Academic Committee Cultivates Courses In Multi-step Process
S urely you have heard someone praise the quality of course offer- ings available through ALRI or wondered how the organization has built up so many courses on such a variety of interesting subjects, offered by such exciting teachers? Is there a flower bed of possibili- ties from which these blooms are culled?
The answer lies in the Academic Programs Committee. This group, co-chaired by Joan Reed and Bob Howe, meets every other week in April and weekly in May. Members run through a very organized process using a work sheet to move courses from an idea through a number of steps to the final actuality. As soon as the committee approves an idea, one member will follow it along and work to transform it into an actual course. Sometimes that is simply a matter of a phone call or two, usually local but sometimes far afield. An e-mail can be sent to a visiting GMU Fellow in Brussels with no guarantee of the result. Sometimes bringing a course into being involves negotiating the time, number of hours needed, or course content. In the end, a dreamed-of course may or may not become a reality.
Currently, the committee is working mostly on “new” courses. It will bring those along as far and fast as possible, finding teachers and honing content on the way. At a recent meeting, three courses for fall were ready to go: “Lorca and Modern Spain”; “Immigrants”; and a repeat of “Figures Can Lie.” That means volunteer instructors have agreed to hours and content; the three will be added to the next catalogue for students to choose in the fall.
Next, the committee will turn to recruiting courses previously offered, some of which, like Bob Weinberg’s elucidation of the Bill of Rights, have been taught once a year since ALRI’s incep- tion five years ago. Some instructors have consistently offered new courses every term. For in- stance, Dr. Tom Connally has taught a number of different medically oriented courses over the years, and now leads 75 members through the difficult concepts of neuroscience. Tom Wukitsch has introduced very large classes of eager students to aspects of Rome from ancient times through the Renaissance, and last year branched out to Carthage and Roman North Africa.
Others have taught as their schedules permitted about timely and important topics, such as Je- rusha Lamptey’s course, ”The Religion of Islam” or Steve Dachi’s “Political Islam.”
For most terms, the work of the Academic Programs Committee results in about 30 offerings, some “new” and some “repeats,” a remarkable achievement for a voluntary organization and a lot of fun and enlightenment for us all. Take a bow, Academic Programs Committee!
(Class Aides continued from page 2)
Donald Miller, “Bill of Rights”; Susan Roth and Marilynn Wilson, “Russia in the 21st Century”; Robert Howe, “Federal Reserve System”; Diane Marton and Fran Feiner, “Mexico and the U.S.”; Sharon Schoumacher and Anne Lange, “Literary Nonfiction”; Anita Malone and David Wittenberg, “Art in Shakespeare”; Roberta Deihl, “Bible as Literature”; Lila Sanger and Ann Wolfe, “Writing Your Life”; Geri Hirai and Dick Donnelly, “Naturalist Tour”; Ellen Harland and Fran Feiner, “Green Canary”; Althea Johnston and Molly Kirby, “National Public Radio”: Carol Cochran and Darlene Mickey, “How Arlington Works”; and Gary Lee and Joanne Gibson, “Great Thinkers on Ethics.”