Acadia Senior College

Course offerings

Fall 2020 classes begin August 24th.

All Fall classes will be offered online using Zoom - there will be no in person classes at this time.


Want more learning opportunities? As a member of Acadia Senior College you can also enroll in classes offered by other Senior Colleges in Maine, space permitting, paying only the course fees. Check out available online classes at other Maine Senior Colleges.

2020 Visions: Working Forward

Jack Russell

Online Zoom class
As America rolls toward the November 2020 elections through the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic, its economic impact, and resistance to racism, good citizens ask: What are the possible futures of American politics and society? This course explores these questions. We will first analyze our political terrain via the 2016, 2018 and pending 2020 elections, predict the November outcomes, and assess the near and longer-term consequences of the pandemic. The course will then explore the prospect of building a better America by envisioning the political paths in the early 2020s to six dimensions of a progressive future: Democracy, Commonwealth, Healthcare, Education, Resilience, and Harmony.

In mid-spring, some of you participated in my PowerPoint Presentation on contemporary American politics. The only overlap between that offering and my fall class is that the spring PowerPoint was a now-dated version of my presentation for the first class of the fall course. The fall class will include seven more presentations and discussions on important themes.
Registration closed

An Historical Introduction to Chinese Buddhism

Hugh Clark

Online Zoom class
Buddhism is one of the most important religions in our world today. It is also one of the most recognizable features of the cultures and landscapes of East Asia, including those of both China and Japan. This course will mix a narrative introduction to the origins and transmission of Buddhism from its birthplace in north India to its transmission via the Silk Road to China and then Korea and Japan with selected text reading. Reflecting the instructor’s background, the course will include both the history of Buddhism as well as some exploration of the religion itself. No background in Buddhism or the relevant cultures is expected or required.
Registration closed

Civil Rights: The Other Half

Nathaniel Fenton

Online Zoom class
In 2020 America celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. This class will celebrate what a female student in my last civil rights class called “the other half” of the civil rights story. So we will leave the stories of MLK, Abernathy, Lewis and Korematsu and focus on the stories of the heroines of the civil rights movement, those named Freeman, Tubman, Wells, Paul, Roosevelt, Murray, Perkins, Parks, Johns, Hamer, Baker and others. Would the civil rights advances of the past 240 years have happened without their leadership and sacrifices? Let’s find out together.

The Spring 2020 presentations on Zoom were a teaser (and for me a teaching lesson) for this course and some of that material may be included in the Fall 2020 course.
Registration closed

Cosmology: How Did We Ever Learn That?

Robert Gallon

Online Zoom class
Cosmology is the theory of the nature and contents of the universe. It is a BIG subject. It is amazing that we puny Earthlings know anything about it. This course will examine our changing conceptions of the universe from the ancients up to the early 20th century. The course will focus on the three great cosmological revolutions associated with the names: Aristotle and Ptolemy; Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton; and Einstein and Hubble. Most people know these names. Fewer know what they did. We will learn how what they did changed our conception of reality. The only math will be a little geometry.
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Engines of Change: The Automobile's Impact on Women's Independence

Jenna Beaulieu

Online Zoom class
This course will explore how women demanded more social and economic freedom by using the automobile to assert their independence and transform their role in American society, communities, and households. Driving allowed women to try things traditionally closed off to them, thus creating a foundation upon which to fight future battles for equal rights, voting rights and pay equity. Participants will learn about female cross-continent automobile and motorcycle drivers as well as women race car drivers, adventurers, suffragists who visited more than 100 cities, and others who contributed to positive change and took “mobilization” to a whole new level.
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Explorations in Human Evolution

Peggy deWolf

Online Zoom class
Understandings in human evolution appeared to be largely unchallenged until 2016, when a number of recent breakthrough findings, some in archaeology and others in genetics research, raised questions about what had seemed to be a largely settled science. This course focuses on a number of these findings, which address the age of our species, the timeline for our exit from Africa, our inheritance of archaic DNA, and similar species which co-existed with us. Our understandings in just four years have undergone a radical shift, the implications of which will be a focus of the course.
Registration closed

Highlights in European History, 1815-1922Cancelled

Michael Blythe, Harald Paumgarten

Online Zoom class
This class will present and discuss European development after the Napoleonic Wars, encompassing the industrial revolution, advances in science and technology, the expansion of the British Empire, the unification of Germany and Italy, Russia, France, AustriaHungary, and the Ottoman Empire. In what is often called the long century, political and economic changes occurred everywhere, with the period crowned by WW1 and the collapse of eight empires.

Introduction to the Yi Jing

Edward Beach

Online Zoom class
The Yi Jing (Book of Changes), dating back to approximately 1000 BCE, is among the most ancient Chinese texts surviving to this day. Originally conceived as an oracular method of divination, it sought to sift the intangible “seeds of change” produced by the permutations of “yin” and “yang,” the primordial female and male principles underlying the cosmos.

The course will begin by examining the basic philosophical and religious ideas underlying the Book of Changes. We will learn how to interpret the natural images and symbols comprising the sixty-four “hexagrams,” each composed of six lines to represent various permutations of yin and yang.
Registration closed

The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech and Religious Rights

Richard S. Cohen

Online Zoom class
Understanding today's First Amendment issues requires knowledge of the history of the rights it protects and their treatment in the courts for 230 years. Always at issue have been freedom to speak your mind, to freely assemble, to present grievances to government, to publish the truth, to freely practice your religion, and not to be oppressed by another's. We deal particularly today with disputes over the right to assemble to protest injustice, with censorship of speech on campus, with the responsibility of internet platforms for the content of postings, and with the extent of religious rights.

The format will be partly lecture with encouragement of free class participation via Zoom. Questions, dissents, and Bronx Cheers will be equally welcome. Course materials will be court decisions and commentary on them, and all will be available online. Links to reliable sources will be provided.
Registration closed

Writer and Region: Exploring the Beloved Community

Scott Planting

Online Zoom class
The course will explore through literature the meaning of community described by Wendell Berry and several Maine writers.  The title “Writer and Region” is taken from an essay by Wendell Berry in which he defines community as, “common experience and common effort on a common ground to which one willingly belongs.”  What is a community?  And, more particularly, what is a “beloved community?”  In different ways, each of the writers we will read - Sarah Orne Jewett, Ruth Moore, Edward Holmes, Elaine Ford, William Carpenter and others - address the theme of community.  What makes a community work? What makes a community resilient? Alternately, what can weaken a community? How does a community resolve the tension between tradition and change? Finally, what is the importance of community for us today?
Registration closed