Topics can also be suggested and then researched to fit your residents interests. Here are just some of the topics that are academic, and popular.
(All lectures include Multi-Media)
Three dynastic cycles—the Zhou, the Qin, and the Han—covered many centuries of classical China. The dynastic patterns begun in classical Chinese history lasted until the early part of the twentieth century. A family of kings, called a “dynasty,” began ruling China with great vigor, developing solid political institutions, and encouraging active economies. Using art and music from the period, this lecture explores the history of the ancient Chinese.
Important reasons for India’s distinctive path lie in geography and early historical experience. India’s topography shaped several vital features of its civilization. The most important agricultural regions are along the two great rivers, the Ganges and the Indus. During its formative period, called the Vedic and Epic ages, the Aryans (Indo-Europeans), originally from central Asia, impressed their own stamp on Indian culture. During these ages, the caste system, Sanskrit, and various belief systems were introduced.
Mesopotamia and Egypt
In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians created an amazing culture in the Tigris-Euphrates region, and the Babylonians, developed Hammurabi’s code. It laid down the procedure for law courts and regulated property rights and duties of family members, setting harsh punishments for crimes. This focus on standardizing a legal system was one of the features of early river valley civilizations.
Egyptian civilization emerged in northern Africa along the Nile River by about 3000 B.C.E. It benefited from trade and influences from Mesopotamia, but it also produced its own distinct social structures and cultural expressions.
The Hebrews are descended from Abraham and historically occupied a kingdom (after Solomon, two kingdoms) in the area now called Israel. The two kingdoms after Solomon were called Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom). The term 'Jew' originally meant an inhabitant of Judah. The Jews have a 5,750 year history, tracing their origins to Biblical times. Evolving out of a common religion, the Jewish people developed customs, culture, and an ethical system which identified them as Jews regardless of their individual religious attitudes.
Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World
The rapid rise of civilization in Greece between 800 and 600 B.C.E. was based on the creation of strong city-states rather than a single political unit. Each city-state had its own government, typically either a tyranny of one ruler or an aristocratic council. Sparta and Athens came to be the two leading city-states. Greek art and culture merged with other Middle Eastern forms during a period called Hellenistic, the name derived because of the influence of the Hellenes, as the Greeks were known.
Ancient Roman Virtues and the Lessons of Rome
These are the qualities of life to which every Citizen (and, ideally, everyone else) should aspire. They are the heart of the Via Romana — the Roman Way — and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. Emperors Diocletian and Constantine slowed the spiral of decay but only temporarily; Constantine eventually moved the capital to Constantinople and allowed Christianity to thrive.
Jesus Christ, Early Christianity, Byzantium and Orthodox Europe
Christianity played a major part in the formation of post classical civilizations in eastern and Western Europe. Its beginnings were in the early days of the Roman Empire. Jesus preached compassion with great conviction and charisma, but in his lifetime, he had relatively few followers. Over time, his message of the spiritual equality of all people and an afterlife of heavenly communion with God replaced the comparatively unsatisfying traditional polytheistic religion of the Romans. Later Christians, Paul most notably, saw themselves not as part of a reform movement within Judaism but rather as a new religion. The writings of Paul and other Christians became known as the New Testament in the Christian Bible. By the time Rome collapsed, Christianity had demonstrated immense spiritual power and solid organization.
The Rise and Spread of Islam
In the seventh century C.E. the Arab followers of Muhammad surged from the Arabian Peninsula to create the first global civilization. They quickly conquered an empire incorporating elements of the classical civilizations of Greece, Egypt, and Persia. Islamic merchants, mystics, and warriors continued its expansion in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The process provided links for exchange among civilized centers and forged a truly global civilization.
UNDERSTANDING HUMAN RIGHTS
Understanding Slavery; Past and Present
The Atlantic slave trade predominated in economic affairs after the middle of the seventeenth century. How does slavery work? From the “Bumba” to the Kapo”, this lecture identifies three major slavery systems: chattel slavery, debt bondage, and contract slavery. A chattel slave is a slave because he is born into a family that has been enslaved for centuries. Slavery is illegal throughout the world, yet more than twenty seven million people are still trapped in one of history's oldest social institutions.
The Irish Famine
In the early 19th century, Ireland’s tenant farmers as a class, especially in the west of Ireland, struggled both to provide for themselves and to supply the British market with cereal crops. The potato, which had become a staple crop in Ireland by the 18th century, was appealing in that it was a hardy, nutritious, and calorie dense crop and relatively easy to grow in the Irish soil. By the early 1840's almost half the Irish population but primarily the rural poor had come to depend almost exclusively on the potato for their diet. In 1845 a strain of Phytophthora (blight) arrived accidentally from North America. Much of that year’s potato crop rotted in the fields. The impoverished Irish peasantry, lacking the money to purchase the foods their farms produced, continued throughout the famine to export grain, meat, and other high-quality foods to Britain as debt payments.
The Armenian Genocide; the Untold Story of WWI
The Armenian Genocide lasted from 1915 to 1916 and was the first of much genocide to occur in the 20th Century. Approximately 600,000 to 1.5 million people lost their lives to this genocide. Turkey’s Young Turk government was headed by Jemal Pasa, Enver Pasa, and Talat Pasa. The xenophobic Pasas’ goal was to leave the multinational Ottoman Empire and create a pure Turkish state. Which later became Adolf Hitler’s lesson plan, the Pasas used this cover of war to exterminate the Armenians without interference.
Hostility toward Jews dates to ancient times. From the days of the Bible until the Roman Empire, Jews were criticized and sometimes punished for their efforts to remain a separate social and religious group. They were also hated because of their refusal to adopt the values and the way of life of the non-Jewish societies where they lived. The rise of Christianity greatly increased hatred of Jews. They became seen as outsiders and as a people who rejected Jesus. The Roman authorities ordered and carried out the crucifixion, but the Jews were later scapegoated after Rome became Christian. By the high middle ages (11th-14th centuries), Jews were widely persecuted as barely human "Christ-killers" and "Devils."
Nazi Propaganda-Degenerative Art
When Hitler took control of Germany, in 1933, it was home to some of the most sophisticated modernist painters in the world. The Nazis despised them. “Any aberration in color, in proportion, shape, size, anything like that was anathema,” The view extended even to music; the Nazis loathed jazz, for its supposed lack of melody and its emphasis on improvisation. “The Nazis insinuated that modernism was Jewish, that it was the product of a deranged mind,”
The Holocaust (also called Ha-Shoah in Hebrew) refers to the period from January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe officially ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsher persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jewry and one third of all world Jewry. Jews were the victims of Germany's deliberate and systematic attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe, a plan Hitler called the “Final Solution.” Thinking about the use of discrimination, segregation, expropriation, deportation, isolation, and finally extermination, the vastness of this study is too large for one lecture. But with selected detail of some of the unknown facts of the Holocaust, the lessons come to life and are clearly understood.
“White Light, Black Rain”, Duck and Cover; The Atomic Age and Beyond
Through the powerful recollections of the survivors of the atomic bombs that leveled two Japanese cities in 1945, this lecture presents a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of the first and hopefully last uses of thermonuclear weapons in war. This lecture highlights some of the training films and public service announcements produced from the late 1940's through the 1950's by the United States military and government. The American public was provided information, or misinformation, on the effects of nuclear fallout and how best to protect oneself. There is a disturbing collection of 1940's and 1950's United States government issued propaganda, and films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.
The Murder of Emmitt Till (The Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement)
In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all white, all male jury. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement.
“We Shall Remain” The Cultural Genocide of Our Native Americans
This lecture examines the broad political and economic forces that led to the emergence of AIM (The American Indian Movement) in the late 1960's. It also highlights the desperate conditions of Indian reservation life and the assimilation, and urbanization programs implemented by the federal government. The explicit goal of off reservation boarding schools, is articulated in the infamous words of Carlisle Indian School founder Richard Henry Pratt - “to kill the Indian and save the man”.
Is "Race" an illusion? Eugenics and Social Darwinism
Using cultural examples, this lecture highlights the idea that “Race” is just an illusion. What is the purpose of racial segregation according to some of the racist groups you are familiar with, i.e. the KKK or Neo-Nazis? The term "survival of the fittest", coined by the English sociologist Herbert Spencer, was a vulgarization of a more complex theory: his compatriot Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The assumption of Social Darwinism is that some societies, races, etc., are endowed with superior genes, (the science of Eugenics), while others inherit inferior genes. These of course were the lesson plans incorporated by men like Stalin, and of course Hitler years later.
More historical lecture topics to come...
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