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Moderators for some Spring courses have provided some additional information about their course that either was not available at the time of the catalog publication or which could not be fit into the space requirements of the printed catalog.  See specific information below for Controversies, Great Decisions, Science Cafe, and Understanding Greek and Roman Technology.

In addition, some editions of the catalog provided incorrect meeting days in the course description section for several courses.  Below are the correct meeting days for those courses sometimes provided in error: (Note that the days were correct on the schedule page and the meeting times were correct in both places.)

  • Appreciating Vol. II of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (Thursday, not Tuesday)
  • How Did God Become a Man (Tuesday, not Thursday)
  • Physics of History (Tuesday, not Wednesday)


Three classes are now FILLED: Controversies, Beginning Spanish, and Science Cafe.  You may sign up on a waiting list.  One other course is nearing its enrollment limit–Play Reading.

Here are the specific course updates:

Controversies: National and World

The members of the current semester of the Controversies course have selected the book to be read during the Spring semester.  That book is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, the Israeli author best known for his historical book, Sapiens.  This book, as per its title, is focused on contemporary problems including the impact of technological advances, the problems of community, his own take on immigration and cultural difference, secularism and religion, and more.  Each week the class will focus on one topic or on two related topics.


Great Decisions

Moderator Jane Misch has received a list of the dates when Great Decisions will meet.  In the list below, the first date is the 7:00 PM lecture at Carroll Hall on UNC campus; the second date is the follow-up discussion at Shared Learning.

Jan. 22/23 – Refugees and Global Migration
Jan. 29/30 – The Middle East: Regional Disorder
Feb. 12/13 – Nuclear Negotiations: Back to the Future?
Feb. 19/30 – The Rise of Populism in Europe
March 5/6 –The State of the State Department
March 19/20 – Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics
March 26/27 – U.S.-China Trade
April 9/10 – The U.S. and Mexico: Partnership Tested

Lecture topics are listed in the Great Decisions writeup, not necessarily in order.

The Foreign Policy Association publishes a briefing booklet with articles on each of the topics. It is available at at the cost of about $35. The Teaching Assistants will also provide online readings for each topic.


Science Cafe

Moderator Alan Ziegler notes that participants in the class are encouraged to circulate in advance (or just bring to class) any articles they think of particular interest that they wish to present and discuss.


Understanding Greek and Roman Technology: From Catapult to the Pantheon

First, you can find probably all this and more, including details on all the topics, at

Also the series instructor is Prof. Stephen Ressler, Ph.D., prof of civil engineering at West Point. Some of us here have seen. and I think enjoyed, his DVD series on the World’s Greatest Structures a few years ago, as I enjoyed moderating it. He does a great job on courses like these. This course was done in 2014 and overlaps only a little with the Structures course.

And I can almost guarantee that those of you who have traveled and seen Ancient Greek or Roman structures or remnants will learn things about them you didn’t know. And you will probably gain still more appreciation for what they were able to accomplish with the tools and materials available.

We’ll do two lectures per day but there will be a little time for discussion of each lecture. I especially hope some of you who have traveled in that part of the world and/or have studied ancient Greek or Roman history will contribute supplementary knowledge.