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 Spring 2018 / April 5-May 30

Book Group: Absalom, Absalom!

Time: 10:00-12 noon
Date: Thursdays, April 5, 12, 19, 26
Cost: $90 includes book

Description: Consciously or not, over time William Faulkner’s several novels and stories created an interwoven and multilayered fable of life in his richly imagined Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, map and all. There is no better way to first explore that fable than to read Absalom, Absalom! (considered to be his greatest novel) and learn about the rise and tragic fall of the stranger Thomas Sutpen, who first appeared in town in 1833.



Instructor: Charles (“Chuck”) Burdick earned his B.A. in English from Middlebury College and his M.A. from Rutgers. He taught English and writing at Milton, Exeter, and Princeton Day School, and has led numerous book discussion courses for ESI College.
The Qur’an as Scripture

Time: 10:00-11:30 AM
Date: Monday, April 9
Cost: $20

Description: In this session, we will discuss the historical context in which the Qur’an was revealed, and compiled. We will examine sample chapters from the Qur’an to understand how its themes and emphases developed and changed throughout the years of revelation to Muhammad, its similarities and differences with the Bible, and its role in the lives of millions of Muslims across the globe.



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.
The History of Spices: In the Footsteps of the Early Explorers

Time: 10:00-11:30 AM and 1:30-3:00 PM
(two sessions in the same day; one class)
Date: Tuesday, April 10
Cost: $40

Description: Did you know that spice purchasing is the world's second oldest profession? That the history of the modern world is tied to the search for spice origins? That Columbus "discovered" the spice that is now the world's most popular? That 2,000 years ago civilizations used spices primarily for their medicinal uses? The importance of spices to western culture cannot be overstated. These presentations on the history of spices and the current state of the industry will fascinate anyone who has ever tasted cinnamon, pepper, and vanilla.



Instructor: Hank Kaestner spent his career as Director of Spice Purchasing at McCormick and Company. At the forefront of efforts to return to source to improve the quality of spices, and then educate others about them, he was inducted into the Academy of Culinary Arts International's Culinary Hall of Fame.
Identity Theft

Time: 1:30-3:00 PM
Date: Wednesday, April 11
Cost: Fee waived

Description: In this AARP course, you will understand the techniques used by identity thieves who commit fraud using stolen information. You’ll learn how and why identity theft occurs, what steps you can take to protect yourself, and what to do if it happens to you.



Instructor: Elliott Greenblott, M.A., is a retired social studies teacher, school administrator and education consultant. In retirement, he serves on several boards, is the AARP Vermont Fraud Watch Coordinator, and teaches for AARP.
The Pewter Craft from Colonial America to the Present

Time: 10:00-11:30 AM
Date: Monday, April 16
Cost: $20

Description: Pewter was integral to early American life and has remained a cultural touchstone ever since. We will explore the significance of the pewter trade at our country’s birth with a particular emphasis on the Danforth family of Middletown, Connecticut. The stories of the lives of the makers shed fascinating light on their wares and their era. We will compare the methods and tools of pewter manufacture from the early days to today and look at examples of early American pewter alongside contemporary pieces.



Instructor: Fred Danforth is the co-founder, with his wife and partner, Judi, of Danforth Pewter of Middlebury. He has served on the boards of The American Pewter Guild and The Frog Hollow State Craft Center. He and Judi have received numerous design awards and in 1997 were named the Small Business of the Year in Vermont by the SBA.
Fraud, Scams, and Con Artists: Coming to a Computer near You

Time: 1:30-3:00 PM
Date: Wednesday, April 18
Cost: Fee waived

Description: In this AARP course, you will learn basic defense regarding scams perpetrated over the Internet, and why and how those scams happen. The class addresses how to recognize malicious e-mails and pop-ups as well as Wi-Fi issues arising from the increased use of tablets and smart phones. This presentation is continuously revised to address the latest cyber threats.



Instructor: Elliott Greenblott, M.A., is a retired social studies teacher, school administrator and education consultant. In retirement, he serves on several boards, is the AARP Vermont Fraud Watch Coordinator, and teaches for AARP.
Book Group: Voicing Ordinary America (Raymond Carver)

Time: 10:00-11:30 AM
Date: Mondays, April 23, 30, May 7
Cost: $85 includes 2 books

Description: "Voicing Ordinary America" is a study of selected stories of Raymond Carver, one of America's most original voices of the later 20th century. He captures the speech, attitudes, and struggles of those rarely illuminated in American fiction -- blue-collar workers, middle class suburbanites, and lonely married couples. Texts include Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? and Where I'm Calling From.



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 and studies of the American poets Charles Olson and Clayton Eshleman.
The People’s Civil War

Time: 10:00-11:30 AM
Date: Tuesdays, May 1, 8, 15, 22
Cost: $80

Description: The Civil War raised vexing questions about Americans’ sense of identity, loyalty, and belonging to community, state, and nation. This course will focus on a wide range of actors including civilians and soldiers, politicians and plebeians, natives and immigrants, women and men, slave and free, during the four years of war. How did this complicated conflict shape the people’s understanding of their place in American society? What did it prompt them to do in the midst of this national emergency?



Instructor: Amy Morsman teaches courses in American history at Middlebury College. Her research interests lie in the evolution of gender roles and race relations. Her first book, The Big House After Slavery: Virginia Plantation Families and Their Postbellum Domestic Experiment, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2010.
Why the Risks of Nuclear War Are Rising, and What Should Be Done

CLASS CANCELLED

Description: The neglect of nuclear arms control negotiations, the “modernization” of our nuclear arsenal and the policies reflected in the most recent Nuclear Posture Review have all made our world a much more dangerous place. Add to this President Trump’s casual brandishing of our nuclear might and you will understand why the doomsday clock has been moved forward to "two minutes before midnight." We will discuss all this, as well as steps we could take to lessen these now fast-increasing risks.



Instructor: George Jaeger served as an American career diplomat during the Cold War. He was, among other assignments, staff director of the President’s Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament, a senior negotiator of the Helsinki Final Act, consul general during Quebec’s independence crisis, and deputy assistant secretary general of NATO. Before he retired he taught as diplomat-in-residence at Middlebury College.
Looking Back at Watergate

Time: 10:00-11:30 AM
Date: Thursdays, May 3, 10, 17
Cost: $60

Description: Forty five years ago, the Watergate scandal was breaking. This class will look back on this historical event and political crisis to discuss the issues that came to light during the investigation and subsequent trials, including the perception of key government officials, the role of the media in the investigation, and the legacy Watergate left in the hearts and minds of the American public. Students will discuss their experiences of that era against the backdrop of history.



Instructor: Rick Desorda taught Social Studies and the Humanities for 39 years, most recently at Mount Abraham Union High School. He received his B.A. in Education from Johnson State College and Masters in Education Leadership from Castleton State College. For 35 years he team taught American Studies, a United States History and American Literature course of the 20th century.
Diplomacy: The Forgotten Art

CLASS CANCELLED

Description: The militarization of our foreign policy has increasingly made diplomacy an adjunct of our military policies. President Trump’s admiration of generals and distaste for diplomats have deepened this trend. We will consider what wise statecraft is essential in our new tripolar world, and why even at regional and country levels experienced diplomats are key to moderating crises and achieving stability. The question is can the sidelining of diplomacy still be reversed?



Instructor: George Jaeger served as an American career diplomat during the Cold War. He was, among other assignments, staff director of the President’s Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament, a senior negotiator of the Helsinki Final Act, consul general during Quebec’s independence crisis, and deputy assistant secretary general of NATO. Before he retired he taught as diplomat-in-residence at Middlebury College.
Coping with Changing Memory in the Golden Years

Time: 1:30-3:00 PM
Date: Wednesdays, May 16, 23, 30
Cost: $60

Description: This small class is a discussion group for healthy aging people who are also concerned about memory issues. We will share coping skills and discuss strategies for how to remember what matters most. The class will have some readings in preparation for each session.



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 played a large role in the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis as a teacher, board member, and president. She is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Cooking Traditions and Family Memories

Time: 10:00-11:30 AM
Date: Monday, May 21
Cost: $20

Description: Come with your favorite family recipe and share your story! Amy Trubek's new book, Making Modern Meals, considers how everyday cooking in the United States has been transformed over the past century. So much has changed, but in her research she found that making meals is about making memories, so there are also continuities, especially with special family recipes. This will be a conversation more than a formal presentation.



Instructor: Amy Trubek is trained as a chef and an anthropologist. She is a professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont and the Faculty Director of the Food Systems Graduate Program.
'A Republic, If You Can Keep It'

Time: 1:30-3:00 PM
Date: Thursday, May 24
Cost: $20

Description: When asked what form of government the Constitutional Convention produced in 1787, Benjamin Franklin is said to have replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." Many of the controversies of 1787 and 1788 continue to resonate in American politics today, especially since November 2016. This class will look at some of the conflicts that arose at the Constitutional Convention and during the ratification debates -- over the powers of Congress and the president, how those officers were to be elected, relationships between the states and the new federal government, and a Bill of Rights -- and how those conflicts continue to be relevant to contemporary political debates.



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 print and broadcast media organizations.
ESI College: Spring 2018 Course Offerings

• Book Group: Absalom, Absalom! -- April 5, 12, 19, 26
• The Qur’an as Scripture -- April 9
• History of Spices -- April 10
• Identity Theft -- April 11
• Pewter Craft -- April 16
• Computer Fraud -- April 18
• Book Group: Raymond Carver -- April 23, 30; May 7
• The People’s Civil War -- May 1, 8, 15, 22
• The Risks of Nuclear War -- May 2
• Looking Back at Watergate -- May 3, 10, 17
• Diplomacy: The Forgotten Art -- May 9
• Changing Memory in Golden Years -- May 16, 23, 30
• Cooking Traditions -- May 21
• “A Republic, If You Can Keep It” -- May 24