Courses are offered to community members to enhance their knowledge and to help teachers meet their

professional development requirements.

  • Teachers receive 3 hours of professional development per session, 15 for attendance at all 5 sessions of the series.

  • The courses are $25 each or you may become a member of the Center for $50 and take unlimited courses September 1 to August 31. (Review our refund policy here.)

  • To become a member, download a pdf of the registration form to mail in or contact Barbara Palmer at or 856-227-7200, ext. 4333.

  • To register for a Special Event, download a pdf of the Special Event Registration Form and return to Barbara Palmer at or 856-227-7200, ext. 4333.

  • To register for a course without becoming a member, click the WebAdvisor Access link below.
    1. Click Register and Pay for Continuing Education Classes
    2. Under Topic Code, Choose Center for Civic Leadership
    3. SUBMIT - the courses will then appear for selection



Spring Courses 2015

harry-potterHarry Potter and Philosophy
DAY: Tuesdays
TIME: 4 – 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Madison Hall, room 105, Blackwood Campus

This course is designed for people who have read and (loved!) all seven Harry Potter books. We will explore various philosophical issues and relate them to the magical world created by J.K. Rowling.

Week 1: 1/27/15
Twin Themes of Harry Potter: Love and the Soul
Philosophers have defined several different kinds of love. How does the life of Severus Snape embody these types of love, and also the concept of redemption? Philosophers also have a range of views about the existence and nature of the human soul: we will compare these ideas to those of J.K. Rowling.

Week 2: 2/3/15
Hogwarts and Education Theory
According to education theory, certain elements are necessary in order to create an excellent education. Which of these elements does a Hogwarts education contain, and which does it lack? What problems are caused when students are labeled by being sorted into houses?

Week 3: 2/10/15
Leadership and Utilitarianism in Harry Potter
Philosophers have discussed the qualities of a good leader, and Plato devised a thought experiment to figure out who would use power appropriately and who would abuse it. Using these criteria, we will talk about who was a good leader in the Harry Potter series, who was not, and why. In the way he raised Harry Potter did Dumbledore succeed in creating the ultimate Utilitarian?

Week 4: 2/17/15

Dumbledore on Choices, Virtues, and Fulfillment
What does Dumbledore mean when he tells Harry that our choices tell us more about ourselves than our abilities? What does Plato tell us about ethics and human fulfillment, and how does the way that Voldemort and Dumbledore look support Plato’s theory about inner balance and inner health?

Week 5: 2/24/15
Literary Theory and Harry Potter
What are primary and secondary truths in literature? How does the modern phenomenon of fan fiction relate to the ancient practice of writing “midrash?” Why do some parents want to ban Harry Potter books from school libraries?



gaming2Level Up: Video Games & Society
INSTRUCTOR: P. Woodworth
DAY: Tuesdays
TIME: 6:30 to 9 p.m.
LOCATION: Madison Hall, room 105

We will examine the evolution of video games, the techniques behind their construction, and their growing impact on popular culture. This course is designed for those who are hardcore enthusiasts as well as those who can’t tell an Xbox from Atari.

Week 1: 1/27/15

A History of Games
An examination of the history of video games, how they have changed from simple games like Pong and Pac-Man to sophisticated games with launches that rival movie industry blockbusters.

Week 2: 2/3/15
Controllers & Keyboards
A discussion of how game controls have developed, as well as how game designers use the control systems to determine not only how games are played but how players interact with the narrative and engage with the characters.

Week 3: 2/10/15
Cinematics & Storytelling
We will look at how storytelling design works in video games, and how the unique features and demands of the medium change how stories are told. There will also be discussion of parallels and differences between game narratives and stories told via film, television, novels, and other media.

Week 4: 2/17/15
Select, Start
We will discuss how cooperative and multiplayer gaming is changing the landscape of gaming and of online social interaction in general. In addition, the rise of competitive gaming will be discussed.

Week 5: 2/24/15
Gamer Nation
We will examine the role of gaming in popular culture, including topics such as social responsibility, the spreading influence of casual gaming, the “gameification” of other activities, the portrayal of games and gamers in society, and notable gaming industry controversies.



johnwayneThe Man Who Made John Wayne: John Ford’s America
DAY: Fridays
TIME: 4 – 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Madison Hall, room 105, Blackwood Campus

This course will survey the work of one of the most influential filmmakers in America, John Ford. Known for making John Wayne a star and lensing some of the most famous Western films, Ford also adapted classics, such as The Informer and The Grapes of Wrath. These two works, along with three of Ford’s benchmark genre films, will be screened and discussed, with attention to other works by Ford and Wayne.

Week 1: 1/30/15
Making the American West(ern): Stagecoach

Week 2: 2/6/15
The Dark Side of Independence: The Informer

Week 3: 2/13/15
A Classic of the Page Onscreen: The Grapes of Wrath

Week 4: 2/20/15
The Darker Frontier: The Searchers

Week 5: 2/27/15
Goodbye to the Old Myths: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance



passportPassport to a Diverse Planet: Exploring our Dynamic Earth
DAY: Thursdays
TIME: 1 – 3:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Rohrer Center, room 204

With a combined historical and geographic approach we will explore many diverse and fascinating physical and cultural aspects of our dynamic planet. Slides and lively discussion will enhance our globe-trotting adventure.

Week 1: 1/29/15
Shaping the Continents
Iceland, Hawaii, Mount Vesuvius, and the African Rift Valley are some of our destinations as we explore powerful forces which constantly re-shape the earth’s surface.

Week 2: 2/5/15
The Great Ice Age
How does an event which ended 10,000 years ago continue to affect the world today? Destinations include the Great Lakes, New Orleans, Alaska, and Central Park.

Week 3: 2/12/15
Regions of the US
Appalachia, the Great Plains, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast are some of the regions we will examine, with a focus on the physical, environmental, and cultural factors which contribute to the geographic variety of the US.

Week 4: 2/19/15
World Population Issues
Why are some countries experiencing rapid population growth while others face low or even no growth? Italy, Madagascar, and China are some of our destinations as we focus on world population trends and issues.

Week 5: 2/26/15
The Geography of Language
The fascinating diversity of world languages and the evolution of English from its Germanic roots to the present day will be explored.


cia-binladenThe Hunt for Osama bin Laden
DAY: Mondays (no class 4/6/15)
TIME: 2 – 4:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Madison Hall, room 210, Blackwood Campus

This course will explain how the bin Laden family built modern Saudi Arabia. It will trace the life of Osama bin Laden beginning with an examination of his family and his role in it. It will consider how a young man born into affluence was transformed into one of the world’s worst terrorists. Dr. Pesda will show clips from the HBO documentary “Manhunt” and the film “Zero Dark Thirty” as well as sharing his personal interviews with former CIA analysts who tracked bin Laden from the 1990s.

Week 1: 3/23/15
The bin Laden Family and the Development of Modern Saudi Arabia

Week 2: 3/30/15
The Dynamics of Family Life and the Shaping of Osama’s Personality

Week 3: 4/13/15
The Jihadist from Afghanistan to the World Trade Center

Week 4: 4/20/15
The Long Search and the Discovery of bin Laden as Described by CIA Analysts

Week 5: 4/27/15
Bin Laden’s Death and Legacy


civics-classWhat I Always Wanted to Know About Government but Was Afraid to Ask in Civics Class
DAY: Mondays (no class 4/6/15)
TIME: 6:30 – 9 p.m.
LOCATION: Madison Hall, room 105

It may have been a long time since your last civics or American government class. In this mini-course we will discuss several of the oddities and intricacies of our government as set out in the Constitution. Each week we will investigate in detail one of the first 5 Articles of the Constitution. In particular we will unravel the mystery of apportionment, the Electoral College, Judicial Review, the Amendment process, and State versus Federal power.

Week 1: 3/23/15
Article One: The Legislative Branch
This session will address how the House of Representatives is apportioned. George Washington used one of two vetoes during his Presidency to veto an apportionment plan. Ever since, the topic about how to assign representatives to state has been debated. Issues like the gerrymandering of districts and so called “safe districts” will be addressed.

Week 2: 3/30/15
Article Two: The Executive Branch
In this session the Electoral College system takes center stage. How does it work? Is it Fair? Who does it benefit and who does it hurt? Most importantly, should this be how we elect our President?

Week 3: 4/13/15
Article Three: The Judicial Branch
In considering the third branch of our government, the concept of Judicial Review gets the focus. John Marshall’s shaping of the Supreme Court, how the Court’s role developed, and the tension between the judicial and other branches will be discussed.

Week 4: 4/20/15
Article Four: Amendments
How many times have you heard, “There Ought to be a Constitutional Amendment…”? In this session participants will consider how the Constitution gets amended and what types of proposals have been successful and not-so-successful at being ratified.

Week 5: 4/27/15
Article Five: The States
The final session will focus on the tension between Federal and State authority. It was no easy task getting a confederacy of 13 separate States to agree to become the United States. What authority did they give up and what was retained?



eisenhowerThe Gallant Men: America’s WWII Commanders

DAY: Tuesdays (no class 4/7/15)
TIME: 6:30 – 9 p.m.
LOCATION: Madison Hall, room 105

This course will examine the careers of five of America’s leading commanders during WWII. We will discuss their mistakes and embarrassments as well as their historic achievements. Where appropriate, their post-war accomplishments will be cursorily discussed. Documentaries and film clips will be included in the course.

Week 1: 3/24/15
George C. Marshal
His influence on FDR was enormous, but he found himself engaged in a never-ending conflict with Churchill, whose imperial interests often clashed with Marshall’s purely military considerations. We will also examine Marshall’s role as Truman’s Secretary of State, through which he further enhanced his prestige among some but became an object of contempt for the “red-baiters.”

Week 2: 3/31/15
Dwight D. Eisenhower
When WWII broke out, “Ike” was an obscure major in the War Plans Division; in little more than five years, he was a five-star general. His meteoric rise to Supreme Allied Commander was due to his tact and political skills, but his “broad front” strategy is still seriously questioned by historians. Did it needlessly prolong the war, or was it essential to inter-Allied harmony and cooperation?

Week 3: 4/14/15
George S. Patton
Patton was profane, unpredictable and brilliant – our most gifted battlefield commander. Of course, he was also his own worst enemy and was almost sent home in disgrace due to a “despicable” lapse in judgment (Ike’s word). His rise and fall (and rise) will be succinctly recounted.

Week 4: 4/21/15
Douglas MacArthur
Historian William Manchester dubbed him an “American Caesar,” and with good reason. Vain, eloquent, high-strung, imperious, MacArthur was nevertheless a vital component of victory in the Pacific. Far less known or appreciated is the invaluable work he performed as Truman’s viceroy in Japan, a nation which still reveres his name far more than his homeland does. MacArthur’s epic conflict with Truman over the Korean War will also be given close scrutiny.

Week 5: 4/28/15
Chester A. Nimitz
Replacing Admiral Husband E. Kimmel after the debacle at Pearl Harbor, Nimitz carefully led the shattered remnants of the Pacific Fleet until a navy still on the drawing board could become a reality. Of course, the Battle of Midway was his shining moment, unfortunately, his obdurate insistence on a Central Pacific Drive led to one amphibious slaughter after another.




The Development of Roller Derby and the Empowerment of Women


mapcolumbus1492: The World Redefined

LOCATION: Rohrer Center, room 210
TIME: 4 – 6:30 p.m.
DAY: Thursdays (no class 4/9/15)

The year 1492 was a watershed one in many ways. In addition to Columbus’ dramatic voyage, several events ushered in the beginning of the Modern Era. We will embark on the dramatic story of 1492 and explore the events which led to that dramatic year and an aftermath of tremendous change.

Week 1: 3/26/15
1492: A Watershed Year
This cartographic and historical journey will reveal the turbulent forces which shaped the era of Columbus. How did influences, such as the Fall of Constantinople, the Crusades, the Reconquista, voyages across the Sahara, and the Spanish Expulsion of the Jews shape the era of Columbus?

Week 2: 4/2/15
Venturing in the Ocean Sea
How did Europeans begin to venture beyond the Atlantic horizon? We will investigate how technology and the gradual understanding of the ocean, winds, and other geographic forces aided in the important navigation to the Canary Islands, Africa, India and the beyond.

Week 3: 4/16/15
The Americas
What were culinary, biological, and political conditions of the Americas before the arrival of Europeans? We will examine societies, such as the Incas, Caribs, Aztecs, and Pueblos, and indigenous flora and fauna, to gain an understanding of pre-contact South and North America and subsequent changes which resulted from European contact.

Week 4: 4/23/15
Terra Incognita
What forces set the stage for Columbus’ audacious plan to cross the ocean and reach the Indies? What encounters did Columbus have with strange, new lands during his four voyages? How did legends and ancient geography influence his interpretation of the Americas? In addition, how did subsequent explorations contribute to an understanding and an inexorable change of the Americas, Europe and Africa?

Week 5: 4/30/15
We will examine the tremendous sea change which arose from the year 1492, particularly from Columbus’ voyages and subsequent exploration of the Americas. How did ecosystems, cartography, ship design, world views, demographics, religious, political and economic systems all evolve with the ‘joining’ of Old and New Worlds and set the stage for the Modern Era?