We are so pleased to be offering a series of nine classes for ESI College Online’s March-April 2022 term, serving those age 60 and older. Registration is open; classes begin March 8.

Course Listings

(click on the course titles for details)

NOTE: THIS COURSE IS BEING RESCHEDULED. Cynthia Packert. The Ramayana: Rama’s Journey Through the Arts. Tuesdays, March 8 & 15, 10:30-11:45 ~ $20

NOTE: THIS COURSE HAS BEEN POSTPONED. Paul Christensen. Book Discussion: Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. Thursdays, March 10, 17, 24, 31 & April 7, 10:30-11:45 ~ $50 plus cost of book

Matt Dickinson. A Polarized America. Tuesday, March 22, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Elise Blair. Aging Gracefully: Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman. Wednesdays, March 23, 30 & April 6, 1:30-2:45 ~ $30 plus cost of book

Barbara Brosnan. Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: Exploring the Natural World through Essays. Tuesday, March 29, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10 plus cost of book.

Robert Wyatt. Bluegrass. Tuesday, April 12, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Ron Hallman. The Forgotten Frontier: The Story of the Fabled Nurses on Horseback and the Frontier Nursing Service. Wednesday, April 13, 1:30-2:45 ~ $10

Orion Lewis. Great Power Asymmetric Conflict: Making Sense of the “New” New World Order. Thursday, April 14, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Susan Evans McClure. The Clean Water Act at 50, Tuesday, April 19, 10:30-11:45 p.m. ~ $10


Please Note

  • We use an online registration system named “Wufoo” that provides an easy-to-use form to select your classes.
  • Please sign up at least 48 hours in advance so we can be in touch with you about the class.
  • Some classes have limited enrollment; others have readings. 
  • Each person in your household must register separately. If you share the same email address, simply fill out a separate form for each person.
  • The registration system calculates the amount owed on a per person basis ($10 per session, per person). The total cost for your classes will be listed when you complete your registration. 
  • Some courses may require you to purchase books that will be available at the Vermont Book Shop at a discounted price.
  • After you submit your form, you will receive an automated email confirmation from “Elderly Services-ESI College <no-reply@wufoo.com>.”

Payment Options

  • You may pay by check. Please send it (within a week of registration) to:

    Elderly Services-ESI College
    P.O. Box 581
    Middlebury, VT 05753 

  • Or, you may make a debit/credit card payment via PayPal, as you complete the online registration form. You do not need a PayPal account to use this feature.

Connecting Online

  • To participate you’ll need a computer, tablet, iPad, Chromebook, or smartphone with Zoom set up on it. A device with a webcam is preferable so that people can see you. 
  • We email you a Zoom link for each class in the morning of each day’s class.
  • We don’t want technology to be a barrier! Please call us (802.388.3983) or email (college@elderlyservices.org) to learn more and schedule an appointment as we would be happy to help.

Day-of-Class Technical Support

  • We have technical support for every class session. 
  • If you bump into any issues on the day of the class, please do not hesitate to call our support line at 802.349.2686. Please note: This is a new support line number we use only during class sessions.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Dana Perzanoski
Geetha Wunnava
Jeff Rehbach
Anya Schwartz
Kristin Bolton

Course Listings for March-April 2022

The Ramayana: Rama’s Journey Through the Arts
Instructor: Cynthia Packert
Date: Tuesday, March 8 & 15
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $20

Description: The Ramayana (“Journey of Rama”) is an ancient, yet still powerfully relevant, Hindu epic that narrates the story of Prince Rama, a divinely human avatar of Vishnu, the ruler of the universe. Rama’s ultimate destiny is to triumph over evil, but his victory is fraught with moral dilemmas about fate, loyalty, duty, gender relationships, and the conflict between good and evil. We will explore how this gorgeous epic has inspired countless artistic responses in India in a variety of different media: poetry, dance, theater, sculpture, painting, cinema and politics.

Instructor: With a Ph.D. in Art History from Harvard University, Cynthia Packert is the Christian A. Johnson Professor in the History of Art and Architecture at Middlebury College. She teaches courses on all aspects of Asian and Islamic art, with a particular focus on India. Her current research focuses on new Hindu temples in India and the North American diaspora.


Book Discussion: Charles Dickens’s Bleak House
Instructor: Paul Christensen
Date: Thursdays, March 10, 17, 24, 31 & April 7
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $50 plus cost of book

Description: Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, was his favorite novel. It was his most intense argument against the economic inequities of Victorian England. The exploitation of heirs and litigants in the Court of Chancery were so egregious that few in Parliament could argue against a wave of reformist acts to limit the powers of lawyers to keep alive meaningless arguments in order to deplete the remaining assets of a will. It is one of those rare instances where art has the power to change life for the better. It is a monument to English progressivism and to the massive talent of Dickens to breathe life into ordinary people and make them into heroes and victims of a vast conspiracy of the ruling class. Copies of the book will be available through The Vermont Book Shop.

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.


A Polarized America
Instructor: Matt Dickinson
Date: Tuesday, March 22
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10

Description: Journalists, politicians and cable-news pundits tell us that America is a deeply divided nation. But is it? This talk examines the evidence regarding the widely-shared assumption that we live in a polarized country. What do we mean by polarization? Who, if anyone, is polarized, and on what issues?  How did we get here, and what can be done about it?

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: FDR, Presidential Power, and the Growth of the Presidential Branch.


Aging Gracefully: Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman
Instructor: Elise Blair
Date: Wednesdays, March 23, 30 & April 6
Time: 1:30-2:45
Cost: $30 plus cost of book

Description: New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman delivers us the book she was searching for upon receiving her devastating cancer diagnosis 15 years earlier; it’s a road map for finding hope, as well as the encouragement to reclaim your life. We’ll reflect and share how we have coped in the face of loss and hardship. Hoffman reflects in her book, “our lives are made up of equal parts of sorrow and joy, and that it is impossible to have one without the other.” Copies of the book will be available through The Vermont Book Shop.

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.


Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: Exploring the Natural World through Essays
Instructor: Barbara Brosnan
Date: Tuesday, March 29
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10 plus cost of book

Description: Annie Dillard’s Pulitzer Prize winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek has been called the successor to Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. She invites us to join her as she “stalks” through the natural world and her insights, based in science, are coupled with her sense of awe. We will read and discuss 3 of her 15 essays. Dillard is known also as a writer’s writer so we can discuss how the power of her writing conjures vivid images of all that is going on in the natural world of which we, too, are a part. “The whole universe is a swarm of … wild, wary energies.” Let’s accept Annie Dillard’s invitation to go stalking with her out her back door and “take a wider view.” Copies of the book will be available through The Vermont Book Shop.

Instructor: Barbara Brosnan taught high school English, American studies, writing, as well as the teaching of writing at the UVM National Endowment for the Humanities graduate program. She has published a few personal as well as professional works and won writing awards. Barbara is also an avid birder who has done surveys for VT Center for Ecostudies, Otter Creek Audubon, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She is an outdoors person who grew up climbing trees, trout fishing, hiking, camping and canoeing and is happy “stalking” out her own back door these days in Weybridge.


Instructor: Robert Wyatt
Date: Tuesday, April 12
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10

Description: Bluegrass music is now performed and enjoyed around the world. The International Bluegrass Music Association claims members in all 50 states and 30 countries. This class will trace the evolution of bluegrass from Bill Monroe’s classic style in the 1940s to all its current variations and influences, including the blues, traditional and fusion jazz, contemporary country music, Celtic music, rock & roll (“newgrass” or progressive bluegrass), old-time music, and Southern gospel music.

Instructor: Robert Wyatt is a Steinway Artist who has performed throughout the United States and internationally, gathering critical acclaim for sensitive and colorful solo and chamber music recitals. He delights audiences with a rare blend of pianistic savvy and engaging storytelling that makes each performance a creative event.


The Forgotten Frontier: The Story of the Fabled Nurses on Horseback and the Frontier Nursing Service
Instructor: Ron Hallman
Date: Wednesday, April 13
Time: 1:30-2:45
Cost: $10

Description: At the turn of the 20th century, Eastern Kentucky had the highest infant mortality rate in the United States and essentially no access to health care services. One woman, Mary Breckinridge, was determined to change that. Riding 600 miles on horseback, she decided that Leslie County would be the headquarters for a new health care demonstration project—the Frontier Nursing Service. Breckinridge, the first American nurse-midwife, founded the FNS in 1925 and changed the lives of thousands of people. This presentation will feature portions of a 1931 black and white (silent) film made to promote the FNS to supporters across the United States. The film is part of the Library of Congress and the National Library of Medicine and will be narrated by Ron Hallman, who worked for FNS from 1982-1989.

Instructor: Ron Hallman served for 40 years as the Vice President for Public Relations and Development for the Frontier Nursing Service of Eastern Kentucky (1982-1989) and Porter Medical Center (1989-2021). He now works for Project Independence assisting in the Adult Day Care program. He is married to Heidi Sulis, who is the Executive Director of the Open Door Clinic (Community Health Services of Addison County).


Great Power Asymmetric Conflict: Making Sense of the “New” New World Order
Instructor: Orion Lewis
Date: Thursday, April 14
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10

Description: To what extent has globalization reshaped the nature of foreign-policy and international conflict? In what ways has globalization facilitated new forms of foreign-policy intervention and engagement? How are great powers such as Russia and China utilizing these tools as part of their foreign policy strategy today? This talk will outline how these countries are challenging international order in ways both direct and indirect, and what that means for the future of the US-led international system. 

Instructor: Orion A. Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College. His research has appeared in numerous top political science journals, including most recently Governance, Democratization, and The Journal of Peace Research. He is the designer and architect of two widely-cited, publicly-available datasets on civil insurgency, the Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO) 2.0 and 3.0 datasets. His public commentary on asymmetric conflict has appeared in the International Herald Tribune, as well as PRI’s The World.


The Clean Water Act at 50
Instructor: Susan Evans McClure
Date: Tuesday, April 19
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10

Description: 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s first comprehensive legislation protecting water quality. Life in the Champlain Valley has always been and continues to be deeply connected to the water of Lake Champlain. This monumental legislation expanded federal protection of the waters of the United States, paving the way for policies, protections and funding dedicated towards clean water. Subsequent amendments to the Act strengthened protections for Lake Champlain, creating the Lake Champlain Basin Program and helping to protect the water of the lake for generations to come. Susan Evans McClure, Executive Director of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, will discuss the founding, the impact, and the legacy of this watershed legislation on our watershed.

Instructor: Susan Evans McClure is the Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. She leads the talented team of educators, curators, museum professionals and archaeologists as they explore the relationship between the land, the people, and the water of the Champlain Valley. Previously, Susan was Director of programs and audience development at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where she launched the Smithsonian’s first brewing history research and collecting initiative. Her research focuses on the field of public history, connecting people with the past in ways that are relevant to their lives today outside of the walls of the classroom.