Good News About Spring Courses


The wide variety of course offerings this spring will once again remind us why we joined Bard LLI. And the Curriculum Committee has ensured that there are more courses, more large courses, and more course periods than there were in the fall. These changes should expand the opportunities that we have for taking courses as well as help alleviate the parking issues. As in previous semesters, Zoom classes will be held on Thursdays, starting March 9, and in-person classes on Fridays, starting March 10. The catalog will be released on February 16 and registration starts February 23.

Here’s a brief overview of the course offerings. 

Life Considerations

Many members could benefit from Successful Aging: Empowering Late-Life Decision-Making. Carolyn Siewers will draw from her decades of experience as an occupational therapist and end-of-life doula to help participants navigate the many difficulties of aging, balance the need for autonomy with the need for help, and ensure our end-of-life wishes are carried out.

Writer Beverly Sloane will introduce her class to the legacy letter, which may be viewed as a “voice of the heart.” In From Memoir to Legacy Letters: Passing Your Values to the Next Generation, she will discuss personal reasons for writing a legacy letter and provide guidance on how to write one.

Arts and Crafts

In Furniture Styles and Their Creators, skilled furniture maker and designer Gus Pedersen will offer a history of furniture styles and the artisans who developed them. He will also address some of the technical differences between manufacturing techniques. 

Jose Lacalle-Moreno will share biographical information and show representative works of Women Artists from the Middle Ages until Today, an overview of primarily European and American artists. And participants will be strongly encouraged to read Linda Nochlin’s essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” 

At the end of the 19th century, painting on porcelain became a popular pastime that enabled some women to make a living and others simply to express their creativity for the benefit of their families and friends. Art historian Carol Bassin will discuss the rise of china painting from the perspective of the domestic and professional lives of women of the time in American Women and China Painting during the Gilded Age, 1870-1910.  

In an off-Friday class, Min Lee will teach the principles of the Japanese style of creating simple and elegant flower arrangements in Ikebana for Beginners. This hands-on course will allow participants to create their own arrangements, which they can take home.

Build by Gus Pedersen


Robert Beaury will again explore his interest in US history with America’s Golden Era: The Promise and Limits of 1950s Prosperity. In this hybrid course, he will consider factors that contributed to a sense of security and progress in that decade while noting that the increased prosperity did not apply equally to everyone. 

Chuck Mishaan will continue his multicourse examination of the intersection of the arts, culture, and political and economic events. His hybrid course, Between the Wars: Arts and Culture of the 1930s, will consider the impact of the Great Depression, the rise of authoritarianism, and other threats to the new world order on the arts between the wars.

Tom Walker will examine the remarkable economic growth in several countries in The Rise of East Asia. Among the possible causes to be discussed are the resilience of the shared cultures among different Asian nations and stimulation by early industrialization of Western nations.


Grammy-award–winning composer Joan Tower will give student musicians a chance to perform chamber music, classical repertoire, and some original compositions in Music! Music! Music! As those of us who have taken her previous classes know, some of the most delightful and insightful parts occur during the question-and-answer period with her students after their performances.

In Claude Debussy and the Isms of his World, Raymond Erickson will provide some perspective about how the many political and cultural movements of the composer’s time influenced his music. This course will complement rather than duplicate the previous Debussy session.

Government and Economics

Jackie Olivet will provide a close look at The Supreme Court: Our Least Understood Branch of Government. Among the topics for discussion will be the court’s principles and procedures, decision-making processes, proposals for court reform, and the legal philosophies of the justices. This course will be geared toward the layperson, not toward lawyers.

Mark Lytle will challenge class members to consider the dire consequences that resulted from the post-WWII strategy to promote a full-employment economy. In The Dark Side of Mass Consumerism, he will review how the byproducts of mass consumption created environmental hazards and discuss the efforts of those who warned about the effects of that strategy.

In Macroeconomic Issues, Andy Weintraub will explain that some economic issues—such as gross domestic product, inflation, unemployment, and monetary and fiscal policy—can best be understood by viewing the economy as a whole. He will compare the macro perspective with that provided by looking at how individual markets work.

Theater and Film

Peter Scheckner believes that crime movies portray the contradictions between the ideals of democracy and the realities of capitalism. In Mean Streets: Representations of America through NYC Crime Films, the class will analyze the cinematic dynamic of 14 crime movies, such as Mean Streets, The Godfather, and Taxi. 

Lou Trapani will share his insights into the work of one of America’s most prolific playwrights in Getting into Inge. He will lead discussions of Come Back Little Sheba, Picnic, and Bus Stop, among other works. 

In Reading Aloud: Finding Your Voice, Alan Lipper will help participants develop the acting skills needed to perform public readings of essays, short stories, and poetry. The class will practice vocal exercises to enhance resonance and create a direct, captivating delivery.


Sometimes, the smallest alterations in the human genome can produce devastating consequences. In Biology of Non-Infectious Disease: Inherited Disease, John Ferguson will discuss how genetic defects can lead to such conditions as hemophilia, Huntington’s disease, acute intermittent porphyria, and cystic fibrosis.

Enjoying Life

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink more wine.” Paul McLaughlin will help class members avoid that regret by continuing his popular Wine Tasting course. This fifth period course is a wonderful end to a Friday of classes. 


Judith Nelson will return with Ballet for Everyone (Including YOU!). Her course will give participants the opportunity to learn the basics of ballet using safe and accessible movements while increasing stability, strength, and balance. All are welcome, regardless of previous experience.

Ron Fields and Susan Simon will continue to share their love of the Lindy Hop: The History, the Music, the Steps Part 2. This session will introduce some new steps as participants enjoy the music from the 1950s to current bands.

Annie LaBarge will explain Why Tai Chi? as she guides participants through the basics of this blood-freshening, moving meditation, and slow-motion martial art. The practice of tai chi helps us heal ourselves both in mind and body.


Are you unsure what to do with the poems you read? Try Seeing Differently, in which Laura Brown and Barbara Danish will guide class members into creating a community of readers who develop a simple but profound way to approach poems together.

For the Sherlockians amongst us, Steve Bassin offers a chance to detect the influences of Conan Doyle’s background on his creation of such an intensely real, widely recognized figure. Class members will enjoy reading, or rereading, some of their favorite stories in The World of Sherlock Holmes

Off-Friday Hikes

In the morning, Skip Doyle will ask the class to share their appreciation of John Burroughs with a brief presentation examining the life and philosophy of the great naturalist. Then he will lead the class on a Guided Visit to Slabsides, Burroughs’ cabin, and the surrounding nature reserve. 

In Hiking in the Scenic Hudson Valley, Robin Berger and Vicki Hoener will lead a group on six different hikes on both sides of the river. Environmental educator Laura Connor will lead two different classes. The first, Long Hike at Minnewaska, involves a five-hour hike by an old orchard and Echo Rock, with glorious views of a ravine and cliffs. She will also lead Two Beautiful Hikes at Minnewaska. These two-hour hikes will take hikers to magnificent views of a waterfall, the Catskill mountains, and scenic, cliff-edge vistas. 

A note to all hikers: please review the distance, difficulty, and duration of the hikes before you register to be sure you will be able to complete them. You will probably want to bring beverages and snacks.