Our Spring 2019 courses are nearing completion. But, wait, there's more.
On April 17, we will announce our first-ever summer program. Stay tuned.
The WISE Spring 2019 catalog is available as a downloadable and printable PDF file.
Throughout our history thousands of American citizens have divorced themselves from the primary culture and sought life in a close community. We will study the reasons for such a choice, whether ideological, financial, personal dependency, or attachment to a charismatic leader who makes all decisions for the group. Specific cults and sects studied will include Shakers, Mormonism, Heaven’s Gate, the Manson Family, Branch Davidians, and Jonestown, among others.
GROUP LEADER: Margaret Watson is a product of the Big Ten, having received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and then pursuing further graduate study at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She is Professor Emerita from Quinsigamond Community College, serving both in the faculty and the administration in her thirty-six years tenure there.
NO REQUIRED BOOKS
These classes will look at the concept of Enlightenment and Reason as the model for human progress and development. We will ask several questions such as: What is progress? What has been achieved? How is this achievement connected to science and reason? What is the future for human progress? Topics that will be included are: health and wealth, democracy, rights and life, the environment, and peace and safety. The book of the same title, plus other writings will be used as the information source and guide for the class discussion.
GROUP LEADER: Pete Murphy retired from teaching Management in the Business Studies Department at Assumption College in August of 2011. He came to Assumption after a long career in the international energy industry, managing a variety of business and technical organizations. He continues to consult in the fields of energy and of venture capital. He is a regular Group Leader with WISE
REQUIRED BOOK: Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker, Viking 2018.
This course explores one of the alternative forms of early Christianity known as Gnosticism. In sampling some of the many writings that never made it into Christianity’s “official” Scriptures or teachings, we will get to know how the Gnostics understood the life and teaching of Jesus and why this made them the black sheep of the early church. Readings include the Gospel of Mary of Magdala as well as The Gospel of Judas.
GROUP LEADER: Kathleen Fisher, Associate Professor of Theology, joined the Assumption faculty in 2002. She specializes in early and medieval Christian history, with a great love for early Irish history - apparently they had their own brand of Celtic Gnosticism, as only the Irish could!
REQUIRED BOOK: Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament, Bart D. Ehrman, Oxford University Press, New Ed edition (September 15, 2005) ISBN: 978-0195182507.
This course will examine the “Movement” through a combination of class lecture and emphasis upon documentary film. Significant period writings will also be utilized. Topics include: Brown vs. The Board of Education; the murder of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks and the bus boycott; segregation in schools; Nashville, TN.-a segregated city; the Freedom Rides; events in Birmingham; the March on Washington; Freedom Summer; Selma; Voting Rights Act; and the Watts explosion.
GROUP LEADER: Leo Sullivan is a veteran WISE presenter having previously taught several courses on 20th Century American history topics. His main area of interest and focus is the post-WW II period, 1945-1975. He has an MA in American History from Notre Dame and is a retired school superintendent.
REQUIRED BOOK: Voices in Our Blood, ed. By Jon Meacham, Random House Paperback, 2003. ISBN 11-375-75881
REQUIRED READING: Prior to the first class, read selections on pages 13-32, 75-104 and 167-202
Five great plays of the 1950s are examined to see if their perspectives on perennial problems speak to us today, more than 50 years later. “Come Back, Little Sheba” is about abortion and alcoholism; “Death of a Salesman” is about the American Dream/nightmare; “Caine Mutiny Court Martial” presents a naval commander, insecure and mentally ill, breaking down during a typhoon; “Tea & Sympathy” gives the audience a prep school boy who is deemed homosexual because he has long hair and likes music—therefore he may be a communist; “A Streetcar Named Desire” also examines mental illness as personified by Blanche DuBois.
GROUP LEADER: Steve White majored in English at Brown and has an M.A. in English from Berkeley. He is a card-carrying member of “The Silent Generation” of the 1950’s. He also taught these plays at Bancroft School during “The Age of Aquarius.”
REQUIRED BOOK: New Voices in the American Theatre, edited by Brooks Atkinson. The Modern Library Random House, Inc. ISBN: 978-039460-2585.
*A 10 week course following C9 (register for both C9 and D9)
The question of what is important in life has many answers. In the first nine of the weeks we will consider a number of these questions. Then, in the final week we will consider what is important in old age. Topics will include: sacrificing one’s life, love, being good and being rich, competition and cooperation, spectator or activist, disagreement over values, comfort versus being in harmony with nature, and autonomy.
GROUP LEADER: Born in Germany, Richard Schmitt was forced to leave because he was Jewish. He emigrated to the US and earned degrees in Chicago and at Yale. He spent a great many years teaching at Brown University and Worcester State College. He has taught WISE classes for more than 20 years.
REQUIRED READING: Harry Frankfurt, “The Important of What We Care About.” Group Leader will send the article to everyone before the beginning of the class.
This course will examine the history of abortion in the United States; the socioeconomic, philosophical, religious and political issues raised by abortion; the changing legal status of abortion in the United States including the abortion rights movement in the 20th century and the Supreme Court's decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey; the pro-life movement, restrictions on abortions enacted in various states and their impact. The courts' response and the implications of a potential repeal of Roe v. Wade by an increasingly conservative Supreme Court.
Group Leader: John S. Ross, III holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law and served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University. He has taught a number of courses in the WISE program on constitutionallaw topics and the Supreme Court.
For centuries works of art have been victims of the plunder of war. We will explore this aspect of war from the Ancient Roman conquest through the Napoleonic Wars to the plundering and destruction under Hitler’s Third Reich and WWII. We will also examine repatriation efforts in more recent times. Topics to be covered include: Ancient Roman plundering, the treasures captured by Napoleon, the destruction of art during world wars including WWII, and repatriation efforts.
GROUP LEADER: Martha Chiarchiaro received her Master’s degree in the History of Art from Williams College and has taught a variety of art history classes at the Worcester Art Museum and Worcester State University. Martha enjoys sharing a variety of aspects of art history with her students.
Professor Lawrence Langer (Professor Emeritus Simmons College) wrote a definitive Holocaust Literature textbook which provides us with an extraordinary wealth of material to attempt an understanding of the Holocaust through literature. In this course, we will read memoirs, fiction, poetry, and examine art as well as non-fiction literature of the period.
GROUP LEADER: Marcia Tannenbaum has taught Holocaust Literature and related courses since 1978, including a WISE course on the late Elie Wiesel in the spring of 2017. She created and taught a Holocaust Literature course at Nichols College where she was an adjunct professor for ten years. In the spring of 2001 Marcia presented at an international Conference on Teaching the Holocaust at Jagellonian University in Cracow, Poland and spent a day at Auschwitz with other Conference attendees.
REQUIRED BOOK: Art from the Ashes, Lawrence Langer, ed., Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0195077326
There is ancient wisdom and magic in the Celtic culture. Today the Celtic spirit echoes through its art, music, poetry, myths, literature, and spirituality. We will explore these topics and hopefully discover that the Celtic spirit has much to offer to transform and reignite our best, most creative selves. Topics include the Celtic year in nature; the mythology of the Celt; history of the Celts and their daily lives in ancient times; creative outlets of the Celts; and the ancient Celtic world vision as inspiration for today.
GROUP LEADER: Ellen Duzak is retired from Becker College where she was Professor of Psychology. She is proud of her Celtic heritage and has explored Ireland with her husband Blake on three memorable trips.
Whenever possible, if a course has a large waitlist, we will try to repeat courses.
Learn how to read visual stories narrated by artists from ancient Athens and Rome to colonial America. Enter these storied worlds and deepen your appreciation of them. Other topics will include the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 19th and 20th centuries of America and Europe.
GROUP LEADER: Virginia (Ginny) Powell-Brasier was a high school teacher of English and German for 32 years. A big fan of the German Expressionists, she is currently a docent at the Worcester Art Museum.
This five-week course will examine the evolution of American military policy from colonial militias to the present notion of a permanent professional establishment backed by overwhelming force. Topics to be covered include: what the Second Amendment really means; the value of professionalism; US as a reluctant world power; WWII and the power of technology; and the limits of Unlimited Power.
GROUP LEADER: Jed Watters was a history professor at Assumption College and WPI for more than 30 years. He is a retired Naval Officer and analyst at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Even when there was a lot less of it, American history was never simple. What we chose to teach and how we chose to teach it, tells us as much about our present selves as about our past. Using American history textbooks as our viewfinder we will study the ways that educators, politician, and religious leaders struggled for control of national struggled for control of national narrative. Some of the topics we will touch on include the Catholic rebellion, the problem of slavery, English, French and German claims to American history, wars, and presidents.
GROUP LEADER: Karl Hakkarainen is a Technology Adviser for WISE. He has taught WISE classes on social networks, learning and technology, law, history, journalism, and music.
OPTIONAL BOOK: Schoolbook Nation: Conflicts over American History Textbooks from the Civil War to the Present, Joseph Moreau, University of Michigan Press, 0472030531.
GROUP LEADER: Jeff Long has offered film studies courses at WISE since 2014 and has been writing movie reviews for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette since 2008. He also taught film studies courses at Becker College and is the author of the reading guide Remembered Childhoods (2007).
NO REQUIRED READING
In this course we will study contemporary Latin American migration to Europe and the United States from the perspective of documentary film. We will discuss contemporary films and migration patterns in relation to their specific cultural and historical contexts.
GROUP LEADER: Esteban Loustaunau (B.A. Carleton College, M.A. and Ph.D. The Ohio State University) is Associate Professor of Spanish at Assumption College and former director of the Latin American Studies Program. His main areas of teaching and scholarship are contemporary Latin American literature, film, and music as they intersect with issues related to migration, youth cultures, and Internet studies. He is coeditor of the book Telling Migrant Stories: Latin American Diaspora in Documentary Film.
Join John Trexler for a fascinating tour of Tower Hill Botanical Garden. Learn all the behind-the-scenes secrets of this extraordinary landscape.
GROUP LEADER: John Trexler is an Executive Director Emeritus of the Worcester County Horticultural Society and Founding Director of Tower Hill Botanical Garden.
OPTIONAL READING: Tower Hill: The First Twenty-five Years, John Trexler. ISBN: 978-0-9978482-12
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)Assumption College, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609