Great teachers join us for ESI College, offering everything from one-hour lectures to six-week courses.

You can view the current season of ESI College classes here. [ You can also download and/or print out a PDF version. ]

Once you’ve selected a course, or courses, print and fill out the ESI College registration form (PDF) and send it to Elderly Services-ESI College, P.O. Box 581, Middlebury, VT 05753. The form has information on registration deadlines for each season of classes.

ESI College, Winter 2020 | January 16-March 25

Turning Magazine Fiction into Art: The Achievement of Henry James

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursdays,
January 16, 23 & 30
Cost: $70 (includes book)

Description: Henry James emerged at the end of the 19th century, an age of pioneering exploration of the mind in psychology. He produced masterful stories that examined the consciousness of the American as distinct from European and English habits. Through discussion of selected short works we will follow his thinking as the short story became a major art form of its own.

Instructor: Paul Christensen taught contemporary literature at Texas A&M University and coordinated its creative writing program. His short stories have appeared in national journals and reviews, and he is the author of two memoirs as well as studies of the American poets Charles Olson and Clayton Eshleman. His newest story about the South, “Where Dreams Refuse to Die,” was recently published in The Antioch Review.

How China Views the Trade War with the U.S.

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Tuesday, January 21
Cost: $20

Description: This talk will explain the impact on China of the trade war with the United States, and focus on its impact on the Chinese economy. Will the trade war force China to reform its economic model (the China model or Beijing consensus)?

Instructor: Jessica Teets teaches in the Political Science Department at Middlebury College and is associate editor of the Journal of Chinese Political Science. She was recently selected to participate in the Public Intellectuals Program created by the National Committee on United States-China Relations. She is the author of Civil Society Under Authoritarianism: The China Model.

Women in U.S. Politics

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Monday, January 27
Cost: $20

Description: In this course we will explore the current and historical status of women in U.S. politics. Recent years have been pivotal for women in U.S. politics, with Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, the historic 2017 Women’s March, and the 2018 Year of Women. How have these events affected women in politics specifically and electoral politics generally? Can women achieve political parity with men and why does it matter? How do factors such as race, gender identity, region, and party intersect with electoral success and experience?

Instructor: Ruth Hardy graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio and then received her master’s degree in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at University of Texas-Austin. Before becoming a Vermont state senator in 2018, she was the executive director of Emerge Vermont which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for public office.

Hoffnung’s Music Festivals

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Tuesday, January 28
Cost: $20

Description: Gerard Hoffnung was a cartoonist and tuba player who organized a series of music festivals in London in the 1950s that satirized classical music. These hilarious concerts anticipated P.D.Q. Bach, and offered a highbrow alternative to Spike Jones. Hoffnung’s charming cartoons of musicians and instruments added to the fun. We’ll listen to excerpts from the festivals, see some cartoons, and hear a recording of a Hoffnung monologue.

Instructor: Jerry Shedd is a retired music teacher, co-conductor of the Middlebury Community Wind Ensemble, and member of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. He has conducted local theater productions and has taught ESI College courses on various music dramas, symphonies and requiems, as well as how to play the recorder.

Book Group | Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey

Time: 1:30-3 p.m.
Date: Tuesdays,
February 4, 11 & 18
Cost: $70 (includes book)

Description: Many of you will be familiar with the cast of characters of Downton Abbey; here is the opportunity to meet those of Northanger Abbey. This early work by Jane Austen, a parody of the Gothic genre so popular at the time, turns many of the conventions of the 18th century novel on their head. Written with a droll sense of humor, its themes include love, marriage, society, status … and the importance of reading!

Instructor: Frankie Dunleavy graduated from the University of London, where she majored in French and minored in English. In addition to those subjects, she has also taught Latin, Spanish and German in England, France, Germany and, most recently, Middlebury, Vermont.

The Psychology of Science Denial, Doubt and Resistance

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Wednesday, February 5
Cost: $20

Description: How do individuals decide whether to vaccinate their children, accept human causes of climate change, or determine whether to take opioids for pain management? The need for public understanding of science is especially critical when individuals confront complex and conflicting information. Democracies depend on educated citizens who can make informed decisions for the benefit of their health and wellbeing, their communities, nations and planet. Understanding some of the key psychological explanations for science denial and resistance can help provide us with a means for improving scientific literacy and understanding.

Instructor: Barbara Hofer, Professor of Psychology Emerita at Middlebury College, is an educational, developmental and cultural psychologist. She is currently working on a book about the public understanding of science.

The New England Meetinghouse

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Wednesday, February 12
Cost: $20

Description: This course offers an exploration of our region’s most iconic building type from the 17th through the early 19th centuries. Professor Andres will examine its origins, its program, its use and its evolution from the purposefully non-ecclesiastical forms of the early colonies into the spired Federal churches that came to grace many a village green. In the process, he will cite notable Vermont examples.

Instructor: Glenn Andres taught History of Art and Architecture at Middlebury College from 1970 to 2015. He is a long-time member of the Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and co-author of Buildings of Vermont (2014). Among many articles, lectures, exhibitions and bicycle tours in which he has drawn upon Vermont history, Glenn’s “Walking History of Middlebury” is a popular, local favorite.

The Arc of the Narrative

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Tuesdays, February 25 & March 3
Cost: $55 (includes cost of book)

Description: Author Bill Schubart will conduct a two-day session on “The Arc of the Narrative” in short story reading and writing, using his own experience and his collection of short stories called Fat People. We will explore how art in general, but specifically the short story, can not only entertain but also educate and alter the reader’s understanding of reality. We will use one or two short stories to explore our topic together.

Instructor: Bill Schubart has served as board chair at Vermont Public Radio, UVM Medical Center, Vermont Digger, and Business Roundtable. Educated at Exeter, Kenyon and UVM, he co-founded Philo Records and Resolution Inc. Bill has written five books of fiction.

George Gershwin and Cole Porter: Giants of American Song

Time: 1:30-3 p.m.
Date: Wednesday, February 26
Cost: $20

Description: Through two very different cultural pathways, these two iconic composers created the core of what has become the golden age of American song. This presentation will combine insights into Gershwin’s and Porter’s personal background with piano selections from their greatest work.

Instructor: Richard Hawley, Ph.D., is a lifelong teacher, writer and musician. For four decades he taught, coached and counseled boys at Cleveland’s University School, serving for 17 years as the school’s headmaster. He has published 30 books and dozens of articles, stories and poems. Also a lifelong piano player, Richard has performed in jazz clubs and other venues across the country.

On Assignment with Jim Blair

Time: 1:30-3 p.m.
Dates: Tuesdays, March 10, 17
Cost: $40

Description: Retired National Geographic photographer Jim Blair will discuss two of his photographic assignments. The first, In Love in London, 1964, chronicles an early assignment for National Geographic when he was in London for six months after he’d just gotten married. The second, The Past is Prologue, 2017, chronicles his special interest in the environment, and provides perspective on the environmental challenges we face today. He will use these two slide shows made 54 years apart to show what you too can do with your old slides to bring those experiences back in focus.

Instructor: James Blair was a staff photographer for National Geographic Magazine for 32 years, with 46 articles carrying his byline and more than 2,000 of his photos appearing within its covers. His photographs are represented in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art.

Perennials Group | The Book of Joy

Time: 10-11:30 a.m. – OR – 1:30-3 p.m. (If you can be flexible about your section, please let us know. Thanks!)
Dates: Wednesdays, March 11, 18 & 25
Cost: $80 (includes book)

Description: In this book group and support group on aging, we will be reading The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (with writer Douglas Abrams). These two spiritual giants and great friends spent a week together over the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday and talked about how to find joy even in the face of incredible hardship and suffering. We will discuss the different approaches they take, and what we’ve done in response to the challenges of our own lives.

Instructor: Elise Blair trained and worked in the Netherlands as an industrial social worker. She became a psychoanalyst in Washington, D.C., and had a private practice for 30 years. She is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

The Presidential Election of 2020: After Super Tuesday

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Dates: Thursday, March 12
Cost: $20

Description: By the time this class is held, close to half of the delegates to the Democratic Convention will have been elected. How will the results of the Democratic primaries and caucuses, the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the economy, foreign policy, and other issues and events affect public opinion and the presidential campaign?

Instructor: Eric Davis (B.A., Brown University; M.A., Ph.D. Stanford University) is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Middlebury College. From 1980 to 2008 he taught courses on American politics. Since retiring, he has continued to be a close observer of Vermont and national politics, writing a column for the Addison Independent and providing analysis for local and national media.


ESI College Course List
Winter 2020 | January 16-March 25

  • Short Fiction of Henry James / Paul Christensen / Thursdays, Jan. 16, 23, 30, 10-11:30 a.m.

  • China on the Trade War / Jessica Teets / Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10-11:30 a.m.

  • Women in U.S. Politics / Ruth Hardy / Monday, Jan. 27, 10-11:30 a.m.

  • Hoffnung’s Music Festivals / Jerry Shedd / Tuesday, Jan. 28, 10-11:30 a.m.

  • Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey / Frankie Dunleavy / Tuesdays, Feb. 4, 11 & 18  u 1:30-3 p.m.

  • The Psychology of Science Denial / Barbara Hofer / Wednesday, Feb. 5, 10-11:30 a.m.

  • The New England Meetinghouse / Glenn Andres / Wednesday, Feb. 12, 10-11:30 a.m.

  • The Arc of the Narrative / Bill Schubart / Tuesdays, Feb. 25 & March 3, 10-11:30 a.m.

  • George Gershwin & Cole Porter / Richard Hawley / Wednesday, Feb. 26  u 1:30-3 p.m.

  • On Assignment / Jim Blair / Tuesdays, March 10 & 17, 1:30-3 p.m.

  • Perennials / Elise Blair / Wednesdays, March 11, 18 & 25, 10-11:30 a.m. OR 1:30 -3 p.m.

  • Presidential Election 2020 / Eric Davis / Thursday, March 12, 10-11:30 a.m