Newport/Derby/Stanstead Lecture Series

Spring 2016

Lectures are scheduled for Wednesdays beginning promptly at 1:00 p.m. Lectures will be in the Conference Room at the Hebard State Office Building 2nd Floor, 100 Main Street in Newport, VT. Site is handicap accessible with ample parking.


The 2016 Election, US Foreign Policy and World Politics in the Early 21st Century
James Oliver
March 23, 2016

This talk will examine the character of the foreign policy discussions and debates during the run-up to the 2016 elections. The scope of the lecture includes analysis of the content of the foreign policy discourse and will focus attention on identifying the emerging challenges and opportunities confronting the US and the world over the next few decades during which the next US president’s foreign policies will take shape. By shifting the analytical focus forward, perhaps we might gain a useful metric against which we can better evaluate the sound and fury of the electoral moment.


Writing in the Heavens: The First Astrologers and Astronomers in Babylonia and Egypt
Robert Chadwick 
March 30, 2016

An illustrated and non-technical overview of the early attempts by Babylonian and Egyptian sky watchers to create accurate calendars, predict eclipses, make sense of the movement of the planets and constellations, and understand their effects on humans.


The Hidden History of Vermont
Cyndy Bittinger 
April 6, 2016

Cyndy will discuss what she has found studying the history of Native Americans, African Americans, and women in her 20 years of teaching Vermont History, and in the course of research for Vermont Women, Native Americans and African Americans: Out of the Shadows of History, written in 2012. Vermont’s Constitution, drafted in 1777, was one of the most enlightened documents of its time, but the history of Vermont has largely been told through the stories of influential white men. Cyndy will look at citizens striving to overcome adversity and advocate for change. She will quote from their writings to show how articulate and thoughtful they were. She focuses on change agents – those who have made a difference to their gender, their race or family band.


The Beaver: Nature’s Superb Engineer
Kurt Valenta
April 13, 2016

We will look at the historical significance the beaver has had in the exploration and mapping of North America. Their unique adaptations allow them to survive year-round in a habitat of their own making. The ecosystem that is created supports a diversity of wildlife while also playing a major role in flood control and environmental rejuvenation.


Beyond Belief: How religions you’ll never believe in can enhance the meaning of your life
Michael Atkinson
April 20, 2016

Without for a moment thinking that you will adopt new beliefs, we will explore ways in which particular practices in different religions can offer each of us strategies for living more meaningfully. How can an Islamic tradition enrich your experience as an Agnostic? How can Buddhism enhance your Catholic practice? How might a Jewish tradition bring resonance to your Taoist inclinations? How can a Shinto practice deepen your life as a Protestant? It is not articles of faith that will count for us here, but different traditions’ strategies for enhancing our connection with human life in all its variety.


The Science and Wonder of Bird Migration
Charlie Browne
April 27, 2016

Most of the bird species that breed in Vermont arrive in the spring from points south and depart in the early autumn. These regular annual movements are arduous journeys driven by seasonal food availability, hormonal changes, genetically scripted behaviors and social learning But they are also products of mysterious origins, astonishing sensory perception, high risk, and intense natural selection. Migration is stressful and ultimately fatal to high percentages of many species and this stress is aggravated by human habitat disturbance on both their wintering and breeding grounds. In this illustrated presentation, we’ll consider the rapidly emerging scientific understanding of bird migrations as well as the breathtaking wonder and lore of these seasonal passages.


The Merits of Naïve Art
Michel Forest
May 4, 2016

So-called “Naïve Art” has been with us forever, and in our art galleries and museums for a little more than a century. Yet in spite of its popularity, it remains controversial and many experts still wonder if it has any true artistic merit. Michel Forest, a museum director specialising in naïve art, will help us to explore this question.


Nothin’ Up Grampa’s Sleeve
Rob Mermin 

May 11, 2016

Have you ever wanted to pull a tablecloth out from under a stack of dishes? Rob Mermin, founder of Vermont’s own award-winning Circus Smirkus, teaches a hands-on magic class of easy-to-do tricks, puzzles, stunts, and homemade amusements using everyday objects, including soap bubbles! This workshop is especially for grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and parents to impress youngsters. No skill required! No batteries! No electronics! Guaranteed smiles and laughs! Learn simple tricks of science and wonder that can immediately be taught to kids. Bring a notebook and pen.


The Mystery of the Lewis Chessmen
Nancy Marie Brown 
May 18, 2016

The Lewis Chessmen are the most famous chessmen of all time. Found in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in the 1800s, these walrus-ivory figurines captivate visitors to the British Museum — each face is individual and full of quirks. Now thought to be carved by an Icelandic woman in about 1200, they present a capsule history of the Vikings in the North Atlantic when the sea-road connected countries we think of as far apart and culturally distinct.


 Mapping Memphremagog
Jeffrey Packard 
May 25, 2016

Historically, Lake Memphremagog has had many different names, shapes and sizes. Despite its distinctive geography, European renderings of the lake in the period 1713 to 1771 are unrecognizable. We will examine a number of intriguing maps from this era, providing historical context and illuminating the personalities of the explorers and/or mapmakers behind their creation. Special attention will be given to the maps drawn or influenced by Joseph Aubery (Jesuit missionary at Odanak, 1709-1756), Dr. Samuel Langdon (1723-1797, American scholar and theologian, president of Harvard University), Major Robert Rogers (commander of company of Rangers in the Seven Years War) and John Collins (deputy surveyor-general, responsible for surveying the 45th line of latitude boundary between Quebec and New York in 1771-1772).


Membership Information

Membership dues will support the development of the Institute’s future programs, which are shaped by the interests of our members. Payment of membership dues entitles subscribers to attend all 10 sessions in Newport as well as at the seven other Osher sites in Vermont during the Spring 2016 semester. Your active membership also entitles you to the discounted member rate for the new OLLI program on the UVM campus. Complete the membership form and send with your check for $40 USD (individual) or $70 USD (couple). Any two people who sign up for the semester as a team are considered a couple. Non-members may attend individual sessions for $5 per session.

To download the membership form click here.

Please make check payable to “The University of Vermont” and mail to:

UVM OLLI Registration Office
322 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05401

CONTACT MEMBERS (for information on the Osher Institute or the upcoming semesters lectures.)

John Logan 819-876-5026
Ann Montgomery 819-876-7837
Marvelene & Keith Richards 802-334-1254
Christine Gautier 819-843-4292
Sarah Preston 819-849-7754
Annemarie Schadinger 802-334-0544
Dorothy Willard 802-754-2366
Suzi Dix 819-838-5131
Page Fairchild 802-843-6335

Become a member today!

Membership in the Newport Osher Lifelong Learning Institute entitles members to attend programs in other Osher Institutes established in seven other locations throughout Vermont, as well as EEE-Burlington (Elder Education Enrichment). Your active OLLI membership also entitles you to the discounted member rate for the OLLI on UVM campus programs. Simply present your membership card during the corresponding semester.

Special thank you to our community contributors:

  • Community National Bank
  • CCV – Newport
  • Goodrich Memorial Library
  • Green Mountain Coffee
  • Newport Natural Market & Cafe
  • NEK-TV
  • Passumpsic Savings Bank
  • Vista

For a complete listing of all programs, see our listing in a pdf format.

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This Spring!

Montreal Musée des Beaux Arts
Pompeii Exhibit
& Atwater Market Tour
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
8 am - 5 pm