UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Spring 2015 Schedule

Spring study groups will usually meet in the Talon Club Room at the Tsongas Center, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Lowell, Mass. Registration will take place at Convocation on Wed., March 11 at 10 a.m. in Cumnock Hall, 31 University Ave, Lowell.  Each course description includes the name of the person who is presenter or facilitator and the course coordinator who makes the arrangements and has responsibility for carrying out details of the class. Questions may be addressed to the coordinator.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965
6 Mondays, 10 a.m. to Noon, March 23, 30, April 6, 13, 27, May 4

A history of the civil rights movement, starting at the end of WWI and coming forward to today. UMass Lowell is commemorating the 50 years of the Civil Rights movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1964 this spring with a major photo exhibit, a history film festival at the Luna Theater and speakers. The calendar of events is in this newsletter.

Presenter: Professor Bob Forrant
Coordinator: Russ MacLeod*

Big Data, How Analytics is Transforming the World
8 Mondays, 1 -3 p.m., March 16, 23, 30, April 6, 13, 27, May 4, 11

Data is everywhere, shedding light on all aspects of life. If something can be measured, then in all likelihood a vast archive of data is already being compiled—and it is growing daily. The cost of collecting and storing data in digital form is drastically lower than ever before, so much more data is being collected and used. We will discuss what Amazon, Facebook, Google and your cell-phone provider know about you. We will also cover baseball analytics (Moneyball), March Madness, predicting elections, and privacy issues.

Facilitator: Richard Grove*
Coordinator: Steve Sussman*

Shakespeare: 'Much Ado About Nothing'
8 Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to Noon, March 17, 24, 31 April 7, 14, 21, 28 and May 5

This coming session we will read "Much Ado About Nothing," one of the three comedies called "High Romantic" by the critics. The other two are "As You Like It" and "Twelfth Night." Actually, "Much Ado" is known by most people as the Beatrice and Benedict play. The source of the story comes probably from a story by Mateo Bandello in 1554. Shakespeare creates several stock Elizabethan characters which are the mainstay of the comical situations. However, none of that provenance need concern us as we enjoy the banter between Beatrice and Benedict, which gives the play its brilliance and wit. This play is a marvelous example of a case where the part is greater than the whole. The banter, great as it is, does not take much away from the low comedy of Dogberry, the Constable, and Verges, his foolish helper. Those coming to the class will, of course, need a text. Other than that, we look forward to enjoying the play. NOTE: Class on April 14 will meet at the Campus Rec Center.

Facilitator: Frank Carroll*
Coordinator: Barbara Page*

European History and European Lives
4 Tuesdays, 1 -3 p.m., March 17, 24, 31 and April 7

Thirty-five of the most influential people who lived during years 1715 to 1914, the 200 most difficult years in the history of the West, form the subject of this dramatically different course from the Teaching Company. Who were these artists, writers, scientists, and leaders in the context of history? How and why did their lives shape our times and reflect their own? The presenter of these lectures is Dr. Jonathan Steinberg who is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Modern European History at the University of Pennsylvania.
Members of LIRA will show a sampling of the lectures; they will also provide supplementary materials; and they will ask members to comment and contribute their own experiences and knowledge of the subjects. A list of the topics will be provided at Convocation. This is a continuation of the fall program; new participants welcomed.

Facilitator: Jeanne Gunion*
Coordinator: Dorothy Bromage*

Integration in Education
4 Tuesdays, 1 – 3 p.m., April 14, 21, 28, May 5

In 1847, a five-year-old African American girl named Sarah Roberts was forced to walk past five white schools to attend the poor and densely crowded all-black Abiel Smith School on Boston's Beacon Hill. Incensed that his daughter had been turned away at each white school, her father, Benjamin, sued the city of Boston on her behalf. The historic case that followed set the stage for over a century of struggle, culminating in 1954 with the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
Participants will need to purchase the book: “Sarah's Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America” by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick. NOTE: Class on April 14 will meet at the Campus Rec Center.

Presenter: Professor Patricia Fontaine
Coordinator:  Nancy Pitkin* 

Art & Music
8 sessions, usually Wednesdays 10 a.m. to Noon, Mar 25, Apr 2(Thu), 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13

Beginning March 25 and continuing through May 13, meetings will start at 10 a.m. and go until noon, except for April 2, which is the Thursday trip to the BSO Open Rehearsal.  Please see attached schedule for dates, times, topics, presenters, and coordinators of the Art & Music series. The indoor classes on March 25, April 8, 22, 29 and May 13 will meet at the University Suites.

Coordinator: Barbara Page*

Great Decisions
7 Thursdays, 10 a.m. to Noon March 19, 26, April 9, 16, 23, 30, and May 7
1 Wednesday, 10 a.m. to Noon, April 1 (8 sessions) NOTE: Meet at University Suites, Room 106

Great Decisions is America's largest discussion program on world affairs.  The program model involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watching the DVD and meeting in a Discussion Group to discuss the most critical global issues facing America today. Topics for the spring are: Russia and the Near Abroad, Brazil’s Metamorphosis, Privacy in the Digital Age and Human Trafficking in the 21st Century. Briefing books are available for $16.

Facilitator: Richard Grove*

How Music and Mathematics Relate
7 Thursdays, 1 – 3 p.m., March 19, 26, April 9, 16, 23, 30, and May 7
1 Wednesday, 1 - 3 p.m., April 1 (8 sessions) NOTE: Meet at University Suites, Room 106

Intended for both the scientists and the liberal arts majors among us. Understanding the connections between music and mathematics helps you appreciate both, even if you have no special ability in either field. No experience in either music or higher level mathematics is required to appreciate this astonishing alliance between art and science.

Facilitator: Skip Youngberg*
Coordinator: Dorothy Bromage*

Book Discussion    
4 Fridays, 10 a.m. to Noon, March 20, April 17, May 15 and June To Be Determined

Please join us for lively book discussions!
March 20 - "Namesake" by Jumpa Lahiri
April 17 - "Guttenberg’s Apprentice" by Alix Christie
May 15 - "The Girls of Atomic City, the Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WW2" by Denise Kiernan
June -  "The Sandcastle Girls" by Chris Bohjalian
And if you are planning ahead - September - "Truman" by David McCullough

Facilitor: Toby Hodes*

*Indicates LIRA member