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Course Description

Symposia: Scientific Excursions and Diversions is popular with OLLI members who have busy schedules since each week presents a different lecturer with a different topic. Missing a class does not mean you will lose course continuity.

Here are our Fall offerings as of the catalog print deadline, but remember schedules do change because our lecturers are mostly working professionals whose own calendars are not always under their own control.

September 11: Robert Orr, a former NC Supreme Court Justice, wrote a column in the News and Observer that reported two thirds of the accredited law school graduates in North Carolina, UNC and Duke among them, fail the two day Bar Exam. That, he points out, is after they have invested years and tens of thousands of dollars to earn their college degrees. He is speculated the exam has gotten much tougher in part because there is an overabundance of lawyers. Whatever is the reason he argues that there are better ways to determine if someone is capable of being certified as competent to serve as a lawyer. He has agreed to come to talk with us about what is in effect a crisis in the educating of law students.

September 18: Today we are going to look at the overlap between science and art. Joe Robinson came to the Duke University Music Department as Artist in Residence in 2006, following 27 seasons as Principal Oboe of the New York Philharmonic. Since then he has developed a presentation elucidating the creative dimensions of the Interpretive Art of Music—i.e., what performers actually do to turn notes into music. Pablo Casals called those notes just a blueprint— he said “In every performance, we must build the house”. Explaining how musicians do that and demonstrating, oboe in hand, he will also discuss his new memoir and improbable ascent from the Lenoir High School Band to America’s oldest and most prestigious symphony orchestra without ever attending conservatory.

September 25: Marc Edwards is a United States trained MD but early in his career he worked for 6 years in the Middle East and traveled extensively worldwide. He subsequently accrued over 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience, including service as a chair of Family Medicine in a multispecialty group practice and as the senior physician executive in both university teaching and community hospitals. He’s uniquely qualified to talk about the contrast between Western and Eastern medical practices and today he will be discussing Ayurveda, a healing medical art that has come as an outgrowth of his studies because it gets to the root cause of many chronic conditions like digestive disturbances, myalgias, fatigue, skin disorders, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes for which western medicine often offers treatments that address the symptoms but not the causes.

October 2: Tony Rice, our area’s NASA spokesman, talked with us before about how NASA uses robotics to explore the solar system. Today he is going to focus on Mars: what is been done, what is going on now, and what the future holds. He’ll brief us on how likely it is we or our children will hear something like what we heard in 1969 – “One small step for man…” as the first boot print is made in the red planet’s dust. Will it even be spoken in English?

October 9: Instead of looking toward the scientific future, today we are going to take a step back in time, to the era of steamships around the beginning of the 1900s. The industrial revolution was in full swing and there was in effect an international competition to create bigger and better ships. England, long known for its mastery of the seas, was the right environment for the creation of super ships, among them the Titanic. Frederick Pierson, whose professional career was mostly in aviation, has researched those times, and he will be briefing us on the state of the art of shipbuilding, navigation, and seamanship in those times. He will help us better understand what happened to the Titanic.

October 16: "Should a human organ go to the highest bidder?" Professor Donald Riggs will remind us that money can and, in some parts of the world, does buy a kidney or human blood. The question is: What are the grounds for permitting or forbidding such items to be traded as commodities? Does the attractiveness of economic ef?ciency crowd out moral values such as fairness and the sanctity of human life? Would knowing that an organ would be transplanted into an inmate change your feelings? Or, consider the donor side of the question. Many of us would donate a kidney to someone we love but would you make one of yours available to one of yours to a stranger for a significant fee? Or would you have such arrangements prohibited even if agreed to by consenting adults? You will have a lot to think about after this lecture.

October 30: Edwin B Fisher, a clinical psychologist and Professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC/CH wrote a chapter of the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychologists and Mental Health Experts Access the President. He has kindly agreed to come and talk with us about that book and his current views since more than a year will have elapsed since the book was published.

November 6: One of the more volatile parts of the world is the Middle East, and today we are going to learn what it is like to negotiate and compromise with that area’s political leadership. Today’s lecturer is W. Robert Pearson who served as the United States Ambassador in Turkey (2000-2003) and later as Director of Human Resources in the Foreign Service and finally as Director General of the U.S. Foreign Service from 2003 to 2006 where he repositioned the American Foreign Service to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

November 13: Veteran’s Day is next week, it’s no coincidence that today’s lecture will be by Marc Stern, Commanding Officer and Professor of Naval Science at Piedmont Consortium NROTC (Duke, UNC, NC State). He had been Captain of a nuclear submarine and knows what it is like to be at the pointed end of the deterrence sword. He will review recent "high interest events" involving other nations undersea capabilities, which sets the context for what we are doing to develop our own capabilities. He will then give a brief overview of specific potential adversary submarine forces and how they may be opposed. He might tell us about the time he got to sink a real submarine while he was in command. We will be introduced to recent changes in the silent service (no cigarettes, women being integrated into the crews, and 24 hour schedules).

November 27: It was an accidental experiment: Why did some people in the Netherlands who were sickly feel better during WWII? OLLI member Diane McGrath will be talking with us about that, Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) and a Gluten Free Diet – and that should give you a hint about the answer to the accidental experiment question since certain foods were simply not available then. She will explain why health care professionals and the general public lack information about the lifestyle changes and the complexities of a gluten free diet required with the diagnosis of celiac disease and will explore some of the issues related to misdiagnoses of celiac disease, and its treatment. It is more than avoiding wheat, rye, and oats.

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