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Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed II Moderators: David Birnbaum . This 48-lecture course from The Great Courses immerses us in the epic BCE and AD civilizations of Mesoamerican history and culture. In many ways more advanced than European states, Olmec, Mayan and Aztec societies achieved remarkable accomplishments, e.g., the development of: *thriving cities, like the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan; *the Mayan calendar, spanning thousands of years; *highly valued crop production of corn, beans, chocolate, squashes; *a Mayan writing system, recently deciphered; and *Maya mathematics – the first to use zero. There will be two lectures per meeting, with stops to respond to questions and discussion. In addition to resources and attending university courses in this topic, Dave has visited Latin American sites and participated in a dig in Peru. NOTE: this course is a continuation of the previous spring course.

Appreciating Vol. III of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust Moderator: Nancy Goudreau ) and our Researcher. Our small SL group of Marcel Proust devotees invites you to join us, as we continue reading all seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time. To join the April 22 – June 10 group (8 weeks), you must be familiar with the plot and characters in Volumes I and II and relish an immersion into Proust’s challenging, but sumptuous prose. For eight weeks, we will read 400 pages of Part I, Volume III, The Guermantes Way (65-page segments per meeting) and be expected to read Part II during the summer break. Part II will be discussed during the first meetings of the Shared Learning Fall Term, when we will also continue with Volume IV, Sodom and Gomorrah. (The Modern Library edition, C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terrence Kilmartin translation, revised by D. J. Enright). NOTE: No one need read any of Part I, Vol. III, before the first class.

Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science Moderator: Jonathan H. Gerard. In class we will view lectures by the brilliant and popular neuroscientist, Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Stanford University and winner of a MacArthur “Genius Grant.”  Why is “maybe” more powerful to your brain than “definitely”? Why do we frequently dream completely nonsensical scenarios? How can biology explain the overwhelming power of symbols and metaphors? This course teaches you entirely new ways to understand that most complex of species: human beings. This series of lectures will illustrate many of the ways we are just like other animals, ways we use similar physiology in completely novels ways, and ways in which there is simply no precedent in the animal kingdom for what we do. The course also weaves together remarkable insights provided by evolutionary biology. For example, we’ll look at the human stress response, the allure of junk food, the overwhelming power and science of dopamine, and the evolutionary basis for nostalgia. Much of what we’ll learn in this course will be surprising and some of it will be amusing but all of it will have you rethinking what it means to be human.

Deutsche Konversations Gruppe Moderator:  Kenneth Kustin .   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 and 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 instruction.

Great Trials of World History and the Lessons They Teach Moderator Anne-Marie Kennett . We will examine 2 trials each week for a total of 16 total trials. These trials are some of the greatest trials in history, from Socrates to Simpson. We will travel to the People´s Court in Athens, St. Peter’s square in Rome, a meetinghouse in Salem, the Old Bailey in London and the Palace of Justice in Pretoria. We will be introduced to famous lawyers such as Cicero, John Quincy Adams, Robert Jackson, William Kunstler, and Clarence Darrow. After being witness to amazing spectacles in the courtroom, the question will be asked “Was Justice Done?”

History Simplified Moderator: Greg Hesterberg  Would you like to better understand history, the past, and the world we dwell in today in a way that is very easy to grasp?  Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “We are not makers of History, we are made by History.” He is spot on.  So, how exactly ARE we made by History?  It’s via three simple elements which are the core of this course.  Come listen, learn, discuss, and contribute in this 5-session class as we break them down.  Your takeaway by participating is…the world you live in will suddenly make far more sense as you will understand why History and the world of today is like it is.  And by employing three elements one can to a degree get a real sense of what the future holds.  Talk about some lively, fascinating discussions. Oh, you bet!


Meditation Workshop Moderator: Tom Spector  Tom will present a two-session Meditation Workshop designed for people with all levels of meditation experience, even those who believe they could never meditate. Learn techniques to calm your busy mind and experience your precious Inner Being. Some healing techniques will also be presented. Participants regularly feel the calming and peaceful benefits of meditation. People may attend either one or both sessions. Tom is internationally regarded as a refreshingly effective meditation teacher. Tom has been teaching meditation and healing since 1976.

Spanish Discussion Group Moderators: Edwin & Mary Ann Nirdlinger . This informal discussion group is intended for those with some competency in Spanish who would like to get together once a month and chat on topics – to be determined during the first discussion period. There will be no lessons. The meetings are designed for us to enjoy sharing information in Spanish and to socialize with other Spanish speakers. Those at the beginning level of competency would benefit by attending, listening to discussions and improving their ability to understand spoken Spanish. Group meets every other week.

The Addictive Brain Moderator Judith Barrett  Learn what happens in the human brain causing and resulting from addictions. This is a concise Great Courses 12-video course taught by a top cognitive neuroscientist and professor of psychology, Thad A. Polk. Topics range from drugs and alcohol to gambling and junk food. The moderator has been medical director of a methadone clinic and of an alcohol clinic. Two videos will be shown each week and we will have time for discussion.

Which Poets Speak to Us? Moderator: Nancy Goudreau . Reading poetry can be deeply rewarding — with insights and expressions which linger in our memories.   But, reading other poems might provide us only momentary or slight rewards.   In this class we will discover and be re-inspired by memorable poets who have: *ignited our imagination; *clarified difficult concepts; *recognized absurdities; *created musical or lilting phrases. Students will vote for the poets they want to consider. Therefore; you oversee the class content, will provide copies of the work of selected poets, and lead our considerations.   Referring to an anthology that includes biographies (such as, The Great Modern Poets, edited by Michael Schmidt, Quercus or The Best Poems of the English Language, edited by Harold Bloom, 2004) might be a useful reference.

Views on the News  Moderators:   Gordon Taylor  and Alice Parsons).   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. This course meets weekly during the year.