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.

Winter/Spring 2022 Courses

We have an exciting list of courses lined up for Winter/Spring 2022.  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.  Winter/Spring 2022 registration will open at 10:00 AM on December 6.

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This winter/spring, DavidsonLearns is excited to offer a fascinating selection of in-person and online courses. 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, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. During registration 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.

 

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. 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.

In-Person Courses

Basic Economic Thinking: How Freakonomics Will Change the Way You View the World

Status: Open 

Every day we face important social, economic, and personal issues. Yet it’s impossible to make good decisions about these issues if we cannot identify clearly the key questions that lie at their core and cannot evaluate correctly the facts that are available to inform our decisions. With an economics professor serving as facilitator, discover how economic reasoning – how economists examine and analyze issues and draw conclusions – can clarify your thinking. This course may help redefine the way that you view the modern world. No background in economics required.

 

A sampling of the issues covered: why experts of every kind are positioned to exploit you; why a new car is suddenly worth so much less the moment it leaves the new car lot; whether police actually lower crime rates; and why conventional wisdom is often wrong.

Required Readings

Levitt, Steven D., and Stephen J. Dauber. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain. HarperCollins, 2015.

 

This book may also be available from other sources.

Instructor: Ted Amato, PhD

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 25 students

Day

Monday

Time

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Dates

Mar. 14, 21, 28; Apr. 4, 11, 18

Status: Open

Born in the USA: American Popular Music in the 20th Century

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 15 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Dates

Jan. 18, 25: Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22

America's music in the 20th century tells the singular story of how people from different backgrounds and experiences have come together to create a uniquely American art form. In this course, we’ll explore the ways popular music influenced and was influenced by the remarkable events of “The American Century,” a time when the United States was the dominant nation in the world in terms of politics, economics, science, and popular culture. We’ll consider the American musical scene through the lenses of civil rights and racism, feminism, technological change, and national politics.

 

(This course is primarily lecture but includes some group participation.)

Required Readings

Students will need to create a Spotify account to listen to playlists of music relevant to each lesson (available for free with ads and other limitations or by subscription with no ads and more features). Instruction for using Spotify will be provided. Assigned readings will come largely from articles that can be accessed on the internet, for example, "Who's Country," conversations with Ken Burns and Rhiannon Giddens at The Bitter Southerner.

Suggested Readings

The instructor will provide a list of other readings, films, videos, podcasts, and music.

Instructor: Rachel Stewart

Status: Open

Contemporary French Cinema

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 25 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Dates

Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22; Mar. 1, 8

In this introduction to contemporary French cinema, we will discuss one award-winning, critically acclaimed film each week: Mathieu Kassovitz’s Hate, Josiane Balasko’s French Twist, Erick Zonca’s The Dreamlife of Angels, Michael Haneke’s Caché (Hidden), Laurent Cantet’s The Class, and Olivier Nakache’s The Intouchables. This sampling includes both dramas and comedies, from male and female directors, and many with social themes.

 

Students will access and watch the films prior to class discussions. Three films, which are not readily available through normal outlets, will be shown at the Armour Street Theatre in Davidson the day before class. Students will be able to stream the other three at their own convenience. Here are viewing and meeting details:

 

Hate (1995, 1h38)

Viewing: screen on Mon., Jan. 31, 2 PM Armour Street Theatre or rent from Netflix by mail. Not available online.

Discussion: Tues., Feb. 1, 10:30 AM to noon at Temple Kol Tikvah

 

French Twist (1995, 1h42)

Viewing: stream from Amazon Prime $3.99 prior to class. 

Discussion: Tues., Feb. 8, 10:30 AM to noon at Temple Kol Tikvah

 

The Dreamlife of Angels (1998, 1h53)

Viewing: screen on Mon., Feb. 14, 2 PM Armour Street Theater.  Not available online or on Netflix. 

Discussion: Tues., Feb. 15, 10:30 AM to noon at Temple Kol Tikvah

 

Caché (2005, 1h59)

Viewing: screen on Mon., Feb. 21, 2 PM Armour Street Theater or rent from Netflix by mail. Not available online.

Discussion: Tues., Feb. 22, 10:30 AM to noon at Temple Kol Tikvah

 

The Class (2008, 2h08)

Viewing: stream from Vudu $2.99, from Amazon Prime $2.99, or rent from Netflix by mail. 

Discussion: Tues., Mar. 1, 10:30 AM to noon at Temple Kol Tikvah

 

Intouchables (2011, 1h52)

Viewing: stream from Netflix or Vudu $2.99 prior to class.

Discussion: Tues., Mar. 8, 10:30 AM to noon at Temple Kol Tikvah

 

(This course primarily involves student participation but includes some lecture.)

 

Suggested Reading

Singerman, Alan, and Michèle Bissière. Contemporary French Cinema. A Student’s Book. Hackett, 2018.

Status: Open

Creating Musicals: “The Addams Family Musical”

Cost

$44, does not include performance ticket

Location

Enrollment

Min 15, Max 40 students

Day

Monday & Wednesday

Time

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Dates

Jan. 26 (Wednesday), Feb. 23 (Wednesday), Mar. 28 (Monday), Apr. 11 (Monday)

From cartoons to television series to the stage, the fictional Addams family is embedded in American popular culture. Learn the history as well as the production and directing of musicals by focusing on the spring Davidson College production of The Addams Family.  The four class sessions will include the following:

 

Wed., Jan. 26: introduce the history and highlights of musicals

 

Wed., Feb. 23: explore the production of musicals in general, including the role of the choreographer, and the production and direction of The Addams Family in particular

 

Mon., Mar. 28: provide a tour of the Duke Family Performance Hall, introduce tech services, and get a sneak preview of the performance

 

Mon., Apr. 11: reflect on the show, converse with cast members, and hold a Q & A

 

Please note that the first two meetings are on Wednesdays, the final two on Mondays, and the performance dates are April 7-10.

 

(This course is primarily lecture but includes some group participation.)

 

Required Readings

Charles Addams -   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Addams

The Addams Family -   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family

The Addams Family Musical -   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family_(musical)

Status: Open

An Exploration of Davidson History

Cost

$44

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 15 students

Day

Thursday

Time

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Dates

Feb. 17, 24; Mar. 3, 10

This course will open the door to the hidden stories found in the Davidson College Archives, Special Collections, and Community Department. Together, we will explore primary sources (photographs, manuscripts, artifacts, etc.) to understand the history of the town of Davidson in a personal way. In addition, we will engage in “close reading” and other techniques to uncover evidence about major events in Davidson’s history. We will also invite you to contribute to the historical record of the Davidson community.

 

Required Readings

Instructors will provide a curated selection of readings via online links or in a packet. The following are representative readings:

 

 

Suggested Reading

The instructor will suggest additional readings in class.

Instructor: Jessica Cottle, MA

Status: Open

The Future of the American Health Care System

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 25 students

Day

Thursday

Time

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Dates

Jan. 20, 27; Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24

The delivery of an effective, equitable system to protect and provide the health of the American people is a great challenge. The clamor about accessibility, affordability, and accountability cries out for evolution, if not revolution, of our current system. This course reviews the origins and concepts of the American health care system, the stakeholders of the system, and the emerging strategies being proposed to improve the system. Some of those strategies include disease prevention, cost containment (medical services, pharmaceuticals, insurance rates), and universal coverage vs. Medicare for All.

Suggested Readings

The instructor will identify a suggested text for students prior to the start of the course.

Status: Open

Global Trade and International Relations

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 15, Max 25 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Dates

Mar. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Apr. 5

Every day our lives are impacted by the dynamic interplay between global trade and highly charged international relations. Understanding this interplay and having complete and accurate information are critical in making informed decisions and having broad-based perspectives on world events. This series of interactive classes will provide an in-depth overview of global trade and the role governments play in facilitating and disrupting trade. We will also explore how our trade, economic, and political relationships with China, Europe, Mexico, and Canada affect our daily lives.

 

The six sessions include the following topics:

  1. Global Trade – An Overview

  2. Drivers, Benefits, and Costs of Global Trade and Government Interference

  3. Global Trade in Reset

  4. Europe and Trade with the USA and the World

  5. United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

  6. China – The Defender of Globalization? International Relations Beyond Trade

 

(This course is primarily lecture but includes some group participation.)

Suggested Readings

Brief reading assignments (short articles) will help set the context for the class.

Instructor: Greg Knudson, PhD

Status: Open

The Good Life

Cost

$55

Location

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 16 students

Day

Friday

Time

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Dates

Jan. 21, 28; Feb. 4, 11, 18

What is a good life, a life that is good for the person whose life it is? We will explore four different approaches to understanding and thinking about what makes a life good: Is it maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain; is it achieving goals, or more generally getting what you want; is it living as a human should; or is it measured by what a person is capable of? For each approach, we will consider the associated philosophical position, the arguments in favor and against it, and the practical guidance each approach can offer. We will conclude by taking a brief look at the movement within psychology that attempts to understand happiness and what might be learned from this psychological research.

 

(Brief lecture followed by class discussion.)

Required Readings

Readings will consist of classic philosophical sources and excerpts from more contemporary writings. These will either be freely available on the internet or the instructor will provide copies.  

Instructor: Sean McKeever, PhD

Status: Open

Intelligence and Espionage in the Cold War

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 25 students

Day

Wednesday

Time

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Dates

Mar. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Apr. 6

The early Cold War was perhaps the most dangerous phase in the history of the world. Both the US and the USSR had thermonuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert and nuclear-tip missiles that could hit any target in the world within minutes. Intelligence helped to stabilize this dangerous standoff, as both superpowers and their allies relied heavily on intelligence to avoid a direct conflict. Early in the Cold War, the superpowers were unevenly matched in espionage. This course begins with the Soviets’ deep penetration of the US government in the 1930-40s. We will examine the Cold War’s most important spy cases and covert operations, as well as the role of technological intelligence such as spy satellites, planes, submarines, and intercepts. We will also discuss Intelligence successes and failures on both sides.

 

(This course is primarily lecture but includes some group participation.)

Suggested Readings

The instructor will provide a reading list for those wishing to pursue this topic more deeply.

Instructor: Thomas Rynne

Online Courses

Status: Open

The Rynne Lectures in International Affairs

Cost

$44

Location

online

Enrollment

Min 20, Max 50 students

Day

Monday

Time

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Dates

Feb. 21, 28; Mar. 7, 14

Global hot spots are shaping future policies about national security and diplomacy for the US. Current and retired faculty members from Davidson College and UNC Charlotte, some of whom have advised policymakers in Washington, DC, will provide insight into these issues in a 4-session course. Topics followed by Q & A will include:

  • US-China Tension is Still Rising (Shelley Rigger, PhD)

  • The French Presidential Election 2022 (Homer Sutton, PhD)

  • Psychology of Political Leadership: Motives, Character Traits, and Ethics of Leaders (Besir Ceka, PhD)

  • Update on President Joe Biden's Trade Policy (Joe Papovich)

Required or Suggested Readings 

None

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.

Jacqueline Culpepper, MM (Music Director)

Ann Marie Costa, MFA (Director)

Status: Open

Intermediate/Advanced Genealogy Workshop

Cost

$55

Location

Enrollment

Min 6, Max 8 students

Day

Wednesday

Time

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Dates

Jan. 19, 26; Feb. 2, 9, 16

The workshop focuses on furthering your original research, breaking down “brick walls,” and determining your next steps. I strive to help each person individually. Topics include getting the most out of primary records, such as maps, land plats, court records, deeds, and wills, and unusual research sources. Using indirect evidence is a major focus of the workshop. We will touch briefly on Ancestry.com and other data bases, but only so far as they are sources of original documents you need for your research. We will follow the Genealogical Proof Standard and analyze case studies for insight into how research is compiled and presented.

Required & Suggested Readings

None

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 12 students

Day

Wednesday

Time

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Dates

Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23; Mar. 2, 9

When, in the first scene of Shakespeare’s King Lear, the aging king disinherits and banishes his youngest daughter, Cordelia, he seems unjustified. After all, she loves him more than his other two daughters, whose fawning affection is actually insincere. Yet the text hints that the situation between royal father and daughter is more complex than a villain-victim relationship. Read another way, the scene can make Lear seem vulnerable and Cordelia’s treatment of him cruel. In this class, we’ll study one act of the play each week with close attention to Shakespeare’s signature prismatic complexity. Students will receive study questions in advance of class and, in class, will read aloud to explore the text. A movie version or two will figure in the last class.

 

(This course primarily involves student participation but includes some lecture.)

Required Readings

Shakespeare, William. King Lear (Arden Shakespeare: Third Series), edited by R. A. Foakes, 1997.

 

This work is available from multiple online sources; be sure you get this edition as we will be reading aloud in class.

Instructor: Cynthia Lewis, PhD

Status: Open

“King Lear” in Five Acts

Status: Open

Poets Teaching Poets

Cost

$44

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 12 students

Day

Thursday

Time

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Dates

Apr. 7, 14, 21, 28

The course is designed to help you “construct” your own poetry. You will learn from reading selected poems provided by the instructor, examining the work of each poet, creating your own poems, and engaging in conversation with other students about their work. The goal is to refine the development of your own writing through the lens of selected poets and class feedback. Poems will be from the work of W. H. Auden, Robert Frost, W. S. Merwin, John Balaban, Eleanor Wilner, Jamal May, Betty Adcock, Marilyn Nelson, Claudia Emerson, and others.

 

This course is a workshop, individually supervised by the instructor.

Required Readings

All materials will be provided by the instructor.

Status: Open

Principles of Genealogy

Cost

$55

Location

Enrollment

Min 6, Max 10 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Dates

Mar. 29; Apr. 5, 12, 19, 26

Interested in exploring your family tree?  Reach for the first branch with this introduction to genealogical research. Principles of Genealogy is suitable for those who have never tried genealogy … or who have dabbled in it but have not made much progress. The emphasis will be on learning some enduring principles of genealogy and on getting guidance on applying these principles to your own project. You are encouraged to bring your laptop/tablet, but it’s not required. Each class will include a 30-min. laboratory-type experience for individualized work.

Suggested Readings

Several suggested texts will be available for examination at the first class. Students may want to obtain a copy of one of them.

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 25 students

Day

Wednesday

Time

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Dates

Mar. 23, 30; Apr. 6, 13, 20, 27

This course analyzes the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, which lasted from approximately 1865-1877, and the impact Reconstruction had on subsequent civil rights struggles. During this period African-American slaves were freed from slavery but found that freedom did not bring about racial equality. For a short time, Blacks in the former Confederacy received the right to vote and participated in southern governments. However, White southern resistance to Black participation in government was fierce, and northern Whites came to prioritize reuniting with the White South and resolving issues around the economic crises of the 1870s and 1880s over protecting the rights of southern Blacks.  In the end White southern opponents of Reconstruction and Black rights seized power in the South with the tacit approval of most White northerners, and southern Blacks were effectively denied the right to exercise the rights and privileges they had been guaranteed by federal law and the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. The stage was set for the next phase of African American’s history, where they would fight to actually exercise the rights and privileges of American citizens.

Required Readings

Foner, Eric. A Short History of Reconstruction (Updated Edition). Harper Perennial, 2015.

 

This book may also be available from other sources.

Status: Open

Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution

Cost

$55

Location

Enrollment

Min 6, Max 12 students

Day

Monday

Time

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Dates

Jan. 31; Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28

During the Golden Age of Spanish literature, 1550-1650, writers gave the world the immortal protagonists Don Quixote and Don Juan. Lesser known was the creation of the anti-hero, the “picaro,” who was a poor, orphaned, lower class con-artist. Picaresque novels featured naughty but delightful scammers, barely surviving starvation by using their wits. The cynical humor and playful deviousness of these scamps exposed the seamy side of Spanish society-- its corruption, cruelties, failures, and injustices. We will follow the mischievous behavior of Lazarillo de Tormes and young Pablos, the Swindler, in two short novels and discuss the influence of the “picaro” in future literature of Europe and the Americas.

 

(This course is primarily lecture but includes some group participation.)

Required Readings

Lazarillo de Tormes and The Swindler: Two Spanish Picaresque Novels.  Translated by Michael Albert, Penguin Classics, 2003.

 

This book may also be available from other sources.

Status: Open

Scoundrels and Rogues in Spanish Literature’s Golden Age

Cost

$44

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 25 students

Day

Wednesday

Time

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Dates

Mar. 30; Apr. 6, 13, 20

This course will examine the lives and experiences of Black and White southern women, addressing topics such as family life, childbearing and rearing, economic roles, religion, schooling, and health. After brief coverage of the colonial South, we will focus on the decades up through the Civil War. How did the South influence its women? Were (and are) they unique?

Required or Suggested Readings

None

Status: Open

Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South

Cost

$77

Location

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 25 students

Day

Thursday

Time

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Dates

Mar. 17, 24, 31; Apr. 7, 14, 21, 28

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.

Required or Suggested Readings

None

Instructor: Mark Washburn

Status: Open

They Made the News

Cost

$55

Location

Enrollment

Min 10, Max 20 students

Day

Tuesday

Time

10:00 AM -11:30 AM

Dates

Mar. 15, 22, 29; Apr. 5, 12

This course explores the relationship between organized religion and the systems of higher education that have developed on the American scene.  Beginning with a brief survey of the several European religious and educational traditions, the sessions move chronologically through the formative periods and major developments from colonial times to the 21st century.  The final session will consist of brief student presentations (optional) on the interaction between faith and learning in a particular academic institution of the student’s choice.

Required or Suggested Readings

None

Status: Open

What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem? Religion and Higher Education in America

Cost

$66

Location

Enrollment

Min 5, Max 12 students

Day

Thursday

Time

4:00 PM -5:30 PM

Dates

Mar. 24, 31; Apr. 7, 14, 21, 28

The last few years have seen several excellent new novels on women in Ancient Greece. Rather than read them all, we will spend the bulk of the course reading the Greeks themselves. After an introduction to the time period and the evidence, we will read abridged versions of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (Stanley Lombardo’s translation), followed by Euripides’ take on the women of the Trojan War, and finally, Natalie Haynes’ retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of the women—the mothers, wives, daughters, and warriors. At the end of the course, students should be able to approach these new novels (a bibliography will be provided, of course!) with more understanding and pleasure.

 

(This course is primarily lecture but includes some group participation.)

Required Readings

Homer. The Essential Homer. Translated by Stanley Lombard, Hackett, 2000.

 

Euripides. Andromache, Hecuba,Trojan Women, Translated by Diane Arnson Svarlien, Hackett, 2012.

 

Haynes, Natalie. A Thousand Ships: A Novel. HarperCollins Canada, 2021.

Status: Open

The Women of the Trojan War