Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute: Fall 2022 Schedule

Please see below for the Fall 2022 Course Catalog for the Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute.  Copies of the catalog are also available in Westminster-Canterbury Resident Services or on the WC Resident Hub at residenthub.org.


Course 1 - Secret Agents on Television in the 1960s

Presented by: Dr. Dennis Bounds, Writer, Author, and Adjunct Professor at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Course Description: At the end of WW II and the Korean War, the Cold War began and served as a background for most of our lives from the 1960s to today. This also spawned the rise of the “Secret Agent / Spy” genre of film and television. In this short lecture series, we will identify four of the most influential of the international spy TV series and examine how each in their own way reflected the fear and excited the imagination of the era.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, August 26th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E (1964-1968) (60 min.): Premise: The two top Agents – one from the U.S. and other from the U.S.S.R. - of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.) fight the enemies of peace, particularly the forces of T.H.R.U.S.H. We will examine the types of stories and the careers of the stars: Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

Lecture 2: Friday, September 9th at 1:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

“The Turning of the Pacific Theater.” In early 1942, Japan was at its peak of military conquest. However, during the Battle of Midway in June 1942, the U.S. defeated Japan, fundamentally changing the course of the War in the Pacific with the U.S. increasingly gaining military superiority. As the U.S. went on the offensive, it implemented a strategy of island hopping, moving from island to island and closing in on the Japanese mainland.

Lecture 3: Friday, February 11th, at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Mission: Impossible (1966-1973) (60 min.): Premise: An elite covert operations unit carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death, or capture. We will examine the many characters (and actors/actresses) who served on the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) and how it was revived into a very successful (and lucrative) movie franchise with Tom Cruise.


Course 2 - Parables and Storytelling for Living

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Course Description: The arts of storytelling and parable making originate in ancient oral traditions, bequeathed from one generation to another. Stories taken from everyday life suggest insights and principles for living; yet many of these stories hide truths from the casual listener. Born of the Rabbinic tradition of the mashal¸ these pithy little narratives tell the truth with a “slant”, either offering an exemplary way to live life or a revelatory insight on the truth of existence. According to MacNeille Dixon, “the mind of a human being is more like a picture gallery than a debating chamber” and these parables draw pictures for the mind to see and riddles for the mind to engage, and sometimes solve.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Tuesday, September 6th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

Introduction: Parables offer a form of indirect communication, of coming at an issue or problem obliquely. They pose as a “Maieutic” form of teaching, giving birth to revelations and inviting pupils to ask questions and probe their meaning. They are infused with elements of play (albeit a rough contact sport), characterized by unexpected reversal, and condensed plot. Each story requires its hearers to untie its knot of mystery. They entice and jolt, eventually interpreting the hearer to herself or himself. Yet, they are brief and easy to memorize for oral transmission. They are in the words of Jeeves, like “one of those stories in the Bible which sounds at first like a pleasant yarn but keeps something up its sleeve which suddenly pops up and knocks you flat.” So, we will look at the Phoebic game of storytelling and the oral tradition of storytelling.

Lecture 2: Tuesday, September 13th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

The Greek and Roman Tradition of Fables: Here we will look at Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Ovid’s Myths. Also, we will such stories as Echo and Narcissus and Bestiaries and Animal tales: Aesop and Friends.

Lecture 3: Tuesday, September 20th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

Fables vs. Hebrew Parables: During this class we will look at the Hebrew scriptures as an early source of parables. We will examine such works as The Parable of the Trees and the Brambles (Judges 9:8-15); Nathan and King David (II Samuel 121-15); Psalm 32 and 51; Jeremiah 18: 1-12 and the Vine & Trees (Ezekiel 15: 1-8).

Lecture 4: Tuesday, September 27th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

The Peculiar Treasures: Bible stories from odd perspectives. Drawing from the book, Old Men of the Bible we will look at Community Tales: Family, Dating, Wedding, and Funeral Stories. Also, we will investigate the teaching of history through the worst stories of life.

Lecture 5: Tuesday, October 11th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge

Parables of Jesus, Part 1: This week and next we will examine the Parables of Jesus. Such parables as “The Hidden Treasure, the Pearl, & the Net” “The Faithful Servants and the Exuberant Master” The Faithless Servant and the Furious Master” and “The barren Fig Tree”, will be discussed.

Lecture 6: Tuesday, October 18th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Parables of Jesus, Part 2: This week we examine such NT parables as: “The Great Banquet” “The Tower Builder” “The Persistent Widow” “Pharisee and Tax Collector” The Wedding Banquet” “The Fear of the Lord’ and “Rich Man and Lazarus”.

Lecture 7: Tuesday, October 25th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Memorable Stories & Legends of Historical Characters, Saints, Sinners. During this lecture I will introduce such figures as St. Lawrence to St. Dunstan to Baron Munchhausen. Whips (Good examples to prod you to virtue and grace) and Bridles (Bad examples to warn you and keep you from vice) from Dante’s Cantos of Purgatory: Creating Whips and Bridles for Seven Deadly Sins.

Lecture 8: Tuesday, November 1st at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

The Medieval Art of Visual Parables. This class will look at everything from Brueghel to Tansey St. Gregory’s Pedagogical Iconography. In telling stories form images “Illiterate men can contemplate the lines of a picture what they cannot learn by means of the written word. An ekphrastic poem invents a vivid description of a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting, the writer describes, amplifies, and dramatizes its meaning.

Lecture 9: Tuesday, November 15th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

An introduction to Fairy Tales. Hermeneutics, the Quadriga, and “Little Red Riding Hood”. In this session we will analyze some of the Fairy Tales recorded by the Grimm Brothers.

Lecture 10: Tuesday, November 22nd at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

Overcoming Illusions and Embracing Paradox. This class will look at Indirect Communication of Soren Kierkegaard and G. K. Chesterton. We will look at such works as the “Paradox of the Fence” and “The Coloured Lands”. We will also examine TED Talks and the Moth Phenomena of Storytelling StorySlam and Jokes as Parables.

Lecture 11: Tuesday, November 29th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

Jokes, Social Media, and Commercials as Parables. Also, we will examine embedded tales: Django Unchained, Jaws, Harry Potter, The Little Prince, and Catch Me If you Can.

Lecture 12: Tuesday, December 6th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

A Pedagogy of Fear: “The Lottery” A Date with Death, George Lucas’ Dream and Other Scary Halloween Parables, Grimm Fairy Tales, and Frederic Brown’s two sentences.

Lecture 13: Tuesday, December 13th at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Folk, Pop, Gospel, Country, Rock, Hip Hop, & Rap Music as Parables. In this session we will listen to such works as:  McGuire, Barry “Eve of Destruction”, Paul Stookey, “The Wedding Song” and several others.

Lecture 14: Tuesday, December 20th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

Pixar Parables and the Animated Cartoon. Here we will draw on the work of Lundvall’s book “Animated Cartoons”.


Course 3 - Building Healthy Brains

Presented by: Dr. Scott W. Sautter, Adjunct Professor in Psychology and Consulting Neuropsychologist to the Athletic Training Staff at VWU; Diplomate, American Board of Professional Neuropsychology; Board Certified Neuropsychologist, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director at Hampton Roads Neuropsychology.

Course Description: The four lectures in this series are intended to instruct each of us on how to strengthen our brain and keep it strong. These classes are meant to provide practical information based of the latest scholarly brain research. Join us and learn how to care for your mental health.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Tuesday, September 20th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

“Building Better Brains” Gain a better understanding of the latest neuroscience applications to enhance daily life.

Lecture 2: Tuesday, October 18th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

“Neurodiversity” Appreciate unique brain behavior functions among us to enhance our relationships.

Lecture 3: Tuesday, November 15th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

“Brain Health, Mental Fitness and Well-being” Acquire knowledge about the integration of brain health and mental fitness toward well-being.

Lecture 4: Tuesday, December 20th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

“Healthy Brain Tools You Can Use” Learn about clinically proven tools that boost your memory, sharpen your mind, and keep your brain young.


Course 4 - Eastern Europe since the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Presented by: Dr. Sara Sewell, Professor of History at VWU

Course Description: Over the past thirty years, Eastern Europe has undergone historic transformations. The outcome of World War Two facilitated the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Russia, to establish a “sphere of influence” in Eastern Europe. This led to the founding of a series of communist nation-states that were integrated into the Soviet orbit as well as the onset of the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall was destroyed in November 1989, the geo-political arrangement in Eastern Europe was dismantled, as a host of new nation-states, many of which were oriented toward Western Europe, were founded. This lecture series examines the history of Eastern Europe since the 1980s with special attention devoted to considering the War in Ukraine.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, October 7th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 ushered in a new era in Europe. This lecture focuses on the causes for the downfall of East European communist nation-states and the dizzying array of events that transpired in late 1989 and 1990, which fundamentally altered East European politics and society.

Lecture 2: Friday, October 14th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

“New Geo-political Realities in Post-communist Eastern Europe” After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Europe underwent historic political transformations that signaled entirely new political, social, and cultural realities. New nation-states were either founded or resurrected, and many of them oriented themselves toward Western Europe, turning away from Russia. This lecture discusses the new geo-political arrangements as well as their impact on East Europeans’ daily lives.

Lecture 3: Friday, October 21st at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

“Russia under Yeltsin and Putin” For many Russians, the collapse of communism and the contraction of the Soviet/Russian Empire, marked by the secession of numerous territories, was calamitous. This lecture explores the many challenges that the Russian state and ordinary citizens faced in the post-communist world. It devotes special attention to analyzing Russia’s political leadership under Boris Yeltsin and Vladmir Putin.

Lecture 4: Friday, October 28th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

“Understanding the War in Ukraine” For most of its existence, Ukraine has been ruled by external states, including the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire, Poland, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union. Following World War One, Ukraine enjoyed a brief era of independence, which ended with the Soviet Union seizing Ukrainian territory in 1921. Ukrainians took advantage of the unraveling of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to secure their independence in December 1991. For Vladmir Putin, Ukraine’s independence was untenable. In spring 2014, Russia seized Crimea and lent support to insurgents in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where fighting broke out between ethnic-Russians and Ukraine. This lecture examines the War in Ukraine from 2014 through today.


Course 5 - A Nation Under Stress: Will the Mid-Term Elections Make Things Better or Worse?

Presented by: Dr. Timothy G. O’Rourke (Ph.D., Duke, Political Science) served as Vice President and Provost at Virginia Wesleyan University from 2007 to 2019. Dr. O’Rourke is now Vice President Emeritus, Virginia Wesleyan University.

Course Description: As the November 8th mid-term elections loom, the nation confronts a series of major challenges, among which are high inflation not seen since the 1980s, rising crime, record-levels of illegal immigration, surging energy costs, the Russian war against Ukraine, Chinese military and economic adventurism, deeply divisive debates on climate change, abortion and gun control, and widespread public distrust of vital institutions. Republicans hope to win control of the House of Representatives (if not the Senate), raising the prospect of divided control of Congress and the Presidency. Whatever the election outcome, will Congress and the President find a path toward concerted action to address key issues? A five-part series examines this question.

Lecture 1: Friday, October 14th at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

An Angry and Disaffected Electorate. Gallup (July 2022) reports that confidence in major institutions, first measured in 1973, is at an all-time low, with the percentage of Americans expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot of confidence” in the Presidency at 23 percent, the Congress at 7 percent, the Supreme Court at 25 percent, and television news at 11 percent.  This lecture looks at the state of public opinion and the pall of uncertainty that hovers over the 2022 mid-term elections.

Lecture 2: Friday, October 21st at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

The Shadow of the Supreme Court. The Court’s most recent term produced landmark and highly contentious decisions on abortion, gun ownership, religious liberty, immigration, and environmental regulation. This presentation reviews these decisions and their potential impact on the mid-term elections.

Lecture 3: Friday, October 28th at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

The Policy Landscape. Pick an issue: the economy, inflation, crime, the war in Ukraine, immigration, climate change, the China threat, the budget deficit, abortion, international human rights, and the hangover from January 6th. Each, taken on its own terms, is very serious and evades easy resolution. Taken together, the answer to one problem (say, high energy prices) may confound the answer to others (lower carbon emissions, human rights in the Middle East). Adopting a policy (as opposed to a political) perspective, this presentation surveys the array of significant issues confronting the nation.

Lecture 4: Friday, November 4th at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

A New Congress? Democrats hold a 220-to-210 edge in the 435-seat House of Representatives (with 5 vacancies), while the Senate is split 50-50. On average, reports the website FiveThirtyEight, the President’s party loses 26 House seats in off-year elections, thus fueling GOP optimism. Democrats, recalling that the President’s party gained House seats in 1998 and 2002, still have hope. With perhaps ten seats (5 D, 5 R) in the upper chamber closely contested, control of the Senate is up for grabs. This lecture takes stock of the mid-terms, focusing on the impact of House redistricting and looking at key Senate races.

Lecture 5: Friday, November 11th at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Now What? The Biden Presidency After the Election. If Democrats maintain control of Congress, President Biden might double down on pending major initiatives on voting rights, abortion, and other issues. If Republicans gain one or both houses, President Biden, following the example of President Clinton in the late 1990s, could pivot in order to find common ground with the GOP, or, like President Obama, he could pursue a “pen and phone” approach of executive orders that will be tested in federal courts. What will President Biden do?


Course 6 - Private Provision of Defense in Ukraine

Presented by: Dr. Garrett Wood, who served as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy before leaving to attain his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. He publishes research on the intersection of defense and economics while teaching at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Lecture 1: Friday December 2nd at 2:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

Private Provision of Defense in Ukraine: The Ukrainian state has long struggled with corruption, and in 2014 that corruption had so undermined its military that it lost Crimea without a shot fired and struggled to deal with separatists in the Donbas. Because of the nature of defense as a service, it is typically argued that only the state can supply it efficiently but the private military charities and forces that emerged in the aftermath of the Ukrainian state's failure show otherwise. The voluntary provision of defense sometimes outperforms the state provision of defense. 


Course 7 - Parables from Tanzania, Germany, and Scotland

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning.

Course Description: Part of the human condition is the daily practice of communicating our values, beliefs, hopes, dreams, vision, purpose, and meaning through stories. Irrespective of what new communication technologies we employ in the future, storytelling will retain its central importance in determining what we think, how we feel, and what we practice within the context of the communities in which we live. In these two classes we will look at stories from three different countries and see how storytelling both reflects and shapes a culture.

Lecture 1: Tuesday, January 10th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

The Wisdom of the Maasai: Oral Literature as Entertainment Education. Stories are cross cultural, and their moral lessons hold universal value for people of every culture and time. Since each culture’s stories has a universal value it is prudent that we heed the lessons emanating from stories of every culture. In this case we will listen to Maasai stories to try to understand the meanings found in them.

Lecture 2: Tuesday, January 17th at 3:00PM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

In this lecture we will examine stories of Scotland and Germany in order to understand their value and the messages contained in these works. In Scotland we will focus on the Fairy tales found in that culture and in Germany we identify and study the stories that the Grimm Brothers collected and strive to understand how these stories developed into such important cultural messages.