Current Courses

Our goal is to enhance the intellectual, social, and cultural life of adults by providing challenging, diverse, and relevant courses on academic topics. Most of our classes are four to six weeks long and meet once a week for 1-1/2 or 2 hours. Our volunteer instructors are motivated by their desire to share their knowledge and facilitate thoughtful discussions on academic topics.

We have two semesters: Fall and Winter/Spring.

Check out the great courses below and click here for instructions on creating a DavidsonLearns account, joining DavidsonLearns, and registering for Winter/Spring courses.

Fall 2021 Courses

The detailed information below describes our fall courses. Once you have decided which courses you want to take, click on the “Register for Courses” button. It will take you to the registration program.

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This fall, DavidsonLearns is excited to offer three types of courses: in-person only, online only, and synchronous hybrid, this last defined as both in-person and online students attending the same class at the same time. Before registering for any of these courses you first must have a DavidsonLearns account and be a current DavidsonLearns member. We encourage you to take care of both of these requirements now in order to avoid a delay when you register. If you need to create an account or become a DavidsonLearns member (or renew your membership), click here

 

When registering for an in-person course or the in-person option for a hybrid course, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. When registering for these courses, you will be asked to affirm that you are fully vaccinated. We rely on participants to report their vaccination status accurately. You do not need to be vaccinated in order to register for an online course or the online option for a hybrid course.

 

In addition to the vaccination requirement, if you are taking an in-person course, we require that you wear a mask.

Online courses meet as a video conference on a Zoom platform. To ensure a pleasant experience with your online course, we encourage you to download and install the free Zoom application now. Click here for instructions.

 

If you would like to take a course that is full, please add your name to the waitlist, and we will contact you if a seat becomes available. Please do not contact the instructor directly.

Hybrid Courses
In-Person Courses

Status: Open

Mephisto and the Muse: Mental Illness and Art

Cost

$44

Location

Online or In-Person at the Hub

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 10 students

Day

Thursday

Time

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Dates

Oct. 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11

Health professionals find it challenging to describe what mental illness is. It can be even more challenging to describe what artistic creativity is. However, scholars generally agree that some of history’s most brilliant and creative artists lived troubled lives. Kay Jamison, the author of our required reading, writes from professional and personal experience with profound mental illness, coupled with historical scholarship about prominent artist exemplars. Her review of mental illness and descriptions of some artists (e.g., Van Gogh, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Poe) will provide the basis for our considering some challenging judgments in life and art.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

Required Readings

Jamison, Kay R. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. New York: Free Press, 1996.

 

This book may also be available from other sources.

Instructor: Cole Barton, PhD

Status: Open

Creative Approaches to Land Conservation

The linkage between our sense of place, our health, and our natural landscapes is too important to leave to chance. Our threatened natural lands and trees are vital to our sense of place; and land development, once it happens, is effectively irreversible. Conservation protects important natural lands better than land use controls, which are subject to political shifts and uncertainty. This course will explore creative approaches to conservation via case studies in local and regional conservation, watershed protection, urban forestry, and related policy. The course will end with an optional field trip to Redlair Preserve (Gaston County) where participants can experience first-hand the human and natural history, as well as the community value, of this 1,400-acre extraordinary preserve.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

 

Suggested Readings

Participants will receive a suggested reading list in advance of the course.

Instructor: Dave Cable, MS

Cost

$44

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 20 students

Day

Thursday

Time

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Dates

Oct. 14, 21, 28; Nov. 4

Status: Open

Exploring Math with Puzzles and Problems

Cost

$44

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 20 students

Day

Wednesday

Time

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Dates

Oct. 20, 27; Nov. 3, 10

This course will reveal some interesting math principles and tools by solving puzzles and problems. As examples for probability, we will consider strategies for a “truel” (a three-person duel) and the Monty Hall (“Let’s Make a Deal”) Problem.  We’ll apply number theory to the “Die Hard Riddle.” We’ll consider how combinatorics are useful in probability – poker or bridge, anyone? In plane geometry, we’ll have a short simple proof of the Pythagorean theorem – a useful idea for firefighters figuring out how to extend a ladder from a truck to a burning building.

 

No prior knowledge is assumed.  Be reassured very little algebra or computation will be in the topics we cover. The instructor will provide lecture and demonstrations of the material. Student questions and suggestions will be strongly encouraged.

Suggested Readings

The instructor will provide suggested readings.

Status: Open

Introduction to 20th Century Latin American Literature

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 8, Max 15 students

Day

Monday

Time

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Dates

Sep. 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25; Nov. 1

This class will introduce the importance of late 20th century Latin American literature by focusing on three authors who gained international acclaim. Gabriela Mistral, the first person in the Americas to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, is a poet from Chile. Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges, nominated eight times for a Nobel Prize, is a highly influential writer of genre-bending metafictions, essays, and poetry. His knowledge of world literatures and philosophies are woven into his short stories of alternate realities. The Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez won the Nobel Prize for writing One Hundred Years of Solitude. We will explore his themes of magical realism and circular time through a reading of several of his short stories. While this course will focus on these three authors, other influential Hispanic writers will also be discussed.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

 

Required Readings

Borges, Jorge Luis. Ficciones. Various translators. Grove Press, 1962.

NOTE: Be sure you are getting the English edition, as “Ficciones” is also the title to the Spanish edition.

 

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Collected Stories: Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated by Gregory Rabassa and J. S. Bernstein. HarperCollins, 1984.

 

These books may also be available from other sources.

 

Students will be provided with copies of, or links to, the poetry by Gabriela Mistral and Jorge Luis Borges.

Suggested Reading

Other material will be suggested as the course progresses.

Status: CANCELLED

CANCELLED - The Jazz Age: America in the 1920s

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 40 students

Day

Thursday

Time

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Dates

Sep. 9, 16, 23, 30; Oct. 7, 14

This course will explore the dramatic changes and events from 1920 to 1932 – America’s Jazz Age. Topics will include Prohibition, women’s suffrage, KKK, Scopes Trial, Red Scare, immigration, revolution in manners and morals, Lindbergh, and causes of the Great Depression.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

 

Required or Suggested Readings

None

Status: Open

Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad

Cost

$55

Location

Enrollment

Min 6, Max 8 students

Day

Monday

Time

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Dates

Sep. 13, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11

Before Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain wrote for newspapers. Innocents Abroad: or The New Pilgrims’ Progress is quintessential Twain, reporting his travels on a Mediterranean cruise to Europe and the Holy Land. His dispatches puncture inflated romantic expectations of mundane foreign sights, but many of his most acerbic – and funniest – descriptions are about his fellow travelers. Twain’s writing in Innocents provokes us to consider some uncomfortable cultural assumptions about ourselves and others, but it tempers our chagrin with his ability to make us laugh at ourselves as well as at others.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

 

Required Readings

Twain, Mark. Innocents Abroad: or the New Pilgrims’ Progress, any edition. [Hyperlink goes to the free Project Gutenberg version.]

 

This book may also be available from other sources.

 

Suggested Reading

The instructor will suggest additional readings in class.

Status: Open

Memoir Writing Workshop: It's My Story and I'm Stickin' to It

Cost

$55

Location

Enrollment

Min 6, Max 10 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Dates

Sep. 21, 28; Oct. 5, 12, 19

Everybody has a story. This workshop will help you identify your life stories – how to shape and share them. What are the high points and best memories? How have you learned from disappointment? For whom do you write? Perhaps you write for family and friends; perhaps you write for yourself. Here is the question: If you don’t tell your own story, who will tell it? The answer: someone who doesn’t know you.

Suggested Readings

Sotomayor, Sonja.  My Beloved World. Penguin Random House, 2014.

Cameron, Julia. The Right to Write. Penguin Random House, 1999.

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle. Simon & Schuster, 2005.

 

These books may also be available from other sources.

Instructor: Jean Stewart Berg

Status: Open

A Political History and Virtual Tour of the Panama Canal

Cost

$44

Location

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 20 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Dates

Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26

This course surveys the history of political debate over the Panama Canal – a monumental engineering feat that signaled America’s rise to world leadership. For some, the Panama Canal has long symbolized American greatness; it testifies to the nation’s strength, ingenuity, and perseverance. For others, the canal symbolizes something very different: an imperialistic foreign policy that is both anachronistic and morally wrong. This course focuses on the political rhetoric that imbued the “Big Ditch” with these larger symbolic trappings – from the national celebration of the canal led by Theodore Roosevelt to the “Great Debate” over Panama between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. We’ll conclude with an update on more recent developments in Panama and a virtual tour of this marvel of human creation.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

Suggested Readings and Film

McCullough, David.  The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

This book may also be available from other sources.

Kelly, Jack and Mark Baker, dir.  “Panama Canal: Prized Possession.” Miami: Community Television Foundation of South Florida, Inc., 2015.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFxYPgzhOQk

 

Baker, Mark, dir.  “Panama Canal: Post Panamax.” Miami: Community Television Foundation of South Florida, Inc., 2015.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzCULxAmkRU

Status: Open

Rethinking Latin American Immigration

Cost

$44

Location

Enrollment

Min 7, Max 15 students

Day

Thursday

Time

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Dates

Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28

Policy changes during the past and current presidential administrations affect Latin American immigration, particularly from Central America, to the US. We will briefly address the general history of US immigration policy but emphasize the factors driving Central American immigration and how the US has responded over the past decade.  Particular attention will be given to strategies for revising current immigration policy from human rights, social justice, and theological perspectives.

Required Readings

Truax, Eileen. We Built the Wall: How the US Keeps Out Asylum Seekers from Mexico, Central America and Beyond.  Verso, 2018. 

 

This book may also be available from other sources.

 

Other publications available online.

Instructor: Matt Samson, PhD

Status: Open

They Made the News

Cost

$77

Location

Enrollment

Min 15, Max 25 students

Day

Wednesday

Time

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Dates

Sep. 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27; Nov. 3

This course is a survey of the people, the events, and the inventions that developed mass media – from the cave painters of Europe to the press barons of the 19th century to today's Fake News pundits. In this lecture and discussion course, you'll meet the mysterious woman behind press freedom icon John Peter Zenger, intrepid "girl reporter" Nellie Bly, and the bat-winged moonmen who held New York in their thrall while creating mass-circulation newspapers. We’ll also look at the impact of photography and television on 20th century culture.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

Required or Suggested Readings

None

Instructor: Mark Washburn

Online Courses

Status: Open

Controversies in Paleontology

Cost

$55

Location

online

Enrollment

Min 7, Max 12 students

Day

Monday

Time

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Dates

Sep. 13, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11

The science of paleontology is the study of ancient life.  This course explores several current and important topics including the causes of mass extinctions, fossil fraud, and whether dinosaurs were endothermic or ectothermic (warm or cold blooded).

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

Suggested Readings

Brusatte, Steve. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World. HarperCollins, 2019.

 

Alvarez, Walter. T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. Princeton University Press, 2008.

 

Almost any paleontology or geology book by Donald Prothero

 

These books may also be available from other sources.

Status: Open

Deliberative Democracy: Challenges & Possibilities in a Polarized World

Cost

$55

Location

online

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 25 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Dates

Sep. 7, 21; Oct. 5, 19; Nov. 2

A healthy democracy requires its citizens to talk with one another about the issues that matter to them, especially when they disagree. Building on insights from scholars and practitioners, this course will explore the challenges facing deliberative democracy and then its possibilities, even amidst today’s levels of polarization and partisanship. We’ll cover perspectives from history, psychology, communication studies, sociology, and political science to explore the significant obstacles that inhibit productive deliberation and mindsets that can help advance it.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

Suggested Readings

Suggested articles, texts, and videos will be emailed to registrants before the first class meeting.

Status: Open

QAnon, Conspiracies, and Apocalypticism

Cost

$44

Location

online

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 100 students

Day

Thursday

Time

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Dates

Sep. 9, 16, 23, 30

This course will explore the fascination/obsession with conspiracy theories like QAnon, and we’ll seek the roots of this mentality down into the history of apocalyptic thought in America.

 

This course will be primarily lecture, but it will include some group participation.

Suggested Readings

The instructor will provide a list of suggested readings.

Instructor: Greg Snyder, PhD

Status: Open

Racial Justice and U.S. Settler Colonialism 

Cost

$44

Location

online

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 25 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

1:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Dates

Oct. 12, 19, 26; Nov. 2

This course will develop the premise that the settler colonial history of the US continues to be the foundation for racial injustice in the country. On that premise the course will offer the instructor’s exploration of the implications of settler colonialism’s remainders for finding a path toward greater racial justice and reconciliation and invite students to offer their own thoughts on the subject.

Required Readings

Required readings will be provided by the instructor.

Suggested Readings

A suggested reading list will be provided by the instructor.

Instructor: Ron Schmidt, PhD

Status: Open

The Rynne Lectures in International Affairs

Cost

$44

Location

online

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 100 students

Day

Monday

Time

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Dates

Sep. 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18

Global issues and key players, both past and present, are shaping future policies about national security and diplomacy for the US.  Current and retired faculty members from Davidson College, some of whom have advised policymakers in Washington, and an experienced federal trade policy advisor will provide insight into these matters in a 4-session course. Lectures, followed by Q & A, will include the following topics:

  • China’s rising power and influence in the global political and economic spheres (Shelley Rigger, PhD)

  • Biden’s trade policy (Joe Papovich)

  • What does Russia want? Explaining Russia's foreign policy under Putin (Besir Ceka, PhD)

  • National security and the protection of cultural heritage (Jane Zimmerman, MA)

Required and Suggested Readings 

None