UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Spring 2016 Schedule

The 2016 Spring Study Groups on campus will meet at University Suites, Room 106A, 327 Aiken Street, Lowell, except for Tuesday, March 22, which will meet at the Talon Club Room at the Tsongas Center, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Parking for on campus programs is in the garage directly across the street from the Recreation Center, in the Perkins Parking lot and in the parking lot at the Tsongas Arena. Your ID is needed to enter the garage and the Perkins lot. Please use your parking hangtags wherever you park.

Location of classes will sometimes change so watch for announcements.

Registration will take place at the Town Meeting on Wednesday, March 9, 10 a.m. in Cumnock Hall, One University Ave, Lowell.

U.S. Industries in the 20th & 21st Centuries

Six Mondays, 10 a.m. - Noon: March 21, 28, April 4, 11, 25, May 2
Presenter: Professor Bob Forrant

This program will help us to understand the large-scale changes that took place in the national economy over the 20th century and how these changes affected people. The program traces the early 20th century rise and late 20th century decline of the U.S. manufacturing base. Industries considered will include: automobiles, textiles, shoes, steel, machine tools and electronics. We will consider the impact industrial job loss had on the workers and their communities. The program covers:

  • Growth of the economy in the 20th century
  • Evolution of the large corporation and the factory assembly line
  • Changing places of women and minorities in American business society
  • Decline of the traditional U.S. manufacturing base after the Second World War
  • Rise of the 'high tech' and service sectors, especially in Massachusetts and California
  • Rise of ‘new industries’ like life sciences, and nanotechnology
  • Rise of big box chain retailers like Wal~Mart
  • The early 21st century finance, banking and housing crises and how they might affect our future.

Coordinator: Terri Munson*

Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Brain, But Forgot to Ask

Five Mondays, 1-3 p.m.: March 14, 21, 28, April 25, May 2
Facilitator: Arnold Kerzner*
This presentation will cover:

  • How the brain developed
  • How it absorbs and remembers information
  • How emotions can get in the way of memory recall
  • What happens to the brain over time
  • How does the brain continue to function as well as it does
  • What kinds of things help keep the brain 'alive"
  • What is "expected memory loss”
  • What is early Alzheimer’s and how is it different from "Dementia",
  • Does the aging brain really discover "Wisdom" and what is it!!!!!!!

Coordinator: Terri Munson*

European Histories and European Lives

Two Mondays, 1-3 p.m.: April 4 and 11
Facilitator: Dorothy Bromage*

In this series, the lives of historical figures are studied individually. Social and economic factors have an impact on them. They, in turn, are highly influential on their times. It is this interplay that comes out in a video lecture. Queen Victoria and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the famous persons this spring--first in the video lecture then by a LIRA member adding information to complete the picture.
Coordinator: Barbara Page*

Shakespeare: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Eight Tuesdays, 10 a.m. - Noon: March 15, 22*, 29 April 5, 12, 19, 26 and May 3
*March 22 Meet in TALON ROOM
Facilitator: Frank Carroll*

The Merry Wives of Windsor probably dates to 1602. The well-known story begun by 18th century sources states that Queen Elizabeth was so taken with the character of Falstaff in "Henry IV and V" that she asked Shakespeare to write another play containing that famous character Sir John Falstaff. We are further told to believe that the play was written in 10 to 14 days on the Queen's order. Some critics hold that the play shows evidence of hasty writing. The play was too gross for the taste of Victorian critics and was rarely, if ever, performed in that era. In any case, we have selected that play for a repeat performance of our own this spring. According to Folger's Guide to Shakespeare the play moves rapidly, its dialog is racy, its humor is earthy but healthy and its farcical action provides laughter and entertainment for all but the most tender-minded of readers or spectators. Incidentally, the play has very little poetry in it unlike what we would normally expect from Shakespeare but unlike him, critics claim the poetry lacks distinction. Well, the critics may have their day, but so will we have many laughs as we read this great work. Those coming to the class will, of course, need a text. Other than that, we look forward to enjoying the play.
Coordinator: Barbara Page*

The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience

Eight Tuesdays, 1 -3 p.m.: March 15, 22*, 29 April 5, 12, 19, 26 and May 3
*March 22 Meet in TALON ROOM
Facilitator: Toby Hodes*

We will continue to explore where spiritual beliefs come from and how, as the brain develops biologically as we mature, it reflects our spiritual growth and development. As we learn more about the latest research linking neuroscience and spirituality, this course will continue to shine a light into the deepest parts of the human mind and spirit, helping us to understand why people believe what they do, and revealing the relationship between the universal spiritual urge and the human brain. This is a continuation of the fall program – new participants welcome!

Coordinator: Carol McCarthy*

Art and Music

Seven Wednesdays, March 23, 30, April 6, 13, 20, 27 and May 4
One Thursday, March 17 Boston Symphony Open Rehearsal
See separate schedule for Art & Music

Great Decisions

Eight sessions One Wednesday, 10 a.m. - Noon: March 16
Seven Thursdays, 10 a.m. - Noon: March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28, and May 5
Facilitator: Richard Grove*

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. Two weekly two-hour sessions explore each topic in depth. Topics for the spring are: Shifting Middle East Alliances, The Rise of ISIS, The Future of Kurdistan, and Climate Geopolitics.

Briefing books are available for $20.00.

Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World

Four Sessions: One Wednesday, 1 -3 p.m.: March 16
Three Thursdays, 1 -3 p.m.: March 24, 31, April 7
Facilitator: Bob Hanlon*

We are surrounded by inventions. Consider the clocks, appliances, and transportation that coordinate our days. Or the televisions, cell phones, and social media that connect us to each other. Where did all these inventions come from? How do they work? And how do they reflect—even define—the values of our culture? Now, you can learn the remarkable stories surrounding monumental inventions such as Telescopes, Automobiles, Batteries, Nuclear Power and more—and how consequential these inventions were to history—in Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World. Taught by Professor W. Bernard Carlson of the University of Virginia, who is an expert on the role of innovation in history, these enlightening lectures give you a broad survey of material history. Along with recounting the famous inventions you might expect, such as the steam engine, the airplane, and the atomic bomb, this course explores a number of surprising innovations, including cathedrals, pagodas, and department stores. This is a continuation of the popular course that was offered last fall. New participants welcome.

The Presidential Election 2016 Continues!

Four Thursdays 1 -3 p.m.: April 14, 21, 28 and May 5
Presenter: Frank Talty

This class will examine the Presidential race of 2016, reviewing the primaries up till that point and looking forward to the remaining primaries and the national conventions this summer.
The class will also look at the November election, how the Electoral College works and look at poll numbers and map predictions. The remaining candidates will also be examined in detail, their positions, their websites and their sources of money. Participants will be well-equipped to understand and discuss the presidential election after this four-week class.

Coordinator: Nancy Pitkin*

Great Decisions Sampler

Four Fridays 10 a.m. - Noon: March 18, April 1, 15*, and May 6
*April 15 Location to be announced
Facilitator: Nancy Pitkin*

Great Decisions Sampler is an opportunity to get a taste of the Great Decisions program. Each two-hour session will cover one Great Decisions topic. Topics for the spring are: Shifting Middle East Alliances, The Rise of ISIS, The Future of Kurdistan, and Climate Geopolitics.

Briefing books are available for $20.

Book Discussion

Three Fridays: 10 a.m. - Noon
Facilitator: Toby Hodes*

Do you like to read fiction or perhaps the classics, or are biographies your preference? Perhaps, you are an aficionado of non-fiction. Whatever your genre preference, guaranteed sometime during the year the book group will read and discuss an example thereof. And what is more inviting to a passionate reader than an opportunity to discuss a book - like it or hate it – with other like-minded people? Our discussions are always lively, interesting, and varied, and a new point of view is always welcome.

  • March 25: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  • April 22: Emma by Jane Austin
  • May 20: Dead Wake by Eric Larson
  • June: To Be Determined

*Indicates LIRA member