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Course Schedules

LIRA operates on a two-semester plan during the spring and fall that generally runs eight weeks. Members may participate in as many courses as desired.

2018 Winter Intersession

The 2018 Winter Intersession, given between semesters, offers to retirees and those semi-retired, a sample of LIRA’s almost year- round program and friendly community. The program is planned and much of it provided by the members themselves. The general public is invited to all intersession programs. All intersession programs are on Wednesday from 10 am – Noon. The programs will be held in University Suites, Room #106, 327 Aiken Street, Lowell, MA. Because of construction going on in the front of the building, please enter at the side entrance on Perkins Street. Coffee will not be available at the café. Parking for on campus programs is in the garage directly across the street from the Rec Center or in the Perkins Parking lot. Your ID is needed to enter the garage or lot. Please use your parking hangtags wherever you park. On street parking is also available in metered spaces.

December 15, 2017 Book Discussion: 10 a.m. to Noon

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, fiction by Carson McCullers

(FYI: It is considered to be one of the best books of the 20th century)

January 3 – The Rebirth of Lowell - Craig Thomas

City rebirth is different for each and every location and Lowell is no different. The changes in Lowell since the 1970s are truly extraordinary - from a city with the highest unemployment in the country to a city thriving in the knowledge economy in the early twenty-first century. How did Lowell change during the decades since the 1970s? How did twentieth century decisions shape the community today? And how are redevelopment decisions made today? The class will start with development ideas and changes in Lowell emerging from urban renewal and bring the city planning and development timeline to focus on current issues, such as 1) how to redevelop the Hamilton Canal Innovation District; and 2) how do neighborhoods participate in development planning. Participants will debate current development proposals and walk away with a more detailed understanding of how a city rebuilds over time.

Coordinator: Nancy Pitkin*

January 10 - They Arrived before Columbus - David Brody

Numerous artifacts and sites around New England offer evidence of exploration of North America long before Columbus. Specifically, the artifacts seem to confirm the legend of a group of Scottish explorers, with ties to the outlawed Knights Templar, island-hopping their way across the North Atlantic in the late 1300s. Who were they, and why did they come? Well, that's where the fun begins.”

January 17 North of the Border: Canadian Mystery and Detective Fiction - Melissa Pennell

For over a century the genre of mystery and detective fiction was dominated by British and American authors. Occasionally authors from France, and more recently those from Scandinavia, have found audiences beyond their home countries. In the last decade or so, mystery and detective fiction has surged as a genre in Canada. US readers are familiar with the work of Louise Penny, whose Inspector Gamache and the village of Three Pines have become fan favorites. But there is more to discover in terms of authors, characters, and settings. This presentation will offer a “tour of Canada” through its mystery and detective fiction, highlighting some classics as well as the diverse range of work being produced by contemporary authors.

Coordinator: Dina Gerosideris*

January 17 Book Discussion: 1-3 p.m.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

January 24 Autism - Professor Ashleigh Hillier

Professor Hillier (Department of Psychology, UMass Lowell) will speak about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), particularly in relation to adolescents and young adults. She will give some background information about ASD, how ASD presents, and some recent research in the area. She will also discuss the work of the UMass Lowell Center for Autism Research and Education (CARE).

Coordinator: Bob Hanlon*

January 31 Art and Architecture Tour of the Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library in Copley Square has a lot more than just books. On this tour, you will explore the architecture of its famed Central Library buildings by Charles Follen McKim and Philip Johnson as well as the art treasures within, including works by Daniel Chester French and John Singer Sargent. You will see beautifully carved bronze doors, sculptures, marble floors and walls, mural paintings by Puvis de Chavannes, Edwin Austin Abbey and John Singer Sargent, rooms modeled after those found in a Venetian palace and much more.

The bus tour will depart the side parking lot at Hannaford in Chelmsford at 8 a.m. Our tour starts at 10 a.m. and will last about an hour and fifteen minutes. We will leave the library to return home at 12:30 p.m. The library has two cafes and there are numerous places to eat nearby around Copley Square.

Cost is $20. for members. $25. for non-members. Please send checks made out to LIRA, INC to Bob Hanlon, 255 North Road, Unit 37, Chelmsford MA 01824 by Friday, January 12.

Coordinator: Bob Hanlon*

February 7 What Makes Life Significant? - Professor John Kaag

John Kaag, a professor in philosophy, will discuss his American Philosophy: A Love Story, which was named an NPR Best Book of 2016 and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. In the process, he will draw on the American philosophical tradition—the writings of Thoreau, Emerson, and William James—to discuss what is perhaps the hardest, but also the most vital, philosophical question: What makes life significant? This question is practically important for every human being, but its pressing nature becomes more apparent as one ages. Come see what American philosophers had to say about it; come discuss the various answers and figure it out for yourself!

Coordinator: Suzanne Gamache*

February 14 Being Transgender: A talk by Kelly Jenkins

In 2014 the government ordered the Justice Dept. to take the position that "sex" encompasses gender identity, thus extending protections to transgender people. In the fall of 2017 a two-page memo was sent to all U.S. attorneys and other top officials revoking this directive. Kelly Jenkins is a Wellesley Middle School teaching assistant, a fierce advocate for youth, a host and producer of "Kelly's Quest" on Acton TV, and has been featured on NPR. She will share her personal stories to help us toward a broader understanding of the word "transgender" and the many issues surrounding it.

Coordinator: Judith Raiguel*

February 21 Mysterious Mars — in 3D! - Kelly Beatty, Senior Editor for Sky and Telescope magazine

No planet in our solar system is more similar to Earth than the Red Planet. Thanks to spacecraft that have been circling Mars and crawling across its surface for decades, we’ve learned that this world is now a deeply frozen wasteland. But long ago it was much warmer, had a dense atmosphere, and had rivers of liquid water flowing across its surface. What happened to Mars? Was life ever present on its surface? What’s it like today? And why is it red? Get the latest scientific details — and enjoy you-are-there 3D views of its surface — in this informative and entertaining update. (Bonus: Next summer Earth and Mars will pass closer than they have since 2003. Be ready to impress your friends with your knowledge of the Red Planet!)

Coordinator: Susan Lemire*

February 21 Book Discussion 1-3p.m.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

*Indicates LIRA member.

*Indicates LIRA member.