Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Courses are listed in alphabetical order.  For a list by day of week and time of day, CLICK HERE.

View Schedule Overview

Download Registration Page

1 ANCIENT EGYPT – A HISTORY, Part II  Moderator: Greg Hesterberg (, 513-304-5901). Egypt is the first nation to be identified in our world history and remains the oldest continuing civilIzation on earth: 3,000+ years, just in BCE. In the second part of this Great Courses series, we continue to move from the age of King Tutankhamen, to culminate with the well-known and tragic last Ptolemy pharaoh, Cleopatra VII. Greg will show two lectures per session. Since he has traveled extensively in Egypt, he will be adding personal anecdotes and impressions. NOTES: *Class is limited to 25 participants. *Students new to this course are welcome.

2 AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD Moderator: Jonathan Gerard ( , 610- 248-1588). One can explore history through a variety of lenses — power, ecology, great leaders, the lives of common folk. In this course we will look at world history through the desire for a delicious meal … from ancient to modern times. Every culture has food taboos and food preferences, i.e.: the Chinese don’t eat cheese; Hindus don’t eat beef; Americans don’t eat cats and dogs; Jainism prohibits garlic and onions. Where do our distinctive cuisines come from? How has the search for food and the development of food technology, from restaurants to agribusiness, to GMOs, played a major role in the shaping of world history? Was the agricultural revolution healthy or detrimental to the human diet? How did the ancient Greeks influence the Passover seder? These are some of the questions that we will pursue. Jonathan will show one or two Great Courses lectures per meeting, with time for discussion and the sharing of gastronomic experiences. NOTE: *Class is limited to 20 participants. CLASS IS CLOSED – FULL

3 BOOK CLUB Moderators: Abbie Tom (919-933-8972) & Suzanne Haff (919-260-9277, Class members from the Winter 2020 term have selected the following titles and voluntary moderators for our Fall 2020 term:

**October 2, Emilie du Chatelet, Daring Genius of the Enlightenment, by Judith Ziinsser —- Anne Marie is in charge;

**November 6, Ordinary Grace: A Novel, by William Kent Krueger — Ken is in charge;

**December 4, Sacre Bleu, by Christopher Moore — Ed is in charge.

NOTES: *First Fridays of the Month, October, November and December, 9:30 – 11:00. * Students new to this group are welcome.

4 BRAHMS & MAHLER: MUSIC DURING THE ROMANTIC PERIOD Moderator: Peggy Stevermer (919-923-2534, This course will focus on the music and lives of Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler and several other important composers, INCLUDING AMERICANS, active during the early to middle Romantic period starting in the mid-1840s. Virtuosic piano music and program music became a staple of concert repertoire. Including a great expansion of the symphony and chamber music, music of this era became increasingly expressive and inventive, e.g.: *expansion of the symphony and chamber music; *virtuosic piano pieces; *program music; and *passionate vocal music and opera. Peggy will show one 45 minute lecture per meeting (Great Courses), plus encourage discussion and the listening of music from other contemporary composers. NOTE: *Students new to this course are welcome.

5 CAN VIOLENCE BE USEFUL IN CREATING POSITIVE POLITICAL CHANGE? Moderator:Alan Ziegler ( NOTE: This will be a two semester exploratory course, designed and re- searched by Alan, who will employ a variety of presentations and videos and readings, supported by postings of historical examples on the class website and boosted by discussions. For this Fall, we will concentrate on political assassination as a tool for political or social change; however, the first class will assess: *the U.S. movement against police violence and institutional racism; *its prospects for structural, social and political change; and *the role violence has in fact played to foster efficacious change. These discussions will propel us into considerations of the violence in the form of the assassination of individuals to achieve political or social ends. The term plan will include the quintessential assassinations of *Archduke Ferdinand, *Abraham Lincoln, and *Julius Caesar. But it will also cover less celebrated or known assassinations; e.g., *three members of the Ghandi family; *Sadat and *Rabin; *Alexander II and *Rasputin; and *Marat. There will be a summing up and an attempt to answer the course question with respect to individual assassination. Such considerations this Fall will lay the groundwork for a broader view in Winter of the role of violence as a group phenomenon. NOTES: *During the Winter term, we will consider various uprisings revolts and revolutions, which may include results from local and national events this past year. *Class is limited to 20 participants.

6 CLIMATE CHANGE: CAN WE AVOID CATASTROPHE? Moderator: Frank Princiotta, (919- 408-0796, .) With graphics and videos, we will discuss how the climate has changed over Earth’s history, with a focus on recent and projected warming that is associated with mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Projected catastrophic impacts on humankind and our fellow creatures will be discussed, such as, are we into another extinction phase, the world’s sixth? Frank, the recently retired Air Pollution Prevention & Control Division Director, US-EPA, will also lead discussions on the actions at global, national, local and household levels, needed to minimize these potentially catastrophic impacts. NOTE: *This course is eight weeks in length, from September 16 – November 4. *Class is limited to 40 participants.

7 CONTROVERSIES: U.S. – CHINA RELATIONS Moderator: Meyer Liberman (919-417-0674, This is a seminar-type, discussion-oriented course, based on the careful reading of chapters in our selected book: Destined for War: Can America and China Escape the Thucydides’ Trap? by Graham Allison, 2017.  His thesis is that, “historically, the rising power will always threaten the established power.” Such a predisposition has led to many major wars, starting with with the disastrous 5th century BCE Peloponnesian War between ancient Sparta and Athens. The book deals with past relations between the U.S. and China, especially since the 1980s, when China started its meteoric rise as a competitive world power. Allison poses the question as to whether the U.S. and China can or wants to learn from history, in order to avoid the trap. Additionally, we’ll select supplemental articles and chapters to read as extra resources. Participants will be expected to present and moderate at least one week’s reading selection during the semester. NOTES: *To promote discussion, class is limited to 15 participants. *CLASS IS CLOSED – FULL

8 CONVERSATIONAL SPANISH Zoom Co-Facilitators: Michael Hardy (, 919-428-7977) & Bob Schreiner (, 919-819-0862). This informal, group led class is intended for people who have at least some, albeit meager knowledge of Spanish … medium beginners to early intermediates. Our focus will be on improving our conversation by combining: *vocal readings from assigned stories; *relevant discussion based on readings; *the sharing of opinions on current situations, events; and *extemporaneous conversation, with the emphasis on the latter. As needed, we’ll include some grammar usage. Each participant is expected to organize and informally host one class. The leadership role is one of choosing materials to read and topics for conversations and of guiding conversation. NOTES: *Class is limited to 12 participants. *Students previously enrolled have priority.  CLASS IS CLOSED – FULL

9 A DECADE AT SHARED LEARNING: HIGHLIGHTS FROM 14 COURSES Moderator: Hank Becker (919-932- 7356, Over the past decade, Hank has organized and moderated courses on a variety of social science topics, often stemming from readings in a single book. In this course, he will select one topic from each of 14 courses that he considers to have been most successful: “Justice – What’s the Right Thing To Do?” (Michael Sandel); “From Political Posturing to Shared Learning”; “Global Catastrophies and Trends” (Vaclav Smil); “A Sustainable Environment”: “Energy, Climate & Water”; “Maps, Migration and Cultural Change”; “Coming Apart: The State of White America” (Charles Murray); “Strangers in their Own Land” (Arlie Russell Hochschild); “The Righteous Mind” (Jonathan Haidt); “The Tribal Mind”; “American Viewpoints”(Pew Surveys); “Immigration”; “How Democracies Die” (Levitsky & Ziblatt); and “Political Order and Political Decay” (Francis Fukuyama). NOTES: *Reading one chapter each week from electronic sources is encouraged. *Class is limited to 30 participants.

10 DEUTSCHE KONVERSATIONS GRUPPE Moderator: Andrew O’Brien (301-520-0965, 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 this course are welcome.

11 DISCOVER AYURVEDA FOR HEALTH, VITALITY & LONGEVITY Moderator: Marc Edwards, M.D. (860-521-8484, The science of Ayurveda gives timeless and profound knowledge of how to optimize health and longevity. It explains our individual differences and how to harmonize with them to maintain balance, improve vitality and resist disease, primarily through choices of diet and lifestyle. It is also concerned with karmic influences and the effects of human habitations. This course will give you an expansive understanding of how Ayurveda is relevant to all aspects of life and will get you started on a program for personal growth. NOTES: *A seven week course, September 15 – October 27. *Class is limited to 40 participants.

12 FIELD GUIDE TO THE PLANETS Moderator: Neil Stahl ( , 919-357-0811). Our Great Courses lecturer will integrate scientific discoveries as of 2020, to describe the latest thinking on features of the solar system: the sun, the individual eight planets, some moons and asteroids. He is currently involved in research and uses outstanding graphics. Neil will show two lectures per meeting, with discussion as time allows to complete the course this semester. NOTE: *Class is limited 20 participants.  CLASS IS CLOSED – FULL

13 FROM YAO TO MAO: 5000 YEARS OF CHINESE DEVELOPMENT Moderator: Bisharah Libbus (919-771-6567, NOTE: FOR SEVEN WEEKS, Sept. 17 – to Oct. 29, we’ll continue with our professor from Great Courses to explore how the Chinese evolved over thousands of years in their *self-awareness; *understanding of the cosmos, nature and their world; and *metaphysical insights into Buddhism and Daoism – all while experiencing a pattern of national ebb and flow that fractured and unified the country and central Chinese authority. Bisharah will show two lectures per class. NOTE: *Students new to this course are welcome.

14 (Monday) 25 (Tuesday) THE HISTORY OF IMPRESSIONISM, Part I Moderator: Bonnie Sullivan ( BOTH SECTIONS CLOSED-OVERFULL In this two semester course, we’ll study the turbulent times (1850 – 1890s), from which Impressionism emerged and learn why and how artists rebelled against French art traditions. The Fall Term will focus on the modernization of Paris and the artists working there: Manet, Monet, Renoir, Morisot, Degas, and Cezanne. In the Winter Term, we’ll study other Parisians: Cassett, Caillebotte, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Bonnie will conduct discussions based on lectures from the Great Courses (one per meeting) and videos by art historians from Khan Academy (two+ each meeting) that examine artists’ personal lives, relationships and extraordinary work. Thus, we’ll better understand how they developed, shared, struggled and ultimately succeeded in creating some of the world’s most beloved works in the history of art. NOTES: *Class is limited to 20 participants.

15 HOW TO WRITE EXPRESSIVELY IN PROSE & POETRY Moderator: Nancy Goudreau (703-329-2933, Have you yearned to improve the lyricism of your prose or the finesse of your poetic attempts? Participating in this pro-active course will definitely improve your writing efforts in either form. We will contribute and react to everyone’s prose and poetry samples, short weekly writing assignments of sentences, paragraphs and poems, in response to a generic topic. So, each week, we will bravely receive feedback about our work from other students and learn by contributing and observing critiques of their short samples. Such shared consecutive practice and experiences will: *nurture our appreciation for written expression; *expand our objectivity when editing; *improve our phrasing, sentence structure and choice of words; *develop our personal writing style; and *identify our typical writing weaknesses. If needed along the way, we’ll review any grammar rules and editing strategies. A last class activity may be to critique one paragraph and/or one poem by a notable author and/or poet. NOTE: *Class is limited to 12 participants.

16 INTRODUCING INFECTIOUS DISEASES Moderator: Michael Goodyear ( , 919- 968-0931). Annually, about 26% of all human deaths are caused by infectious diseases. This 24-lecture Great Courses series is designed to help people without medical background to understand this complex subject. It includes such topics as: infectious bacteria, viruses, yeasts, animal parasites, and the latest on Covid-19. In addition, Michael and the lecturer will explain approaches for diagnosing, preventing and treating the diseases, caused by such specific agents. Michael will show two lectures per meeting. NOTE: *Class is limited to 20 participants.

17 PHILOSOPHY OF HUMOR Moderators: Anne Marie Durand-Kennett (, 919- 960-0028) & Alan Ziegler ( Humor is a universal human attribute, interwoven into the fabric of human society. What exactly is humor? What purposes does it play in society? We’ll discover the importance and necessity of humor from the perspective of history’s great philosophers, plus examine the points of view from references in sociology, psychology, science and religion. Anne Marie and Alan will show one / two lectures (Great Courses) per meeting, depending on our topic, so we’ll have time for discussion. NOTE: *Class is limited to 18 participants. CLASS IS CLOSED – FULL

18 PRIZING PROUST: IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, Vol. 5, THE CAPTIVE Moderator: Nancy Goudreau (703- 329-2933, We continue to relish the sumptuous, but challenging prose of Marcel Proust (1871-1922). If you have read Volumes, I, II, III and IV of In Search of Lost Time, in the seven volumes, you are welcome to attend our reviews and discussions of Volume V, The Captive and The Fugitive, based on our reading 35 pages per week. We use the Modern Library editions, C. K. Scott Moncrieff & Terrance Kilmartin, English translation.

19 READING & DISCUSSING GREAT SHORT STORIES Moderator: Marcy Sacarakis ( , 610-428-9916). Class members will discuss one story each week from The O’Henry Prize Stories 2017, which is available for purchase from local bookstores or Amazon. We will participate in in-depth discussions about the author, the writing style, the plot, the characters and how they are developed, the themes, and the story’s relevance to us. Members of the class will take turns leading the discussion. Each class ends with a poetry reading chosen by a participant. NOTES: *To facilitate discussion, class is limited to 15 participants. *Students previously enrolled have priority.  CLASS IS CLOSED – FULL

20 SHARED LEARNING PHOTOGRAPHY SEMINAR Moderator: Glenn Wrighton ( , 919-929- 3406). Novice and expert photographers will meet to explore photographic topics selected by the group, as well as to share photos taken by participants. Topics areas may include photo editing, tips for taking photos, digital camera technology and sharing photos – explored with lecture, videos, discussion and live demonstration as appropriate. NOTES: *Every OTHER Thursday, beginning September 17th. *Students new to this course are welcome.

21 TWO HUNDRED YEARS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD Moderator: Bisharah Libbus ( , 919-771- 6567). NOTE: FOR SIX WEEKS, Nov. 5 – Dec. 17, we’ll continue to 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. NOTE: *Students new to this course are welcome.

22 THE UNIVERSE PART II: BLACK HOLES TO QUARKS Moderator: Barry Lentz (919-824-8807, ( We will continue the Spring 2020 course, starting with a review of the first semester derived from Mark Whittle’s “Cosmology’ (Great Courses), depending on class wishes. We then turn to Sean Carrol’s (Cal Tech) Great Courses lecture series, ‘The Higgs Boson and Beyond’, to explore subatomic particles that derived from radiation after the ‘Big Bang.’ We will return to Mark Whittle’s ‘Cosmology’ course and end with discussions of current topics (e.g.: multi-verses, newly developed telescopes, the nature of time) if we have time. We will view/discuss one or two Great Courses lectures per meeting. NOTE: *Class is limited to 24 participants, with members of the Spring 2020 course having priority.

23 VIEWS ON THE NEWS Moderator: Alice Parsons (919-642- 8806, & John Cocowitch (919-704-8262, Our open round table format allows for the respectful discussion of events at the worldwide, national, state and local levels. During each meeting, a volunteer(s) presents current topics for the exchange of ideas, in order to share and learn. The conversations and information exchanges are respectfully managed by Alice and John, using pre-established general operation guidelines that ensure that meeting etiquette and decorum are followed. NOTES: *Class is limited to 20 participants. *Students new to this course are welcome.

24 WRITING & SHARING PERSONAL HISTORY Moderator: Mary Ann Freedman (919-593-3335, ). Only we can document our own personal experiences, reactions and perceptions during such 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 sense of accomplishment. All will: *write; *read aloud our writing; *listen to everyone; and *appreciate the telling of the experience(s) or insights. Also, we will be able to share illustrations and photos on-line. NOTES: *Class is limited to 20 participants. *Students new to this course are welcome.