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BOOK CLUB  Moderators: Abbie Tom (919-933-8972, & Suzanne Haff (, 919-933-9329).   Class members in the fall, 2017 course have selected the following three books and volunteer moderators for the spring term: February 2: The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal, led by Anne Marie; March 2:  Gold Mountain by Lisa See, led by Carolyn; and April 2: The Last Jew by Noah Gordon, led by Abbie.   NOTE: NEW students are welcome.
First Fridays, starts Feb. 2, 11:00-12:30.

CONTROVERSIES: AMERICA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGES Moderator: Hank Becker (932-7356, This seminar-type course is based on readings from one book.   Participants take turns presenting an overview, based on one week’s reading selection. The book to be read during Spring is Five Easy Theses: Common-Sense Solutions to America’s Greatest Economic Challenges (2016), by James Stone. NOTES: Enrollment is limited to 20 people.    Also, through December 15th, participants from the prior semester have priority for registration.       Monday, 11:00-12:30. 

EARLY CLASSIC BRITISH LITERATURE  III Moderator: Nancy Goudreau, (, 703-329-2933).   In each ½ hour lecture per class, the Great Courses professor will review British classics, from mid- to the end of 1700’s.   And we’ll read excerpts from the classics and review more information about the authors, their works and concurrent history.   Some authors include: Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, William Blake. Students will get texts for oral reading from the internet and public and personal libraries. NOTE: NEW students are welcome.    Wednesday,11:00–12:30.

EXPERIENCING MEDIEVAL EUROPE Moderator: Anne-Marie Durand-Kennett (, 919-914-6247).   Via our Great Courses lecturer, we will explore the sites, civic life and status of residents in 12 European cities during the Middle Ages (1000’s – 1500’s), starting in Rothenburg (Germany) to Siena (Italy), plus, medieval Medina, Palermo, York, Avignon, Carcassone, Barcelona, Dubrov-nik, Krakow, Prague and Bruge.   Also, our lecturer will enlighten us about the complex nature of society per city. During one or two lec-tures per class, members can share their travel experiences and knowledge about the sites.     Thursday, 11:00-12:30.

GEOLOGIC WONDERS OF THE U.S. PARKS: A GEOLOGY OF NORTH AMERICA, II   Moderator: Rosalinde Milazzo (919-942-6716).   This Great Courses lecture series will introduce us to the geological forces that created the topography of 100+ spectacular sites, now occupied by North American national parks, and to their foundations of active or soon-to-act volatile geologic processes.   Rosalinde will show two lectures per meeting.   NOTE: NEW students are welcome.      Monday, 9:15-10:45.

GREAT DECISIONS Moderator Jane Misch (919-918-3649, )   A nationwide program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association, Great Decisions gives us the opportunity to interact with UNC students in discussions about current foreign po-licy issues.  Topics include: Pax Americana; Russia’s Foreign Policy; China and America; media and foreign policy; Turkey; U.S. Military Global Engagement; South Africa; and Global Health.    Lectures are held on Tuesday evenings at 8 PM in Carroll Hall on the UNC campus.  Follow-up discussions are held at Shared Learning at 11 AM on Wednesday mornings. Briefing booklets are available online at the U.S. Foreign Policy Association website.     NOTE: This course does NOT follow the regular Shared Learning schedule and will start several weeks after other SL courses begin.  Jane will email start dates to registrants.     Wednesday (1ST date TBA), 11:00–12:30.

HISTORY AND NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE   Moderator Barry Lentz (  Barry is a semi-retired bio-physicist (not a physicist) and has always loved physics. This course (from Mark Whittle’s “Cosmology” Great Course) has fascinated him for a while, and he’d like to establish a group of Shared Learning members who would want to join him in exploring the mysteries of the Universe.   He promises gentle going: by covering only one lecture per class meeting; by attempting to paraphrase content; and by responding to participants’ questions or confusion about the material.     Wednesday, 9:15-10:45. 

THE HISTORY OF SPAIN Moderator: Pat De Titta (919-929-2129,    Our Great Course professor will guide us through Spain’s history from its first prehistoric settlement to its 20th century civil war.   We’ll also learn about its contributions to European art, literature, music, theology, architecture and learning. The class will consist of two, thirty minute DVD lectures, divided by discussion and a break.      Wednesday, 11:00-12:30.

THE HOLY LAND REVEALED Moderator: Dave Birnbaum (919-942-8469, As the birthplace of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the Holy Land is a critical and dynamic region in the world.   While ancient written sources attest to historical events, physical artifacts, collected during the last 200 years, have also confirmed past realities.   Dr. Jodi Magness, UNC award-winning archeologist and Great Course professor developed this course, in order to share her findings and assumptions. Dave (who participated on one dig with Jodi and made several visits to other digs) will show two lectures per meeting.      Tuesday, 9:15-10:45.

HOW THE EARTH WORKS, II Moderator: Rosalinde Milazzo (919-942-6716).   This Great Courses series will give us the big picture of how various natural forces worked and are still working, separately or together, to make life on planet earth possible.   Forces include: fire, climate, volcanoes, plate tectonics, salt and fresh water, and time.   Rosalinde will show two lectures per meeting.  NOTE: NEW students are welcome.    Tuesday, 9:15-10:45.  

HOW TO DRAW, PART III Moderator: Nancy Goudreau (703-329-2933,   This course continues from Spring/Fall, 2017.   Armed with drawing materials/tools, we attend to Great Courses lectures: *to learn and use practical techniques/methods during many practices; *to become familiar with core principles; and *to make progress that we can recognize.   Nancy will show half or all of a ½ hour lecture per class meeting. NOTES: Participants from the fall 2017 term have priority for registration, received by Dec. 20th. Also, NEW students are welcome, but should purchase/review the Great Courses $7.00 manual, Lectures 1-20.   Tuesday, 11:00–12:50.

HUMAN GEOGRAPHY: SOCIAL, CULTURAL, POLITICAL & ECONOMIC    Moderator: Hank Becker (919-932-7356, We will discuss the interplay between geography and a wide variety of issues in the social sciences.   Some topics include: map-making; geographic determinism; population growth; economic and cultural globalization; migration; urbanization; and the geography of language.   The course will combine DVD watching and discussion of readings.   Articles or book excerpts will be available on the course website for on-line reading and downloading.    Monday, 9:15-10:45.

THE LOUVRE   Moderators: Jane Levy (919-067-5736, and Margaret Weinstein (919-969-6874, Well-known art historian Richard Bretell (Great Courses and University of Texas) selects the best and most important art works in the Louvre, from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century.   He will focus on just a few paintings per lecture to prepare viewers for a first-time visit or to serve as their study guide.   So, we’ll learn how an academic expert appreciates art.   Jane and Margaret will show one lecture per meeting, followed by class discussion.    Monday, 11:00-12:30.

MEMORY AND HUMAN LIFESPAN  Moderator Don Misch (919-918-3649, )   Steve Joordens from the Great Courses will explore how memory factors into the development and quality of our lives, addressing such questions as: How is memory defined?   How does it work?   Does memory change as we age?   Can memory will be improved at any age?   How does the brain process memory?   How do certain diseases affect memory?   Is memory loss reversible?   How do animals remember?   Don will show two lectures per class meeting.     Thursday, 11:00-12:30.

MODERN AMERICAN ESSAYS  Moderator: Phil Lassiter (734-308-0414, Every essay tells a story, but an author doesn’t presume it will be of interest to strangers.   Yet, because an author needs to express and / or share written thoughts, it’s a risk he/she is willing to take.   With spirit and good humor, our lively group discusses the winning American essays from the previous year, bringing to bear our own personal life experiences. Our source is the collection of essays in Best American Essays, 2017.     NOTE: We welcome NEW members.     Friday, 9:15-10:45.

THE MOVIE EXPERIENCE, II  Moderator:   Glenn Wrighton (919-929-3406,   We’ll continue to explore the history of the U.S. cinema industry to the 1970’s, in an MIT OpenCourseWare course for undergrads, taught by an MIT professor who uses film clips to enhance his lectures.   We’ll start with Hitchcock films and cover musicals, thrillers and westerns genre.   Every third session will feature a film viewing, associated with the lectures.    NOTE: NEW students are welcome.    Tuesday, 11:00-12:30.

PERSONAL HISTORY Moderator: Bobbie Lubker (919-967-2996,   Only we can document our personal experiences, reactions and perceptions during our dynamic times.   We will support each other’s individual efforts to record what we have lived through in writing and to encourage and aid our developing a sense of accomplishment – to make our writing more engaging to readers / listeners.   Thus, we’ll write, read aloud our writing, listen to all and appreciate.   NOTE: NEW students are welcome.      Wednesday, 9:15-10:45.                                              

SCIENCE AND RELIGION  Moderator: Bisharah Libbus (919-771-6567, Over time, how have Science and Faith misled/distorted/clarified/confused/boosted people’s understanding of reality in the Christian Western culture?   Have Science and Faith ever been complimentary?   Can they be in our time?   Professor Lawrence Principe (Great Courses) will provide a historical survey and address topics, e.g.: Faith and Reason; Galileo and his trial; Natural Theology; Responses to Evolution; Fundamentalism.   Bisharah will screen one lecture per meeting and lead discussions.      Thursday, 11:00-12:30.

SELECTED PLAY READINGS AND DISCUSSIONS  Moderators:  Meyer Liberman (, 919-417-0674) and Alan Tom (919-933-8972, ).  We will read scenes, engage in discussions, and view movie renditions of plays by such classic playwrights as: Arthur Miller, George Bernard Shaw, Edward Albee, Friedrich Durrenmatt.  Other than the first play selected by the moderators, class members will collectively choose the plays for the spring term.  NOTES: Class registration is limited to 10 students, and NEW students are welcome.    Tuesday, 11:00-12:30.

SHORT STORIES Moderators: Marcy Sacarakis (610-428-9916, and Jane Maske (919-265-4009,   Students will discuss one story per week from the most current edition of either The Best American Short Stories or The O. Henry Prize Stories, both available in paperback at Flyleaf Books and Amazon.   We will have lively discussions about the writing, themes, plots, characters and the story’s relevance to us.   Classes end with poetry readings, chosen by a member.   NOTE: NEW students are welcome.  Wednesday, 9:15-10:45. 

SPANISH, INTERMEDIATE Moderator:  Violet Simon (919-969-4484,  This class will be conducted in Spanish.   The books for the course are Quentos Hispanos de Los Estados Unidos [Spanish Stories from the U.S.], edited by De Julian Olivaros, and The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice, 2nd edition.   Also, articles in Spanish on the internet at BBC Mundo will be assigned to be read and discussed in class.   NOTES:   NEW students are welcome.   Class meets in the Community Room, Main Hall, of Carol Woods Retirement Community, Chapel Hill.   Wednesday, 11:00-12:30.

THE SPIRITUAL BRAIN: SCIENCE AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE  Moderator: Bisharah Libbus (919-771-6567,   How do faith and spirituality impact life?   How is a person’s brain affected by his/her thinking and holding beliefs?     Does the brain change one’s perception of God?   Neurologist Andrew Newberg from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (and Great Courses) uses brain imaging techniques to understand and raise questions about how religious practices affect people’s feelings, thinking and brain activity.   Bisharah will show two lectures per meeting.  Thursday, 9:15-10:45.

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.   NOTES:  NEW students are welcome.   Also, the class meets every Monday all year round.      Monday, 9:15–10:45.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HUMAN    Moderator:  Alan Ziegler (   From an anthropological and socio-biological/evolutionary psychological point of view, we will explore the origins of humans, the effect of evolution on our current behavior and some alternative future evolutionary possibilities. A few sample questions: How much of our behavior is governed by our evolving genes, e.g.: mating, selection / habits; warfare; family relations; any “gender” intellectual differences?   Should we should try to improve our genes?   Alan will use videos, YouTube clips, PowerPoints, discussion exercise handouts.    Thursday, 9:15– 10:45.


SPECIAL PROGRAMS:                                                                                                        

1) GRAY LINDGREN LECTURES Committee Chairperson: Meyer Liberman (919-417-0674,   This spring, the Shared Learning lecture series on topical issues will be presented on Friday mornings, 11:00 a.m., in February and March.   Our presenters exemplify top scholars in their fields from our rich local academic resources. Lectures are free and open to the public.   Remember to invite your friends and neighbors. Check and email announcements for upcoming lectures.

* Friday, February 23, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., William Ferris, PH.D., Joel R. Williamson Eminent UNC Professor of History and Senior Associate Director, Center for the Study of the American South.  TOPIC: “U.S. Southern Culture(tentative).

* Friday, March 30, 11”00 a.m – 12:30 p.m., Michael H. Hunt, Ph.D., Everett H. Emerson Professor Emeritus, UNC Department of History.   TOPIC: “Wars in Asia(tentative).

2) LET’S GO TO THE MOVIES   Moderators:   Barbara Becker ( and Glenn Wrighton (,   919-929-3406).   Once a month, join us in viewing a film at Shared Learning in the darkened Expand Church sanctuary.   After viewing the film, we’ll discuss its themes and our reactions.   Glenn and Barbara will select quality films, based on suggestions from participants.   The schedule and film titles are subject to change and will be noted on our website:
2nd Fridays of Month, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

3) CONTROVERSIES BOOK CLUB Moderator: Hank Becker (919-932-7356, Each month we will discuss one of the other books considered form the Controversies course: February: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Stephen Pinker. March: Who Are We: The Challenges to America’s National Identity, by Samuel Huntington. April: TBA.   All Shared Learning members are invited to enroll and attend specific meetings of interest.     Third Fridays, Feb-April, 11:00-12:30.

4)  USE AND MASTERY OF THE NEW SHARED LEARNING WEBSITE Moderator:   Hank Becker (919-932-7356,   For course moderators and other members of Shared Learning, this series of workshops will help people understand and use the new website in their Shared Learning activities.   The course will move from the most common uses to the most specialized, so participants are welcome to begin the course and stay for as many sessions as they feel useful.  Topics include:

  • navigating the website:
  • posting from ‘front-end’ menu pages;
  • posting and composing pages from the ‘back-end’;
  • incorporating external documents from the web and your own computer (photos and video).

Friday,   January 19 and 26 and February 2, 11:00 – 12:30.