Our courses are offered via Zoom. You'll receive the Zoom link in your registration confirmation email.
Controversial at its beginning, the theory of evolution is one of those overarching principles that tie together every living creature. This 3-session course will explore the theory from its origin to current understanding, the history of life and some amazing adaptations that organisms have evolved to ensure their success, including working with and in spite of other species. We will consider current challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change through evolutionary lens.
ZOOM LINK: Available on website to paid and registered members
CLASS LIMIT: 95
INSTRUCTOR: Martha Gach is Education Manager and Conservation Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester and teaches climate change at Worcester State University. Her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (University of Michigan) allows her to profess about evolution and shapes her world perspective.
OPTIONAL READING: On the Origin of Species is available in many editions, with many ISBNs including audio books. Recommended version, ISBN: 0674060172. The Voyage of the Beagle, ISBN 1619492814, Stephen Jay Gould’s essays are available as collections in books, rarely as a single essay. If only reading one essay, The Panda’s Thumb essay is found on pages 19-25: http://s-f-walker.org.uk/pubsebooks/pdfs/Gould_Stephen_Jay_The_Panda%27s_Thumb.pdf. The entire volume of The Panda’s Thumb (31 essays) is available in hard copy.
Profound and deepening economic inequalities. Widespread state violence and racial terrorism against ethnic minorities. Immigration restrictions based on xenophobia and fear. Activist movements for liberty and justice for all. America in the Gilded Age has a great deal to tell us about America 2021.
INSTRUCTOR: Ben Railton is Professor of English Studies and American Studies at Fitchburg State University. He is the author of five books, most recently We the People: The 500-Year Battle over Who is an American. He writes a daily American Studies blog and the biweekly “Considering History” column for the Saturday Evening Post online.
NO REQUIRED BOOKS
Ferns are ancient, easily recognizable, delightfully architectural, eminently important plants in New England habitats and a perfect topic for a summer botany class. Ferns are older than flowering plants; in fact, ferns predate most dinosaurs! Like flowering plants, they have vessels/veins for transport of water within roots, stem and leaves, but unlike flowering plants, ferns reproduce by means of spores. In our class we will learn the full natural history of ferns: recognition and identification of species; life history and spore reproduction of ferns; ecology and importance to ecosystems; ferns in prose, poetry, and art; and human uses of ferns.
INSTRUCTOR: Joe Choiniere is a lifelong naturalist with a B.S. in Natural History from UMass/Amherst. He worked for Mass Audubon and taught hundreds of natural history classes and workshops and has been an instructor for Fitchburg State University , teaching workshops on nature study.
Although none of his extant plays are based on either the Iliad or the Odyssey, Aeschylus said that they were all “slices from the great banquet of Homer,” and this claim is nowhere more evident than in the Oresteia, the trilogy which dramatizes fateful episodes in the lives of Agamemnon, Clytaemestra, Cassandra, Orestes and Electra. As if that were not enough, the drama also celebrates the origin of democratic institutions in the city-state of Athens. We will read all three plays in this essential masterpiece of dramatic poetry.
INSTRUCTOR: Lillian Corti has a degree in Italian and French from Brooklyn College and a doctorate in Comparative Literature at the City University of New York. She taught Italian at the Foreign Language Institute in New York and taught literature in translation at Tulsa University, the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and in Macerata, Italy for a Study Abroad program.
REQUIRED BOOK: Aeschylus, Oresteia, trans. Richmond Lattimore, University of Chicago Press, 1952.ISBN: 9780199537815.
OPTIONAL BOOK: Aristotle, On Poetry and Poetics, trans. Grube, Bobbs-Merrill, New York, 1958.
Stage Comedy has long depended on sex for laughs, whether in the realm of the vulgar or of the romantic. Over the centuries the formulas have not changed so much as have our perceptions of “what’s funny.” Here we will study three plays that trace the arc from ancient Greece to Broadway, studying Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, G.B. Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House.
INSTRUCTOR: Helen Whall After finishing her Ph.D. at Yale University, Helen joined the faculty at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. There she taught Shakespeare and the Renaissance as well as modern drama. Since retiring in 2017, Helen has offered several courses for WISE.
READING: Instructor will provide required edition of Lysistrata for reading assignments.
REQUIRED BOOKS: Any edition of G.B. Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House.
Women have made great strides in recent years in breaking the glass ceiling. While there is still a long way to go, we now have a female Vice President, and women are gaining more and more acceptance as “equals” in many other endeavors. In noting their progress, it seems appropriate to recognize them for their great contributions to popular music. This course will highlight many of the great women song writers and performers working today or in the recent past. They will include Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Judy Garland, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan, Dusty Springfield, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Carole King and many others. During the course, we will discuss their backgrounds and history and hear much of their music.
INSTRUCTOR: Joseph Corn spent most of his professional career working as an engineer. He has also taught in the NYC school system, Springfield Technical Community College, Penn State University and worked as a technical instructor for Moore Products. Joe, a former WISE President, has taught several music and technology courses for WISE.
Beginning around 1825, American artists began to pay tribute to their native landscapes. We’ll explore the earliest American landscapes as they transition to the style we know as the Hudson River School. The works include Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, and John Frederick Church. From the mountains to sea, we will also see the Luminist landscapes of John Frederick Kensett, Fitz Henry Lane, and Martin Heade. Later, Hudson River School painters such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran will head westward.
INSTRUCTOR: Martha Chiarchiaro received her Master’s degree in the History of Art from Williams College and teaches a variety of art history courses at WISE and other local organizations. She enjoys delivering courses related to specific periods and artists that provide a more in-depth look at the life and times of the people who are part of the exploration.
This 3-day course will examine the history and constitutional basis for the presidential pardon power, the nature and limits of the pardon power, how presidents have generally exercised the power, and proposals for reform of the pardon power in the wake of President Trump’s use of the power. Among other topics, we will explore the underlying theory of the pardon power, what if any checks exist on abuses of the power, and whether proposed legislative reforms would be likely to survive challenges in the courts.
INSTRUCTOR: John S. Ross III holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law and served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University. He has taught several courses for WISE on constitutional law topics.
When our minds are empty of ideas, a prompt can open the door to otherwise unknown thoughts. Prompts are used to jumpstart writing into new territory or could trigger a memory. Prior to each class, a prompt with an example poem will be provided. There will also be a backup prompt in case the first is not working. Poems will be read and discussed during class.
INSTRUCTOR: Eve Rifkah earned her MFA in 2002 from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has taught at WPI. She is the author of three published books on historical poetry and is published in many journals. She is a founder of Poetry Oasis, a non-profit venue for local and international poets, and founder and editor of Diner, a literary journal from 2001-2007.
The Nobel Prize winning writer Alice Munro is beloved in her native Canada and throughout the world. Her stories are exquisite in their structure, texture, and charm. Her stories provide us with the insight resulting from her innate curiosity about how people live their lives and the stories they tell themselves.
INSTRUCTOR: Marcia Tannenbaum is a local mediator, attorney, and educator. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law where she produced an Independent Study Project on Leo Frank. While teaching at Nichols College, she taught courses on Law and Literature and the Literature from the Holocaust. She currently volunteers for the ARC (Attorneys Representing Children) program.
REQUIRED BOOK: Too Much Happiness, Munro, Alice. ISBN: 978-0307390349.
READING FOR FIRST CLASS: Please read this NY times article before the first class: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/books/review/Cohen-t.html?referringSource=articleShare
The course will take an evaluative look at American military and naval leadership during the most significant wars in our history. We will begin with a discussion of what constitutes effective leadership and then evaluate our military leader and related analysis on this basis.
INSTRUCTOR: Jed Watters is a former Assumption University history professor, retired naval officer and veteran of Selma and Vietnam. He has provided instruction for WISE courses for several years.
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)Assumption University, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609