W102 | Hot Topics


2:30 pm - 4:00 pm


7/21, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11, 8/18 & 8/25

Six Sessions 

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

Six different 'hot topics' will be addressed by presenters with expert knowledge about these issues. A lively Q & A and spirited exploration of these topics will ensue.

July 21: Jeffrey Mann on the Electoral College: Long before the American Revolution, members of parliaments in Europe were not elected through direct election by the public.  In our country, after the revolution, as the Constitution was being drafted, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not seriously consider direct election of the senate or the President. Only the House of Representatives was to be popularly elected. The senators were selected in each State by the legislature and, at the very end of the Convention, the President was to be elected through a complicated and politically fraught mechanism of the Electoral College. Since the adoption of the Constitution, more than 800 amendments to the Constitution to end or modify the Electoral College have been proposed.

In this talk we will discuss the origins of the Electoral College, whether it should be retained, and how we might be able to eliminate or modify it or, if all else fails, work around it so that the President may be popularly and directly elected by the people of the United States. 

Jeffrey R. Mann received his J.D. degree from Temple University in 1968. Until 2016, he practiced law as a litigator in New York City.  For the last 20 years of practice he principally represented clients in international business disputes in the chemical, mining and oil and gas industries. He has lectured on comparative law and international law issues in several countries and participated in many conferences and symposia on these and other matters. He is a member of the Bars of New York and Massachusetts.

July 28: Edward Lane on Debt & Deficit

Edward Lane is a financial planner and investment advisor.  For over 30 years he consulted with major corporations on the design and funding of their retirement programs.  He is an actuary and has a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Finance from the University at Albany (SUNY).  He is an Adjunct Professor of Finance and Economics at the University at Albany, SUNY New Paltz.

August 4: John Dickson on America’s Role in the World, discussing the international challenges facing the new Biden Administration and their approach to restoring U.S. credibility in addressing those challenges. 

John Dickson served 26 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, with assignments in Nigeria, South Africa, Peru, Mexico and Canada, as well as in Washington DC. He is active in local history projects in Pittsfield while continuing international work through two Peace Corps alumni organizations: Encore de la Paix and the Peace Corps Community for Refugees. He holds degrees in history from Princeton University and the University of Massachusetts.

August 11: Shirin Nash on the 2020 Nobel Prize in Medicine 2020 for the discovery of the Hepatitis C Virus, describing the 30 years from viral discovery in 1989 to the treatments available today that have almost eliminated the mutation.

Dr. Shirin Nash is a retired pathologist who received her medical education in Mumbai, India and competed her residency in Pathology in Calgary Canada.  She did a Fellowship in Gastric and Hepatic Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  She is a published author in her field, has held several academic posts in Massachusetts and is the Founding Director of The Pathology Residency Program at Bay State Hospital in Springfield. 

August 18:Peter Bluhm on current events and political trends regarding Climate Change

Peter Bluhm is a retired lawyer and telecommunications consultant. He has co-taught OLLI’s Science Conversations class and is OLLI’s past President.

August 25: Gordon Josephson on Covid-19: Vaccinations... and the Final Chapter?

Dr. Gordon Josephson, MD, MPH is a retired former emergency physician (1977- 1997) and Chief Operating Officer (1997-2015) of Baystate Medical Practices (600 physicians and advanced practice clinicians).  In addition, he was part of a multi-specialty practice within Baystate Health in Springfield, MA. He holds a Master's of Public Health from Harvard as well as a medical degree from SUNY. He serves as Vice President of OLLI's Board of Directors and chairs its Governance Committee.

Steve Tobin, Moderator, is a frequent OLLI moderator.  He is a retired real estate developer, cultural maven, voracious reader and current events aficionado. Steve is an OLLI board member, co-chair of the Summer Two Curriculum Committee, and a member of OLLI’s Development Committee.


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