Your browser is not optimized for viewing this website.

More information »

Belfast Senior College

Filter by Category

Zoom Online

Origin of the Middle East Conflict


with Charles Mamane

Calendar Sep 21, 2021 at 9:30 am, runs for 8 weeks

In this course, we will explore the state of the Middle East and trace its history from the end of the First World War to the present. Many people do not realize that the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East originated during World War I with The Balfour Declaration, which is regarded as one of the most controversial and contested documents in the modern history of the Arab world and has puzzled historians for decades. With this declaration, Britain publicly pledged to establish "a national home for the Jewish people", but for the Palestinians, it resulted in what they call the Nakba – the Catastrophe.

Reading material will be sent before each session.

Charles Mamane is an engineer by training, but the history of the Middle East conflict has been his interest and passion for most of his adult life. Born in Morocco, having lived in France, Israel and most recently the United States for the last 50 years, he brings a unique perspective to the history of the Middle East conflict. As a young man, he served in the Israeli Defense Force for 3 years, participating in the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. He has a BA in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech, a MS in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, and an MBA.

Will run

Great Mystery Writers of the British Isles


with Nancy Perkins

Calendar Sep 21, 2021 at 4 pm, runs for 6 weeks

In this course we will travel from the Shetland Islands to the south of England via the great mystery writers of the past and present. Both Ireland and Northern Ireland will be part of our itinerary as we discover the variety and scope of the geniuses of the genre.

No text required. A list of authors to be covered will be provided and registrants are encouraged to sample if they so choose. 90 minutes.

I have taught 3 courses on mystery writing at Senior College. I was an English and History major in college with a focus on both British literature and history. I am an inveterate mystery buff and am always on the lookout for new authors but still reread the classics.

Will run

Exploring The Andes; Through the eyes of three European Naturalists


with Fred Bowers

Calendar Sep 22, 2021 at 1 pm, runs for 6 weeks

The Andes Mountain range of South America is the longest continental mountain range in the world (7000 km). It has an average height of about 4,000 m (13,123 ft) and forms the drainage divide between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The Andes were largely undiscovered by Europeans until the Spanish Conquistadores discovered and plundered the civilizations that existed there; mostly for the gold.

Beginning with the European Age of Enlightenment of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, there were at least three naturalists who explored and studied the Andes and thereby dramatically advanced our understanding of the Earth’s ecosystems, biological diversity, and human civilization.In this course, we will examine the works and accomplishments of Alexander Von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, and Hiram Bingham. The student will be provided with some suggested readings, links to YouTube videos, and live discussions using Zoom.

Suggested readings:

1. The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science,  Costa & Royal Society Prize Winner [Paperback] Andrea Wulf

2. Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin.

3. The Lost City of the Incas, Hiram Bingham

Fred Bowers holds a Ph.D. in Forest Soils from the University of Washington in Seattle. His research work in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska required understanding soil science, geology, mineralogy, chemistry, and forest ecology and soil mapping. Prior to that, he earned a M.S. in agronomy and soil pedology from Rutgers University. After 27 years working as a Research Scientist for the New Jersey DEP, he retired and moved to Belfast. He has taught classes at Senior College course relating to local rocks, soils and landscapes. Fred spent one month exploring (vagabonding) the Andes in the 1970s.

Will run

The US Foreign Service From JFK to Joe Biden


with Bob Rackmales

Calendar Sep 23, 2021 at 9:30 am, runs for 6 weeks

The older of your two instructors (you'll have to guess which one) began a career in the US Foreign Service in the final year of John F. Kennedy's administration. The younger will conclude her career in the second year of the Biden administration. The Secretaries of State they have served range from Dean Rusk to Antony Blinken. Throughout this eventful period, foreign wars, domestic political conflict, a turbulent global economy, and unprecedented technological change have kept the Foreign Service in a state of constant flux. The instructors will try to give class members a sense of how all of this felt from the inside by recounting their experiences over the years in diverse parts of the world and diverse parts of the State Department.

The following links provide an initial orientation to the course content. Further suggestions will be provided with the syllabus in early September:,%20Robert.toc.pdf?_ga=2.48307375.849877520.1626875095-1960237615.1626875095


Bob Rackmales is a native of Baltimore, and has degrees in history from Johns Hopkins and Indiana University. After entering the Foreign Service he served overseas in Nigeria (twice), Croatia, Somalia, Italy (twice) and Serbia. His Washington assignments included tours in State's European, Intelligence and Research, Human Rights and Personnel Bureaus and the Office of the Inspector General. He lives in Belfast with his wife, Mary, and has taught at Senior College since 2006.

Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm is a native of southern New England and has degrees in International Relations from Brown University and National Security Studies from the National War College. Overseas she has served in Nepal, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Jerusalem, Croatia and North Macedonia. Her domestic assignments included tours in State's Operations Center and Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Most recently, as Diplomat in Residence for the Northwest, she was responsible for Foreign Service engagement and recruitment throughout northern California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. She now lives in Belfast with her husband Todd and their three children.

 Class 1 outline

Will run

Deepening Diversity Understanding


with Dr Wendy C Kasten

Calendar Sep 23, 2021 at 1 pm, runs for 6 weeks

It is difficult to understand cultures unless you have something to compare to. It is equally difficult to understand diversity without an understanding of culture. In this class we delve into both, with a combination of lectures and literature. Class members will choose a book to read, possibly from recommendations, either fiction or nonfiction, by an author outside their cultural experiences. For our last class, we will have a "Book Bistro" and share the books and what was learned about diversity and culture.

Articles will be provided; a list of recommended authors will be provided. Class members obtain their own book(s) in any manner.

Dr. Wendy C. Kasten, Professor Emerita (Kent State University) has taught more than a dozen courses for senior college. She taught literacy and literature in a teacher education program, but also mentored grad students from 16 developing countries, visited over 50 countries or territories, and worked directly with teachers in Taiwan, the Bahamas, Kenya, Turkey, Australia, on two Native American reservations, and in heavily African-American school districts. She is the author of a long list of publications including books, articles, and chapters and is now writing for the children's market.

Will run

Making Cheese: From Mesopotamia to Maine


with Eric Rector

Calendar Sep 23, 2021 at 1 pm, runs for 5 weeks

The history of cheese making is also the history of civilization itself. Animal domestication allowed humans to survive on grass and brush, as well as field crops, and milk has been one of the most sustainable products that resulted. The day after the first bowl of milk was harvested cheese making began and has since played an important part of Maine's early history. In this course you will learn how and why to make cheese, as well as all about the endless varieties of cheese found all over the world.

Reading List:

Cheese and Culture, Paul S. Kindstedt, Chelsea Green $10 to $22+

The Oxford Companion to Cheese, Catherine Donnelly editor, Oxford publishing $32 to $41+

Kitchen Creamery, Louella Hill, Chronicle Books $3 to $10

Eric Rector has been making cheese commercially for over 20 years in Waldo County, Maine. He is past President of both MOFGA and the Maine Cheese Guild.


Will run

Northern Lights (and Darks): 500 Years of Northern European Art


with David Farmer

Calendar Sep 23, 2021 at 1 pm, runs for 6 weeks

The arts of Northern Europe are often perceived as peripheral to those of mainstream Western culture. Italian and French art predominate in popular publications and museum exhibitions. This course will survey the arts of Germany, the Low Countries (the Netherlands and Belgium) and Scandinavia, and characterize their distinctive stylistic qualities, themes and personalities. The course will begin with the astonishing appearance of Flemish realism in the Burgundian Low Countries (Van Eyckj) and move chronologically through German (Dürer) and Netherlandish interplay with the Italian Renaissance. Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries offer Northern aspects of Baroque and Romanticism, and the creation of new nations in the nineteenth permits a particularly focused art. The course concludes with distinctive approaches to Modern art in Symbolism and Expressionism. Throughout, politics, religion and philosophy are important factors and will offer historical context.

Following a Princeton doctorate on 16th-century Flemish art, museum curatorial and directoral positions at the Busch-Reisinger Museum (Harvard), Art Institute of Chicago, Birmingham (AL) Museum of Art and the Dahesh Museum of Art. Teaching at Harvard, Clark University, University of California Santa Barbara, NYU, Pratt University and University of Maine Augusta (including courses at the Maine State Prison). Publications and exhibitions include studies of Flemish, Belgian and German art and artists. Extensive travel in Northern Europe, especially Belgium and Germany.

Will run

Introduction to Walt Whitman—One-hour Brown Bag lunch


with John McClenahen

Calendar Sep 27, 2021 at 12:30 pm

This is an overview of the full-length course on Walt Whitman I plan to teach when in-person classes are again available. The course begins with these questions: Who was Walt Whitman? Who is Walt Whitman. In the regular classes to come, through inspired reading and live discussion of the 12-poem first edition of Leaves of Grass and of Whitman’s multifaceted 19th-Century American life, we will seek to answer these two questions—and dozens of others that are bound to occur.

John McClenahen, a published poet and photographer, moved to Swanville in September 2020 from Delaware. John has university degrees in English, government, history, and philosophy, and has taught at George Washington University in Washington DC and in the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Lewes DE.


Will run

Forgot password?
Staff Log In