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Shepherd’s Lifelong Learning program offers free events

By Staff | Feb 3, 2017

Shepherd University’s Lifelong Learning Program has announced a full slate of classes, brown bag lectures and film showings for the spring semester, including several events that are free and open to the public.

The Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education is teaming up with the Lifelong Learning Program to offer a monthly film series that includes post-film discussions.

These events, which take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Byrd Center’s auditorium are free and open to the public, but advanced registration is required. To reserve a seat, contact Jody Brumage, Center archivist, at jbrumage@ shepherd.edu. Films scheduled this spring are:

“13th”-Feb. 8. Ava DuVernay’s film focuses on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”

The film follows the progression from that second qualifying clause to the mass criminalization that’s taken place and the sprawling American prison industry. It incorporates a mixture of archival footage and testimony from an array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men.

“Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”-March 1. Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 film was the first commercially successful political satire about nuclear war and Cold War politics. “Dr. Strangelove” touched on rising popular fears about technology and nuclear war in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis and as the arms race between the United States and Soviet Union continued. As our national conversations about politics, technology, and nuclear power continue, the film’s biting commentary remains as relevant and thought provoking as ever.

“In Pursuit of Justice”-April 5. As a U.S. Congressman, West Virginia Secretary of State, university professor, author, and environmental activist, Ken Hechler, who died Dec. 10, 2016 at age 102, changed the face of West Virginia politics. This West Virginia Public Broadcasting documentary traces the evolution of Hechler’s political philosophy to the progressive movement of the early 20th century and documents his commitment to public service and political office. With added insight from U.S. Senators Tom Harkin, George McGovern, and Robert Dole and U.S. Representatives John Brademas and James Symington, the film highlights Hechler’s lifelong devotion to helping the citizens of the West Virginia and the nation. Russ Barbour and Chip Hitchcock, producers of the documentary, will participate in a discussion after the viewing.

“Command and Control”-May 17. This film illustrates the long-hidden story of a deadly 1980 accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas. Based on the critically acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, the documentary exposes the truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us. Woven through the Damascus story is a riveting history of America’s nuclear weapons program from World War II through the Cold War, much of it based on recently declassified documents. “Command and Control” asks the question-how do you manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?

The brown bag lunch lectures, which take place from 12:30-2 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education multipurpose room, are:

“Birds of Summer by Sight and Sound”-March 29. Kathryn Henry, a volunteer with the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, will present stunning photography and recordings by local naturalist Wil Hershberger. This program will help participants learn to identify several summer birds most commonly seen and heard in local backyards and parks.

“A White Historian Confronts Lynching”-April 5. Dr. Susan Strasser, Richards Professor Emerita of American History at the University of Delaware and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, will delve deeper than usual into the crucial chapters of American history surrounding the Civil Rights Movement. While in high school in Pittsburgh, Strasser picketed the Woolworth’s store to support the sit-ins at Southern lunch counters.

As a 15-year-old white girl, Strasser stood on the National Mall in 1963 and heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. describe a dream that was hers, too. Her response to shootings in a Charleston, South Carolina, church, to police shootings, and to #BlackLivesMatter was to develop a series of illustrated talks titled “A White Historian Reads Black History.” This lecture is one of those talks.

“From Unspeakable Horror to Simple Murder: Write What You Know”- May 3. Author Alan Gibson, adjunct English and modern languages professor at Shepherd, will talk about the inspiration for the settings, characters, and plots of his two novels. The first, “The Dead of Winter,” was a cheesy horror story and the second is a more sophisticated murder mystery. Gibson will speak about the transition from the horror genre to mystery and what he’s learned after writing two books. There will be ample time for questions from budding and seasoned authors.

The Lifelong Learning Program at Shepherd University is a volunteer, member-driven program dedicated to offering stimulating academic courses and activities to the community.

Membership is open to all mature adults. For more information about membership and other classes, brown bag lunches, and tours offered by Lifelong Learning, visit www.shepherd.edu/lifelonglearning or contact Karen Rice at 304-876-5135.