Rutland Lecture Series

Winter 2014

The Rutland Area Osher Lifelong Learning Institute exists to promote continuing education for area residents aged fifty and over. Started in 2003 as an affiliate of the University of Vermont with a startup grant from the Osher Foundation, we are an all–volunteer, nonprofit organization. We are grateful to the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department and to the volunteers who make this program possible.

Time and Place
Each of the twelve lectures in this Winter 2014 term will be from 1:30 to 3:00 PM on a Friday afternoon at the Godnick Adult Center, 1 Deer Street (off Woodstock Avenue) in Rutland. For directions to the Godnick Center or for program information call 446-2041 or 492-2300.

What If It Snows?
In the event of a severe winter storm or storm warning, we will follow the lead of the Rutland High School. If RHS closes for the day (not simply a delayed opening), we will cancel our program for that day. RHS closings are announced on local radio and TV and closings.


January 10
What Is Democracy?
Democracy is now nearly universally praised as the best form of government, but the interpretations of “democracy” are many. Today’s speaker is Professor Patrick Neal who teaches Political Theory at the University of Vermont. His lecture will be an introduction to a number of different competing philosophical “models” and ideas of democracy that have deeply influenced contemporary thought and practice.

January 17
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Leaks: The Story of Whistle-Blowing in America
Allison Stanger is the Russell Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics and Chair of the Political Science Department at Middlebury College. Her opinion pieces have appeared in numerous prominent newspapers and magazines. Today’s topic is the subject of her new book and will offer new insights on Google, the NSA, Edward Snowden, as well as the impact of the Internet on American democracy.

January 24
The US Supreme Court: Current Cases and Controversies
Professor Cheryl Hanna, a Harvard Law School graduate, is a Professor of Law and Vice-President of Vermont Law School and a frequent commentator on VPR and WCAX Channel 3 News. She will review the current members of the US Supreme Court and discuss some of the most controversial cases before court today – affirmative action, abortion, prayer, and campaign finance.

January 31
The First Amendment: Speech, Prayer and Privacy in the US Supreme Court
In today’s lecture, Professor Cheryl Hanna of the Vermont Law School will focus on some pressing issues relative to privacy and the First Amendment. She will look at the NSA wiretapping questions, the free speech questions related to political action and other issues where technology pushed the bounds of free speech.


February 7
End Game: Afghanistan
Professor Javed Chaudhri, a teacher, historian, anthropologist and international executive has a unique perspective on Pakistan through his close personal ties to many Pakistani political and military figures. He will speak about the withdrawal of the US from the AfPak region, the problems of ending the longest American war, and the question “ Is US strategy working?”

February 14
Steve Zind’s Iran Journal
Steve Zind traveled to Iran on assignment four times recently to report for VPR and NPR on political and domestic issues in the Islamic Republic. Today he will give an overview of contemporary Iranian history and those events, which have shaped Iran’s attitudes toward the West. He’ll speak about his personal experience in Iran as a public radio reporter and share photos of his travels there.

February 2l
Japan’s Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in a Post Fukushima World
Today’s topic is the title of the book by Mark Pendergrast, a prolific author on a wide range of topics. Arriving in Japan after the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, Pendergrast gives his eye opening account and alarming conclusions. Choices and changes may predict Japan’s future.

February 28
Turkey: Crossroads of the World
John Haley, a career business traveler with a concentration in Central and Eastern Europe, will share his experiences in Turkey. He and his wife Rheba, who frequently accompanied him, will present slides of this fascinating country whose outlook spans both East and West. Rich in history and varied cultural traditions, Turkey was and is a gateway nation.


March 7
All About the Chaffee
Margaret Creed Barrows, Executive Director of the Rutland Area Art Association-DBA Chaffee Art Center, will share historical background on George Thrall Chaffee and the elegant architecture built by him between 1892 and 1920, which still plays an impressive role in the arts and culture of Rutland. She will discuss renovations being completed under a Save America’s Treasures Grant and how in 2013 the Chaffee expanded into a second space in downtown Rutland.

March 14
Frida Kahlo and the Mexican Muralists
Bob Manning is an art historian, artist and retired professor of fine art. His lecture will look at the works of Frida Kahlo and her contemporaries, Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. These last three artists produced powerful public murals that focused on native Mexican traditions and celebrated the triumph of that country’s revolution of 1910 to 1921.

March 21
The Odd Couple: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin
Bob Manning who has been a member of the Vermont Humanities Council Speaker’s Bureau since 2001 will bring his keen interest and knowledge of 19th and 20th Century art to this talk about two of the greatest masters of that period. The differing personalities, backgrounds and artistic styles of these painters were a study in contrasts, which will be highlighted via excerpts from written journals and a slide show of their respective works.

March 28
The WPA: The Depression and Great Art
Dr. William Tortolano, Professor Emeritus of St. Michael’s College, will look at the government program that Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated during the Depression that put people to work including many artists. This highly creative period gave rise to countless magnificent works, some of which were destroyed by “new” construction but many miraculously still exist. Slides and music will highlight the story.

Spring 2014

Special Spring Format

Earlier in the fall, Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie, debuted throughout the State. We now have the opportunity to present this renowned series as part of our spring program. There is no charge to our audience. However, we will accept contributions to help defray the cost of its purchase.


April 4
The Robinsons of Rokeby
Jane Williamson is Director of the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, a National Historic Landmark. She will tell about the four generations who lived in Rokeby from the 1790′s to 1961, each making its mark on the site and the state. They left a rich legacy of buildings, artifacts, and documents that describe their lives and times.

April 11
The 2oth Century’s Great Humanitarian Movement: The Civilian Conservation Corps
During the Great Depression, the CCC benefited over three million out-of-work men and their families, teaching working skills while the natural environment prospered as a result. Vermont author Judith Edwards will bring Vermont CCC sites to life through her extensive research and with pictures and artifacts.

* * *

“Civility tends to rule the day [in Vermont], and it is this quality perhaps above all others that endears our small republic to me, precisely, above all others, a quality that could also greatly benefit our greatly vexed national dialogue, which usually seems no dialogue at all. I am no sociologist, but I suspect this habit of mind derives from the commonwealth’s earliest days, when neighbor treated neighbor with decency because he or she knew that one day that neighbor might be a crucial friend in need.”- Sydney Lea, Poet Laureate

Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie One state, many visions is the first-ever documentary series about Vermont. The six-part film is a collaboration of three dozen critically acclaimed Vermont filmmakers, led by award-winning filmmaker Nora Jacobson. Sponsors include the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Humanities Council, Bay and Paul Foundation, John M. Bissell Foundation, Green Valley Media, National Life of Vermont Foundation, and the Vermont Country Store. Our advisors are well-known historians, educators, curators, authors, artists, politicians, and activists.

April 25
Part One – A Very New Idea
Part One explores the roots from which the future state of Vermont grew. Samuel de Champlain steps into a canoe, paving the way for Yankee immersion into native culture. We look at early settlement, native peoples’ resistance, and the little-known history of African American settlers. Pioneer rebel Ethan Allen leads the struggle for independence, resulting in Vermont’s radical constitution- the first to outlaw slavery. Finally, Vermont’s heroic role in the Civil War reminds us that, despite occasional missteps, Freedom & Unity—Vermont’s state motto—continues to chart the state’s course into the present.

May 2
Part Two – Under the Surface
Part Two deepens the journey, digging beneath the surface of Vermont’s bucolic image to explore labor wars, eugenics experiments, the McCarthy era, and progressive Republicanism. Covering over a century—from pre-Civil War to 2009—it chronicles the rise of unions and quarry work, Barre’s Socialist Labor Party Hall, the marketing of Vermont, the state’s reaction to New Deal policies, George Aiken’s gentle populism, and Republican Ralph Flanders’ heroic stand against Joe McCarthy during the Red Scare. Emigrés from urban areas, “back-to-the-landers” like Helen and Scott Nearing and filmmaker Nora Jacobson’s father, Nicholas Jacobson, came to Vermont in search of an alternative lifestyle.

May 9
Part Three – Refuge, Reinvention and Revolution
In the mid-20th century, political pioneers like Bill Meyer, a Congressman who challenged the Cold War, and Governor Phil Hoff, whose 1962 victory set the stage for historic change, rose to take the lead in state politics. Innovation was everywhere: in the work of “talented tinkerers” like Snowflake Bentley and Thaddeus Fairbanks, in the rise of IBM, and in the creation of the Interstate highways. We see the pros and cons of the highways–the high price of “eminent domain.” Revolution was in the air- rare archival footage provides a vivid look at the “hippies,” the realities of communal life and the paths of members of the counter-culture who established roots in Vermont. Who changed whom?

May 16
Part Four, Doers and Shapers
Part Four explores the people and institutions that push boundaries. Starting with education, we take an engrossing journey through the philosophy of John Dewey, leading to the hands-on style of Goddard College, the Putney School, and the inseparable connection between education and democracy. We explore other progressive movements: Vermont’s famous Billboard law and Act 250, cultural movements such as Bread and Puppet Theater and finally Vermont’s groundbreaking civil union law. Democracy at work—differing voices, different points of view.

May 23
Part Five – Ceres’ Children
Part Five takes a deeper look at some of Vermont’s cherished traditions: participatory democracy and the conservation ethic, from the ideas of George Perkins Marsh, one of America’s first environmentalists, to contemporary volunteer groups and activist movements. The film captures 21st century debates over natural resources, then circles back in time to show how these concerns originate in the ethics of farmers, who depended on the natural world for their survival. The disappearance of dairy farms has raised a tough question: how big is too big? How can Vermont survive in a world economy? Can Vermont be a model for small, local and self-sufficient farming?

May 30
Part Six – People’s Power
Part Six tackles contemporary tensions over energy, independence, the environment and the state’s future. Chronicling the struggle to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, it reveals the power of protest, the influence of lobbyists and the importance of town meeting debate and a citizen legislature. It follows the battle over windmills in Lowell—a struggle over scale, aesthetics and environmental impacts—and explores thorny questions about economics, sovereignty and climate change. Finally, the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irene reveal the power not only of nature, but of people and community.

Membership Information

Become a member today!

Membership in your local OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) entitles you to attend programs at any of the other 7 OLLI sites 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 programs on the UVM campus. Simply present your membership card during the corresponding semester.

Non-members may attend individual sessions for $5 at the door. Reservations are NOT required.

Memberships may be purchased at any session.
Regular price: $40

Mail your membership fee ($40) to:
c/o Gerrie Russell
PO Box 458
Killington, VT 05751

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

Find Us On Facebook Find Us On LinkedIn


As a member-run program, OLLI at UVM relies on the talents, skills, and time of members to support its activities and to keep membership costs affordable.
Learn more...

WCAX Video about OLLI