Courses / 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: Stephen Baker, Pete Weis

The sea, as a concept and as a physical actuality is the locus of contrasting and sometimes conflicting notions and facts. It is the setting for commerce and danger, for a richness of exploitable resources and as a yet uncontrolled garbage dump. The boundaries of its vastness are subject to regulation not every country follows. Its biology is extraordinary and yet it is also inhabited by spirits, alluring and illusory. And then let us also consider the seas that abut islands with respect to their laws, lore, lure and the “loo” that is infiltrating them. All are settings for heroism and tragedy.


Coordinators: Steve Allen, Jane Lubin

Each summer, the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York offers lectures by leading public intellectuals on a wide range of topics. Our course will select one talk from previous Chautauqua seasons for each class— we will watch a 45-minute video of the talk followed by 45 minutes of class discussion. We will try to be guided by Chautauqua’s guidelines for robust civic dialogue, which we will discuss in the class.


Coordinators: Phil Gisser, Sandra Abramson, Wayne Cotter, Patricia Stryker

The Spring 2020 Semester coincides with a particularly active period in a hard-fought Presidential campaign— Primary Season. This course creates an opportunity for every Quester to be heard as the campaigns progress. Each session starts with a brief summary of recent campaign news—primary results, polls, predictions, campaign strategy, scandals, accusations, issues, etc. A brief presentation on a specific aspect of the election will follow and participants will then have an opportunity to present their views. The leader’s main role will be to frame, structure, and guide the discussion.


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

In this course we investigate world-wide issues. The presenters will select an issue of importance to discuss. The last thirty minutes of the class are dedicated to questions and discussion.


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: Palma Mahl, Steve Allen, Joyce West

Quest Members have a wide diversity of interests and experiences. Each session is a chance to encounter something new or an encore of a talk that will be new to many members. As a presenter, you will have free rein to develop a subject otherwise not covered in the curriculum. As an audience member, you may find a fresh interest or learn more about a topic you always wondered about.


Coordinators: Sandra Abramson, Diane Crothers, Diane Reynolds

As the Women’s Movement that exploded in the 1960s opened up opportunities for girls and women, it also provided opportunities for women’s voices to be heard. We can see this in many forms—from music and books to art, from corporate board rooms to legislatures and executive offices.We’ll listen to these voices and look at the impact they have had on life in America for everyone. We’ll explore how class, race, sex, gender and ethnic diversity amplify, modulate and transform these voices.