Chris Fowler Virginia Tech Essay Requirement


Course Descriptions

February 5 - March 19, 2018

Ukulele—The Happiest Instrument

Course #: 569049-001
Time: 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26, Mar. 12, 19
Location: Christiansburg Recreation Center
Class Limit: 15
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Mike Mitchell

Using tunes from The Great American Songbook, as well as traditional Appalachian music, the class will learn to strum and play leads, as a group, as well as individually.


  • Major, minor, 7th chords
  • Strumming patterns and rhythms
  • Reading TAB
  • Playing by ear
  • Arranging for jam sessions


Participants will need a ukulele in good working condition, tuner, and metronome.

February 5 - 26, 2018

Understanding Terrorism and Exploring Strategies to Fight It

Course #: 569049-002
Time: 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Dates: 4 weeks: Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26
Location: Corporate Research Center, 1880 Pratt Drive, Suite 2018
Class Limit: 36
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Paige Tan

This course on terrorism will enable learners to understand the current wave of terrorism in the context of earlier waves, with a focus on national liberation terrorism from an earlier era. Students will understand the similarities and differences between Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorism as well as be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of responses to the terror threat from the presidential administrations of George Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.


  1. Introduction and waves of terror
  2. National Liberation terrorism
  3. Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Lone Wolf terrorism
  4. Responses to terror by Bush, Obama, and Trump

February 5 - March 19, 2018

Staging the Conversation about End-of-Life Wishes

Course #: 569049-003
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26, Mar. 12, 19
Location: Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall
Class Limit: 15
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Anne Campbell
Jerry Niles

Each of us would like our life story to end on our own terms. Modern technological advances and hyper-medicalization of end-of-life (EOL) choices have made reaching that goal more complicated and, in some cases, elusive. Informed behavior and active conversation can provide an essential tool for us to increase the probability that we will live on our own terms to the end. This course seeks to encourage and empower participants by showing them how to conduct "big conversations" with their medical care team, family, and friends.


  • Critically analyzing the status of end-of-life care in the U.S.
  • Examining choices for EOL care.
  • Understanding and developing a comprehensive advanced care plan.
  • Creating a framework for conducting an ongoing conversation about EOL with family and the health care team.
  • Understanding hospice and palliative care as empowering choices.

February 5 - 26, 2018

Financial Strategies for Retirement

Course #: 569049-004
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Dates: 4 weeks: Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 153
Class Limit: 32
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Paul French, CFS
Chris French, CFA
Bettye Ackerman

The noise around finances, investments, and the stock market seems to grow louder every day. In this class, we will cut through the clutter of the 24/7 news cycle and present participants with straightforward and actionable strategies, helping them to manage their wealth, reduce the stress of their investing, and take care of those they care about. The course assumes a basic understanding of investing and financial planning, but everyone is welcome.


  1. Creating or fine-tuning your plan: How much is enough for retirement? building a financial projection; choosing and working with financial professionals
  2. Retirement income: 401(k)s and 403(b)s; IRAs / Roth IRAs; Social Security
  3. Prudent investing: Investment decision models; concepts for financial success; the hidden costs of investing and ways to minimize
  4. Estate planning: Estate planning tools; wills and trusts; using beneficiary designations; special needs trusts; elder care strategies

February 5 - 19, 2018

Love and Sex After 50

Course #: 569049-005
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Dates: 3 weeks: Feb. 5, 12, 19
Class Limit: 35
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Anne Giles

Love and sex matter after 50! Science concurs with what our hearts, minds, and bodies know. Yet, how to navigate this unanticipated terrain of longterm relationships, lost and ended relationships, uncertain future relationships, all with the spoken and unspoken prospect of getting naked together? The setting for this unfolding drama? A small, rural, college town. If you feel overwhelmed, you're not alone. This course will offer a dialectic of databacked, reassuring, juicy guidance on possibilities for how to individually, and in partnership, feel loving and sexual your whole life. Recommended readings at


  1. Update on the context for love and sex after 50
  2. Heart-touching, mind-engaging, body-tingling possibilities for sex after 50
  3. Ways to talk about love and sex

March 12 - 26, 2018

Nurturing Pollinators: Planting for Bees, Butterflies, and Hummingbirds

Course #: 569049-006
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Dates: 3 weeks: Mar. 12, 19, 26
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 153
Class Limit: 20
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Ian Caton

This course will advise homeowners and gardeners on strategies for planting to nurture pollinators. Each class will offer time for questions.


  1. Types of pollinators
  2. Plants for pollinators
  3. Landscaping and gardening practices that promote pollinators

February 13 - March 27, 2018


Course #: 569049-007
Time: 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Dates: 6 weeks (7 sessions): Feb. 13, 20 (2 sessions), 27, Mar. 13, 20, 27
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: $35

This engaging sampler course treats participants to a wide range of speakers and topics—something different each week.

February 13, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Managing Implicit Bias

We all have bias—even those of us who are committed to equity and fairness. Often, our biases are implicit—meaning we aren't aware that we have them until they are triggered by stress, fatigue, or surprise. Why does implicit bias persist? And how can we manage our biases so that our actions are better aligned with our espoused beliefs? This session helps participants understand how biases are formed, why they continue, and how we can replace them with better information. Participants will take the Implicit Association Test, as well as practice intervening when implicit bias enters the conversation.

February 20, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Demystifying the Familiar Stranger: Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is perhaps the most well-known native noxious plants ("leaves of three, let it be"), yet there is an astonishing dearth of specific scientific knowledge about poison ivy physiology and ecology. This talk will describe ongoing poison ivy research in the Jelesko lab about new insights into poison ivy ecology, including where it prefers to grow and what animals and microbes interact with poison ivy. The talk will also describe new opportunities to understand poison ivy metabolism and evolution from the recently sequenced poison ivy genome.

Instructor: John Jelesko

February 20, 10:30 - 11:45 a.m.
Inventing Loreta Velasquez: Confederate Soldier Impersonator, Media Celebrity and Con Artist

Scores of women successfully posed as men in order to serve as soldiers during the Civil War, and for a host of motives. Most were discovered sooner or later, given the difficulty of successfully maintaining the masquerade. But there was one who never intended to fool anyone, who repeatedly called attention to herself, and for whom posing as a Confederate soldier was just the first act in a lifetime as a charlatan and pioneering female con artist. We don't even know her actual name, but the story of her real life is more incredible than any of the fictions she invented.

Instructor: Jack Davis

February 27, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Fire Up the 611!

The return of the Norfolk and Western Railway's J class steam locomotive to operational status in 2015 was the result of a remarkable collaboration. Built in Roanoke in 1950, the 611 is a beautiful and powerful passenger steam engine that symbolizes the city's rich railroad history. Come hear the story of the return of the 611 as well as more about her history.

Instructor: Bev Fitzpatrick

March 13, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
10 Advantages of Aging for Psychological Health

Americans are living longer than ever. We'll discuss the multiple advantages of aging and life experience as they help one maintain and improve physical and psychological health. This is an opportunity to learn about the latest research findings on daily and weekly strategies in health behaviors, social relationships, intellectual and cultural activities, and emotional well-being.

Instructor: Diane Wagner

March 20, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
The Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918

The great influenza epidemic of 1918 was the most notorious pandemic in modern history, killing between 40 and 100 million people, mainly in the U.S. and Europe. We will discuss the origins of the epidemic, how it spread, and the efforts to contain it. Because it was such a disaster, it led to major advances in epidemiology and in public health procedures.

Instructor: Jim Shockley

March 27, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Writers and Artists from Artemis Journal and New River Valley Voices

Hear writers and artists discuss the inspiration to the realization of their creative vision. Members of Valley Voices and Artemis explain approaches to sharing artists' work—Artemis with printed publications and Valley Voices with live performances. Discussion will include a demonstration of a performance coaching session.

Instructor: Moderated by Jane Goette.

February 6 - March 20, 2018

Maps as Metaphor in Political Cartoons

Course #: 569049-008
Time: 10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27, Mar. 13, 20
Location: Hillel at Virginia Tech
Class Limit: 25
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Edd Sewell

Since the beginnings of political cartooning, cartoonists have used maps as a source for metaphors. This course explores how cartoonists from around the globe have turned simple maps into metaphors that transform them into significant political and ideological symbols and statements. Each of the six sessions will focus on a continent (e.g., Africa), a nation or state (e.g., Afghanistan, Virginia), or an issue (hunger, political behavior, or political personalities). Examples come from around the globe and cover topics as diverse as hunger, war, national pride, and yes, even building walls. Participants will create their own cartoons using maps as metaphor.

February 6 - March 20, 2018

TED Talks

Course #: 569049-009
Time: 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27, Mar. 13, 20
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 153
Class Limit: 25
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Dean Spader

TED talks are short, well-prepared, understandable presentations by remarkable, innovative, articulate persons on over 2,500 topics in almost every area of life. We'll watch and discuss three different talks in each class session, chosen initially by the instructor and then by volunteer class members who select a TED talk of interest and then initiate discussion. This is a participation class, drawing on the life experiences, knowledge, interests, and expertise of participants in the class. TED talks are an exceptional way to broaden your exposure to ideas and initiatives you may never have considered before, and to join others in lively conversation. Want to see what kinds of talks we might choose? Visit TED talks are designed to be "ideas worth spreading."

January 31 - March 28, 2018

Great Decisions

Course #:569049-010
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Dates: 8 weeks: Jan. 31, Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28, Mar. 7, 14, 28 (no class March 21)
Location: German Club Manor
Class Limit: 200
Cost: $35

Presented in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County

Great Decisions is a community discussion program on world affairs. The Foreign Policy Association develops background information and policy options for eight critical issues facing America and provides text and videos for discussion groups across the country. Participants prepare for class by reading a 10-page overview for each topic in a Briefing Book. Each group meeting begins with a 30-minute video with information on the issues. A local resource person who is expert on the week's topic provides additional information and guides discussion.


Check dates for specific topics at

China and America: The New Geopolitical Equation
In the last 15 years, China has implemented a wide-ranging strategy of economic outreach and expansion of all its national capacities, including military and diplomatic capacities. Where the United States has taken a step back from multilateral trade agreements and discarded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), China has made inroads through efforts like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). This session explores the leadership and political conditions in each society that contribute to Sino-American tensions.

Russia's Foreign Policy
Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is projecting an autocratic model of governance abroad and working to undermine the influence of liberal democracies, namely along Russia's historical borderlands. Russia caused an international uproar in 2016, when it interfered in the U.S. presidential contest. But Putin's foreign policy toolkit includes other instruments, from alliances with autocrats to proxy wars with the U.S. in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. This session raises questions about Putin's conception of national interests, why Russian citizens support him, and how the U.S. should respond.

South Africa's Fragile Democracy
The African National Congress (ANC) party has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994. But the party today suffers from popular frustration over official corruption and economic stagnation. It faces growing threats from both left and right opposition parties, even as intraparty divisions surface. Given America's history of opportunistic engagement with Africa, there are few prospects for a closer relationship between the two countries. Meanwhile, a weaker ANC could lead to political fragmentation in this relatively new democracy.

Media and Foreign Policy
State and non-state actors today must maneuver a complex and rapidly evolving media landscape. Conventional journalism now competes with usergenerated content. Official channels of communication can be circumvented through social media. Foreign policy is tweeted from the White House and "fake news" has entered the zeitgeist. Cyberwarfare, hacking, and misinformation pose security threats. This session explores how actors use media to pursue and defend their interests in the international arena and the implications for U.S. policy.

The Waning of Pax Americana?
During Donald Trump's presidency, the U.S. has begun a shift away from Pax Americana, the liberal international order established in the wake of World War II. Since 1945, Pax Americana has promised peaceful international relations and an open economy, buttressed by U.S. military power. In championing "America First" isolationism and protectionism, President Trump has shifted the political mood toward selective U.S. engagement, where foreign commitments are limited to areas of vital U.S. interest and economic nationalism is the order of the day. Geopolitical allies and challengers alike are paying close attention.

U.S. Global Engagement and the Military
The global power balance is rapidly evolving, leaving the United States at a turning point with respect to its level of engagement and the role of its military. Some argue for an "America First" paradigm, with a large military to ensure security, while others call for a more assertive posture overseas. Some advocate for a restoration of American multilateral leadership and a strengthened role for diplomacy. Still others envision a restrained U.S. role, involving a more limited military. Shaping the military function in today's international order and balancing this with diplomatic and foreign assistance is a critical leadership challenge.

Turkey: Partner in Crisis
Of all NATO allies, Turkey represents the most daunting challenge for the Trump administration. In the wake of a failed military coup in July 2016, the autocratic trend in Ankara took a turn for the worse. One year on, an overwhelming majority of the population considers the United States to be their country's greatest security threat. In this age of a worsening "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West, even more important than its place on the map is what Turkey symbolically represents as the most institutionally Westernized Muslim country in the world.

Global Health: Progress and Challenges
The collective action of countries, communities, and organizations over the last 30 years has literally saved millions of lives around the world. Yet terrible inequalities in health and wellbeing persist. The world now faces a mix of old and new health challenges, including the preventable deaths of mothers and children, continuing epidemics of infectious diseases, and rising rates of chronic disease. We also remain vulnerable to the emergence of new and deadly pandemics. The next several decades will be just as important—if not more so—than the last in determining wellbeing across nations.


The Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions Briefing Book 2018 is available from Volume II Bookstore; it is also available in a Kindle edition at A copy of the print version is available at Blacksburg Public Library for in-library use.

February 7 - March 14, 2018

Ikebana Flower Arranging—Level 2

Course #: 569049-011
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Dates: 5 weeks: Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28, Mar. 14
Location: Blacksburg Community Center, Community Room
Class Limit: 10
Cost: $35
Materials fee $20
Instructor(s): Suzi Austin
Betsy Risen

Prerequisite: completion of Ikebana Flower Arranging—Level 1 in Spring or Fall 2017. In this class, students will continue to learn the various styles of Japanese flower arranging. The first class will review the upright style from Level 1 and introduce the upright variation style. During the other classes student will be introduced to, and practice, variations of Slanting Styles 1 and 2. One of the five classes will focus on building skills for nageire supports, to include using modern and traditional materials. At this level, students will have the opportunity to try new floral materials.


Students should bring their containers and kenzan from the earlier class plus scissors and water pitcher. They will bring their own floral materials for arranging except for the first class.

February 7 - March 14, 2018

Novels of Toni Morrison

Course #: 569049-012
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Dates: 5 weeks: Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28, Mar. 14
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 155
Class Limit: 16
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Ginney Fowler

This course will continue the discussion about Toni Morrison's fiction that we started in spring 2017, though having been a part of that class is not a requirement. We will focus on two novels that treat, among other themes, romantic love. Tar Baby depicts two of Morrison's most passionate young lovers, Jadine and Son, who are attracted to each other by their differences, but ultimately find those differences an insurmountable obstacle. Tar Baby also includes, for the first time in Morrison's fiction, white characters who are central to the plot and themes of the novel. Jazz has at its center a pair of middle-aged lovers who have migrated from Virginia to New York City in 1906 and, ten years later, find themselves haunted by the past they thought they had fled. Although the word "jazz" is never used in the novel, that music is central to the novel's form and themes.

Morrison has stated that she always writes about "how people relate to one another and miss it or hang on to it ... or are tenacious about love. About love and how to survive--not to make a living--but how to survive whole in a world where we are all of us, in some measure, victims of something." The novels we will read illustrate the difficulty human beings have in recognizing love and trying not to throw it away.


  1. Tar Baby
  2. Jazz

Students should purchase the two novels (any edition) from Amazon, B&N, or the bookseller of their choice before classes begin. We will start with Tar Baby.

March 21 - April 4, 2018

Grilling a 5-Course Meal

Course #: 569049-013
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Dates: 3 weeks: Mar. 21, 28, Apr. 4
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center, Woodland Studio
Class Limit: 15
Cost: $35
Materials fee: $50 Instructor(s): Phillip McManus

Fire makes food taste good. Cooking outdoors is communal, cathartic, and daring. Grilling is the human attempt to control the most destructive force in nature and to coax it to fulfill our need for nourishment and weekend fun. Learning to grill meat is almost commonplace; however, you can grill vegetables, salads, pizza, and even desserts with ease and flair.

This course will convert novice outdoor cooks into a seasoned chefs-of-the-flame.

February 21 - March 28, 2018


Course #: 569049-014
Time: 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Dates: 5 weeks: Feb. 21, 28, Mar. 14, 21, 28
Location: Blacksburg Community Center, Community Room
Class Limit: 15
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Rhoda Lowinger

Drawing can be fun and can be learned: it is a learned skill. In this course, participants will learn how to draw in pencil using various drawing techniques including hatching/cross-hatching, and the classical Chiaroscuro method with an emphasis on proportion and linear perspectives.


Students will need an 11 x 14 tabletop easel (usually $15-25); sketchpad (minimum 24 sheets); eraser, pencil sharpener, and ruler. The total cost for participant supplies might be $50-60.

February 8 - March 22, 2018

Making a Murderer: Examining Justice and the Media

Course #: 569049-015
Time: 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 8, 15, 22, Mar. 1, 15, 22
Location: Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, Hatcher Conference Center
Class Limit: 20
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Jack Call

Making a Murderer was an instant sensation on Netflix. This documentary examines the wrongful conviction of Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Two years after his release from prison, he is tried for a murder amid allegations from his defense team that the police framed him. Making a Murderer consists of 10 one-hour episodes; each class will discuss two episodes. Together we'll consider the role of the police in investigating crimes and of the defense counsel in criminal cases, prosecutorial ethics, appearances of impropriety, and media influence in shaping public perceptions of justice. In the last class, we'll draw some lessons learned about the American system of justice based on this important case.

Students must have access to Netflix, but are encouraged NOT to do other reading or research on the case so that they come to our discussions with their own observations based on the documentary viewing only.

February 8 - March 22, 2018

Exploring Oil Painting

Course #: 569049-016
Time: 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 8, 15, 22, Mar. 1, 15, 22
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center, Woodland Studio
Class Limit: 12
Cost: $35
Materials fee: $10
Instructor(s): Lois Stephens

The first class will include discussions of materials and goals and a painting demonstration. Students will choose their subjects and spend the remaining sessions working on their paintings. The class is geared for beginners, but intermediate students are welcome. Curriculum may be adjusted based on goals and experience of students.


  • Tools and painting surfaces
  • Color mixing/temperatures/relationships
  • Tonal value/contrast/edges
  • Design/composition/visual energy
  • Goals—imitative or creative


Participants will need to provide their own oil paints, brushes, canvases or boards, easel, and additional miscellaneous supplies. A list of specific supplies will be provided for registrants.

February 8 - March 22, 2018

South Africa: Past, Present, and Future

Course #: 569049-017
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 8, 15, 22, Mar. 1, 15, 22
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 153
Class Limit: 25
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Josiah Tlou
Joseph Mukuni

The course will cover South Africa's historical storyline from pre-European settler times, through the era of the early European explorers, the creation of settlements, the colonial times, the establishment and resistance to apartheid, up to the post-apartheid era. South Africa is endowed with abundant natural and human resources, making it a destination of choice for many tourists and scholars from all over the world intrigued by its unique history and natural beauty. During this course, students, staff, and faculty of Virginia Tech as well as community members who have traveled to South Africa will be invited to share their experiences about the country.


  • History, geography, political and cultural heritage of South Africa
  • Early contacts with Europe in the 1400s and 1500s
  • Impact of European events in the 1800s
  • Conflicts between settlers and locals
  • South Africa in the 1900s
  • Apartheid
  • African National Congress
  • Wars of liberation of South Africa
  • Current issues
  • Analysis of outsiders' perspectives

February 8 - March 22, 2018

False Starts and Red Herrings: Mysteries

Course #: 569049-018
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 8, 15, 22, Mar. 1, 15, 22
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 153
Class Limit: 25
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Britton Gildersleeve

A locked door and a philosopher. A chief inspector of the Sûreté and a beekeeper's apprentice: what could they possibly have in common? That's only one of the mysteries we'll be considering. Join Britton Gildersleeve in reading four mysteries, ranging from classic Christie to contemporary Canada. We'll talk about why mysteries have remained a top-selling genre and how they've changed, and we'll look at the series starts of four best-selling mystery writers. If you've always fancied yourself an armchair detective, now's your chance to pit your brain against the best in literature. Bring your deerstalker hat, if you like!


Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Mr. Quin (Harley Quin Mysteries)
Alexander McCall Smith, The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries Book 1)
Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Book 1)
Louise Penny, Still Life (A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Book 1)

February 8 - March 15, 2018

How the Biological Ethics Debates Affect Your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness

Course #: 569049-019
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Dates: 5 weeks: Feb. 8, 15, 22, Mar. 1, 15
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 155
Class Limit: 15
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Robert Benoit

Rapid advances in biological and medical research have created unprecedented dilemmas without easy resolution. Cultural diversity also makes case resolution more challenging. Join this class where students debate classic and current cases in biomedical research and medical application, using models of deliberation practiced in university research and hospital ethics committee settings.


  • End-of-life dilemmas in many variations
  • Designer babies, societal costs of treating autistic children, reproductive rights after death and/or divorce, and more
  • The changing doctor/patient relationship in the 21st century
  • Big money and high pressure impacts on biomedical research
  • Cases suggested by class members

February 8 - March 1, 2018

Confederate Monuments: What's Their Story, and What Do We Do about Them?

Course #: 569049-020
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Dates: 4 weeks: Feb. 8, 15, 22, Mar. 1
Location: Hillel at Virginia Tech
Class Limit: 35
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Lawrence Bechtel

We will focus on a few significant Confederate monuments, especially the Lee and Jackson monuments in Charlottesville, which illustrate the issues entangling these potent, public symbols. We will consider three questions: What are the "origin stories" of these works? What values do we think they represent—past and present? What are the options for dealing with them?

My approach will be as an essayist, rather than as a lecturer—that is, as someone exploring the subject, rather than as someone dispensing information. The purpose overall is light, rather than heat. I anticipate spirited discussion and look forward to our essay together.


  1. Events of April 11 - 12 in Charlottesville, VA: church services, "Alt-Right" rally in Emancipation Park: multiple groups, with disparate aims and beliefs; "First Amendment Rights" issues
  2. Expanding our view: the role and prominence of national monuments; the importance of "mythmaking" in forming a sense of national pride
  3. Who was Robert E. Lee? The man versus the myth; the "origin story" of the Lee statue in Charlottesville; the subtle, pervasive influence of racism in American and Virginian history
  4. What do we do about these monuments? Options: Leave them be; leave them be and 'contextualize' them; move them to a museum or cemetery; destroy them

February 9 - March 23, 2018

Watercolor: Passionate Involvement

Course #: 569049-021
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Dates: 6 weeks: Feb. 9, 16, 23, Mar. 2, 16, 23
Location: Blacksburg Community Center, Community Room
Class Limit: 15
Cost: $35
Materials fee: $35
Instructor(s): Jesi Pace-Berkeley

Originality is being true to oneself. In watercolor painting this means allowing one's inner voice to express itself through color, shape, form, and value. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes mastery of drawing and technical skill are enough. But sometimes we need more, a focus, a directive to take our paintings to the next level. One important element is the artist's passionate involvement with the subject.

In this class I will attempt to help each artist bring something more to the viewer as we explore old as well as new subject matter.

If possible we will take advantage of painting plein air. If time allows, each class will include exhibit and critique. As much as possible, I will design a curriculum that suits the needs of each individual painter

 Possible explorations

  • Interiors
  • Animals
  • City Scenes
  • Machines
  • Portraits
  • Water
  • Reflective Surfaces
  • Still Life
  • Flowers
  • Figures
  • Abstracts
  • Landscapes


A list of supplies will be distributed in advance or at the first class meeting.

March 16 - 30, 2018

Facebook for Beginners

Course #: 569049-022
Time: 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Dates: 3 weeks: Mar. 16, 23, 30
Location: Corporate Research Center, 1880 Pratt Drive, Suite 2018
Class Limit: 10
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Heidi Dickens

This course introduces new users (or current users who want guidance) to the basics of Facebook. The three sessions will scratch the surface of Facebook's core features and culture and will serve as a primer to get any Facebook newbie up to speed. Come with a Facebook account, a device that connects to the internet (laptop, tablet, mobile phone), and a patient playful attitude. This is a "how to and hands-on" course. After you sign up, you will receive instructions about creating a Facebook account if you do not yet have one.


  1. Exploring Facebook: Common terms and features, including news feeds, timeline, search, friend request, messages, notifications, apps, groups, and interests; Facebook for mobile devices; privacy settings; your profile
  2. Using Facebook: Sharing and connecting through status updates, commenting, liking, and private messaging; uploading pictures and adjusting account settings
  3. Connecting and building community with Facebook: Pages, groups; how to find help

February 9 - March 16, 2018

Intermediate Memoir and Essay Writing

Course #: 569049-023
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Dates: 5 weeks: Feb. 9, 16, 23, Mar. 2, 16
Location: VT Public Safety Building, 153
Class Limit: 15
Cost: $35
Instructor(s): Richard Gilbert

Revision is the basis of literary art—it's where what people call "writing" (quality prose) happens. In this class, students will read innovative and awardwinning essays, revise their own and compose new work, and share their writing with classmates. The instructor will provide exercises to stretch your range and offer ideas for developing your own selfediting process. Based on the richly collaborative workshop model—receiving peers' insights and commenting helpfully in turn—the class makes learning less narrowly instructor-based and brings more brainpower to each essay.

This intermediate workshop is aimed at students who have taken previous LLI personal nonfiction seminars, or other writing classes, or who have been studying and writing on their own and hope to take their work to the next level. No permission is necessary, however. Enthusiasm is the core requirement!


  • Reviewing how to use diverse rhetorical moves to please sophisticated readers
  • Strategies for developing an enhanced self-editing process
  • Reading others' work with insight and giving helpful notes

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