Courses and Registration

To register for the winter session, click here.


The Music of Cuba
Thursday, Jan. 12

The music of Cuba offers a kaleidoscopic window into the history and culture of the island. Through discussion, live performance and video, participants will explore the ways in which Spanish, African and native cultures have contributed to Cuba’s vibrant music traditions. Genres we will study include contradanza, changüí, son, mambo and comparsa. Speaker: Tim Olsen, Professor of Music and Director of the Union College Jazz Ensemble.

Behind-the-Scenes of a Crime Lab
Tuesday, Jan. 17
TV shows like “CSI” have glamorized the field of forensic science and enthralled the public through the application of science to the law. The behind-the-scenes inner workings of a crime laboratory are very different from how the field is portrayed in the media. This talk will explore what life is really like in a large crime laboratory - including scope of testing, types of evidence, investigative leads, testimony, academic and professional requirements, and maintaining the public's trust through transparency and rigid quality standards. This will be a broad overview of what forensics is really like from A to Z! Speaker: Lori Ana Valentin, forensic scientist, NYS Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany, N.Y.

Investigation of Embryonic Brain Development
Thursday, Jan. 19
This talk focuses on embryonic brain development from a mechanical standpoint. The research investigates which forces are necessary for the correct brain shape to form. The ultimate aim is to better understand congenital brain defects and the resulting neurological disorders. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation. Speaker: Ashok Ramasubramanian, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Union College.

The Gig Economy
Tuesday, Jan. 24
While the term “gig economy” has varying definitions and somewhat amorphous boundaries, and is not really new, a significant and likely increasing number of members of the U.S. work force could reasonably be included in the category. Freelance or temporary jobs rather than permanent work with a particular employer; the lack of benefits even with full-time employment; and increasingly, jobs enabled by more sophisticated information systems are the general characteristics implied by the term “gig economy.” Some economists (I’m one) would connect the expansion of the gig economy to a transition from an “organizational age” to a “creative class” age where human capital is paramount. We will examine: (1) why the gig economy has expanded, (2) general pros and cons and (3) some policies that may mitigate the problems and increase the likelihood that the increasingly large gig economy will benefit both consumers and the gig workers themselves. Speaker: Brad Lewis, Professor of Economics, Union College.

History’s What Ifs?
Thursday, Jan. 26
An historian and popular UCALL speaker looks at a subject often called “counterfactual history.” It has also been described as “putting what happened in the context of what might have happened.” In his view, it is essential to any effort at explaining the past or using history to think constructively about the future. He illustrates this with three examples: the events that ignited the U.S. Civil War and World War I, but did not ignite the Cuban Missile Crisis into World War III. How might these cases help illuminate the future? Speaker: George Wise, author and teacher, retired from GE Global Research.

KDKA and the Pioneers of Broadcasting, 100 Years “On the Air”
Tuesday, Jan. 31
It was a little over 100 years ago when the first broadcasters brought instant news, information and entertainment to radio listeners. This is the story of the people and companies that made it happen, starting in a small room above a factory in East Pittsburgh, PA. Speaker: Mike Molnar, entrepreneur, businessman, and radio and TV history buff.

Rapid Environmental Change in the Mohawk Watershed
Thursday, Feb. 2
The Mohawk watershed is experiencing rapid environmental change that is affecting water quality, flooding and aquatic ecosystems. The pace and tempo of floods and flooding, which are driven by intense precipitation events and ice jams, are changing and this has important implications for river-lining communities, like the Stockade. More subtle change is occurring in aquatic ecosystems due to shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns. These changes, coupled with an aging infrastructure, mean water quality and aquatic ecosystems are being stressed. This lecture looks at the profound effects of environmental change in the watershed and what this means for society. Speaker: John Garver, Professor of Geosciences, Union College.

Displays: Light Interaction and Human Health/Circadian Rhythm
Tuesday, Feb. 7
Artificial lighting was one of the foundational businesses that started GE, and the evolution from incandescent to fluorescent to LED-based lighting has improved the energy efficiency of lighting products dramatically. Additionally, new LED-based lighting applications such as the backlight for displays (smart phones, monitors, laptops, tablets, TVs) are becoming more ubiquitous every year. This talk moves beyond energy efficiency of artificial lighting/displays to discuss how human health and circadian rhythm may be influenced by light. Speaker: James E. Murphy, LED Phosphor/Display Technology Program Manager & Principal Scientist, GE Global Research.

Music, Movement and Horses
Thursday, Feb. 9
This talk introduces expanding interspecies collaboration between humans and horses with a particular focus on the intersection of music and movement in competitive freestyle dressage, choreographed classical dressage and original creative expressions. Come learn more about the art of dressage (detailed maneuvers on horseback) and the world of dancing horses. Speaker: Jennifer Milioto Matsue, Director of the World Musics and Cultures Program, and Professor in Music, Asian Studies and Anthropology, Union College.