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, print and fill out the ESI College application 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 Summer 2018 / July 5-August 30

How Italian Immigrants Transformed Vermont

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, July 5
Cost: $20

Description: Beginning in the 1880s, artists and artisans from the granite and marble districts of northern and western Italy migrated to Vermont. They had a transformative effect on the growth and quality of the Vermont stone industries as well as the culture of those areas in Vermont where they settled. However, their impact on the granite industry in the Barre area differed from that in the marble industry. Learn about how these immigrants fought for better working conditions and won, and how their efforts have made a difference in today’s quarrying.



Instructor: Ilaria Brancoli-Busdraghi received her Laurea in lettere from the Universita di Roma “Tor Vergata” in 2001. Her history thesis, written in Italian, was entitled: “Men of Stone: Italian Marble and Granite Workers in Vermont.” Ilaria is on the faculty of the Italian Department at Middlebury College.
John Donne: Sinner Turned Saint?

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, July 12
Cost: $20

Description: This class is an introduction to John Donne's life and writings, both in prose and poetry, with emphasis on Donne's "Holy Sonnets."



Instructor: John McWilliams is retired College Professor of Humanities at Middlebury College. He taught courses in the departments of History, History of Art, Religion, and English and American Literatures.
Three Inventions of China that Changed the World

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, July 19
Cost: $20

Description: The list of technological inventions that are attributable specifically to Chinese ingenuity is extremely long, with many of these innovations having subsequently become so commonplace throughout the world that there is little broad awareness of their origins in China. This lecture examines the development of three such inventions that – through the processes of global adoption, commodification, and commercialization – have been transformative in shaping the course of human history. The three inventions of focus are silk fabric, porcelain, and gunpowder.



Instructor: Don Wyatt has been a Middlebury College faculty member since 1986. He has served as a Vice President and Dean in the administration and he is currently Director of the East Asian Studies Program. He has authored or co-authored several books on Chinese history.
The Qur’an as Scripture, Part 2

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, July 26
Cost: $20
Please note: There are readings for this class, which will be available via email and pickup at Elderly Services at least one week prior to the class.

Description: Building on the introductory lecture on the Qur’an that we had in April, the aim of this second session is to go a bit more in depth in our exploration of the Qur’an as scripture by reading some of the chapters of the Qur’an and discussing them together. We will start by an analysis of the shorter chapters at the end of the Qur’an (revealed first to Muhammad in Mecca) and then we will compare the themes, concerns, and topics that emerge from them with later chapters revealed in Medina.
Prerequisite: The Qur’an as Scripture, ESI College, April 2018.



Instructor: Ata Anzali is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Middlebury College. He received his Ph.D. from the department of Religious Studies at Rice University. His research interests includes early modern developments of Sufism in Persia, the early history of Islam and the Qur’an, Persian culture and civilization, and modern religious reform movements in the Middle East.
1200 Years of Pilgrims: The Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James)

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, August 2
Cost: $20

Description: The Way of Saint James is an ancient pilgrimage across Spain. A five time pilgrim, twice leading high school students, David will describe the origins of the pilgrimage, the conditions endured by pilgrims, and the socio-economic impact the Camino has in the wake of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who walk annually.



Instructor: David Herren boasts many careers: archaeologist, Taekwondo instructor, Wall Street… He worked for 20+ years in hi-tech, including serving as the Special Assistant in Technology and Outreach to the VP for Languages and Director of the Language Schools at Middlebury College. Post second mid-life crisis, he became a Spanish teacher at a small high school, where for 16 years he worked to convince rural Vermont students that the world is a wide and wonderful place. Retired from teaching, he returned to an earlier career, and is the Sommelier at the Swift House Inn.
Songs for Today: An Exploration of the Flanders Ballad Collection

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, August 9
Cost: $20

Description: Folklorist Helen Hartness Flanders devoted her life to preserving and promoting New England’s folk music culture. Her collection, compiled from 1930 to 1958 and currently housed at Middlebury College, contains over four thousand recordings of New England songs, tunes, and stories. Initially intent on tracing Vermont’s Anglo-Irish heritage, Flanders increasingly expanded the scope of her collecting to represent a wide cross-section of Vermonters in the mid-20th century. In this concert/discussion, singer and storyteller Jack DesBois leads an exploration of Flanders’s collection of Vermont songs and its significance in the creation and reflection of Vermont culture today.



Instructor: Jack DesBois is a singer, actor, poet and playwright who seeks to create dramatic works that build community and restore the soul. A graduate of Middlebury College, he has engaged extensively with the Middlebury performing arts community, including appearances with Middlebury College, Middlebury Actors Workshop, Opera Company of Middlebury, and as a mentor for Town Hall Theater Young Company.
Telling It Like It Was: The Evolution of an Underground Railroad Historic Site

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, August 16
Cost: $20

Description: Rokeby Museum provides an excellent case study of how the underground railroad actually operated in Vermont as well as how it was remembered by later generations – not always accurately. Jane Williamson will present primary sources documenting both eras and will explore them to find a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the underground railroad in history and in memory.



Instructor: Jane Williamson recently retired from Rokeby Museum after more than two decades of researching abolition and the underground railroad in Vermont, both of which are presented in the Museum’s award-winning exhibition, Free & Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont. The radical abolitionists have been Jane’s heroes since she was a college student in the 1970s.
Politics in the Age of Trump: Forecasting the 2018 Midterm Elections

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, August 23
Cost: $20

Description: The 2018 midterm elections will provide the first opportunity for Americans to pass judgment, through their congressional vote, on the Trump presidency and policies. What will their verdict be, and why? And what will the results say about the state of the American political system?



Instructor: Matt Dickinson teaches at Middlebury College, where he specializes in the study of American politics, particularly Congress and the presidency. Previously he taught at Harvard University, where he also earned his Ph.D. in Government. He is the author of Bitter Harvest, which examines the origins of the modern White House staff.
What About the Boys: The Challenges and Possibilities of Growing Up Male in Our Era

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, August 30
Cost: $20

Description: This course will consider recent research documenting a contemporary crisis in developing boys. Current research on boys’ personal and scholastic fortunes will be shared, along with a close look at particular boys' lives.



Instructor: Richard Hawley, Ph.D., is a lifelong teacher and writer. 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, dozens of articles, stories, and poems in publications ranging from the Atlantic to the New England Journal of Medicine.
ESI College: Summer 2018 Course Offerings

• Italian Immigrants in Vermont, July 5
• John Donne: Sinner Turned Saint? July 12
• Three Inventions of China, July 19
• Qur’an as Scripture, Part 2, July 26
• The Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage, August 2
• The Flanders Ballad Collection, August 9
• Evolution of an Underground RR Site, August 16
• Forecasting the 2018 Midterm Elections, August 23
• What About the Boys, August 30