Acadia Senior College

Course offerings

Registration for Spring 2021 courses opens on February 3rd at 10:00 a.m.

First time ASC member? Join Acadia Senior College as a new member for a reduced membership and receive one free class! Please see the course brochure for more details and a special offer for members sharing a Zoom screen. You must contact us directly to take advantage of these offers.

The Spring 2021 term runs from March 15 through May 28.

Spring 2021 course brochure button


Creating a Bird Mobile with the Wendell Gilley Museum's Artist-in-Residence

Steven Valleau

Online via Zoom
Create a charming bird mobile with the Wendell Gilley Museum’s longtime artist-in-residence, Steve Valleau. Starting from a comprehensive kit that includes wooden blanks, participants will use paint and wood-burning to make five birds, then connect them to finish a whimsical hanging art piece in this six-week Zoom class. Some work between classes will be necessary. Ambitious students can expand the project with more or different birds.

Kits will be supplied, and wood burners and painting materials may be borrowed from the Wendell Gilley Museum.
Registration closed

Designing the Surface—Applying Color and Pattern to Cloth

Shira Singer

Outdoor tent at ArtWaves, Town Hill
In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn the fundamentals of dyeing with fiber reactive dye, a permanent and versatile room temperature dye for plant based fibers. We will work on cotton, exploring different methods of dye application and experiment with printing and stenciling techniques. Each person will have the opportunity to create a variety of fabric samples. Absolutely no art experience is necessary to participate in this class.
Registration closed

Downeast Maine Field Ornithology: Winter Birds and the Transition to Spring

Michael Good

Field trips to various sites along migratory pathways
Students will learn the fundamentals of Ornithology in and around the diverse variety of habitats that make Down East Maine vital for bird migration. Migratory pathways and the physiological advances that allow birds to survive the ever-changing climate, and avian taxonomy, plumage, and physiology will be discussed. Global migration patterns, the role of weather, judging relative size, population dynamics and behavior, avian communication and topography will be also be analyzed. Students will use eBird and extensive field notebooks to record information on bird abundance and distribution at various locations.

All students should have binoculars; some time will be spent on optics and the use of spotting scopes, and photography for data collection. Weather-appropriate clothing, the ability to walk over uneven ground, and masks and social distancing will be required. Each week students will drive individually or carpool in Covid free pods to field trip locations chosen by the instructor to enhance learning and maximize exposure to winter migrants and the transition to spring migratory birds.
Registration closed

Improving Decision Making and Public Policy: Lessons from Behavioral Economics

Sheila Kirby

Online via Zoom
Why do we sometimes fail to act in our own best interests? Traditional economic models of decision making assume that people make decisions in a “rational” manner. These models work well – until they don’t. This course provides an introduction to a relatively new field – Behavioral Economics – that draws on the fields of economics, psychology, sociology, and neuroscience, to provide a better explanation of what influences the choices we make. Governments and companies all over the world are now using behavioral insights to design and improve their policies (often called “nudging”). This class will examine these efforts – successes, lessons learned, and ethical issues. There is no math prerequisite.
Registration closed

Introduction to Nature Writing

Ann Caswell

Online via Zoom, with field trips into Acadia National Park
Are you ready to get out safely and observe the transformation of Acadia from winter to spring? Learn how seminal nature writers like Thoreau and Emerson regarded elemental features of the landscape – mountain, lake, ocean, forest. Then, work your own observations and reflections into short personal essays to share in class. No experience with creative writing is required! This will be a hybrid class: an hour on Zoom plus an hour in the field (with travel time in between).
Registration closed

Let's Make Bread Together

Mary Vekasi

Online via Zoom
This will be a four week hands on course conducted via Zoom. We will make and bake a variety of breads using commonly available commercial grains and interesting alternative and heritage grains, create our own sourdough starter, and have fun sharing bread-making experiences and recipes. You will need access to a digital device (computer, iPad etc), your own home kitchen, oven, flours and ingredients. An ingredient list will be sent out at the beginning of the course.
Registration closed

Mindfulness Practices

Jen Harry

Online via Zoom
In this 4-week series learn how mindfulness practices can help you cope with chronic pain & illness, reduce stress, & restore well-being. Using the principles of Mindfulness Based Pain Management, we will explore the concept of pain, how we respond to it and each week we will learn short meditation practices that can help ease the intensity of pain, reduce suffering, and help you discover that it is possible to find peace and enjoy a fulfilling life, even if pain and illness are unavoidable.
Registration closed

Naturalizing Your LandscapeCancelled

Valencia Libby

Online via Zoom
Have you ever asked, “Should I only use native plants?” or “How do I improve my property to support bees & birds?” This course will consider these topics while we will also cover: how to analyze your property to see where naturalistic plantings can thrive, how to enhance existing natural areas, and how to begin a meadow or wetland garden. We will discuss how to interplant and how to accept the disappointments and disasters. Weather permitting, a field trip may be arranged to the Acadia or Schoodic visitor center to study the plantings. (Note: this course will not cover lawn care.)

So You Think You Know Maine

Earl Brechlin

Online via Zoom
Join author and historian Earl Brechlin for a four-session class exploring some of the people, places and events that have made Maine, and Mount Desert Island, what it is today.

In session one we’ll learn about legends and giants of the Great North Woods, and how their shared paths created many of the trails and routes, both literal and societal, we still follow today.

In session two we’ll discuss the Mount Desert Island area during World War II when the area was a hotbed of defense activity including a “secret” radar base atop Cadillac Mountain, Nazi spies landing across Frenchman Bay in Hancock, and the possible crash/shoot down of the Navy Blimp K-14 off Mount Desert Rock. What really happened?

Next, we’ll look at Baxter State Park’s hidden logging past, delving into long-lost photographic scrapbooks of Appalachian Trail pioneer and native of Lubec, Maine, Myron Avery. Long before the 220,000-acre preserve, and adjacent land became the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the area was a hive to logging activities with numerous dams, entire towns, and calamities such as forest fires.

The last session will cover myths, legends, historical firsts, and the enormous talent of Maine’s early inventors, explorers and artists, drawing from Brechlin’s latest book Wild! Weird! Wonderful! Maine! Many of the areas discussed await your own discovery and exploration today.
Registration closed

The Future of Fisheries in Eastern Maine

Paul Anderson

Online via Zoom
This class will discuss current challenges in Maine's commercial fisheries and the steps being taken by many organizations to sustain them. Where appropriate, fishermen and other partners will be included in the classes to allow participants to engage in discussions about the current situation in these fisheries. Paul Anderson, Executive Director of the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington, Maine, will team-teach this series with Program Team members, based on their work in Collaborative Research, Collaborative Management, and Collaborative Education. The Center's mission is to secure a sustainable and diversified future for fisheries and communities of Eastern Maine and beyond.
Registration closed

The Puzzle of Religion

Robert Gallon

Online via Zoom
The question is not whether you believe in God - there are an uncountable number of gods in the human world. It is whether you believe in religion and the role it plays in our lives.

Among the questions we will discuss are: What is the evolutionary significance of religious belief? How does belief help people live their lives? How can we distinguish religious belief from madness? Is politics religion in another form? If evangelicals need to stop their car, do they need to apply the brakes or just pray?

We will discuss these issues in the context of Stanford Anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann's recent book called "How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others."
Registration closed

The Upanishads: Foundational Scriptures of Hinduism

Edward Beach

Online via Zoom
This is a reading and discussion course on some of the key texts forming the basis of the mystical Advaita Vedānta tradition of Hinduism. The Upanishads, dating as far back as 800 BCE, constitute the final and most profound strata of the ancient Vedic scriptures. First composed before the invention of writing, they were originally transmitted orally from teacher to student in a long and unbroken lineage. The Upanishads impart esoteric meditation practices, mantras, and philosophical insights purportedly leading to the achievement of moksha, or release from the phenomenal universe. In this course, we will read selections from three of the oldest and greatest of these: • The Brihadāranyaka Upanishad • The Chandogya Upanishad • The Katha Upanishad

In addition, we will take up selections from the foremost Hindu thinker, Shankara (c. 800 CE), who based his philosophy squarely on a monistic interpretation of the Upanishads. The central tenet of Shankara’s thought was that there is ultimately only a single spirit permeating all of reality. Ultimately, therefore, there is no difference between one being and another, for at their core all are One. Yet the world of māyā (cosmic illusion) continues to delude embodied creatures, and for this reason practice and effort are required in order to achieve moksha.
Registration closed

Traditional Chinese Folk Culture as Seen through Plays

Hugh Clark

Online via Zoom
Chinese theater was not a domestic art form until it was brought to the empire by conquerors from what today is Manchuria. It flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries under the Mongols. At a time when literacy was widespread and the demand for entertainment was high, when the circulation of inexpensive printed texts was soaring, and the empire was under alien (i.e., Mongol) rule, which limited opportunities for the educated, Chinese playwrights found theater to be an outlet for exploring social tropes on gender and family, official corruption, the gods, etc. Their works, therefore, are an excellent window into folk culture as it was perceived by the “folk.” This course will read and discuss plays written during the Mongol era or very shortly after (1250 – 1450). Participants will be encouraged to read the plays in advance.
Registration closed

Writing a “Legacy Letter”

Jay Sherwin

Online via Zoom
This course is designed to introduce the concept of “legacy letters” and to encourage participants to craft their own legacy document. A legacy letter (also called an “ethical will”) is a written document that allows people to share their life lessons, express their values, and transmit their blessings to future generations. Writing a legacy letter is a rewarding experience that creates an enduring gift for children, grandchildren, and other loved ones. The course includes discussion, brief writing exercises, and a model structure to help participants complete a legacy document that can be shared with family and friends.
Registration closed