We are so pleased to be offering a series of 11 classes for ESI College Online’s May-June 2022 term, serving those age 60 and older. Registration is open; classes begin May 3.

Course Listings

(click on the course titles for details)

Robert Wyatt. Bluegrass. Tuesday, May 3, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Judith Irven. Visiting Great Public Gardens of the Northeast. Tuesday, May 10, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Bill Schubart. The State of the State: An Exploratory Conversation. Wednesday, May 11, 1:30-2:45 ~ $10

Precious Hall. Bridging the Divide: Understanding Differences in Public Opinion. Thursday, May 12, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Cynthia Packert. The Ramayana: Rama’s Journey Through the Arts. Tuesdays, May 17 & 24, 10:30-11:45 ~ $20

Elise Blair. Aging Gracefully: In the Ever After. Wednesdays, May 18, 25 & June 1, 1:30-2:45, $30, plus the cost of book

Russ Leng. After the War in Ukraine: The Future of American-Russian Relations. Thursday, May 19, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Robert Wyatt. John Williams: Film & Concert Stage Virtuoso Composer-Conductor. Tuesday, June 7, 10:30-11:45 ~ $10

Doug Richards. Reading Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice. Wednesdays, June 8 & 15, 1:30-2:45 ~ $20, plus the cost of the book

James Calvin Davis. Separation of Church and State? A Quick History of a Contested Idea. Thursdays, June 9 & 16, 10:30-11:45 ~ $20

Matt Dickinson. Forecasting the 2022 Midterms: The End of the Democrats’ Majority? Tuesday, June 14, 10:30-11:45 ~ $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 May-June 2022

Instructor: Robert Wyatt
Date: Tuesday, May 3
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.


Visiting Great Public Gardens of the Northeast
Instructor: Judith Irven
Date: Tuesday, May 10  
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10

Description: In this richly illustrated talk Judith will introduce us to seven of her favorite public gardens, from Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, as well as back here in Vermont.  As the lovely photographs in this talk show, each garden is a unique and special place where one can stroll around at leisure and enjoy the flowers up close. These public gardens also offer a wealth of inspiration and information—from evocative designs to magnificent plants—for those of us who want to create beautiful and environmentally-friendly gardens around our own homes.

Instructor: Judith Irven is a landscape designer who, for the past twenty-five years, has been helping people create their own beautiful gardens. She studied landscape design at Vermont Technical College and is a Vermont Certified Horticulturist.  She also teaches Sustainable Home Landscaping for the UVM Extension Master Gardener course, and writes a blog at www.NorthCountryReflections.com as well as a gardening column for the Addison Independent.


The State of the State: An Exploratory Conversation
Instructor: Bill Schubart
Date: Wednesday, May 11
Time: 1:30-2:45
Cost: $10

Description: What do we as community elders, parents and grandparents need to do better to ensure the health and well-being of our young people who, by many reports, are in crisis? As educators, parents and engaged community members, what must we change to ensure that we raise independent, healthy, resilient young people? Please bring your own experiences as young people to the discussion.

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 currently chairs the Vermont College of Fine Arts and has written five books of fiction.


Bridging the Divide: Understanding Differences in Public Opinion
Instructor: Precious Hall
Date: Thursday, May 12
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10

Description: Dr. Precious Hall is excited to present on differences in public opinion in the United States. We all have opinions based on a variety of factors, but what exactly does this look like? From the Silent Generation to Generation Z, this talk will discuss the differences in public opinion amongst various groups. Come ready to understand how different generations and different races and ethnicities view subjects such as equality, freedom, justice, and religion and just how much of a “game-changer” the pandemic has been. This short course is meant to help provide context for how different groups view these important subjects, with the hope of bridging what many perceive to be great divides. This short course hopes to serve as a foundation for opening the space for meaningful dialogue and conversation to make us all more invested in our communal citizenship.

Instructor: Dr. Precious Hall was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Government at St. Lawrence University where she has taught since 2020. She earned her Ph.D. in political science from Georgia State University in 2012 and served as a Professor of Political Science at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, for eight years. She studies race and politics as it relates to the American political system. She has authored works for the National Review of Black Politics, the Journal of Race and Policy, and Ethnic Studies Review. Her most recent project includes a book chapter, in which she was lead author, for the forthcoming The State of Black America for the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Dr. Hall’s teaching interests include American Politics, Race and Politics, Politics and Pop Culture, and African American Political Thought.


The Ramayana: Rama’s Journey Through the Arts
Instructor: Cynthia Packert
Date: Tuesday, May 17 & 24
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.


Aging Gracefully: In the Ever After
Instructor: Elise Blair
Date: Wednesdays, May 18, 25 & June 1
Time: 1:30-2:45
Cost: $30, plus the cost of book 

Description: In most modern day fairy tales the protagonists are children. At the end of their journey, after they climbed the mountain, or went to the ball, they “live happily ever after”.  This book explores what happens in the ever after. Author and psychiatrist Allen B. Chinen’s protagonists are instead in the second half of their lives and share insight and intellect into what it means to grow and asks the question, “Do adults ever live happily ever after?” Join us in looking at aging in a different way, through fables, with the guidance of Chinen, a practicing psychiatrist.

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.


After the War in Ukraine: The Future of American-Russian Relations
Instructor: Russ Leng
Date: Thursday, May 19
Time: 10:30-11:45     
Cost: $10

Description: Following the end of the war in Ukraine, what does the future hold for American-Russian relations? What effects will the outcome of the war have on Russian interests and their foreign policy objectives? How will America and other Western democracies respond to the new situation? We will consider the most likely possibilities based on the long history of relations between these great powers, as well as lessons each is likely to draw from the war in Ukraine.  

Instructor: Russ Leng is the James Jermain Professor Emeritus at Middlebury, where he taught international politics for 40 years before retiring. Since retiring, Russ has taught courses to adults and undergraduates that blend political science with his love of diplomatic history. He has written extensively on international diplomacy, particularly crisis bargaining.


John Williams: Film & Concert Stage Virtuoso Composer-Conductor 
Instructor: Robert Wyatt
Date: Tuesday, June 7
Time: 10:30-11:45 
Cost: $10

Description: In a career that spans five decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage. Mr. Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than one hundred films. His forty-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler’s List, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, four Indiana Jones films and Saving Private Ryan, to name just a few. Spend the morning as American music specialist Robert Wyatt guides you through Williams’ celebrated career featuring clips from some of his most treasured films.

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.


Reading Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice
Instructor: Doug Richards
Dates: Wednesdays, June 8 & 15
Time: 1:30-2:45
Cost: $20, plus the cost of the book

Description: The Merchant of Venice has been called “Shakespeare’s great play about difference.”  It is composed of two tales in tension with one another, the one pointing toward the possibilities of love and the other toward human beings’ persistent tribalism and persecution of the Other. The play contains some of Shakespeare’s most compelling language and most disquieting characters, chief among them Shylock—both victim and villain—and the privileged and clever Portia. In two sessions, we will explore together the play’s poetry, its characters and staging possibilities, and the persistent moral questions it invites regarding love and hate; human feeling and commercial profit; justice and mercy; women and men; self and other; empathy and revenge—in Shakespeare’s time and in our own. Copies of the play will be available through the Vermont Book Shop at a discounted price.

Instructor: Doug Richards (B.A. Hamilton, Ph.D. University of Rochester) has taught Shakespeare in diverse settings over 40 years, primarily at Keuka College, but also to youth and adults. Other teaching/interests include early British, children’s, and environmental literature, poetry, natural history, and higher education.


Separation of Church and State? A Quick History of a Contested Idea
Instructor: James Calvin Davis
Dates: Thursdays, June 9 & 16
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $20

Description: In the United States, we invoke the phrase “separation of church and state” all the time, but what does it really mean? Where does the idea of a “wall of separation” between religion and government originate, and does it require that the two should never intersect? This course will offer a quick introduction to the history of “church and state” in the U.S. We will meet some of the thinkers who contributed to the spirit of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, review various ways the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment, and consider what religious liberty and its limits look like in the US today.

Instructor (this is the one you have on file): James Calvin Davis teaches ethics and Christian Studies as the George Adams Ellis Professor of Liberal Arts at Middlebury College. His specialty is the role of religion (especially Christianity) in American history and contemporary public life. He is the author of five books, the most recent one being American Liturgy: Finding Theological Meaning in the Holy Days of US Culture (Cascade 2021).


Course:  Forecasting the 2022 Midterms: The End of the Democrats’ Majority?
Instructor: Matt Dickinson
Date: Tuesday, June 14
Time: 10:30-11:45
Cost: $10

Description: When it comes to control of the Presidency and Congress, we are in a period of instability not seen in more than a century. No party seems able to govern beyond a two-year period and the slim partisan margins make it difficult to govern. In the 2022 midterms, will Democrats lose their majorities in the House and Senate, thus continuing this period of unstable majorities? For answers, we look at political science forecast models. What do they tell us?

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.