Spring 2014 Course Offerings  

Tuesdays, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

Food For Thought

On April 1, Union College Psychology Professor Christopher Chabris will discuss his book The Invisible Gorilla, about one of psychology's most famous experiments, using stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to demonstrate an important truth: Our minds don't work the way we think they do. So, how do they work? On April 8, BOCES Questar III District Superintendent Jim Baldwin and Tech Valley High School Principal Dan Liebert will explore the connection between the emerging "innovation economy" in Tech Valley and how Tech Valley High School responds to today’s challenges to bring the new "college and career ready" Common Core Learning Standards to life in our schools, and prepare the workforce of today and the future. On April 15, U Albany Mathematics Professor Emeritus Don Wilken will discuss novels and fictional biographies that have protagonists who are mathematicians or have the narrative thread weaving mathematicians into a web of intrigue, along the way discussing historically important mathematics problems. On April 22, in “The Power of the Small: Why Nanomaterials are Unique”, Linda Schadler, The Russell Sage Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the School of Engineering at RPI, will describe why nanomaterials differ from traditional ones and their impact on applications in medicine, energy and other fields. On April 29, Union College Psychology Professor Stephen Romero will discuss the brain's ability to reorganize by forming new neural connections throughout life. This Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease.

Coordinators: Anna Saville, Jenny Overeynder, and Jim Comly  

9:30 to 11:30 AM    Reamer Auditorium

Electricity: A Shocking History from Franklin’s Lightning Rod to Today’s Nanotechnology

U Albany History Professor David Hochfelder gives a long view of electricity, from the 18th century through cell phones and nanotechnology. April 1 – First 18th century investigations into static electricity: Franklin's experiments with lightning; the early electric battery; the discovery that electricity and magnetism are related forces, and electromagnets.  April 8 – "Low current" communications: Morse's telegraph; the telephone and its various inventors; and wireless telegraphy. April 15 – "High current" power: dynamos and motors; the early electric locomotive; Edison and DC power; Westinghouse, Tesla, and the battle of the (AC vs. DC) currents; the build out of electric power grids; the rise and fall of Insull's power empire; TVA and other large-­-scale hydro projects; and the Rural Electrification Administration. April 22 – Broadcasting in the 20th century: Radio, TV, and politics with FDR's fireside chats; World War 2; the 1960 presidential debates; TV as the "electronic hearth" and "vast wasteland." April 29 – Computing: Origins during WW2 code breaking and mainframes; The PC; The Internet; Cell phones and "digital convergence" into a pocket computer/camera/phone/information retrieval device; Nanotechnology and finally a peek into the future.  

Coordinator: Jim Comly

12:30 to 2:30 p.m.  Reamer Auditorium

Wednesdays, April 9, 16, 23, 30, May 7

The Evolution of Bebop Jazz: “Bop Till You Drop”

Edwin L. Andrews, Ed.D, retired Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at SUNY Cobleskill, and a longtime enthusiastic and accomplished jazz drummer, will share his knowledge and extensive music collection of this fascinating period in the history of jazz.  He will review the evolution of bebop jazz in five sessions entitled: “Bop Till You Drop”.  Beginning with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, the period from 1942-­-1958 includes such greats as Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and Art Blakey, East and West Coast Jazz - the smooth saxophone of Stan Getz and the hard-­-driving sax of Zoot Sims. DVD’s and CD’s will provide examples. April 2 -­Bop begins; April 9 -­Hot tenors, velvet tones and Hammond B3; April 16 -­Hard Bop versus West Coast; April 23 -­Song birds, “scatters” and bluesmen; April 30 -­“Kind of Blue”-­-Miles Davis, et al.

Coordinator: Jenny Overeynder

9:30 to 11:30 AM         Old Chapel                                                                                                                                         

Wednesdays, April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Phantastic Symphonies and Concertos 

Composers from the Classical period to late Romanticism employ a variety of forms and orchestrations. The basic form of the symphony remained fairly constant until Romanticism required more flexibility. Haydn uses a relatively small orchestra, while Berlioz pushes it beyond the limits of many stages. UCALL favorite, Union College Professor Emeritus Josef Schmee, will show how musical form and orchestra size are tools for a composer’s artistic expression. He will sample symphonies from Haydn (“Surprise”), Schubert (“Unfinished”), Berlioz (“S. Fantastique”), Bruckner (“Romantic”) and Debussy (“La Mer”) and instrumental concerts by Mozart (Piano No. 20), Beethoven (Violin) and Elgar (Cello).

Coordinator:  Manuel Aven

2:00 to 4:00PM                 Reamer Auditorium


Thursdays, April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1

Historical Asian Art, Archaeology, and Architecture

Asian countries now play a major role in our daily lives but were highly developed many centuries before ours. Union College History Professor Joyce Madancy opens our series with a brief geographical and historical overview of the region, along with Dr. Christina Rieth, NY State Museum State Archeologist, who will introduce us to the principles, practices and experiences of archeologists worldwide. In our second session, Union College Professor of Asian Art Sheri Lullo will discuss archeological evidence for early Chinese ideologies of an afterlife, and landscape paintings from the 10th through 14th  centuries and their relation to the philosophical, social and political ideas underlying Chinese material culture. In our third session, Dr. Lullo will discuss materials, craftsmanship and relationship to the natural world in the Japanese arts, including architecture and gardens. In our fourth session, Karen Watkins, UCALL Steering Committee member and speaker, will discuss Buddhist philosophy and art across several Asian countries, including Cambodia’s Emerald Buddha. For our final session, Union College Professor of Visual Arts Louisa Matthew will introduce us to the highlights of the art and architecture of Mughal India.

Coordinator:  Lucy Comly

9:30 to 11:30 AM             Old Chapel (April 3rd)   Reamer Auditorium (April 10, 17, 24, May 1) 

A Variety of Poets Writing About a Variety of Universal Themes

Our experiences, our careers, our life values – all are the foundation for beliefs about timeless aspects of life: nature, work, love, death, and family relationships. Longtime UCALL favorite Linda Witkowski will lead us in discussions on a variety of poets: Dickinson, cummings, Wordsworth, Levine, Oliver, et al. We may nod in agreement or be diametrically opposed to their viewpoints, but each poem will certainly evoke serious thought and conversation. April 3 – Work; April 10 – Nature; April 17 – Love; April 24 – Death; May 1 – Family relationships.  

Coordinator:   Linda Witkowski

12:30 to 2:30 PM      Old Chapel (April 3rd)   Reamer Auditorium (April 10, 17, 24, May 1)