Adventures in Lifelong Learning


9:00 am – 10:30 am

Course 101 The Old Curiosity Shop: Dickens, “Pursued by the Child”                                                            

Instructor:  Helen Heineman, PhD, President Emerita, Framingham State University

One of the most quoted put downs in literature was Oscar Wilde’s announcement that one needed a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing. And yet, the novel calls for range of emotions. Its challenge for modern readers is its polarization, its sharp contrasts, its moves between melodrama and sentiment, tragedy, comedy, allegory, pastoral, urban realism, and fairy tale. It was the first Dickens wrote in weekly installments, and although he complained about “too little elbow room,” one feels the sheer delight which he took in writing it. It contains one of his most evil characters, the unforgettable Quilp, though like Shakespeare, Dickens always endowed his evil characters with humor, energy, and inventiveness. Balancing Quilp is the innocent and pure Nell, a Wordsworthian child in the English Romantic tradition. Around them a gallery of grotesques moves in picaresque pilgrimage through bright countryside and dark city, polarizing the novel’s values as much as do Quilp and Nell. As Dickens approached the end, he told a friend, “All night, I have been pursued by the child.”  

*Dr. Heineman will refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Old Curiosity Shop.  Please read through Chapter 18, for the first class meeting.


Course 102 Buddhist Art and Architecture                                                                                                          

Instructor:  Dr. Yumi Park Huntington, PhD, Associate Professor of Art History, Framingham State University  

The primary focus of these lecture series will be on Buddhism and Buddhist art. We begin by outlining the origins of Buddhism in the historical figure of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha/Enlightened one) and its two earliest artistic phases from an aniconic practice to a reliance on icons of the Buddha, and other newly emerging figures such as the bodhisattva and arhat. The lectures will then address how Buddhism from India was adopted and adapted by other cultures in China, Japan, and Korea. By analyzing and studying Buddhist architecture, painting, and sculpture from South Asia and East Asia, students will learn about the important subjects of Buddhist art, including the life of the historical Buddha and tales of his previous lives, the role of the stupa, the Buddhist pantheon, associations between art and patronage, the development of the mandala, and the role of meditation in artistic practice.

Lecture Schedule:

April 5: Birth of Buddhism and Iconography of Buddhist Art

April 12: Early Buddhist Art in the Mauryan Dynasty and the Shunga Period

April 26: Buddhist Art in the Andhra Period and Kushan Dynasty

May 3: Buddhist Art in the Gupta Period and spreading to East Asia


10:45 am – 12:15 pm

Course 103 Foundations in Social Justice

Instructor: Eric Nguyen, Director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence, Framingham State University

Over the course of Foundations in Social Justice, we will work together to explore personal and social identity, systems of oppression, unconscious bias, microaggressions, and change agency. These sessions will take an intersectional approach to providing participants with frameworks for understanding various forms of marginalization and oppression including racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, and homophobia. By engaging in interactive learning sessions and discussions, participants will gain a stronger understanding of foundational principles related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice; and develop a deeper sense of self and one's own agency in fighting for social justice, mutual solidarity, and collective liberation

Course 104 Rewilding a City Near You

Instructor:  Lawrence McKenna, PhD, Professor, Physics and Earth Science, Framingham State University

There aren’t many branches of science or public policy as new and potentially controversial as “rewilding.” The idea, “returning land to a wilder and more natural state” is only 30 years old, and it may seem a straightforward way to reintroduce more natural landscapes, rivers and wildlife in to a town or city. But the actual process is fraught with difficulty, as anyone who has had a run in with wild turkeys or coyotes in their own back yard can attest. Our first session will look at why rewilding has become an environmental movement and the importance of knowing just what period in the past you define as “wild.” In the second session, we’ll look at rewilding at its largest and most controversial scales: restoring vast areas to prehistoric spaces replete with large carnivores. In the final two sessions, we’ll focus on rewilding at the human nature boundary, and discover that in an age of rapid climate change, promoting beneficial interactions between people and nature can help build resilience to that climate change. We’ll find that while rewilding as a science is about interactions between humans and nature, rewilding as public policy is about the interactions between human perception and nature’s reality.

1:15 pm – 2:45 pm

Course 105 The Complicated Relationship:  The President and the Military Establishment 

Instructor:  David Smailes, PhD, Associate Professor, Political Science, Framingham State University               

The president’s role as “Commander in Chief” has always been an ambiguous one:  we know the president is in command of the military, but our history is full of examples of events which call into question how well that relationship has worked.  Presidents have sometimes struggled to control the military establishment, and at times leaders of the military defied the presidents they served.  Our class will examine this complicated relationship, from the presidency of George Washington to today, including recent controversies over the closing months of the Trump administration and the January 6th insurrection.