Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute

Fall 2023 Schedule

Please see below for the Fall 2023 Course Catalog for the Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute.  Copies of the catalog are also available in Westminster-Canterbury Resident Services or on the WC Resident Hub at .

Course 1 - The Maasai of East Africa: This class will examine the life and Culture of the Maasai of Tanzania and Kenya.

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Course Description: This class will study the lives of a little-known people in East Africa who live on the vast, high plains of Maasialand, which stretches across the dry grass land of Northern Tanzania and Kenya. They are the headers of East Africa who firmly believe that all cattle were given to them. They live on the grasslands which are good for cattle and wild animals alike. For them, life is hard, and the land is prone to drought. I have been traveling to Tanzania and Kenya for over 20 years and working with Maasai leaders to help develop and protect their way of life. Earlier this month I again visited the Maasai in Tanzania and will bring a fresh new view and pictures of these people and the land in which they live.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, August 25th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

In introduction to the Maasai of East Africa.This class will explore the beliefs and culture of the Maasai people. We will examine the land, rituals, and culture of their semi-nomadic life. In doing so, I will discuss the life of the children, warriors, women, and elders. Finally, we will look at the challenges modernism brings to these amazing people.

Lecture 2: Friday, September 1st at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

The Maasai Beliefs and How They Live Today. In this class we will examine Maasai Beliefs and how they are changeling in response to the larger world. Specifically, we will look at Maasi culture today in order to better understand the challenges they face. I will bring original research and personal examples to bare on the life of the Maasai today. 

Course 2 - The Making of the Modern Mind.

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning at ʰФ.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, September 8th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Blaise Pascal, a superb scientist and intellectual, play a part at the birth of modern science, yet cautioned men about the danger of letting their increasing mastery of the physical world lead them to believe that they could live without God.

Lecture 2: Friday, September 15th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

William Blake, countered the spreading philosophy of materialism with an emotional plea for the life of the spirit, and prophecies of the spiritual affliction that materialism would usher in.

Lecture 3: Friday, September 22nd at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Leo Tolstoy, reacting to the early rumblings of revolution in Russia performed the invaluable service of separating Christianity from the corrupt and doomed embrace of Church and State.

Lecture 4: Friday, September 29th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Fyodor Dostoevsky was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and journalist. Many critics consider him to be one of the worlds greatest novelists. He wrote on the human condition in the troubled political, social and spiritual atmosphere of the 19th-century.

Course 3 - Precedents, Presidents, and Prescience: Revisiting Supreme Court Decisions, Assessing the Current Presidency, and Predicting the Path of American Politics.

Presented by: Dr. Timothy G. O’Rourke (Ph.D., Duke, Political Science), Vice President Emeritus, ʰФ.

Course Description: This four-part series examines the state of American politics from multiple perspectives. The first two lectures analyze the legal and electoral impact of recent Supreme Court decisions. The third lecture takes the measure of the American Presidency with a focus on its most vexing domestic and international challenges. The fourth looks at the ongoing 2024 presidential election campaigns, asking whether the processes now in place are likely to elevate the best candidates and to illuminate the issues most important to voters.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Tuesday, September 5th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

The Court Axes Affirmative Action but Expands Free Speech: The Court’s recent term resulted in major and, in several cases, highly controversial rulings on affirmative action, free speech, gerrymandering, tribal rights, and religious liberty. What did the Court say and what do these decisions portend for the future? Will any of them individually or all of them collectively have the comparable electoral impact of the Court’s 2022 holding on abortion?

Lecture 2: Tuesday, September 12th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

The Court Nixes Student Loans and Curbs Executive Discretion: The Court rejected the Biden Administration’s effort to forgive student loans, turned back an expansive reading of the Clean Water Act, and made it easier to test the constitutionality of federal regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission. The decisions continued the Court’s move in recent years to restrict the scope of executive action in areas not clearly authorized by Congress.

Lecture 3: Tuesday, September 19th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

The Presidency Confronts Its Limitations: Modern presidents, it has been argued, are trapped in a series of contradictory expectations—we want our presidents, for example, to be both kind and ruthless, as the situation demands. This lecture explores such contradictions, while identifying the very real constraints—the debilitating debt and deficit, a closely divided and unresponsive Congress, a Supreme Court keen on restraining executive discretion, and an increasingly hostile foreign policy environment—that restrict the policy options faced by a president of either party.  

Lecture 4: Tuesday, September 26th at 11:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room.

Can the Presidential Election System Produce Good Results?  Since 1988, neither major party has garnered more than 53 percent of the presidential vote, meaning that elections are very close, hotly contested, and ultimately unsatisfying to as much as half of the electorate. Does our presidential nomination and election system adequately respond to the concerns of the voters, or does it tend to foster the now deep and growing divisions that separate the parties and their supporters? This lecture attempts to answer this question as it looks ahead to the 2024 presidential race.

Course 4 - Taking Care of our Brain!

Presented by: Dr. Scott W. Sautter, Diplomate, American Board of Professional Neuropsychology, Board Certified Neuropsychologist, and Licensed Clinical Psychologist. He is an adjunct professor at ʰФ.

Course Description: This class will provide beneficial advice for strengthening your brains health.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Wednesday, September 13th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Cognitive Aging and Brain Healthy Living: Gain a better understanding of the latest neuroscience applications for lifelong health.

Lecture 2: Wednesday, September 20th at 10:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Mental Fitness and Well-Being: Acquire knowledge about how resiliency, gratitude and neuroplasticity affect health.

Lecture 3: Wednesday, October 11th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Cross Train Your Brain: Learn about clinically proven tools to boost memory and sharpen your mind.

Course 5 - The City: Poverty, Homeless, and Gun Violence

Presented by: Antipas L. Harris is the founder and president-dean of the Urban Renewal Center (URC) in Norfolk, Virginia. Harris has a Master of Sacred Theology from Yale University, a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership in the Church and Society from Boston University, and a Doctor of Philosophy from St. Thomas University.

Course Description: This class will address three issues facing the inner city today: poverty, homelessness, and gun violence. These three lectures will each address one of these issues and try to explain the causes of these issues within the city. Finally, it will look at how to address these issues and build a better world.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Thursday, September 28th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Breaking Down the Building Blocks of Poverty: Researchers have identified two sets of ACEs: 1) Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) or categories of abuse, neglect, or dysfunction that correlate with poor health outcomes and 2) Adverse Community Environments (ACEs) produced by structural challenges. This lecture will explain how adverse conditions produce poverty. The first step in building a better world is to discover its most dire challenges.

Lecture 2: Thursday, October 5th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Breaking Barriers: A Multilayered Approach to helping People who are Homeless: Researchers have noted that in dealing with the problem of homelessness, "housing first" is not the best approach. This lecture provides an overview of homelessness in our region. It explains some of the challenges and opportunities to help effectively end homelessness. 

Lecture 3: Thursday, October 12th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

What are We Going to do about All this Gun Violence? Studies show that more than 90% of the gun violence lodges in particular neighborhoods. It's a public health crisis that needs the public to help remedy. There are social variables related to violence-ridden neighborhoods. This lecture will explain some of the findings and recommend ways to participate in solving the mystery of gun violence. 

Course 6 - The Virtues and Vices of Friendship: The Changing Face of Friendship in the Modern World

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Course Description: Friendship is essential to our well-being. How we enter into friendship, maintain friends, and create new friendships are important to our physical and mental health. This class will look back to what the scholars and thinkers have said about friendship as well as looking forward to how we can better realize and nurture these important relationships.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, October 6th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Philosophy and Friendship: This class we will examine the pervasive, everyday, and subtle matter of friendship. Rarely has it been accorded its due in our culture but many of our greatest thinkers and philosophers have written on this subject. In this first class on the series of friendship we will examine what many of the worlds greatest philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Immanuel Kant, and others have to say about this subject.

Lecture 2: Friday, October 13th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Friendship and the Arts: Long before Aristotle was even born, Homer’s Iliad, the account of the Greeks’ siege of the city of Troy, had made the friendship of Achilles and Patroclus celebrated throughout the Greek world. This class will look at stories and art throughout the history of friendship and argue that is has shaped our understanding of our culture and ourselves.

Lecture 3: Friday, October 20th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

The Emergence of Modern friendship: Friendship has changed over time and today it is quite different than when Aristotle’s conception of friendship was still dominant.  This lecture will identify the changes that have occurred in our understanding of friendship and provide examples of these changes.

Lecture 4: Friday, October 27th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Becoming Friends: You will cherish friends most if you think of your relation to them as an act (or art) of creation. Friendship is something we choose it is an act of freedom. This lecture will investigate the act of becoming friends and its influence on our wellbeing.

Course 7 - History of Socialism, Social Democracy, and Communism

Presented by: Dr. Sara Sewell, Professor of History at ʰФ.

Course Description: The current US political sphere is replete with charged rhetoric that castigates political opponents as ideologically compromised. Two words that dominate the discourse are “socialist” and “fascist.” But what do these words mean? What were the historical origins of these ideologies? Why did some people advance socialist and fascist politics, while others fought against them? This lecture series provides a historical overview of socialism and fascism. In fall, we will examine socialism and some of its varieties, including social democracy, communism, and Maoism. In spring 2024, we will study fascism, including its German variant, Nazism.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, October 13th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Historical Origins of Socialism and Communism: In the Western world, socialist ideology was born in the 1840s as a reaction against the growth of capitalism, especially the widespread exploitation associated with the Industrial Revolution. At its birth, socialism was an ambiguous ideology that advanced democracy and equality not only in the political realm, but also in the economic sphere. To distinguish their ideology from general socialist ideas, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels proposed a theory of communism that advanced revolution to attain socialism.

Lecture 2: Friday, October 20th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Social Democracy: By the end of the nineteenth century, labor parties and trade unions had sprung up throughout the Western world. These organizations generally advocated a peaceful, incremental strategy to achieve socialism, thereby distancing social democracy from revolutionary communism. Social democracy continues to be popular in Europe today, as various states (e.g., Germany, Norway, Spain) are currently led by social democratic parties.

Lecture 3: Friday, October 27th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Soviet Communism In March 1917, in the midst of the First World War, Russians overthrew their autocratic czarist regime. In November 1917, a second Russian revolution occurred that brought communists (i.e., Bolsheviks) to power under Vladimir Lenin. This lecture examines the origins and development of Soviet communism from 1917 through its collapse in December 1991. It also explores how Soviet-style communism spread during the Cold War.

Lecture 4: Friday, November 3rd at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Chinese Communism:Beginning in the 1920s, many Chinese rallied behind the Communist Party of China (CPC), led by Mao Zedong. After the World War Two, the communists defeated China’s Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and established a communist state in 1949. China advanced an indigenous variety of communism, known popularly as Maoism, which was rooted in its agricultural society. Maoism had appeal beyond the borders of China, particularly in agrarian countries, such as Vietnam and Cambodia as well as in Latin and South America. By the 1990s, China underwent a host of consequential changes, including welcoming international capitalist enterprises into its country. This lecture provides an overview of the history Chinese communism and considers whether China today is, indeed, a communist country.


Course 8 - Three Authors that Speak to the Modern Condition: Walker Percy, Graham Green, and Cormac McCartney

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Course Description: This class will study the lives of three man who have helped shape our view of the modern life today. These writers and novelists have left an important mark on our time and prophetically spoke to our generation.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, November 3rd, at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Walker Percy: This lecture will examine the life and work of Walker Percy an American writer whose interests include philosophy and semiotics. His philosophical novels were set in and around New Orleans; and his first novel The Moviegoer, won the National book Award for Fiction.

Lecture 2: Friday, November 10th, at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Graham Green: As an English writer, Henry Graham Greene is considered by many as one of the leading English novelists of the 20th century. He was on the shortlist for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times and his novels explored the conflicting moral and political issues for the modern world. In 1968 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize and in 1981 the Jerusalem Prize.

Lecture 3: Friday, November 17th, at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Cormac McCartney: This American writer authored twelve novels, two plays, five screenplays, and many articles. His novels are known for their graphic depictions of violence and his unique writing style, recognizable by a sparce use of punctuation. At least two of his novels have been made into films: No Country for Old Man (which won the academy award for best film), and The Road.

Course 9 - Political Thrillers of the 70s.

Presented by: Dr. Dennis Bounds, Writer, Author, and Adjunct Professor at ʰФ.

Course Description: In the Political Thriller, the political upheavals of the time – the mid-1970s – are reflected and examined upon. Whether it’s ex-Nazis walking the streets of New York, the fears of a government novice not knowing who to trust and who to fear, and the chaos surrounding an assassination of a political leader, these films play on the fears of the audience who are seeing life reflected in film. Clips from the films will be shown and each session lasts 60 minutes—with plenty of time set aside for questions at the end.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Wednesday, November 8th, at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974) (60 min.) Plot: An ambitious reporter gets in way-over-his-head trouble while investigating a senator's assassination which leads to a vast conspiracy involving a multinational corporation behind every event in the world's headlines. In this session, we will examine the timeliness of the production of this film. And we will discuss the life and careers of actors, Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, and Hume Cronyn.

Lecture 2: Wednesday, November 22ed, at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Three Days of the Condor (Sydney Pollack, 1975) (60 min.) Plot: A bookish CIA researcher in Manhattan finds all his co-workers dead and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust. In this session, we will examine the film, directed by Sydney Pollack, and touches on the paranoia that is emblematic of these films. We will also focus on the careers of stars Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, and Cliff Robertson.

Lecture 3: Wednesday, November 29th, at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Marathon Man (John Schlesinger, 1976) (60 min.) Plot: After the shocking murder of his older brother, a New York history student finds himself inexplicably hounded by shadowy government agents on the trail of a Nazi war criminal who is trying to retrieve smuggled diamonds. We will examine the production demands of the film and the careers of stars Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider, and Lawrence Olivier as well as the reception and controversies of the film.

Course 10 - Psychology and Myth. Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell: Two Scholars whose writings have shaped our time and our art.

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning at ʰФ.

Course Description: A study of the lives of two man who have helped shape the place of myth in the 20th century.  Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell may be vastly different in temperament, but their work has moved many of the writers and artists still today. In this study we illustrate how their work has powerfully influenced our world.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, December 1st at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Carl Jungs Life and Work. This class will explore the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalysis who established analytical psychology. Of particular interest is his idea of the collective unconscious as a universal version of the persons unconscious. This idea alone influenced many scholars and writers as well as the field of psychology.

Lecture 2: Friday, December 8th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

Joseph Campbell’s Life and Work. Campbell an American professor who was born in New York City in an upper middle class Roman Catholic family. He worked in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion. He and Carl Jung are often regarded as espousing a common view of myth and personality, yet they have fundamentally different and distinct differences. We will examine this contribution to myth and story in our world.

Course 11 - Behind the Scenes: A Classic Film Still Watched at Christmas.

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious, Studies and Lifelong Learning at ʰФ.

Course Description: This class will focus on a movie that is often watched at Christmas and is known to us all. I will encourage you to watch it after the class and see if you can find a new appreciation for them.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: Friday, December 15th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge.

It’s a Wonderful Life: This story is a Christmas favorite for so many families that it needs its own lecture. We will see clips from the movie and enjoy discussing the film. Also, we will examine the how Frank Capra used James Stewart to project a message of an ideal American. What is the ideal American? Come and find out.