Quest Learning Community

A communal learning experience for adults
designed to expand one's intellectual and social world.

Contemporary Issues

These courses are offered by the Quest Lifelong Learning Community. For more information on Quest, click here and also see more details at the bottom of this page.



Coordinators: Sanford Kessler, Bob Gottfried

Most Americans today are concerned about the high level of distrust, polarization and political dysfunction in our society. In this reading and discussion course, we will consider the causes of these problems, as well as the nature of our moral, spiritual and political ideals, the conflicts and gaps between these ideals and reality, and the prospects for our future. Readings include selections from the classics of American political thought and literature.



Coordinators: Steve Allen, Wayne Cotter, Joyce West

In spite of the sound bite and Twitter message, the long-form non-fiction article is thriving in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, American Prospect, and other print and online formats. For each session, two timely articles are selected for the class to read in advance, and lively discussions are then led by volunteer class members.



Coordinators: Judy Weis, Pete Weis

How are human activities affecting our health and that or our planet? Topics include legal, political, medical, and industrial effects on not only us as humans but also on some of the animals and planst on which we depend for our well-being. Will we have to adjust lifestyles and/or economic growth to maintain a healthy planet? And given the IPCC report published Oct. 2018, will our planet be habitable for our children and grandchildren?


Coordinators: Bob Gottfried, Sandy Frank, Ellen Gottfried, Glenn Johnston

In this course we investigate world-wide issues. The presenter selects a critical international topic based on an article published in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, The Economist or other reliable source that includes essential foreign issues. The last thirty minutes of the class are dedicated to questions and discussion.



Coordinators: Stephen Baker, Pete Weis

Since antiquity, islands have stimulated a compelling fascination for many. Their separateness from the land, their remoteness, enlivens a quest for the facts they may reveal and the metaphors they can engender. This lecture series will delve into the unique identities of various islands probing their relevant geography, history, economy, and politics and considering as well their pertinent habitats and inhabitants.



Coordinators: Michael Wellner, David Judlowitz, Bob Gottfried

It is not just a TV crime series. It is a topic which is galvanizing the American public. Crime in all its forms, including “white collar” and cyber crime, make headlines every day. Are the police properly trained and equipped to meet modern challenges? Why are so many Americans in prison? Guns, guns and more guns? Surveillance? Is justice available to all through the legal systems? America is divided internally about many of these matters. Why? Join us as we discuss these subjects in depth, and see if we can come up with any solutions.



Coordinators: Barbara Gordon,Bob Hartmann, Terri Hicks

This is an interactive discussion class in which both the coordinators and class members bring in short opinion pieces—editorials, op-ed articles, reviews, etc. A vote is taken on which pieces to discuss that day and individuals argue their views.



Coordinators: Diane Crothers, Judith Weis

The Women’s Movement has created deep and lasting changes in our lives . But as #MeToo and #TimesUp tell us, much remains to be done. We will hear from contemporary voices on what we’ve learned about women (and men), “femininity,” “masculinity,” hetero-sexuality and much more. Politics and voting, performing arts, access to male-dominated jobs and violence against women, social movement leadership, sexuality and the complex connections between gender and race, ethnicity, and class—we’ll have exciting discoveries and vibrant debate for all Quest members.


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