Ethics Seminar
Ethics seminar
Photo by Jeff Hendy
Owl in Class
Great Horned Owl Visits Flora-Fauna seminar
Photo by Richard Fuller

Friday Afternoon and Saturday Seminars

These seminars take place on the CSUS campus on Friday afternoons or on Saturdays. Most Friday times are from 1 to 2:45 p.m., unless otherwise noted (look carefully for seminars that have different starting times). They run for the entire semester, from Feb. 6 through May 1. There are no seminars on March 27.

There are also two seminars on Saturdays, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They will run from Feb. 7 to May 2.

You must sign up with the leader for all these seminars. There are two ways to register: You can call or email the leader right now or you can contact the leader at the Rendezvous on Jan. 30.

Please do not sign up for more than one Friday afternoon seminar, unless you are on a waiting list. If you get into the class you want, please let leaders of your other wait-list classes know that you are no longer interested! Also, inform the leader if you are dropping a seminar (so those on the waiting list can be added).

Many of these classes encourage participation. You may be asked to make a presentation on the topic or secure an outside speaker or help in some other way. Here are some technical tips for presentations. It will be noted in the writeups below if no participation is required.

Contact the leader now or at the Rendezvous for more information about a seminar.


Each seminar has a Style immediately following its name, defined as follows:


Saturday Seminars

David and Mike
The Boys of Saturday:
David Warren (left) and Mike Harkins
Photo by Roberta Gleeson

Ancient Egypt, Its History and Archaology (L)
Mendocino 1003
10 a.m. to 12 noon, Feb. 7 through May 2

David Warren

This seminar will cover such topics as Egypt's geography, its ancient pharaohs and form of government, the hieroglyphic language, the ancient religions of Egypt and their representations as art, and by way of slides, we will visit almost every archeological site in Egypt. Dr. Warren will present all of the lectures and he will welcome questions and discussion.

America's Hit Parade (1890-2015) (L)
Mendocino 1003
12:45 to 3 p.m., Feb. 7 through May 2
Come Early, Enjoy the Music before Class

Mike Harkins

Think of the vast changes in popular music since we were teens. Then imagine how much music has evolved since the 1890s. This class surveys the shifting trends in our most popular music by listening to the top artists and recordings of each decade. From the very first raw recordings to the synthesized digital tracks of today, we explore connections between each decade's best sellers and the social environment in which they were produced. How did war stoke the fires of ragtime, jazz and swing? What distinguishes pre-1955 music from post-1955 music? Join us to find out. You are welcome to have lunch (either brown bag or something from campus eateries) right after the morning seminar while I play music and videos before class starts at 12:45 p.m.. No presentations required.


Friday Seminars

1215: The Year Of The Magna Carta (P)
Calaveras 134

Dave Lockwood

While Robin Hood and His Merry Men were supposedly ransacking Sherwood Forest and King John was being bullyragged by his Barons to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede, what else was going on? We'll look at contemporaneous goings-on in southern Europe, Iberia, the Andelus and Levant, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Asia, China, Southeast Asia and North, Meso and South America. The idea would be to get a thumbnail sketch of the conditions around the world in and around that pivotal year. Participants will be expected individually or in groups to research and present their findings on one (or more should they desire) of the geographic areas covered.

Alles Deutsche—All Things German (P)
Douglass 107

Ann Blazina, Marty Keale, Carolyn Smith

Are you interested in traveling to Germany? Learning a bit of history, language, customs and exploring places to visit? Then you'll definitely want to join us for this interactive, weekly seminar. Co-leaders will provide information and offer pictures from their travels. Participants are invited to share their own pictures, adventures and knowledge of their travels to, and experiences in, Germany. Optional presentations, discussion participation and possible field trip.

All Things Jewish (P)
Mendocino 4004

Florence Young, Ed Sherman, Muzza Eaton

Whether you are Jewish or not, whether you know a great deal or very little about Judaism, we believe you will learn something new and different in this seminar. We plan to cover a variety of topics from the time of Abraham to today's Spielberg. We will use videos, slides, selected readings and illustrations to look at Jewish history and people—their customs, culture, holidays, practices and accomplishments. We will sample foods, listen to Jewish and Hebrew musi, learn some Yiddish expressions and much more. This seminar will include presentations by the leaders, guests and interested class members.

America: From Republic To Empire/Police State (D)
Douglass 209

Larry Starn

This course will chronicle the death of the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights through the systematic manipulation of the government. We will discuss ignoring international law, ubiquitous spying and propaganda, torture, extreme rendition, "enemy combatants," 9/11, anthrax and the militarization of our police among other topics. The books for the course will be The Sorrows of Empire and 1984. Some class participation by class members will be required. All points of view may be expressed during the discussion period. The class will proceed only if at least 20 members sign up.

Aristotle’s Ethics (Also Called The Nicomachean Ethics) (D)
Douglass 109

Tom Slakey

Do not be intimidated by the name Aristotle, since this is one of his most readable works, and it is full of very interesting observations about human life. The first assignment will be Book One, about 30 pages. All are expected to have read each assignment and come prepared for discussion. I recommend the Terence Irwin translation (paperback, Hackett Press), but any translation is acceptable, provided it has the usual marginal numbers that make it possible to easily find and compare passages in different translations. Participants will read and discuss assignments.

Beginning Intermediate Spanish: Reading And Speaking (P)
Douglass 105

Melody Flores

This seminar provides a casual environment to support and develop existing Spanish reading and speaking skills. Participants will need a basic understanding of present, imperfect, preterite, future and progressive tenses, as well as general grammar and sentence structure of the Spanish language. Each week, the seminar will be divided into two parts. During the first part, participants will share in reading aloud a brief novel to increase vocabulary and grammar skills. During the second part, participants will share individual writings (paragraph) on a specific Topic of the Week to strengthen speaking skills. Class size is limited to 10. Fee is approximately $5 for book. This is a group participation class. Members read aloud, write and converse in Spanish.

Big History Overview (D)
Mendocino 1003

Ranny Eckstrom, Allan Keown, Judy Maben, John McCorkell, Carla Young

Explore the BIG questions of human history on a cosmic scale: 13.8 billion years starting with the Big Bang, origins of life, agricultural and industrial revolutions to today. This is not your grandparents' history lesson, it is your grandkids'—interdisciplinary without borders or limits. The Gates Foundation funded the website and materials. This is the first of two seminars, to be followed by Big History Themes, planned for Fall 2015. If you are as excited about the BIG ideas as we are, join us and register by email. Participation is encouraged through additional research, seminar discussions and/or presentation of website videos with the seminar co-leaders.

Bonsai(A/S)
Eureka 105

Clarence Smith

The seminar will pursue the basics of Bonsai, the art of miniature trees. A $20 lab fee is due at registration. The lab fee will include a kit composed of one tree on which you will work, bonsai soil for that tree and one bonsai pot. Each participant will work on the tree that is provided. You may also bring your own trees to work on, but you must supply your own potting materials. A few tools will be available to use only in class. We will cover a brief history of bonsai and techniques used in the development of bonsai trees. The seminar will consist of lectures and short films, work on your trees, and three or four field trips to area bonsai nurseries and/or private bonsai gardens where you can see mature bonsai trees, and purchase items if you desire. The last seminar will be a visit to my bonsai garden. Participants will work on a bonsai tree.

British Movie Collection (D)
Calaveras 141, 12:30 to 2:45

John C. Ling

This seminar is composed of a varied collection of memorable British films from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Some may be familiar, but others are lesser-known to an American audience. An effort will be made to avoid including movies that are too insular to UK tastes and sensibilities and to show pictures that have a wider appeal. Viewers will be able to appreciate the skillful performances of many actors and actresses of the past, with their wonderful roles saved for posterity on celluloid. Participants will take part in a post-screening movie discussion.

The Civil War (P)
Mendocino 3009, 12:30 to 2:45

Doug Bonetti

Join me for an exciting seminar exploring many topics of the Civil War, such as causes of the war, technology and the war, key leaders, literature that emerged from the war, critical battles along with the life of the common soldier. I will lecture much of the time and also ask some class members to give short reports. I have given presentations of this subject many times. I have a personal collection of books and videos we will utilize. You will have the chance in every class to touch history—I will bring authentic weapons and memorabilia from my extensive collection. Participation will include short reports and discussion.

Classic Jazz, Swing & Bebop (L)
Mendocino 1005

Bob Lang

But wait, there’s more! Here's another music appreciation class with examples and perspective provided by class leader Bob Lang, much like his previous Real Rock 'n' Roll series. Topics include traditional jazz from New Orleans, Chicago, and Harlem; swing; progressive jazz; bebop and cool jazz; third stream and modern jazz; vocal jazz including scat and vocalese. Peppered throughout will be jazz anecdotes and interview excerpts with various jazz personalities, including Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Harry James, Pee Wee Irwin, Johnny Best, Billy Butterfield, Bob Haggart, Johnny Mince, and many others conducted by Lang during his career as a radio disc jockey in the '70s—you’ll hear the voices and jazz remembrances from the actual jazzmen! Plus Bob's Bonus Tracks! Participation will include music appreciation with no direct participation but discussion as appropriate.

Comedies Redux (D)
Riverside 1015, 12:30 to 2:45

Jon Courtway

We will continue to view, enjoy and discuss comedy films. Possible features include: Cat Ballou, Back to the Future, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Producers, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Men in Black and others to be determined. Participants are expected to read a handout on each film and join in a discussion after viewing the film.

The Court System with Emphasis on U.S. Constitution and Amendments (L)
Douglass 207

Joel Primes

The United States Constitution and its Amendments are the basis for our fundamental rights as Americans. These written documents are the key elements in nearly every major legal and political debate argued in America. The language used by our founding fathers with the interpretation of these words and phrases by the United States Supreme Court is the core of this class. We will discuss life and death, sex and comedy, marriage and privacy used to shape significant court decisions. A student will better understand the competing factors used to make these difficult decisions. Today's and yesterday's major court rulings will come to life in this class. The instructor will offer insight, legal expertise by presenting surprising facts and information with alternative interpretations and historical anecdotes to give meaning into the Constitution and Amendments. Members will have the opportunity to do legal research and to make short presentations.

Creating A Healthy Kitchen (L) )
Alpine 122

Anne Evans

Scientists tell us that most chronic illnesses are diet- and lifestyle-related. This seminar will help you discover how to avoid and even reverse these conditions with food. Learn to be a F.R.E.S.H. cook by choosing foods that are frugal, regional, easy, seasonal, and healthy. For meals away from home, there will be references to local eateries and details on how to find plant–based restaurants while on the road. You will receive recipes and lots of shopping suggestions. Find out how deliciously simple healthy eating can be. No presentations are required.

Cultural Statements In Film and Documentaries III (D)
Tahoe 1025, Class begins at 12:30

Birte Harley, Steve Harley

A new selection of films from the USA and around the world will be presented in this, our third, semester film seminar. These films will give you an understanding of personal, social, historical, or political situations in a cultural context. We welcome your knowledge, comments, and questions as you participate in a lively discussion after the film. These films contain mature subjects and language. A film list will show dates and a synopsis of the film will be provided by e-mail. Please note starting time. Participants will discuss the films.

Dealing With Anger: A Healthy Approach (D)
Douglass 214

Renee Zito

Anger, a basic human emotion, is the most maligned and perverted of our emotions. This often is a result of childhood experiences in which we were taught that expression of anger is wrong. Unrecognized anger may lead to depression, obesity, heart problems, chronic distress, ulcers and poor interpersonal relationships, to name just a few. The goal of this seminar is to stop the pain and destruction that anger brings. You will learn psychological interventions that will help you recognize and work out anger and learn how to convert it from a negative response to a creative and powerful source of energy that will improve your life. Members will participate in discussion.

Ethics And Everyday Life (L)
Douglass 106

Ivy Hendy, Eric McElwain

In this course we will study the practical implications of the theories of many philosophers: Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill and others. We will discuss everyday-life situations where their theories apply. PowerPoints, videos and lectures will be used. There will be time for class discussions. Some everyday-life situations that will be discussed are: Is lying ever permissible? Can stealing ever be justified? Is there an obligation to be healthy? There will be a special guest presenting Confucian theory. No reading or class presentation required. Class discussion is strongly encouraged.

Exploring And Experiencing Architecture (P)
Calaveras 145

Dan Keller

Architecture is more than shelter, a living space and a workspace. Architecture is art. It enriches our lives. It opens our senses and provides an experience. How does that happen? This seminar will address that experience through discussion and member presentations illustrating the richness and breadth of architecture. Members of this seminar will be expected to research and deliver a presentation.

From Judaism To Christianity—The Evolution (P)
Alpine 236

Jonathan Brosin, David McGuire

No region of the Western world has been more important in our religious and cultural development than what today forms the Middle East. This course will focus on critical political and sectarian developments in Judea from about 100 BCE to 300 CE, and how they impacted what came later. PLEASE NOTE: This is not a religious studies or Bible history course. We may use biblical source material, but only for historical reference. We know many have strongly held beliefs, but this is not the course you should elect if your intent is to re-affirm or advocate your personal scriptural interpretations. Members will be encouraged to participate with relevant questions and points of emphasis. Later in the semester, we plan to offer some alternative topics from which members can choose and develop presentations of their own. Participants will participate in discussion with voluntary presentations.

Great Decisions (P)
Mendocino 1026, Optional 12:20 for video

David Peters, Nell Farr

Great Decisions is a nationwide program designed to encourage debate of U.S. foreign policy issues. The Great Decisions Briefing Book ($20, available at Rendezvous or the first class session) provides background information about U.S. foreign policy objectives and relationships with other nations. Class begins at 1 p.m., with optional relevant videos shown most Fridays at 12:20 p.m. Topics will be: Russia and the Near Abroad, Privacy in the Digital Age, Sectarianism in the Middle East, India Changes Course, U.S. Policy toward Africa, Syria's Refugee Crisis, Human Trafficking in the 21st Century and Brazil's Metamorphosis. The format will include presentations and discussion.

History Of China: From Shang To Mao (L)
Mariposa 1001

Ed Sanborn

This class will be a survey of classical China up to 1800 and then a more detailed discussion in the 19th and 20th centuries. There will be a particular emphasis on the causes and outcomes of the Chinese Revolution. Student participation will be encouraged but not required. Everyone is welcome. The leader hopes there will be active discussions about disputed issues and encourages, but does not require, student presentations.

The Injustice System (D)
Mendocino 4008

Ron Tochterman

The Injustice System: A Murder in Miami and a Trial Gone Wrong by Clive Stafford Smith (Amazon, paperback $12.78, Kindle $7.99) is a "complicated whodunit"—The New York Times. John Grisham called it "spectacular." It "provides excellent perspective…about how far a criminal trial can be from a meaningful search for the truth."—The Atlantic. We'll read it (approximately 25 pages a session) and use it as a vehicle to examine criminal justice in America, emphasizing the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Participants will engage in reading assignments and discussions.

Introduction To Astronomy And The Night Sky (L)
Mendocino 1022

Jack Russell

The first part of each seminar meeting will be a PowerPoint talk based on images and diagrams, followed by a DVD video presentation. The topics covered will include the solar system, light, star life cycles, super nova, exo-planets, galaxies, black holes, Big Bang and more. There will be a brief introduction to navigating the night sky. While a seminar member presentation is not required, those who wish to contribute a presentation will be encouraged and accommodated. Jack Russell has several telescopes and dabbles in backyard stargazing.

The Japanese People Via Documentary Films (L)
Douglass 206

Tom Swift, Barbara Bevan

Documentary films about the Japanese, their history and its influences on them. Tom taught Japanese history 32 years at CSUS, often leading summer tours to Japan. He is currently working on a free booklet for independent sightseeing in Kyoto and Nara, Japan's ancient capitals (and modern cities). Seminar members will participate in discussions.

Major Issues Facing America (P)
Douglass 110

Harry M. Cohen

There are issues facing us, important ones, that are not being adequately addressed and instead are being pushed forward for future generations to resolve. We will analyze and discuss some of these issues: strengthening the middle class; infrastructure; existing and changing demographics; aging; education; Social Security; Medicare; economic growth together with budgetary restraint; world leadership. Participants will be asked to select a subject that interests them, dig into its essentials and make a 15-30 minute class presentation of their findings. This will be followed by an in-depth class discussion.

"Make Your Own Seminar" Seminar (L)
Benicia 1025

Richard Fuller

Eclectic, Electric, Diverse!!!! Twenty-four speakers, each personally recommended by society members, a wide variety of topics: ISIS. Crisis, Saving JFK, Marine 1 Helicopter, 1930s Hoovervilles in Sacramento, The Turban in Society, California Olives, Women of the Old West, Co-Housing, the Probation Department, Live Animals, Railroad Museum, and more!! Speakers to be introduced by the members who recommended them.

Nobel Prize Winners (P)
Douglass 213

Ann Arneill-Py, Joy Skalbeck

In 1901, Alfred Nobel founded the Nobel Prize. They are awarded in Peace, Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, Medicine and Economics. Prize winners collect over a million dollars. Award winners have fascinating lives, making invaluable contributions in their fields of study. Join the class to learn about these remarkable people. Class members will be asked to make a presentation on a Nobel Prize winner. Going back in time, Literature award winners include Rudyard Kipling and Ernest Hemingway. Peace Prize winners include Theodore Roosevelt, up to the present-day Malala Yousafzia for her tireless advocacy for education for young girls. You will be able to pick your favorite prize winner from the over 800 Nobel Laureates. Participants will research and prepare presentations on a Nobel Prize winner.

A Study Of Our U.S. Vice Presidents (P)
Douglass 208

Marian Kile

We have had 47 different Vice Presidents of the United States yet many of us don’t know much about most of them. Did you know that our 11th VP had counties named after him (Dallas) in five different states? We will study the VPs who never became President. Together we will learn about the men, their families, their early lives and their lives after the White House. Members will be researching and presenting information about one of the Vice Presidents. They can buddy up and share the responsibility.

TED Talks (D)
Mendocino 3011

Barbara Kletzman, Michele Stern

TED Talks, initially presented at international TED conferences, have become a worldwide must-see phenomenon. Please join us each Friday afternoon as leaders and class members present four of the best talks they have selected from the more than 1,800 available online. These 18-20 minute talks will inform, entertain and sometimes amaze you. There will be time for discussion after each talk. Members of the class will be asked to select a TED talk and lead a discussion after it is shown.

Watercolor Painting (A)
Kadema 170

Doyle Crawford

Describe your own creative ability through the beauty and excitement of transparent watercolor painting. Ability to draw is helpful, but this semester is for beginning to advanced students. Members of the class will do some instruction in principles and elements of design. Students may choose their own projects. Class members will critique completed paintings, if desired; guests and experienced artists will be invited.

Water In California: "Out Here, Whiskey's For Drinkin' and Water's For Fightin' Over." (L)
Alpine 204

David Abelson, Bob Taylor

The story of water in California is exceptionally colorful, complex and controversial. This seminar will explore many topics related to water in the Golden State, including: Where does water in California come from and where does it go? What service(s) does water provide to the region, both historically and today? How is water captured, controlled and regulated in California? Why is water such a contentious and controversial issue in this state? When and how (if ever) will California resolve its many conflicts over water? The seminar will be led by its co-Leaders, with contributions from outside experts on selected topics. So, if you’ve got "water on the brain', this class is definitely for you! Seminar members will be asked to participate in discussions.

Wealth Strategies (L)
Mendocino 1024

Bill Bailey, Marsha Holland

Wealth Strategies will include investing during retirement, income safety and stability. Do you know how and where your retirement funds are invested? Allocation? Expenses? Performance? Risk level? This class is designed to update, educate and inspire you to learn more about your retirement assets. The instructor will provide his most recent post-retirement planning book to those who attend. Whether you are investing on your own or would simply like to check on how your advisor is doing with your portfolio, you'll find this class very informative and helpful. The leader has been practicing over 35 years. The class is mostly lecture, but questions and participation are encouraged, but not required. Contact Marsha Holland.

The Western Tradition, Part 1 (The Ancient World through the French Revolution) (L)
Douglass 108

Kurt Findeisen, Nancy Findeisen

This seminar features illustrated lectures by renowned historian Eugen Weber, who in his acclaimed public television series presents a tapestry of political and social events woven with many strands—religion, industry, agriculture, demography, government, economics and art. The video lectures include a virtual visual feast of more than 1,300 images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art portraying key events that shaped the development of Western thought, culture, and tradition. Each class session will include two, 25-minute videos of Professor Weber's lectures followed by class discussion about the historical period covered and its influence on our modern world. Participants will be asked to participate in discussions.

Writing Personal Histories (P)
Calaveras 145

Fred Chapman, Patrick Crowley

If you always wanted to write a series of short stories about your life, but never got around to actually writing, this is the class for you. Writing styles are not taught or critiqued. However, presentations by fellow participants and discussions generated by events in a story will prompt your recall of memories and help generate ideas for your own stories. Each short story, or portions of longer tales read over several sessions, should not be much longer than 700 words. A written story each session is expected from everyone, but participants should attend even if not making a presentation for a particular session. Participants will be expected to write a story and read it each session.