UCALL Fall Brochure and Registration Form

UCALL Courses

Tuesdays, October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

India: Important Player on the World Stage, With Great Strengths and Big Problems
Joan Ham will beguile us with an introduction to India as a unique country – historically, aesthetically, politically, economically, full of wonders and beauty. Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics Jeeten Krishna Giri will discuss India in the aftermath of the Economic Reforms of 1991, struggling with poverty and old problems in modern ways. Associate Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey Witsoe will look at the political issues and problems of developing a democracy in an old culture. Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Sheri Lullo will fascinate us with images of the body in Indian Art. Professor of Economics Mehmet Fuat Sener will place modern India in the fierce economic competition among big players such as China, Russia, and the United States
Coordinator: Joan Ham
9:30 to 11:30 am

Innovations and Inventors That Changed the World
Bruce Maston, MD, JD, will tell an interesting story about how dinosaur bones were viewed in the past, and how innovative thinking changed that view. Bob Saltzman will talk about flamboyant, eccentric, enigmatic, and almost supernaturally gifted Nikola Tesla, who some called genius and others madman and who may have been the world’s greatest inventor. Don Gavin will discuss three inventions that had significant impacts on national economies: the cotton gin, gunpowder and sailing ships with a specific purpose. Ahmed Elasser, PhD, will explore the life and legacy of one of the most outstanding GE Engineers, Charles Steinmetz, known as “The Forger of Thunderbolts.” He was not only “The Chief of Chief Engineers” – or as his colleagues nicknamed him, “The Supreme Court” – but also a humanitarian, a professor, an engaged citizen who cared deeply about his community, and a family man. Greg Sauer will wrap up the course by discussing the enablers of steam power and its societal impacts. He will end by noting that we are on the cusp of experiencing three General Purpose Technologies: Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Nanotech. The impact of these in the next 15 years will change our society in fundamental ways.
Coordinator: Jim Burns
12:30 to 2:30 pm

Wednesdays, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

The Native Peoples of Upstate New York
Native Americans have played major roles in the history of this country that are often undervalued in present day history teachings. This course will examine elements of tribal societies and the interactions between Native Americans, European immigrants, and State and Federal governments, with primary focus on the native populations of upstate New York. Richard Rose, Professor of Practice, University at Albany and retired from the NYS Education Department, will present two sessions on issues experienced by Native American tribes, including both present-day (tribal recognition, governance, economic concerns, reservations, land ownership) and historical (treaties, sovereignty, self-determination, genocide, discrimination) matters. Andrea Foroughi, Associate Professor of History, will discuss the roles of the Iroquois in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, including the alliances formed with both the British and colonial militaries. Christina Rieth, State Archaeologist, New York State Museum, will present archaeological and anthropological studies of the Mohawk, including their interactions with early immigrant groups to the Capital Region. The course will close with an exploration of the important roles of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women in tribal governance and society.
Coordinators: Linda Doyle and Jenny Overeynder
9:30 to 11:30 am

Just Opera
Opera’s reputation of death-bound plots is only partially deserved. Some operas are serious without mortal finish, while others are downright funny. In this course, Josef Schmee, the Kenneth B. Sharpe Professor of Management Emeritus, will review the gamut of outcomes, operas by great composers with sharp-witted texts, most with non-lethal ends. Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte is a sharp, comic, bittersweet, deeply human opera. Beethoven thought Cosi was amoral, yet Da Ponte’s text seems quite apropos by today’s standards. Donizetti wrote magnificent comic operas; Lucia di Lammermoor is not one of them. Based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, poor Lucy winds up mad (while singing) and dead (still singing). Lucia is what was expected from opera at the time of its creation. Wagner’s early opera Lohengrin, like Lucia, involves family discord, and also some magic, all laced with ethereal music. Wagner, of course wrote his own text, while his great southern “competitor,” Verdi, relied on Arrigo Boito to write a text based on Shakespeare’s character Falstaff to give us his masterwork. Falstaff may not be his most popular opera, but it is arguably his finest. And then there is Strauss with his Der Rosenkavalier. He was criticized that this opera was retrogressive, that he abandoned his earlier modern approaches to music. Oh, but what music! with Hofmannsthal’s text overflowing with human understanding.
Coordinator: Jim Comly
1:30 to 3:30 pm

Thursdays, October 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Intergenerational Economics: Are We Eating Our Young?
Brad Lewis, Professor of Economics, will debunk various apocalyptic economic forecasts: Social Security will go broke; Medicare will destroy the budget; we have a ridiculously large unfunded liability (one “expert” puts it at $210 trillion). He will outline the insights of Modern Money Theory: that our analogy of the federal government with households, states, or private businesses is simply inaccurate. Our national debt is not a problem, but in many ways a blessing. He will explore the circular flow of incomes and our demographic picture to point out that the prospects for the younger workforce should be excellent, as long as we educate them, invest in infrastructure, and continue to provide retirees with an income stream. We are already seeing the consequences of a smaller cohort of younger workers and it is giving them a better chance at good jobs, not the opposite. How might we wreck these good forecasts? Professor Lewis will provide more reasonable numbers on what challenges we do face, and how the United States compares with a number of other developed countries that have much more severe demographic issues. What is the world picture? He will wrap up by summarizing the above topics and two other major issues: the clustering of vital cities vs. places that have been “left behind”— a major problem politically — and what might happen with developments in Artificial Intelligence.
Coordinator: Jim Burns
9:30 to 11:30 am

Popular Culture and New Visions
How are language, art, video, music, and literature informing our modern world? Anastasia Pease, Senior Lecturer in Russian and in English, will discuss how the beauty industry influences our choices and often perpetuates harmful social divisions. Junko Ueno, Associate Professor of Japanese, will explore how the art forms of manga (comic books) and anime (animation) foreground such cultural themes as the relationship between humans and technology. Chad Orzel, R. Gordon Gould Associate Professor of Physics, will lecture on the ways science fiction engages with science, with an emphasis on the field of physics. Actor and entertainer Jermaine Wells will explore Hip Hop, from its humble beginnings to its position as a global phenomenon that has crossed all cultures and genres. In the final lecture, Jermaine Wells will speak about the changing roles of women and people of color in the world of film.
Coordinator: Paul O’Brien
12:30 to 2:30 pm

Tuesdays, November 5, 12, 19, 26 & December 3 - 9:30 to 11:30 am
“Oh, Just Grow Up:” Literary Adventures in the Experience of Growth and Change
It’s a cliché, of course, but many of us have said it in moments of exasperation with the behavior of a teenager, a colleague, a friend, a partner. But as another cliché would have it, “growing up is hard to do.” Harry Marten, Edward E. Hale, Jr. Professor of English Emeritus, will lead a discussion of 19th, 20th and 21st century novels and short stories that explore the experiences that bring us from childhood to maturity. Subjects to be considered are: a character’s family life, ambition, psychological crises, the function of memory, differences relating to class, wealth, rural and urban locations, the discovery of – or failure to discover – a sense of self, fear of the future or the past, what it means to have a famous father or mother, and what it means to have a parent who is a failure. Participants should read and be prepared to discuss the following: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (11/5 & 12), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (11/19), Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer (11/26), and How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer (12/3). In order to allow for an active discussion, registration will be limited to 25 UCALL members.
Coordinator: Linda Doyle
Registration Form "Oh, Just Grow Up"