Midcoast Senior College

Midcoast Senior College

Spring 2012 Course Descriptions

Midcoast Senior College Spring 2012 Courses
March 12 – May 4


Watergate: A Forty-Year Retrospective (8-week course begins 3/12) 9:30-11:30am

Relive the political scandal of the 20th century – break-in, cover-up, Senate hearings, “Saturday Night Massacre”, impeachment deliberations, presidential resignation, and disclosure of the identity of “deep throat.” Documentary videotapes will be augmented by the instructor’s unique perspective as a staff member at the Supreme Court during the crisis. Howard Whitcomb is a professor emeritus of political science at Lehigh University. Meets at The Highlands. Limit 40.

Exploring Your World and Beyond With Google Earth (4-week course begins 3/12) 9:30-11:30am

Google Earth is a free, powerful, friendly and fun mapping program that enables adventurous users with a capable computer and broadband Internet to explore photos of the Earth, Moon, Mars and the Stars beyond. This computer lab course begins with basic search and navigation; explores the layers in the public database; covers map customization and the creation of files; and delves into more advanced topics like custom tours and geo-locating addresses. Craig P. Snapp received his PhD in Applied Physics from Cornell University and spent a productive 30-year career in the Silicon Valley of California. Meets at University College. Limit 16.

More Artists in the Studio (4-week course begins 4/9) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

This class will visit the studios of several artists to observe their working methods and discuss their ideas about creating art. Students will chat with painters, sculptors, printmakers, book designers, fiber artists, etc. and get to see first-hand what each art form is all about. There will be advance notification of the logistical arrangements for this off-site course. Many of the studios to be visited will be at Ft. Andross in Brunswick, or near by. Ed McCartan is a painter and educator in studio art and art history, and has taught and exhibited nationally. No prerequisite. Limit 12.

Crackpot Science: Fraud, Fallacy, and Foolishness in the Modern Age (8-week course begins 3/12) 12:30-2:30pm Course is closed

From corporate boardroom, to government conference room, to school classroom, to middle-American living room — the basic principles of nature and the logic of science have taken a holiday to the tune of billions of wasted dollars and the unmaking of the American mind. Are we on the brink of a new “dark age”? Come explore the roots of our tragic-comic gullibility to fringe and fake “science”. Fred Cichocki, a University of Michigan PhD, has been a college professor and natural history museum curator in the US and Canada for nearly 40 years. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

Introduction to Horticulture (8-week course begins 3/12) 12:30-2:30pm

This course is designed to cover the basics of plant husbandry, including nomenclature, plant anatomy, plant adaptations, soils, plant nutrition, fertilization, poisonous plants, pruning, and transplanting. Just what a person needs to understand to become a knowledgeable gardener. Ed Corbett has had varied experiences in the field of horticulture with the US Army, USDA, and several academic institutions, including the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Meets at University College. Limit 24.


A House Divided, 1861-1865: The History of the American Civil War (8-week course begins 3/13) 9:30-11:30am

The focus of this course will be the events that led to the Civil War, the major battles, and the key generals that commanded the Union and Confederate armies. There will be a variety of audio-visual materials incorporated into the course, along with living-history presentations by the instructor. Charlie Plummer, a passionate student of Civil War history, has taught previous MSC courses, such as “Lincoln’s Generals” and “Lee and His Generals.” Meets at University College. Limit 36.

Walking with the Poets: A Reading, Listening and Writing Course (8-week course begins 3/13) 12:30-2:30pm Course is closed

We will read and listen to the works of poets who wrote with their feet on the ground, observing the natural world at a human pace, and composing while walking. Our central text will be Thoreau’s essay On Walking. Poets discussed will include the Gilgamesh poet, Homer, Virgil, Basho, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Radnoti, Ophelia Zepeda, Mary Oliver, and Gary Snyder. Students will also be asked to take a walk, remember a walk, or imagine a walk and then to try and write about it in the style of the poet being discussed. Gary Lawless has a BA in East Asian Studies and an honorary PhD from USM in Humane Letters. Meets at University College. Limit 20.

Economic Aspects of the Arts (8-week course begins 3/13) 12:30-2:30pm Course is cancelled

What will the future of the arts be in an economy and political atmosphere of frugality? The arts are an important part of the culture of any community and their support and financing are interesting and controversial aspects in prosperity or recession. In addition to multi-arts groups, arts institutions include museums, music groups, theaters, and writers’ groups. We will consider arts organizations in both the profit and nonprofit sectors and the development of future participants and audiences. Class discussion will include participants sharing their experiences in the arts as well as recent readings. Charlotte Price developed and taught a course on this subject at Sarah Lawrence College where she was on the economics faculty for over 30 years. Meets at Thornton Oaks. Limit 24.


Autobiography: The Literature of Self (8-week course begins 3/21) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

In this course we will study how man’s perception of the self evolved from antiquity to modern times. Beginning with the Confessions of Saint Augustine (4th Century C.E.) and Rousseau (18th century) the course will focus on the relationship of these earlier writings to modern memoir literature. How have I lived my life, what shaped me, and what events had an impact on my life are age-old questions. We will read selections from Saint Augustine and Rousseau’s Confessions and Annie Dillard’s Modern American Memoirs. This will be an interactive discussion class. Ann Kimmage has taught memoir literature and memoir writing and continues to lead workshops in autobiographical writing. Meets at University College. Limit 15.

Portraits in History (8-week course begins 3/14) 9:30-11:30am

Known best for his remarkable biographies (Truman, John Adams) and appearances on public television, David McCullough is one of the nation’s most respected “persons of letters.” He has also written many small portraits of those who have also added meaning to the American experience. We will read some of these essays, collected in his book, Brave Companions (1992), as well as his major story of the Brooklyn Bridge (1972), to learn from what McCullough shows and tells us about good writing and good history. We shall try some writing of our own. A graduate of Bates College and Brown University, Parker Marden taught undergraduates for 39 years. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

Socrates: The Art of Living, the Art of Dying (8-week course begins 3/14) 12:30-2:30pm Course is closed

Western Philosophy owes much to Socrates of Athens and his belief that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” To some, Socrates was a hero of democracy; to others an agent of the aristocracy; to some, a saintly martyr to the cause of individual freedoms; to others, an ironic victim of a tyranny he tacitly supported. Like the Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth, Socrates deliberately left us no written record of his thought. We will examine his views on living and dying well through the writings of his student, Plato, in five brief and very readable dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Phaedrus. Bob Pring taught courses in Philosophy, Literature, and World Religions at Herkimer County Community College, in central New York, for 37 years. Meets at University College. Limit 15.

Discussions On: Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? (6-week course begins 3/14) 12:30-2:30pm

Michael J. Sandal, a political philosophy professor, teaches the most sought-after course at Harvard. This course is available electronically to MSC students (http://www.justiceharvard.org/category/watch/). Frank Broadbent, a retired professor of education and mathematics from Syracuse University, will facilitate discussions of difficult questions of morality raised in Sandal’s text and short video case studies. Participation in discussions is required. Meets at University College. Limit 16.


The Brain, the Mind, and Intelligence (8-week course begins 3/15) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

If you missed this course in the fall, now is your chance! Learn how the brain integrates information and controls our biology – how the mind organizes conscious and unconscious mental activity – why intelligence is the ability to learn or understand or deal with new situations – how they are connected and why they may have evolved that way – how cognition develops and problems arise. Barbara Snapp has taught and researched in science for over 35 years since receiving her PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

Painting the Still Life (8-week course begins 3/15) 9:30-Noon

Painters have used the common stuff of everyday life as subject matter from the Renaissance to Pop Art, often achieving uncommon artistic ends. Working from a new still life each week, we will explore the materials and techniques of painting in an effort to turn common objects into art. Either oils or acrylics are suitable. A list of materials will be provided before the first meeting. Stuart Ross has taught university-level courses in painting and drawing, and has exhibited his work in the mid-coast area for many years. Meets at University College. Limit 10.

Two Magnetic Modern Novels (8-week course begins 3/15) 9:30-11:30am

These two superbly written and widely translated stories will capture your inner eye for character and varieties of courage. In Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, a young Nigerian refugee girl survives African terrors, detention, and worse by wits and faith in herself. In Abraham Verghese’s Cutting For Stone, twin boys grow up in uniquely gifted roles amid medical work of Djibouti and New York: cunning suspense, dramatic Africa, brilliant people, epic story-shaping. Barclay Palmer, an Oxford graduate, has taught literature of the human condition since the early days of MSC. Meets at Thornton Oaks. Limit 24.

Springing into Nature (8-week course begins 3/22) 12:30-2:30pm

This course provides an opportunity to share the excitement of emerging flowers, unfolding leaves, and unusual sprouts. We’ll listen for birds and frogs as we walk local preserves. Which are the first insects to announce their presence? How do shoreline animals and plants respond to changes in the season? As we explore, we’ll record our findings in poetry, photography, and drawings in personal journals. Ronnie Kamphausen majored in biology and studied at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Meets at University College. Limit 12.

The Rights Revolution (8-week course begins 3/15) 1:00-3:00pm

The largest social change over the past 80 years has been increasing concern for the rights of minorities of all kinds: blacks, women, homosexuals, and others including animals. We will examine not only the changes involving specific groups, but also the origin of this cultural revolution and its evolution in public opinion, law, and behavior.

This seminar calls for systematic reading and discussion by students. Howard Schuman is a sociologist, and senior author of Racial Attitudes in America: Trends & Interpretations (1997), along with other relevant writings. Meets at the Patten Free Library, Bath. Limit 14.


The Behavior and Ecology of Birds (8-week course begins 3/16) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

We identify birds in the field not only by their appearance and voice, but also by their environments. Beginners are often stunned by the speed at which experienced birders identify various species. In-depth knowledge about birds is not only visual and auditory, but is also based on acquaintance with bird life histories and habits. Readings and optional field trips, weather permitting, will provide an opportunity for students to sample what most interests them. Ted Allen, President of Merrymeeting Audubon, has been a bird watcher ever since he could hold binoculars. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

Verdi: Musician, Dramatist, Patriot, Farmer (8-week course begins 3/16) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

Verdi’s work represents a major development of opera in the 19th century. Using recordings and films, the class will study his work in the context of his life and times. John Beaven, who has had a lifelong interest in opera, holds a MA in Musicology from Columbia University. Meets at University College. Limit 36.

Spring 2012 Registration Form
To be included in drawings for over-subscribed courses mail-in deadline: January 13

Phone registration, with credit card only, begins January 23 (442-7349)

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For more information please call 442.7349 or email info@midcoastseniorcollege.org