Fall 2014 Course Offerings

Tuesdays, October 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov 4

What Has Happened to the First Amendment?
Benjamin Pomerance, Esq., a graduate of Albany Law School, is a journalist as well as a lawyer and is an impassioned student of the First Amendment. He will discuss our most precious rights — those of freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly — that are embodied in the First Amendment.  This course will explore the history of the First Amendment: why it was important to the Founding Fathers; the perceived reasoning which led to its inclusion in the Bill of Rights; and the many interpretations given to these words by the Supreme Court through the decades. The course will also review the present state of the law regarding protections and prohibitions under the First Amendment and discuss how the Supreme Court might resolve some of the key First Amendment issues currently pending before it. Participants will gain an understanding of how these prized freedoms evolved, what these rights currently mean, and what the First Amendment’s future may hold. 

Coordinator:  Marge Karowe

9:30 to 11:30 AM          Reamer Auditorium

Great Explorers: Adventures in Natural History
This course will focus on a selection of intrepid individuals, their amazing adventures exploring the far ends of the earth, and the important contributions they made to human understanding of life on the planet.  Nancy Slack will recount the explorations and influence of Alexander Von Humbolt, and the Amazon travels of Darwin, Henry Bates and Richard Spruce. Sherrie Lyons will tell us about Alfred Russell Wallace’s travels in South America and the Malay Peninsula.  Glen Slack will relate the story of Richard Schulte’s’ search of the Amazon for hallucinogens and other rainforest wonders, and Phil Adams will discuss bygone Eurocentrism and Jefferson and the affair of the Giant Moose.  John Delano will take us into the far reaches of the universe and the great adventures humans have had in their tireless exploration of it.  Finally, Joy Harvey will discuss those "fearless women explorers". 

Coordinators: Nancy Slack and Phil Adams

12:30 to 2:30 PM          Reamer Auditorium

Wednesdays, October 8, 15, 22, 29, Nov 5

This Season at the Met 
UCALL favorite Josef Schmee will discuss five of the operas that will be simulcast in HD from the NY Metropolitan Opera in the 2014-2015 season. The Met HD audience has grown to over three million, larger than the Lincoln Center audience of the entire season. The transmissions have been praised for their theatrical feeling with spectacular close-ups and views not even seen from the best seats in the house. Opening night is Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Beaumarchais’ play could not be performed in pre-revolutionary Paris, but Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte got the opera by the Viennese censor. Next is Verdi’s Macbeth. Although Verdi could not read a word of English, he entered the spirit of Shakespeare and added his own thoughts in this terrific masterpiece. Carmen by Bizet has remained one of the top three popular operas. So it is surprising that it failed at the premiere, because it was too revolutionary, too shocking for the audience in Paris. Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci are a frequently performed double-bill. Although both composers wrote other operas, none come close to the successes of these two. The characters are “of flesh and blood” and at the time of their first performances introduced a new approach to opera. The concluding opera is Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, his only comic opera in which the main character Hans Sachs, the cobbler poet, expresses a deep sense of humanity.

Coordinator: Manny Aven

10:00 AM to 12 Noon          Reamer Auditorium

Modern Media
The Media has long been an important part of our lives, but its nature is changing dramatically.   More people today get their news from digital sources than from newspapers, TV or radio.  Traditional bookstores are threatened. We watch movies and TV when and where we choose.  We stream music into our homes. Over two billion people have access to the internet. Public figures use Facebook, Twitter and You Tube to communicate directly with their supporters.    Rex Smith, Editor of the Albany Times Union, will discuss print news media and the challenge to ethical journalism presented by the digital revolution. Susan Novotny, Owner of The Book House, Stuyvesant Plaza, knows firsthand about marketplace disruption to publishing and bookselling. Robert Altman, President and CEO of WMHT, is helping reinvent public radio and TV. Matt Milless, Director of Student Activities at Union College, will enlighten us on rapidly evolving social media. Rich Alben, retired GE researcher and RPI lecturer, will illustrate the opportunities of distance learning. James de Sève, Filmmaker-in-Residence at Union College, will make connections between film history and new immersive environment research, looking at the historical tether tying cinema to interactive media, gaming and virtual reality. 

Coordinator: Jim Burns

1:00 to 3:00 PM          Reamer Auditorium

Thursdays, October 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov 6

The History of Jazz
This uniquely American art form will be approached by Union College Professor Tim Olsen through lecture, live performance, audio and video, touching upon ragtime and vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, the Harlem Renaissance, 52nd Street, Bossa Nova, and more.  In conjunction with this course, the Music Department is sponsoring a four-concert series featuring Professor Olsen performing with Capital Region musicians. These concerts, held on select Mondays from 11:45 a.m.-12:50 p.m., are free and open to the public and will take place in the Emerson Auditorium in the Taylor Music Center. Subjects will include: September 29: Early Jazz; October 13: Big Band Swing; October 27: Bebop/Cool Jazz; November 10: Modern Sounds. 

Coordinator: Jenny Overeynder

9:30 to 11:30 AM          Emerson Auditorium

Thursdays, October 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov 6, & 13

The Fall 2014 Elections
In this six-lecture course Union College’s Cliff Brown, the Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Government, a long time UCALL favorite, will analyze the 2014 off-year elections, prospectively and retrospectively, and place them in the larger context of the contemporary American political scene. We will examine polarization, messaging, campaign finance, political gridlock, and institutional success and failure - as well as the immediate strategies employed by the two parties as they approach this very important election. 

Coordinator: Jim Comly

12:30 to 2:30 PM          Reamer Auditorium*

*Class location subject to change based on availability