Print Friendly, PDF & Email

If you have QUESTIONS about any course, please contact the moderator(s) directly.

Go to Course Schedule

**New students are welcome to ALL courses.   Be aware that some courses are marked as PART II or ‘continuing’ and assume that the enrollee has some knowledge of the topic.

ANCIENT EGYPT – A HISTORY Co-Moderators: Greg Hesterberg (513.304.5901, ) & David Birnbaum). Egypt is the world’s oldest continuous civilization – 3000 years BCE. In this Great Courses series of lectures, we will look at and discuss Ancient Egypt in depth, from its earliest origins to the last dynasty of pharaohs, the Ptolemies, including Shakespeare’s and Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra VII. Some topics to be highlighted: *pyramid construction/decline; *consistency of the Nile; *outstanding pharaohs; *road to the afterlife. Greg and David will show two lectures per meeting. Both have toured Egypt, so will add their impressions. Tuesday, 9:30 – 11:00.

BOOK CLUB Co-moderators: Abbie Tom (919-933-8972, ) and Suzanne Haff (919-933-9329, ). Class members from Fall 2019 have selected the following titles and voluntary moderators for the winter term: February 7, It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis – Roz will moderate; March 6, The Leavers by Lisa Ko – Bonnie will moderate; and April 3, Emilie du Chatelet by Judith Zinsse – Anne Marie will moderate. NOTE: NEW students are welcome to join us. First Fridays of the Month (Feb. – April), 9:30 – 11:00.

CONTROVERSIES Moderator: Meyer Liberman (919-417-0674, ). This is a seminar-type course, based on careful reading of one or two books. Participants are responsible for presenting an overview of one week’s reading selection. The book(s) for the Winter 2020 semester will be selected by the Fall 2019 class members, posted on the Shared Learning website and reflected in any catalog updates. NOTES: * To promote discussion, enrollment is limited to 20. *Also, through Dec. 15th, 2019, participants from the prior semester have priority for registration. Monday, 11:15 – 12:45.

DAILY LIFE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD, PART II Moderator Maria Salgado ( 919-240-7439, ). We will continue delving into the daily lives of ancient peoples, i.e.: the poor, sick, disabled, elderly, refugees, slaves, serfs, women, children, common soldiers and farmers. We will explore the social, cultural, economic, religious, and medical realities to learn about everyday living in Roman times, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Britain, Viking raids, the coming of Christianity, and the Crusades. The class ends with an in-depth look at life in the Middle Ages. Maria will show two lectures per meeting with pauses for questions and other information. Tuesday, 11:15 – 12:45.

DEUTSCHE KONVERSATIONS GRUPPE Moderator: Kenneth Kustin (858-450-2979, ). For those German speakers who wish to maintain their fluency, this course will provide you with informal and cordial opportunities to converse in German. We’ll refer to articles in German newspapers/magazines and select interesting topics about current German and American events. Each class meeting will be conducted entirely in German and not include German grammar instructions. NOTE: German speakers new to the class are welcome. Thursday, 9:30 – 11:00.

DIGGING DEEPER INTO CURRENT ISSUES Moderator: Hank Becker (919-932-7356, We will examine arguments and evidence in the writing of top news journalists. Each week, with three to four 4 days notice, the moderator will select two electronically-available “starter” articles, each with links to other articles or research papers, that elaborate on or contest the premise. Most starter articles will be by New York Times writers (e.g., Max Fisher; Thomas Edsall), but a Times subscription will not be needed. Class participants will be expected to have read those articles and several of the links. Participants will share their “deeper” knowledge of their chosen linked articles. Thursday, 11:15 – 12:45.

DOCUMENTARY FILMS, II Moderator: Hank Becker ( , 919-932-7356). Each week, we will view one documentary film from sources, that include PBS and the university-supported website Topics include: *Gender and Culture; *Race, Class and Society; *the Culture of Consumerism; *Politics and Current Events; *the Environment; *Socio-Linguistics; *Art, Film & Music; and others. Viewing sections of films will be interspersed with conversation among participants about the issues raised in each film. Monday, 9:30 – 11:00.

EARLY CHRISTIANITIES Moderator, Barry Lentz (, 919-824-8807). Early “Christians” read and passionately followed a wide variety of very different scriptures (e.g., Ebionite, Marcionite, Gnostic and Coptic). Bart Ehrman, a world reknown New Testament scholar at UNC-CH, has published – 30 books on Christian theology. He authored the Great Course that we will watch that summarizes these early scriptures and their evolution into the Nicean Creed (325 CE) and Orthodox Church. We’ll augment this course with class discussion and other input. Tuesday, 9:30 – 11:00.

ENJOYING BROADWAY MUSICALS Moderator: Pat De Titta (919-929-2129, ( ). Come and enjoy this series of documentaries, filmed musicals and episodes from an extensive 2004 PBS Special which presents the evolution of this uniquely American art form. Hosted by Julie Andrews, each PBS episode explores the works of a different era — from George M. Cohan in 1893 to Mel Brooks in 2004. Pat will supplement the Special with excerpts from filmed stage or Hollywood productions. Wednesday, 11:15 – 12:45.

EVERYDAY ENGINEERING: UNDERSTANDING THE MARVELS OF DAILY LIFE, PART I Moderator: Mike Goodyear (, 919-968-0931). Professor Stephen Ressler (The Great Courses) will increase our appreciation of the function and design of the many things we take for granted in modern everyday life – such as, building structures, water management, energy, generation and delivery of power, & devising communication systems. Mike will show 2 lectures per meeting with time for discussion. Wednesday, 9:30 – 11:00.

FROM YAO TO MAO: 5000 YEARS OF CHINESE DEVELOPMENT Moderator: Bisharah Libbus (919-771- 6567,( ). Our professor (from a Great Course series) will explore how the Chinese evolved over thousands of years in their: *self-awareness; *understanding of the cosmos, nature and their world; *metaphysical insights into Buddhism and Daoism – all while experiencing a pat- tern of national ebb and flow that fractured and unified the country and central Chinese authority. Biisharah will show two lectures per session and make time for class discussion. Thursday, 9:30 – 11:00.

GREAT DECISIONS. Moderator, Jane Misch (, 919-918-3649). Great Decisions is a national program, sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association. UNC’s International Studies Department schedules lectures that happen at 7:00 pm, on Tuesday evenings, in Carroll Hall on UNC campus. We attend the evening lectures, and, on Wednesdays, at CUMC, Shared Learning members and UNC students gather to discuss. Topics: *Climate Change; *India & Pakistan; *Red Sea Security; *Modern Slavery; *China in Latin America; *Philippines & US; *AI & Data. NOTE: GREAT DECISIONS will not start til the end of January. When decided, the schedule will be emailed. Wednesday, 11:15 – 12:45.

GREAT TRIALS IN HISTORY, II Moderator: Anne Marie Durand-Kennett ( , 919 960-0028). Anne-Marie will continue her Spring 2019 course and will cover eight lectures, one per week from a Great Course series. We’ll begin with the infamous trial of nine black teenage boys falsely accused of rape in Scottsboro, AL, in 1931, and end with the equally infamous trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995. Other topics: the nature of evil in the Nuremberg trials and the trial of Alger Hiss, State Department official and Communist agent. Anne-Marie will provide ample time for discussion. NOTE: the course will begin January 13 and end on March 9. Monday 11:15 – 12:45.

HISTORY SIMPLIFIED Moderator: Greg Hesterberg (513-304-5901, ). Want to better and more simply understand history and the world we live in today? A few years ago, Greg felt he needed a way to do just that and so, conducted a personal critical thinking project, based on his past history studies – to develop a few useful principles. In this four meeting course, he will share his results: three simple elements to use as ‘lenses’ or ‘drivers.’ Using them, you should be able to make clearer sense of the world we live in, as well as human history. And, you will be able to make some degree of sense about what the future holds. Note:class begins March 16 – ends April 13. Monday, 11:15 –12:45.

HOW MYTH HAS SHAPED WORLD CULTURE AND RELIGION, PART II Moderator: Nancy Goudreau (703-3292933, ). What secures your place in the existing world? What powers can shift our personal destinies? Ancient peoples struggled to understand such questions about existence and so, created myths, in order to justify their belief systems, attitudes and behaviors. In Part II of this course, we will review one lecture per meeting (Great Courses) and some supporting historical information, in order to discover and understand world myths about divine pantheons, heroes, tricksters and places. NOTE: New students are welcome. Tuesday, 11:15 – 12:45.

HOW TO LOOK AT AND UNDERSTAND GREAT ART, PART II Moderator: Bonnie Sullivan ( ). In Part I, a Great Courses professor taught us to use analytic tools, to analyze artistic masterpieces, based on line, color, shape, composition, perspective, point of view, symbols and historical context. In Part II, she will use those tools with period masterpieces to help us appreciate and discuss Western Art – from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. In each class, Bonnie will show a 1/2 hour dvd lecture, plus short videos, narrated by other art historians on the works, referenced per class. Thus, ample time for discussion. NOTE: Limited to first 35 registrants. Monday, 11:15 – 12:45.

PLAY READING AND DISCUSSION Co-Moderators: Raleigh Mann ( and Marsha Back (919-381-7694, ). We’ll continue to read aloud and discuss plays by celebrated 20th Century American playwright Arthur Miller, plus view dvd movie renditions of his works. Also, students are invited to contribute biographical information, theatrical context and analysis of his plays and movies. Participants must purchase a book that includes Miller’s plays. NOTES: **Class size is limited to 15 with priority given to former students who register by Dec. 15. **Contact Marsha with questions and the title of the book for purchase. Tuesday, 11:15 – 12:45.

PRACTICING BASIC SPANISH CONVERSATION Co-Moderators: Edwin & Mary Ann Nirdlinger (, 419-490- 3110). This course continues from previous terms and is appropriate: *for those who took those classes or *for anyone interested in doing a little catch up work or *for those with some Spanish knowledge. We will use The Ultimate Spanish Review & Practice text, second/third edition, by Ronni L. Gordon & David M. Stillman. Bring the book to each class. During part, we’ll review the previous week’s assignment. Primarily, we’ll practice reading aloud and talking in Spanish. NOTE: Class size is limited to 15 to enable all to practice speaking. Wednesday, 11:15 – 12:45.

PRIZING PROUST, IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, SODOM & GOMMORAH, Vol. IV Moderator: Nancy Goudreau (703-329-2933, ( ). We continue to relish the sumptuous, but challenging prose of Marcel Proust. If you have recently read Volumes I, II, and, III of In Search of Lost Time, you are welcome to attend our reviews and discussions of Sodom and Gommorah, Volume IV….based on our reading 70 pages per week. We use Modern Library editions, C. K. Scott Moncrieff & Terrance Kilmartin translation. Thursday, 11:15 – 12:45.

READING AND DISCUSSING GREAT SHORT STORIES Moderator: Marcy Sacarakis ( , 610-428-9916). Class members will discuss one story each week from publications, such as, The Best American Short Stories or The O’Henry Prize Short Stories, both available for purchase from local bookstores or Amazon. We will participate in in-depth discussions about how the author develops his/her writing style, plot, characters and theme — and how the story resonates with us. Each class ends with a poetry reading, chosen by a class member. Wednesday, 9:30 – 11:00.

THE ROMANTIC PERIOD IN MUSIC: The SCHUMANNS & BRAHMS Moderator: Peggy Stevermer (919-923-2534, ). In this course, we will study what is referred to as the early “Romantic Period” in European Music and its relation to the literature and art of the same period of history by concentrating on the lives and music of Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. In addition to lectures from the Great Courses, we’ll listen to and discuss other music and materials of the era. Peggy will show one lecture per class, plus will share extra materials and musical excerpts. Tuesday, 9:30 – 11:00.

SCIENCE CAFE Moderator: Alan Ziegler (919-433-7343, ). Each week, one or more volunteers will select a topic or item of interest, as reported in a scientific news source and on accessible scientific-oriented websites. Files or links will be provided to students for reading before the class meets. We’ll discuss the potential social, economic and/or philosophic implications of the selected articles. Sample past topics: *potential effects and trade-offs of different climate change approaches; *implications of finding microscopic life on Mars; *ethical implications for manipulating and engineering DNA. NOTE: general knowledge of contemporary science is helpful. Thursday, 9:30 – 11:00.

SPANISH DISCUSSION GROUP Moderators: Edwin & Mary Ann Nirdlinger (419-490-3110, ). This informal discussion group is intended for those with some competency in Spanish who would like to get together and chat on various topics. There will be no instruction. The meetings are designed for us to enjoy sharing information in Spanish and to socialize with other Spanish speakers. Second & Fourth Friday of the month, 9:30 – 11:00.

TWO HUNDRED YEARS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD Moderator: Bisharah Libbus (919-771-6567, What characterizes our modern age and thinking? And how did that come about? We will listen to and discuss two lectures per week from a Great Course series, which recounts the revolution of thought in 17th and 18th century Europe, especially in the development of steps that established the ‘scientific method’ – that questioned the nature of reality. Coincident with the blossoming of art in the Renaissance, great philosophers and scientists began transforming all aspects of human inquiry, thereby gradually birthing the modern age. Thursday, 11:15 – 12:45.

THE UNIVERSE: QUARKS TO BLACK HOLES, PART I Moderator: Barry Lentz ( , 919-824-8807). Part I. The composition and nature of the Universe and how we have learned about it is the subject of this course. It uses a “Great Course” by Mark Whittle (University of Virginia) supplemented by later developments. Part II (Fall, 2020) will add Sean Carrol’s (Cal Tech) “Great Course” The Higgs Boson and Beyond to address atoms and molecules that evolved from subatomic particles that condensed during the “Big Bang.” Don’t worry if you have not studied lots of physics; extensive background notes will be provided, and we will discuss questions and class comments in class. NOTE: class size is limited to 15. Monday, 9:30 – 11:00.

VIEWS ON THE NEWS Moderators: Gordon Taylor (919-545-0686, and Alice Parsons (919-642-0606,,). Our informal round table discussions focus on local, state, national and world events. In each meeting, a volunteer presents current subjects, about which participants exchange views. The conversations are managed with respect by the moderators and are open to all points of view. NOTE: The class meets every Monday all year round, with new topics per meeting. Monday, 9:30 – 11:00.

WRITING AND SHARING PERSONAL HISTORY Moderators: Bobbie Lubker (919-967-2996, and Mary Ann Freedman (919-593-3335, ). Only we can document our personal experiences, reactions and perceptions during our dynamic times. We will support each other’s individual efforts to record in writing what we have lived through and to encourage and aid our developing a sense of accomplishment – to make our writing more engaging to both readers or listeners. Thus, we will all write, read aloud our writing, listen to everyone and appreciate the telling of the experience or insight. NOTE: NEW students are welcome. Wednesday, 9:30 – 11:00.

Go to Course Schedule