If you explore and engage with the genre you’ll gain a love and appreciation of what it can do. As a scientist, Larry won’t be able to resist comparing science fact with science fiction.
Required reading: Orson Scott Card, ed., Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century (Berkeley Publishing, 2004), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: Retired science professor and elder-law attorney Larry Matten is an avid reader who has taught Academy courses on subjects ranging from evolution and intelligent design to brain games and chess.
Young adult literature has exploded in the past few years, expanding into new genres, exploring new themes, and filling needs that reflect changes in today's youth culture. Join us as we delve into (and define!) such intriguing genres as steampunk, dystopia, paranormals, and manga. From the supercharged Hunger Games to the kinder and gentler Flipped, we'll gain a keener understanding of what's going on in this field and how it has evolved from the writing of earlier generations. Learning about the books our grandchildren are reading is an interesting way to connect to their world and their concerns.
Required reading: Any version of these books: Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, (Buy from Amazon); The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, (Buy from Amazon); Graceling by Kristin Cashore, (Buy from Amazon); Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, (Buy from Amazon); Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, (Buy from Amazon); Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: Pam Mingle began practicing her lifelong dream of writing for children and young adults after retiring from a career as a teacher and librarian. Her most recent novel, a young adult time-travel fantasy called Kissing Shakespeare, will be published by Delacorte in 2012.
There is no better place to walk—and to read about—than the British Isles. One can barely take a step without running into a historical setting of one great author or another. With the help of novels, poetry, and excerpts from film adaptations, we’ll take a virtual walk through England, Scotland, and Wales. We'll visit the Lake District with William Wordsworth, the Welsh countryside that inspired Dylan Thomas, the 19th-century city of Dorchester depicted by Thomas Hardy in The Mayor of Casterbridge, and modern-day Aberdeen as experienced by Leila Aboulela’s Sudanese translator. Along the way, we'll meet such enduring literary themes as the pain of cultural change and the stress of immigration, but we'll also make time to discuss our own travel and literary adventures in Housman’s “land of lost content.” - Course Filled
Required reading: Leila Aboulela, The Translator (Grove Atlantic, 1999), (Buy from Amazon); Bruce Chatwin, On the Black Hill (Penguin, 1982), (Buy from Amazon); Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge – available for free to Kindle users) (Oxford World’s Classics, 2004), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: Popular Academy literary guide Dr. Jim Mingle has walked more than 1,500 miles from one end of Great Britain to the other. He revisits the scenes of some of his greatest literary adventures for this course.
If you love great literature, you have found the right course, now in its third series featuring Best American Short Stories, 2008. Story selections will repeat fall 2010 readings but differ from spring 2010. The class examines one or two memorable stories each week, teasing out the meanings of each story and leaving you with a greater appreciation of the short story as an art form. Because short stories are so concentrated, each one will evoke questions and ambiguities to challenge your interpretation skills and offer new insights to universal experiences.
Required reading: Salman Rushdie, editor, Best American Short Stories, 2008 (Mariner Books, 2008), (Buy from Amazon).
Discussion Leader: Paulette Wasserstein, career teacher of English and educational consultant, loves exchanging ideas and sharing “a good read.”
Writing haiku invites us to look more closely and see more deeply, to create small poems that bear witness to the poignancy and beauty of this world, this life, this day, this now. We will explore this venerable short-form poem through reading, discussion and modest weekly writing assignments. We will approach the writing of haiku as a mindfulness practice—an activity that heightens our awareness of the here and now. Haiku makes rules and breaks rules in the realm of poetry, and we’ll do a little of each, writing some haiku to a strict syllable count (5/7/5) and some that are even more spare and minimalist. This is a repeat of the Fall 2006 course.
Required reading: Robert Hass, The Essential Haiku (The Eco Press, 1994), (Buy from Amazon).
Recommended reading:Wm. J. Higginson & Penny Harter, The Haiku Handbook (Kodansha International, 2010), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: Ginny Hoyle divides her time between grandmothering and poetry. Her poems have appeared in a handful of literary journals and been featured in major art exhibits and collections.
Here’s your chance to get tips from a practicing poet about how to banish your writer’s block. Find out how the use of metaphor can guide you to new insights, how harmony and dissonance enhance the emotional power of a poem, and how symbols resonate in the subconscious. Learn how sensory images, repetition, and internal rhyme can transform a first draft into a memorable final read. And find out how and where to get your poetry published, as well as what to look for in an effective support group. Note: Class meets am and pm on two Wednesdays. This is a repeat of the Fall 2010 class. Previous participants who want to repeat the exercises are welcome.
Recommended reading: Nikki Moustake, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Poetry (Alpha, 2001), (Buy from Amazon) and Robin Behen, The Practice of Poetry (Harper Paperbacks, 1992), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: Barb Lundy has published over 100 poems and in 2006 was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. She enjoys sharing her love of the craft through teaching and readings and as a member of three writing groups.
Whether you’re nineteen or ninety, you have stories to tell and wisdom to share. Learn how to begin compiling a collection of your life experiences to share with friends and family—or simply to read later at leisure. Spark your memory with innovative and engaging activities designed to bring to mind long-forgotten scenes from your past and to help you start getting them down on paper. Pick up your pen and open a new chapter on your life in the supportive atmosphere of this popular class. Limited to 14 participants. This is a repeat of a Fall 2010 workshop (subtitled Getting Started) and earlier courses. Course Filled
Facilitator: Kathy Boyer, a retired teacher, has conducted Life Stories workshops for libraries, summer camps, churches, community centers, and the Academy. She also works one-on-one to help people record their memories electronically.
“Anyone who physically and emotionally outlasts childhood has something to write about forever,” offers author Lou Willett Stanek. You’ll agree once you discover the rich vein of topics in your past and experience the joy of preserving these treasured tales. We’ll share and encourage each other in class and tackle some writing at home. Reading your stories aloud will prove a powerful affirmation, and listening to others as they share theirs is an effective way to improve your own writing. Join this group, capped at 12, to learn how to transform your cherished memories into your memoirs. This is a repeat of the popular course taught in spring and fall 2010 and earlier.
Facilitator: Patricia Cox has taught writing to upper elementary students for the Denver Public Schools and Cherry Creek School District.
If you’ve completed any memoir-writing class and are serious about continuing your project, this is the class for you. Participants will be expected to write at least one new piece each week to read to the class for possible feedback and encouragement. At the end of the five sessions, members will be ready to form an independent, ongoing writing group. This is a repeat of a workshop taught in Fall 2010 and earlier. Limited to 12 participants.
Facilitator: Kathy Boyer has conducted memoir-writing workshops for libraries, summer camps, churches, community centers, and the Academy.
It was supposed to be the war to end all wars, the war to make the world safe for democracy. But it became a war that would breed more wars and make the world's democracies less safe. The Great War transformed our world. The Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, a succession of crises in the Middle East, all had their roots in that epic struggle. Its legacy is with us still. How and why did it happen? What did it leave in its wake? We’ll explore the strategies of politicians and generals, the course of battles, and, ultimately, their effect on nations, people, and history.
Required reading: Michael Howard, First World War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002), (Buy from Amazon).
Recommended reading: Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History (Holt Paperbacks, 2004), (Buy from Amazon); David Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society (Oxford University Press, 2004), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: After a 30-year career in public relations and public affairs for the Bell System in Chicago, New York, and Denver, Ted Couch is excited about teaching an Academy course about his first love, history.
As artists and adventurers, entrepreneurs and scientists, politicians, athletes, and leaders in scores of other fields, women have changed our society substantially over the years. Yet few Americans, female or male, recognize the extent of women’s contributions to our culture and economy because many of their stories have been minimized or forgotten. This course profiles some of these women of achievement and distinction, examines the principles of leadership they embody, and invites class members to consider how they use their personal skills to better themselves or their communities—through their work, religious affiliations, or volunteer efforts. Join us on this rich process of discovery, in which each participant will better understand “Her Story” and share the lessons of how to leave a more valuable legacy.
Required reading: Charlotte Waisman & Jill Tietjen, Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America (HarperCollins, 2008), (Buy from Amazon).
Instructor: Principal of a consulting firm specializing in leader and workforce excellence initiatives, Charlotte S. Waisman has a Ph.D. from the School of Communications, Northwestern University, and has held tenured positions at Northeastern Illinois University and the University of Utah. She is in much demand as a keynote speaker on the role of women in society.
Nothing affects your life as a citizen more powerfully than the Constitution. Understanding its impact since the time of its drafting is essential to an understanding of our system of government and the rights of citizens. We’ll talk about how this document came to be, who its framers were, what topics it addresses, and how it has been interpreted and applied over time. You’ll find much good and inspiring in this story, but there is also controversy, sadness, and even tragedy. We’ll round out our series of lectures and class discussions with a short video, a debate, and a field trip to a Denver District Court trial, where we’ll see the Constitution at work firsthand.
Required reading: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – to be handed out in class.
Instructor: His Honor Judge Steve Bernard served as a prosecutor for 28 years and now presides on the Colorado Court of Appeals. His acquaintance with the Constitution is up close and personal.
James Madison and other founders of our republic envisioned a government that would work much like a sophisticated piece of machinery. In other words, it would be set in motion and then go of itself. We’ll look in detail at the principles laid down in The Federalist, consider what the framers expected our government to do, and assess whether it is currently succeeding or failing at the task. We won't argue politics or debate current events—we’ll just discuss ideas. With a good working knowledge of how our system is designed to function and why, perhaps our body politic would be less divisive.
Required reading: Any edition of The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
Instructor: Dr. Vincent McGuire is a senior instructor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His passionate interest in America’s founding principles dates from undergraduate days.
Nothing in our political system is more generally misunderstood or under fire than the way we elect our presidents. In this course we’ll look at the history of the United States through the lens of the Electoral College and examine the way our political parties came into being and have evolved. We’ll see what part our founding fathers’ opinions of political parties played in the creation of the Electoral College, how the college was first used, and how it was affected by the passage of the Twelfth Amendment. We’ll take a close look at several notable elections, including the disputed 2000 election, and see what roles the Electoral College, political parties, and the popular vote play in determining the President of the United States. You’ll have a chance to ponder the “what ifs” of American political history and might perhaps end by agreeing with Thomas Jefferson, who said, “If I must go to heaven with a political party, I would prefer not to go.” (This is a repeat of the Spring 2008 and Fall 2009 course.)
Recommended reading: Jay Winik, April 1865: The Month That Saved America (Perennial, 2001), (Buy from Amazon).
Instructor: Rear Admiral (ret.) Dick Young is a political activist and history buff who is earning a master’s in history forty years after taking his law degree at the University of Michigan. He has taught this course at various Elderhostels and the continuing education programs of several universities.
Do Iran’s funding of terrorists and purported plans for nuclear weapons keep you up at night? Join us in this exploration of America’s options in the face of growing pressure from Europe and the UN for the US to “do something.” Knowing that there are no easy answers, we’ll search the past and present for lessons that can guide the future conduct of American policy. We’ll study Persian history from ancient Persepolis through the reign of the Shahs to today’s Islamic Republic and examine the complicated record of US-Iranian relations. As we gain understanding of the people, culture, and government of Iran, we’ll take a critical look at the policy recommendations put forward by the author of The Persian Puzzle. Though current developments in US/Iran relations will be incorporated, this is substantially a repeat of the Spring 2009 course.
Required reading: Kenneth Pollack, The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict between Iran and America (Random House, 2004 or 2005), (Buy from Amazon).
Recommended reading: Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah's Men (Wiley and Sons, 2003), (Buy from Amazon). Ray Takeyh, Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic (Henry Holt, 2006), (Buy from Amazon).
Discussion leader: Retired public school teacher Sherma Erholm holds a master’s in communication theory and psychology. As a learning junkie, she has facilitated adult courses in such diverse subjects as futurism, China, Iran, evolution, and the U.N.
What might we learn from the fossils recently unearthed near Snowmass? That’s just one of the questions sure to come up during this series of nine lectures introducing the latest scientific insights into the history and evolution of the natural world. The presenters—all Colorado-based experts—offer both global and local perspectives on topics ranging from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the effect of climate change on the Rocky Mountain region. We’ll have plenty of time for discussion about research trends and emerging issues in these fields, and because each lecture stands alone, you won't fall behind if you have to miss a class.
Feb. 22 – Vertebrate Paleontology Today, an overview of vertebrates around the world and in our own back yard. Presented by Louis Taylor, research associate, Earth Sciences Department of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
March 1 – The End of Dinosaurs & Other Extinctions, will discuss some of the connections between asteroids and ecosystems, rain forests and dinosaurs, whales and walruses. Presented by Kirk Johnson, DMNS Vice President of Research & Collections and Chief Curator.
March 8 – Paleobotany: Learning from Plants, what fossil and modern plants tell us about climate change, ecology, and plate tectonics. Presented by Ian Miller, curator of paleobotany and invertebrate paleontology, DMNS.
March 15 – Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, issues and opportunities. Presented by Robin Sweeney, director, Office of the Environment at the Department of Energy’s Golden Field Office, where she is in charge of environmental oversight for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and new renewable energy projects.
March 22 – Fossil Footprints, what we learn from fossils that aren't bodies or bones. Talk by Martin Lockley, recently retired from the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Denver, and internationally known expert on dinosaur tracks.
March 29 – Exploring Deep Time, the earliest animals and their first ventures onto dry land. Lecture by James Hagadorn, geoscientist and new curator of earth sciences at DMNS.
April 5 – Evolutionary Synthesis & Future Adaptations, a synthesis of evolutionary theory—how we got this way and where we are headed. Presentation by Richard Stucky, curator of paleoecology and evolution, DMNS.
April 12 – Climate Change, its impact on Colorado's energy, water, and biological resources. Presentation by Bob Raynolds, consulting geologist, research associate at DMNS, and adjunct professor at Colorado School of Mines.
April 19 – Human and Animal Paleopathology, the stories bones can tell us about how we live and die. Lecture by forensic anthropologist and paleopathologist Sue Ware, research associate in the departments of Earth Sciences and Zoology, DMNS. She studies ancient peoples, their bones, and their mortuary practices.
Coordinator: Mary Taylor made the arrangements to bring this stunning array of speakers to Academy members interested in learning more about the scientific and paleontological basis of life on earth.
MAKING & SHARING GOOD END-OF-LIFE CHOICES - FILLED
Why do we fear dying? What options do we have as we face the end of life? We’ll look at these and other questions, including how to decide what really matters most, what kind of care to choose, and when and how to define our values in a living will. This is neither a “how-to” workshop nor a substitute for professional medical and legal advice. Rather, you’ll have an opportunity to explore the nuances of the dying process, develop new perspectives, and share insights with others. At the end of the course, you should have a better sense of what may lie ahead, how to prepare for it, and how to let your loved ones know your wishes. Course filled.
Instructor: Now partially retired from an active career in teaching and medical practice, Dr. George Ho Jr.’s areas of special expertise focus on arthritis treatment and palliative end-of-life care.
Over the centuries, translators of the scriptures of the world's major religions have been called everything from God's secretaries to traitors. As one French source puts it, “Translations are like women: if they are beautiful, they are not faithful; if they are faithful, they are not beautiful.” We’ll examine the origins, contents, and uses of the sacred Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim books—with a brief look at Hindu, Buddhist, and other texts—as well as the critical roles played by those who interpret and modify the scriptures. We’ll take a close look at the writing of the King James Bible and the process of formalizing the orally transmitted text of the original Qur'an—both of which are important to understand in our age of widely divergent and strongly held religious beliefs.
Recommended reading: Phillip Novak, The World’s Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World’s Religions (Harper Collins, 1994), (Buy from Amazon) and Huston Smith, The World’s Religions (Harper Collins, 2009), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitators: Karyl Meyer, a retired theater and speech teacher, and her husband Walt Meyer, a retired self-styled “technocrat”, share a long-standing interest in religious scriptures and have studied the Bible and the Quran in depth.
Bible texts have helped create the values and beliefs of countless generations—right up to the present day. We’ll examine the origins of these influential texts—weigh the motivations of their authors, take into account the times in which they were written, and examine the rationale that led to their inclusion in various versions of the scriptures. We‘ll see how Biblical stories can carry metaphorical truths even when they may not be literally true and how the moral principles they illustrate apply to contemporary problems.
Required reading: Any version of the Bible
Recommended reading: Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief,(Random House, 2003), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: Jazz vocalist and pianist Leonard Kramish holds a Ph.D. in adult education and gerontology and is director of education for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
ISLAM: FROM MUHAMMAD TO THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE - FILLED
How much do you really know about the Islamic faith and the Muslim people? Here’s your chance to explore the history of Islam from its seventh-century beginnings to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We’ll study the life of Muhammad and discuss the Holy Qur’an, both of which are widely misunderstood in the Western world. We’ll explore the similarities and differences among the three great monotheistic religions—Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—and examine the implications and consequences of the long political history between Islam and the West. Two Muslim guests will provide some insight into the struggle faced by the American Muslim community in the wake of 9/11. A visit to a mosque will conclude the course. This is a repeat of the Spring 2008 course, with expanded material about the last two years. Course filled.
Required reading: John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path (Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), (Buy from Amazon).
Also recommended: John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002) (Buy from Amazon) and Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (Harper Collins, 1993), (Buy from Amazon).
Facilitator: Walt Meyer, a “retired technocrat,” enjoys sharing his research into the historical, political, and religious roots of relations between Muslim cultures and the West.
DOCTORS ON THE EDGE - FILLED
Doctors lie, betray confidences, and break the law. Can this be right? If their decisions are the best of anguishing alternatives, perhaps they are right. But where would you draw the line? To examine these issues, we’ll analyze absorbing, true stories about dilemmas faced by doctors and patients, including euthanasia, assisted suicide, advance directives, abortion, sterilization, marital infidelity, intersexuality, birth defects, AIDs confidentiality, and rape. All participants are expected to read the appropriate chapter of Dr. Abrams’ book Doctors on the Edge in order to offer their opinions each week. You will face the dilemma. You will decide. Registration is required by February 15 so that books may be ordered. This is a repeat of the popular course offered in Fall 2010 and earlier. Course filled.
Instructor: An obstetrician and gynecologist since 1959, Dr. Fred Abrams has taught biomedical ethics and spearheaded medical ethics programs for health-care professionals, teachers, community leaders, and hospital ethics committees.
If you’ve loved art all your life and would like to share your responses with others, you'll want to join this lively exploration of styles, techniques, and influences. Our focus will be on looking at art from 1860 to the present, including paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, and objects d'art. You'll have a chance to research and make a mini-presentation on a topic of your own choosing such as current venues in the global art world, censorship, art valuation, fraud, street art, etc.
Required reading: Paul Zelanski, The Art of Seeing (Prentice Hall, 2007), (Buy from Amazon) –or any edition, but used copies are more reasonably priced.
Suggested reading: any other art appreciation book of choice.
Discussion Leaders: Marty Hartmann majored in studio art in college and enjoyed a career as curator of education at the Denver Museum of Natural History. She still indulges her love for art at museums around the world. Former high school teacher and architectural design firm manager, Janet Lewis has traveled worldwide on art-focused trips and loves sharing her insights and discoveries.
“The first virtue of painting is to be a feast for the eyes,” according to 19th century French painter Eugene Delacroix. Using this as our touchstone, we’ll undertake an in-depth exploration of European masterpieces dating from the Renaissance to the Baroque era. Among featured artists are Giotto, Van Eyck, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and El Greco. We’ll begin each week with a video lesson developed by Oberlin College professor and Smithsonian lecturer William A. Kloss for the Teaching Company’s “Great Courses” program. We’ll follow this with a discussion of the history and formal esthetic features of the various works, as well as the changing tastes and technologies that transformed the world of art during this period.
Instructor: Georgi Contiguglia was the Curator of Decorative and Fine Arts at the Colorado Historical Society before becoming its president and CEO. She has a master’s in art history and has worked at the Brooklyn Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum. She currently teaches art history at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins.
Escape to warmer climes and exotic rhythms in this world tour of music, and find out how very different cultures merge to create colorful new sounds. We'll see how Mexican composer Arturo Marquez blended a bevy of Latin American styles to stir up a bit of ballroom magic in Danzon #2, and how Rimsky-Korsakov turned a simple gypsy melody overheard in the Crimea into the wildly popular Scheherazade. Two world premieres top off our world journey: The Song of the Untouchable, composed by American violinist Gregory Walker while documenting the oral/aural traditions of India's lowest caste; and Colin Thurmond's Concertos Pampanas, a work for classical guitar and orchestra that interweaves hints of Prokofiev with sounds from Venezuela, Brazil, and Mexico.
Instructor: Devin Patrick Hughes was recently chosen with eleven other young conductors to participate in the prestigious Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition in Italy. Now in his third season as music director of the Boulder Symphony Orchestra (formerly Niwot Timberline Symphony), he also continues as music director of the Denver Contemporary Chamber Players.
As he lay dying, Beethoven is reputed to have said, “A divine spark glows in Schubert.” While the young Austrian’s symphonies and operas were well known to the great German composer, they were remarkably unknown to the audiences of Europe during his lifetime (1797-1828). Best known today as the father of the “High Art Song,” of which he wrote more than 600, Franz Schubert is also renowned for the exquisite chamber music on which his reputation rested in his own day. We’ll focus on Schubert’s vocal pieces, sometimes called by the German word Lied (song) or Lieder (songs), with special attention to the series of intensely emotional and haunting songs entitled Winter's Journey, which he wrote near the end of his life.
Facilitator: When he’s not immersed in the Economist, the many faceted Jim Kneser is delving into some absorbing corner of musical history.
Bet you didn't even realize there were so many brilliant women composers! Celebrate Women's History Month with this one-time performance and chat featuring works by 20- and 21-century female composers. And don't miss this chance to get to know The Playground, a chamber ensemble-in-residence at the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music. The group is dedicated to modern and contemporary music and directed by the award-winning composer Conrad Kehn, a lecturer at Lamont. The works will be selected from the program for the Playground's March 15 concert at Regis University.
Instructor: Performer, composer, and founding Director of The Playground, Conrad Kehn teaches music theory, composition, and music technology at Lamont, where he directs the composers concert series. The Playground performers are Lamont faculty, alumni, and area professionals.
Lots of classical music fans dismiss John Cage as a kook on the basis of a single work titled 4'33", which consists of four minutes and 33 seconds during which no instruments are played and the audience listens only to environmental sounds. But Cage's impact on the evolution of musical thought and the seriousness with which he worked are readily acknowledged by composers and professional musicians, who count him among the twentieth-century's most inventive and influential American composers. We'll listen to some of Cage's musical innovations and sample music by other composers that illustrate the extent of his contribution. If you're among those who've been shying away from the music of John Cage, here's your change to find out what you've been missing.
Instructor: Concert pianist, musicologist, and past executive director of the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, Robin McNeil has also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of South Dakota.
In early 2010, after a financial upheaval that laid waste our savings and left the country deeply in debt, the US economy appeared to be on the road to a strong but jobless recovery. Even so, the prospect of growing federal deficits and national debt might make us vulnerable to even more devastating economic crises, sooner rather than later. We’ll take a close look at the late-2010 report from the “Deficit Commission” and the implications of the 10-year forecasts for US deficits and national debt. Unless other urgent economic headlines divert us, we’ll also look into the economics of immigration and US immigration policy, as well as the current European economic situation. Those who’ve taken Jim's other courses promise you’ll enjoy this class even without a background in economics. The course will be supported by the www.PositiveExternalities.com web site.
Lecturer: Jim Kneser loves exercising his training in economics and finance (plus his vocational experience in private equity) in researching the facts behind the news and putting current developments in proper historical context.
BANNED BOOKS & CENSORSHIP
Are challenges to novels, plays, and school textbooks increasing in this country today, or does it just feel that way? Does the notion of “age appropriate” reading make sense? Or is this just another form of censorship aimed at restricting those who threaten the social order? In this multispeaker course, we’ll consider these questions and review the traditional grounds for censorship—social, sexual, political, and religious—and discuss whether they are subtly changing. We'll study the legal framework for censorship in the United States and elsewhere, the invention (and reinvention) of pornography from the 18th century to the present, the surprising vitality of theatrical censorship, the struggles of teachers and librarians who choose to offer or ignore controversial works, and, last but not least, the self-censorship of creative writers.
Required reading: Nicholas Karolides, et al, 120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature (Checkmark Books, 2005), (Buy from Amazon).
Recommended reading: Walter Kendrick, The Secret Museum: Pornography in Modern Culture (University of California Press, 1996), (Buy from Amazon).
Speakers and Discussion Leaders: This class will be led by a team of literature professors (Irene Gorak, Kathlene Sutton), lawyers (Wick Downing), authors (Downing and Pam Mingle), and the incomparable and irrepressible (Sheila Porter, Nancy Collins).
Colorado ranks near the top in educational attainment, and its citizens are among the wealthiest in the nation. Yet, out of 100 students who start ninth grade today, only 70 graduate from high school, only 44 go on to college, and of these only about 15 graduate “on time.” Perhaps more worrisome, the achievement gap between ethnic minorities and the current majority is the largest in the nation. Often called the “Colorado paradox,” this situation seriously impedes the state's ability to meet its future needs for a well-educated work force. We’ll look at the demographic roots of the problem, as well as the financial and institutional constraints that burden the system, and consider solutions for stemming the dropout rate and staving off a 21st century crisis. Course postponed.
Facilitator: As executive director of Independent Higher Education of Colorado, Dr. Toni Larson makes it her business to keep abreast of public policy research that affects education.
History shows that the people of Afghanistan have a way of taking down world leaders who engage or enrage them. Will our current war in that country have a different outcome? Is it worth the price we are paying? Can it be won? These are among the questions we will explore in this timely course, which will touch on Afghanistan's history, geography, and mineral resources, as well as its tribal heritage, educational progress, and developing political system. As we approach the key issues from a variety of angles, expect some friendly, but controversial, discussion. As Mark Twain once said, “A man can learn something by carrying a cat by the tail that he can learn no other way.”
Facilitator: Multifaceted student of other cultures, Dr. Rick Schaler’s interest in Afghanistan has been fueled by current events and his daughter Heidi’s job as executive director of Friends of the American University of Afghanistan.
GREAT DECISIONS IN AMERICA’S CURRENT FOREIGN POLICY
The Great Decisions Discussion Groups are part of a nation-wide program developed by the Foreign Policy Association. Each year thousands of Americans discuss and formulate their opinions on eight vital foreign policy issues. This year’s topics include: Rebuilding Haiti, National Security, Horn of Africa, Financial Crisis, Germany Ascendant, Nonproliferation, Crisis in the Caucasus and Global Governance. Each 15-page chapter in the Great Decisions Briefing Book places the issues in historical context and provides background, current policies, and alternative options. Discussion questions, annotated reading suggestions, and additional resources, including websites, are provided. Videos featuring renowned experts in the field provide additional food for thought. Registration is required by February 1 so that books may be ordered.
Required reading: Great Decisions Briefing Book, which will be mailed in advance.
Facilitator: Jack Beattie enjoys being retired from US WEST so that he can pursue his interests in history, economics, and social issues.
EXPERTS & ENTERTAINERS
A) Feb. 23: “How to Succeed in Opera without Really Singing.” Ever dream of going onstage? Discover how Joyce Deroos, a retired office manager, made her dream come true by volunteering as a supernumerary in Tosca: all the fun and adventure of joining the singers at rehearsals and the costumed “supers” at performances—without acting or singing!
Coordinatior: Lois Martin was a founder of the Aurora Sun Newspaper, was named Business Person of the Year for the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, and elected to the Benson Hall of Fame for Community Leadership.
PUTTING YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER
Here’s your chance to get an overview of estate issues and their tax implications from an experienced elder-law attorney before going to see your personal lawyer. We’ll examine the Colorado laws governing estates, end-of-life health issues, and transfer of wealth as we explore various scenarios that could affect the decisions you make about your financial and health-care future. Are the "Five Wishes" the best choice? What if you are unable to make decisions? Whom can you turn to? Do you really need a will? Is there an advantage to having a living trust? Why put off getting your house in order any longer? Sign up today. This is a repeat of a popular course offered previously.
Instructor: After a long career as a professor of biology and botany, Larry Matten began a second career in 2000 as an elder-law attorney specializing in estate planning and Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security issues. He has recently retired from the practice of law and returned to his first love, teaching.
Level 1: Tailored to fit beginners as well as those with “un poquito de” previous Spanish language experience, this class will build on the fall semester and cover basic vocabulary and phrases essential for travel and casual conversation. You'll learn what to say in common situations—“My luggage seems to have taken a different flight,” or “Did I really order this?” Will you become fluent in six weeks? No, but you will have fun and gain greater confidence in this musical and increasingly important language. Thinking about signing-up but have questions about what was covered during the fall? Call Susan at (303) 794-9635. Limited to 20 participants. Course filled.
Instructor: Susan Blake-Smith grew up in Mexico City and enjoys sharing her love of the Mexican language, history, and culture. She has served on several nonprofit boards and worked as a volunteer and fundraiser for many others.
Level 2: Continuamos la conversación! Following the Fall 2010 format, this class will be conducted primarily in Spanish—starting with a review of the basics, then engaging in themed conversations to build vocabulary and the confidence to speak in complete sentences in real-life situations. Si tú puedes pedir una margarita, describir las cosas que más te gustan, y preguntar como llegar al museo and want to dust if off and trot it out—and have a lot of fun doing it—esta es la clase para ti. Wondering whether this class is a fit? Llámame at (303) 782-5203. Limited to 10 participants.
Instructor: Worldwide traveler Cyndi Sauvage lived in Spain for several years. As a 15-year veteran of the publishing industry, she has been involved in every aspect of writing, editing, and producing a wide variety of magazines, books, and newspapers.
This course is an introduction to color theory and design. We'll begin with washes, complementary colors, triads, and value, then move on to composition, focal points, and “negative” painting as important elements in the creative process. You’ll learn by doing, with a different project to paint each week, followed by a critique of your own work. Course filled.
Instructor: Enthusiastic watercolorist and experienced teacher Jane Heath believes people of all ages and abilities can enjoy watercolor painting as a hobby. Her work has appeared in various juried shows in metro Denver.
Drop in with your computer questions, or just sit in on the topic of the week. We’ll cover 1) file organization, 2) internet search engines, 3) emailing, 4) photographs, 5) Microsoft Word, 6) Microsoft Excel, 7) computer security, and 8) customizing your system. We’ll deal with specific individual problems that can be shared with the group, plus you’ll have handouts you can use at your home computer. Watch Carri use her computer along with a power point presentation.
Although this is a drop-in class, if you sign up ahead of time Carri will send an email and you can mention particular questions or areas of concern. The first class will cover terminology and file organization and go over the topics for each week.
Computer Super-User: Carri Currier started as a computer programmer in the late 60s and eventually owned a computer consulting company that customized off-the-shelf software.
Give your mind a work-out. Learn the game of kings (and queens). You don’t need to know a thing about chess to have fun in this class, just an interest and willingness to learn this classical game. There will be a weekly tutorial and review of the basic moves and strategies. Learn the algebraic notation for record keeping during a game. Recreate and follow games played by chess masters. There will be chess problems to solve. As students advance, we’ll introduce variants such as speed chess and team chess. Chess boards and pieces will be provided.
Instructor: In addition to his background in biology, botany and law, Larry Matten is an avid chess player. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and has coached elementary-school chess teams.
Advanced Beginning level: Participants will continue learning basic finesses, discarding losers, promoting length, and ruffing. This class is open to those who already have a basic knowledge of bidding including those who play socially. There will be assigned reading, explanations, Q&A, and playing pre-set hands. Those who are uncertain about their ability level should contact Milt Shioya, 303-331-8654.
Required reading: Audrey Grant, Play of the Hand in the 21st Century (Baron Barclay Bridge, 2008), (Buy from Amazon).
Recommended reading: Watson
Instructor: Milt Shioya (Beginning level) is an avid bridge play who has proven himself at the bridge table as a Silver Life Master with over 1000 master points.
Intermediate level: Participants should already understand and be comfortable using basic finesses, discarding losers, promoting length, and ruffing. Intermediate level bidding is also expected, including a thorough understanding of Stayman, Jacoby transfers, weak twos, and strong two clubs.
This is a continuing class and new participants must receive permission from the instructor, Sally Kneser, 303-770-0788.
Required to have already read, or have equivalent knowledge: Audrey Grant, Play of the Hand in the 21st Century (Baron Barclay Bridge, 2008), (Buy from Amazon).
Recommended reading: Watson, Louis, Watson's Classic Book on The Play of the Hand at Bridge (Harper Paperbacks, 1971), (Buy from Amazon).
Instructor: Bridge nut and art groupie Sally Kneser (Intermediate level) is also the Academy's Director. Sally is a Life Master in bridge and enjoys explaining the basics of the game.