W102 | Disasters: Natural, Industrial, Manmade


11:30am - 1:00pm


9/23, 9/30, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28

Six sessions

This course is offered online via the free, easy-to-use Zoom program.

This course will explore how engineering decisions, political interests, human error and folly contributed to avoidable disasters that cost thousands of lives and many millions of dollars. 

September 30--Flooding

  • “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America” by John M. Barry
  • “Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in Buffalo Creek Flood” by Kai Theodor Erikson
  • Recommended Viewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgPPTQPPM9c


October 7—Volcanos and Earthquakes

  • Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883” by Simon Winchester
  •  “A Crack In The Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906” by Simon Winchester.


October 14—Nuclear and Radiation

  • 1960’s grounding of U.S. Nuclear submarine fleet.
  • Atomic testing in the Pacific
  • Japanese fishing vessel
  • ·Bikini Atoll testing “Pacific: Silican Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atomic Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers” by Simon Winchester


October 21—Explosions and Sinkings

  • Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada December 6, 1917—“The Great Halifax Explosion: A World war I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism” by John U. Bacon
  • "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex" by Nathaniel Philbrick

October 28—Irish Potato Famine

  • “The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and Saga of the Irish People” by John Kelly.

Alan Rubin holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Lehigh University. He owned and operated an independent retail business in New York City for four decades, as chronicled in his daughter Jen Rubin’s book, We Are Staying: Eighty Years in the Life of a Family, a Store, and a Neighborhood. He mentors many in the local community including BCC students, small businesses, and Taconic High School students. 


Sign up for our free email newsletter, and don't miss out on our great programs!
Support OLLI at Berkshire Community College and lifelong learning!

OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College
Partners in education with Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

1350 West Street | Pittsfield, MA 01201 | 413.236.2190 | olli@berkshirecc.edu

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software