Midcoast Senior College

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Midcoast Senior College

Spring 2013 Course Descriptions

Midcoast Senior College Spring 2013 Courses
March 11 – May 3

[Course lengths and start dates vary; see descriptions below.]


Falling from Grace with the Earth (8-week course begins 3/11) 9:30-11:30am

Have you wondered why modern human enterprise has played such havoc with the planet? As we rapidly approach a tipping point, it is crucial to come to terms with the real “inconvenient truth” of why and how we fell from grace with the Earth, and what we might yet do to restore the right ecological relationship with it. In this course we develop a systems perspective in which Energy, Ecology and Economy are fundamentally unified, offering both an understanding of our current predicament and a path to authentic human prosperity. Fred Cichocki, a University of Michigan Ph.D., has taught basic and human ecology at the collegiate level for nearly 40 years. Meets at University College. Limit 36.

The Mature Mind (8-week course begins 3/11) 9:30-11:30am  Course is closed

Current research suggests that the aging brain can grow new cells, learn new things, and may even be more balanced than the younger brain. In this class we will learn about the potential of the aging brain and how developmental and social intelligence expands in the second half of life. Discussions and structured exercises will provide opportunities for class members to identify their transition styles and discover the untapped creativity unique to this stage of life. Journal writing will be a method used to integrate new with old learning. Susan Mikesell, is a retired psychologist interested in exploring the transitions from the world of full time work to the world that follows. Meets at University College. Limit 16.

A Few of My Favorite Things…A Personal Look at Art (4-week course begins 4/8) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

In this course we will stroll through art history from Lascaux to Soho, looking at some of my favorite works of art. From the prehistoric caves at Chauvet, France, through Pharaoh Akhenaten’s radical departure from accepted stylistic norms, on through Caravaggio’s unique take on religious scenes…right up through Christo’s delightful Central Park Gates and beyond! Join me in this sojourn through timeless examples of artistic genius. Ed McCartan is a painter and educator in studio art and art history, and has taught and exhibited nationally. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

The Supreme Court in American Life: The Roberts Court (8-week course begins 3/11) 12:30-2:30pm  Course is closed

In this course we will examine Chief Justice John Roberts’s tenure that has been marked by contentious issues such as gun control, campaign finance, and health care reform. Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court and the 2007 PBS documentary, The Supreme Court, will provide the structure for discussions of the contemporary court and its most recent appointees, justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The course will be facilitated by Niles Schore, a George Washington University law graduate with diversified legal experience, and Howard Whitcomb, a retired political science professor who served as a Supreme Court Fellow in 1973-74. Meets at The Highlands Limit 30.

Discussions On: Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? (6-week course begins 3/25) 12:30-2:30pm  Course is closed

Michael J. Sandel, a political philosophy professor, teaches one of the most sought-after courses at Harvard. Take part in a discussion about the morality of some of the most difficult issues of today. The course includes guided discussions on specific situations, a text, short video cases to study at home (http://www.justiceharvard.org/category/watch/), and sharing on the web (optional). Participation in discussions is required. Frank Broadbent, a retired professor of education and mathematics at Syracuse University, has taught computer and lead discussion courses at MSC. Meets at University College. Limit 12.


The Social Conquest of Earth: Exploration of a Controversial Proposal (8-week course begins 3/12) 9:30-11:30am

Does our drive to join a group explain who we are and how we came to be? How similar are we to a hive of bees or a nest of termites? Was the evolution of true sociality destined to dominate the earth? We’ll explore behavior from solitary to social and the mechanisms that control the evolution of animal and human behavior, including E. O. Wilson’s controversial contention that group selection is the force driving true sociality. Barbara Snapp has taught and researched in science for over 35 years since receiving her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. She enjoys teaching survey courses where she can interweave basic themes to build a multidimensional understanding. Meets at University College. Limit 36.

The Piano and Its Music (8-week course begins 3/12) 9:30-Noon  Course is closed

This course will be a survey of major developments in the history of the piano. During the course, we will discuss the evolution of the instrument itself (from the 18th century harpsichord to the synthesizers and digital keyboards of our own time) and a variety of important works representing a wide range of musical styles and forms. On a broader level, we will consider the piano’s place in the home and the concert hall, and meet with a number of pianists to hear them share thoughts about their art. The course will be non-technical, designed for concertgoers who wish to enhance their listening experience. Elliott Schwartz is Professor of Music Emeritus at Bowdoin College. Schwartz’s 70th birthday was celebrated with concerts and guest lectures at Oxford, the Royal Academy of Music (London), and the Library of Congress. Meets at Thornton OaksLimit 40.

Nature Poets of China and Japan (8-week course begins 3/12) 12:30-2:30pm  Course is closed

This course is a brief survey of nature inspired poetry from ancient and modern China and Japan, including Chinese poets Wang Wei, Li Po, Tu Fu, Su T’ung Po, Tao Chien, and Japanese poets Basho, Issa, Miyazawa Kenji and Nanao Sakaki. The course will also have a writing component for those who wish to try and write in the styles of the poets under discussion. Gary Lawless has a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Colby College and an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from USM. Meets at University College. Limit 20.

Nuclear Power/Energy and Associated Concerns (4-week course begins 4/9) 12:30-2:30pm

This course will review the fundamental physics of nuclear energy and its application to nuclear power reactors. Different types of reactors and their design and operation will be presented. Associated controversial issues will be discussed, including radiation dose and impact on humans, radioactive waste and disposal, the major industry accidents (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima), and the future potential use. Tom Boulette, a Colby College physics graduate and Ph.D. from Iowa State University, has research and operating experience on all major reactor types in this country. Meets at University College. Limit 16.


The Republic of Plato (8-week course begins 3/13) 9:30-11:30am  Course is closed

Plato’s argument: to be happy one must be good, and to be good one must live in a good society. The Republic is a conversation about the nature of individual and social goodness. It entails discussions of the human soul, social justice, economics, family life, education, the arts, politics, warfare, gender issues, religion, and the nature of knowledge. Plato’s lively, provocative dialogue is an open invitation to us all to join in the conversation. Bob Pring taught Philosophy for many years in the SUNY system, at Herkimer County CC and at the University at Albany. Meets at University College. Limit 20.

Being Human: Lessons About Life from the Frontiers of Science (8-week course begins 3/13) 9:00-11:00am

The more scientists learn about the mechanisms of human behavior, the more intriguing the human species becomes. In this course we will explore this intrigue by investigating a series of topics that concern mysterious and sometimes mundane aspects of human behavior including, but not limited to, bad moods, nostalgia, and dreams. Designed as a thought-provoking, witty, and sometimes myth-shattering course, it will leave participants thinking about, observing, and appreciating their lives in novel ways. Charlie Plummer, a life-long learner, has taught a wide variety of courses since MSC’s inception. Meets at Thornton Oaks.  Limit 23.

Stop the World…I Want to Understand It! (4-week course begins 3/13) 1:00-3:30pm

We will use a guided discussion format to explore and understand how technology has affected us in the past sixty years – and how we have influenced the technology available to us. We will look at our lives as well as the lives of our friends and relatives to see how technology has affected our jobs, our health, our friendships, and our emotions. The effects of technology have been for better and for worse and have often been unpredictable – who would have predicted that the Internet would close bookstores? Who would expect that wartime technology would save lives, make cooking easier, and take us to the moon? Jim Todd, a retired physician, has taught at the senior colleges in Bath and Augusta. Meets at University College. Limit 16.

Going to Extremes: American Nature Writers on Disaster (5-week course meets 3/13, 3/27, 4/10, 4/24 & 5/8) 3:00-5:00pm

Violent extremes of physical nature challenge the human spirit and bring out the best and the worst in our species—humility and hubris, curiosity and willful ignorance, heroism and hucksterism. In this course we’ll read and discuss works by five top-notch American authors who ask us to rethink our relationships with nature—John McPhee on engineering efforts to control volcanoes, floods, and earthquakes; Erik Larson on the history of the 1900 Galveston hurricane that claimed 6,000 lives; Norman Maclean on the notorious Mann Gulch forest fire; Jon Krakauer on Mt. Everest’s worst climbing disaster; and Elizabeth Kolbert on the work of scientists around the world struggling to understand global warming. Susan F. Beegel holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale University and specializes in 20th century American literature. Meets at the Patten Free Library, Bath. Limit 15.


Kennebec: The River that Flowed Over the World (8-week course begins 3/14) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

More than 5,000 ships were constructed in the Kennebec region, over 2,500 of them within the city limits of Bath itself. Kennebec people created fortunes for themselves and the special character of this region by building, owning, managing and sailing them across the oceans of the world. This course will explore the Kennebec River, its physical character, history, and the roots of the maritime community of Bath. Vessel construction and details of maritime commerce will also be covered. Lectures, readings, discussions, and field trips will give participants different approaches to understanding what Robert P. Tristram Coffin called the “cradle of an eloquent merchant marine that once covered the world.” Bud Warren, a Bath native, has written and lectured widely on Maine maritime history. Meets at University College. Limit 36.

Greece: Country in Crises (8-week course begin 3/14) 9:00-11:00am

After an introduction dealing with the formation and development of the modern Greek state during the nineteenth century, attention will be placed on Greece’s troubled history since World War I, a period characterized by a succession of national crises with international ramifications—most recently by Greece’s shattered economic system. Among broader issues to be developed are: monarchy vs. republic; the extensive involvement of the military in politics; the intrusive roles of the powers in Greek affairs; challenges to Greek national security; Cyprus; and Greek immigration.Victor Papacosma, Professor Emeritus of History at Kent State University, received his A.B. from Bowdoin College and Ph.D. from Indiana University. He has published extensively on 20th century Balkan issues. Meets at Sunnybrook Village, Bath Road, Brunswick. Limit 24.

Painting a Connection to Place (8-week course begins 3/14) 12:30-3:00pm Course is closed

This course is a workshop for intermediate or experienced painters. Artists have always sought to evoke a “connection to place” in their work. Painting from your sketches or photos, working from memory or on location, in any style from abstract to realistic, attempt to capture a sense of a particular place. It may be where you live now, a childhood home, your garden, a city you love: any place that has imprinted itself in your visual memory. Acrylics or oils are suitable for this class, and you must have your own easel. Stuart Ross is a landscape painter who has taught and exhibited in Midcoast Maine for many years. Meets at University College. Limit 10.

Plants and Civilization (8-week course begins 3/14) 12:30-2:30pm  Course has been withdrawn

Without domestication of plants and the development of agriculture none of the great civilizations would have been possible. We will look at how this came about over the centuries. We will then consider specific crops such as wheat, rice and corn and how they made possible the rise of civilizations in the Mideast, Asia and the Americas. We will also consider the impacts on exploration, exploitation of indigenous populations, and the effects on entire ecosystems. Ed Corbett, a Ph.D. from the UNH, has had varied experiences in horticulture with the US Army, USDA, and several academic institutions, including UConn at Storrs. Meets at University College. Limit 16.


Literary Landscapes: Maine (8 week course begins 3/15) 9:30-11:30am

The course will examine the various ways that some Maine writers fuse evocative descriptions of landscape (town, farm, shore, lake, river, woodland, etc.) into their literary works, thereby adding a strong sense of place to their characters, stories, essays or poems. We will read and discuss a selection of works that best illustrate this technique. Tim Nason has taught courses on sense of place and on writing creative prose at the senior colleges in Bath and Augusta. He is a graphic designer, writer, gardener, and avid reader. Meets at The HighlandsLimit 20.

Inventing the Post-Oil Economy (8-week course begins 3/15) 9:30-11:30am  Course has been withdrawn

Suppose we were given a free hand to organize our society, economic system, and governance the way we wanted: what would we do to better address inequality, underemployment, and the critical issues facing our country and planet? What kind of economic system would we envision for a post-petroleum world? What would be its key features? What steps are we willing to take to realize it? What can we learn from innovations already being implemented here and abroad? Paul Kando, a chemical engineer by training, has been active in the forefront of energy research since the first oil crisis of the 1970s. Meets at University College. Limit 16.

Introduction to Buddhism: Original Teaching and Zen (8-week course begins 3/15) 12:30-2:30pm  Course is closed

This is an introduction to the primary teachings of the historical Buddha, ??kyamuni or Gautama Buddha (566-486 BCE), and a careful consideration of one contemporary international school of Buddhism, Zen. Both will be placed in historical and philosophical perspective and we will inquire into the relevance of the Buddha’s “Dharma” and of the Zen outlook to people of all faiths and to humanists in the West today. There will be moderate amounts of weekly reading and a short weekly lecture – class discussions encouraged. Zenshin Tim Buckley is Resident Priest at Great River Zendo, West Bath, a S?t? Zen Buddhist temple affiliated with San Francisco Zen Center. He acquired a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago and taught at the University of Massachusetts/Boston. Meets at University College. Limit 20.

Spring 2013 Registration Form

To be included in drawings for over-subscribed courses, mail-in deadline: January 10

Phone registration, with credit card only, begins January 21 (442-7349)

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