Courses and Registration


Mondays, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy.

Week 1: Leo Zaibert, Ph.D. William D. Williams Professor of Philosophy, Law and Humanities, Union College, will start the series off with: How is Ethics Possible?

Week 2: Susan Kopp, DVM, professor emeritus of health sciences, City University of New York; affiliated scholar, Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, will present on: Animal Ethics.

Week 3: Bruce Roter, Ph.D., College of St. Rose; founder of the proposed Museum of Political Corruption and the Center for Ethical Government in Albany, N.Y., will share his views on: Political Corruption.

Week 4: Anastasia Pease, Ph.D., senior lecturer in English at Union College, will share her thoughts on: The Predictive Aspects of Science Fiction and Ethical Dilemmas.

Week 5: Michael C. Brannigan, Ph.D., adjunct professor, Alden March Bioethics Institute, Albany Medical College; adjunct professor of philosophy, Salve Regina University, Newport, R.I., will end the series with a talk on: Pandemic Responses: Culture, Identity and Ethics.

Coordinators: Jenny Overeynder and Toby Sabian

Mondays, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Did you ever wonder how the amazing complexity of the world that we see around us today came to be? Big History is a unique way of looking at this question, starting from the formation of the universe. A multi-disciplinary approach is required that draws from the sciences and the humanities.

Week 1: Dr. Michael Collins provides an introduction to the origin and concepts of the Big History approach, to set the stage for the journey from the beginning of time to today.

Week 2: Professor Valerie Rapson presents the initial transitions in the complexity of the universe, from the Big Bang to the formation of the Earth.

Week 3: Professor George Shaw discusses what the evidence tells us about the next major step change in complexity, the emergence of life on Earth and its evolution into complex organisms.

Week 4: Professor Mark Walker explores what we know about the next major changes in complexity among humans: settling down, collective learning and the development of agriculture.

Week 5: Professor Mark Walker concludes our 13.7-billion-year journey by discussing the key developments that occurred during the period of recorded history that have led to the stunning complexity of the modern world.

Coordinator: Michael Collins

Tuesdays, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26, Nov. 2
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

This is a great opportunity to hear local authors talk about their recent work, including nonfiction, biography, memoir, stories from a news reporter, and human interest.

Week 1: Italy to America: My Family’s Immigration Journey by Mike DeMasi tells the story of his parents and oldest siblings, who moved from a small town in southern Italy to Troy, N.Y. What They Said: 25 Years of Telling Stories is a collection of stories from the author’s career as a journalist.

Week 2: Sadie’s Boys by Larry Lewis is a nonfiction book about his family’s World War II trials and tribulations.

Week 3: The Book Keeper: A Memoir of Race, Love, and Legacy by Julia McKenzie Munemo is a memoir that is equal parts love story, family investigation and racial reckoning.

Week 4: CT: A Cat’s Story, Keys of the Road: A Country Boy’s Memories and Voices from Room 6 are all human-interest stories written by Paul O’Brien, a retired teacher and UCALL member.

Week 5: Washington’s Golden Age: Hope Ridings Miller, the Society Beat, and the Rise of Women Journalists by Joseph Dalton is a biography about Miller, who was the society editor for The Washington Post from 1937–1944.

Coordinator: Stella Collins

Tuesdays, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26, Nov. 2
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

This course by Professor Peter Bedford investigates how various religions (including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) understand death and the afterlife, and how this understanding relates to views of the human person. It also discusses religious rituals pertaining to death and examines near-death experiences in relation to religious views of death and the afterlife. The course draws on a variety of methods, including history, anthropology, sociology and philosophy.

Coordinator: Cathy Lewis

Tuesdays, Nov. 9, 16, 23, 30, Dec. 7
10 a.m. – Noon

Harry Marten, Edward E. Hale, Jr. Professor of English Emeritus, will lead a discussion of works that explore the complicated experience of belonging to and/or being excluded from a group because of such issues as nationality, race, religion, class, gender, political belief, physical or psychological differences. These are visible in the language we speak, the gestures we make, the ways we dress, the food we eat, the homes we inhabit, the choices we make, the things we love and hate. These are stories of conquerors and the conquered, immigrants and refugees, families, the ways we educate and fail to educate ourselves, longing for safety and order and our attraction to risk and fluidity. Participants should read and be prepared to discuss the following: E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India (11/9), Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (11/16), Josh Swiller’s The Unheard (11/23), Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping (11/30), and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake (12/7). To allow for an active discussion, registration will be limited to 30 UCALL members.

Coordinator: Linda Doyle

Wednesdays, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, Nov. 3
10 a.m. – Noon

The historical period of 1880-1925 was a time of extraordinary cultural change in Ireland, as the country moved from colonization to revolution to independence to civil war. Claire Bracken, Ph.D. (associate professor, English Department, Union College) will lead an examination of this critically important era through an analysis of literary texts that engage with the historical realities of the period. Presentations will be provided on Home Rule, the 1913/1914 Lockout, Easter 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, followed by discussion of the relationships between historical context and literary representation of these moments in Irish history. Participants will be expected to read and be prepared to discuss assigned works by Katherine Tynan, W.B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory, James Joyce, James Plunkett, Sean O’Casey, Eva Gore-Booth, and Military History Witness Statements. See the UCALL online registration site for details and sources of works. In order to allow for an active discussion, registration will be limited to 30 UCALL members.

Coordinators: Linda Doyle and Paul O’Brien

Wednesdays, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, Nov. 3
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The musical world of the nineteenth century deified Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven’s music demonstrates a moral commitment not heard before. Compositions of his middle period already show an unheard strength, e.g. the Eroica symphony or his Razumovsky string quartets. The dimensions of his compositions expanded to bring us the Choral Symphony and the “Grosse Fuge.” No composer could ignore Beethoven. He had to be overcome somehow, but how?
Franz Schubert lived in Vienna and adored Beethoven. To entertain his friends, he composed Lieder and exquisite chamber music, string quartets or piano pieces. With his symphonies he struggled to surpass Beethoven as with the “Unfinished.” The Great C Major Symphony accomplishes his goal though it remained unperformed for many years.
Mendelssohn is an early Romantic composer. During his youth, he was compared to Mozart. He received a superb education and travelled widely. A superb pianist, he became conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and revived the music of Bach. His earliest compositions reveal maturity. As a teenager he composed the String Octet and the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream; in his twenties the Scottish and the Italian Symphonies; later oratorios.
The first three sessions give an overview of each composer. The last two sessions examine different genres of music and how these composers treated them.

Coordinator: Jim Comly

Thursdays, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

October 7: Geology and Scenery of Eastern Canada (and US)
Dr. Michael Adler will explain the shared formation and geology of eastern Canada and the United States illustrated by pictures from the speaker’s 20 plus trips by sailboat and kayak to northeast Canada. The focus will be during the Ordovician (475MYA) when the Iapetus Ocean collapsed and there was a collision of the North American, European, and eventually African plates. The result of this was the formation of the Laurentian and Appalachian Mountains in North American and the Caledonian mountains in Europe.

October 14: Recent Missions Studying Asteroids, Comets, and Kuiper Belt Objects
Dr. Michael Adler will describe the NASA Dawn mission to the two largest asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, the ESA Rosetta mission to the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the flyby by the New Horizon’s spacecraft of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule.
Exploration of New York and New England History: A meandering odyssey
Presented in 3 talks by Dr. John W. Delano

October 21: As a young child John Delano was intrigued by the many stone walls located in the woods near his family’s rural home in South Deerfield, N.H. Decades later, this interest led to his mapping stone walls in the woods near his family’s home east of Troy, N.Y.

October 28: Old documents from the original families who had settled the land east of Troy during the late 18th century were found and provided glimpses into the lives of the subsistence farmers.

November 4: The diary of a mid-18th century surveyor team, the importance of the Pine Tree Riot of early 1772 in Weare, N.H., and the history of a farming community in South Deerfield, N.H. will be examined.

Coordinator: Jim Comly