Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Click on a class name to get the class description. See our list of ongoing classes here: Continuous Classes.


DVD Sessions are now at PCC CLIMB Center Room 102. SE Clay at Water Street, across from OMSI. If parking in the PCC parking lot, payment of a parking fee is required. PCC Parking Permits are available from the Site Coordinator for $25 per semester.

Tuesdays 10am-12 noon

Great American Bestsellers: The Books that Shaped America
  • January 5
    • 1) Why Do Bestsellers Matter?
    • 2) The Bay Psalm Book
  • January 12
    • 3) Common Sense
    • 4) The Last of the Mohicans
  • January 19
    • 5) Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • 6) Ragged Dick
  • January 26
    • 7) Little Women
    • 8) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • February 2
    • 9) The Virginian
    • 10) The House of Mirth
  • February 9
    • 11) The Jungle
    • 12) Main Street
  • February 16
    • 13) The Maltese Falcon
    • 14) The Good Earth
  • February 23
    • 15) Gone with the Wind
    • 16) How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • March 1
    • 17) The Grapes of Wrath
    • 18) Native Son
  • March 8
    • 19) The Catcher in the Rye
    • 20) To Kill a Mockingbird
  • March 15
    • 21) Catch-22
    • 22) The Woman Warrior
  • March 22
    • 23) John Adams
    • 24) Recent Best Sellers


Mondays, 10am to 12 noon

Poetry Reading Fun – January 4, 18 & February 1, 15, 29

Know a lot about poetry? Know nothing about poetry? Somewhere in between? There’s a place for you in the very popular class started by Norm Grant and now led by Jan Vaillancourt. We read from a variety of published works. Really FUN!

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden – January 11

Kathy van Veen & Mike Stewart:
Where rhododendrons are treated like orchids & Kathy will talk about the history of the garden and how it operates today. Mike will discuss the flower itself, its history and how it got to the U.S. This lecture will prepare us for a tour of the garden in May.

Celebrating Sinatra – January 25

Bob Hume & Andrei Kitaev:
Frank Sinatra would have turned 100 this year. It's time for a party. We will watch a few performance videos that highlight the talent of one of the greatest entertainers of our time. Then one of Portland's premier piano players, Andrei Kitaev, will play some songs that feature the jazz side of Sinatra. Singing along, optional. Tapping toes, mandatory.

Low Budget Entrepreneur – February 8

Jacqueline Peterson:
A discussion of people choosing encores and those choosing encore entrepreneurship; A discussion of the reasons that encore entrepreneurship and particularly self employment as a form of entrepreneurship has become so popular for seniors; Stories and case studies of current encore entrepreneurs being served by the Portland Community College Small Business Development Corporation; Details on the SBDC Encore Entrepreneurship program at CLIMB.

Portland Police Behavioral Health Unit – February 22

Bob McCormick:
Portland Police Bureau Sergeant Bob McCormick will describe the work of the Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit. He will discuss how the unit works to coordinate the Law Enforcement and the Behavioral Health System to aid people in behavioral crisis resulting from known or suspected mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction.

Oregon’s Legislative Process – March 7

Brian Harvey:
How an Idea Becomes a Bill, How a Bill Becomes a Law . An overview of the rules, procedures and traditions that govern the legislative process in Oregon. Learn how the ideas of citizens, special interests and government officials are drafted into legislation; as well as how that legislation (occasionally) becomes the law of the land.

Mondays, 1 to 3pm

Current Events – see Continuous Classes


Tuesdays, 10am to 12 noon

Current Events - see Continuous Classes

Tuesdays, 1 to 3pm

Play & Evolution – January 5

Mike Ellis:
Why do we play? The importance of play in human evolution and in our ability to learn, develop and socialize.

Landscape Architecture – January 12

Mich McQuiggin:
Michael McQuiggin will share his business strategy and expertise in the field of landscape architecture. Acting as a general contractor for masons, carpenters, horticulturists, and others, he has survived 20 years of the business cycle, consistently delivering a high quality product that must survive the rigors of the outdoors.

Just a Little Bit Country (and Blues!) – January 19

James Clem:
Join professional musician James Clem to learn how 1920's era blues and country music evolved into contemporary pop. Jim will embellish his talk with vocal and instrumental flourishes on the guitar and ukulele.

New Bridge, New Max line – January 26

Bob Hastings of TRI-Met:
We will get the inside scoop on the latest additions to the Metro transportation system including the new Tillicum Crossing bridge and the MAX Orange Line.

Music Time Machine – February 2

Robert Samuelson:
Teleport back in time through music! Robert plays brief samples of popular music to stimulate your long-term memory. Come listen and remember the background music to some of the cherished moments in your life. In this session we teleport back to the 1960s and '70s.

Walking The World Through Volkssporting – February 9

Tom Baltes:
Volkssporting is worldwide. We will give some history (International and National); national, regional and club structures; event descriptions; award programs and costs; special challenges: photo journal of several national and international walks in Africa, Scotland, Canada and Italy; and parallel organizations – International Marching League and Everybody Walk.

Composer Jean Sibelius – February 16

John Schilke:
2015 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Longtime fan John Schilke will discuss the life and work of this genius from the North, and will present some selections from his music.

Better Brains by Design – February 23

Roger Anunsen:
This class will describe the methodology and science that supports the designing of tailored, sustainable brain health and well-being blueprints that can and should last a lifetime The core of the class will focus on an overview of the concepts from Better Brains by Design. As research continues to bring waves of new and exciting discoveries, it is time to fully apply what has been discovered.

Post Mortem – March 1

John Schilke:
You write a will, but then you die, starting a series of events that can even involve the medical examiner. Just what happens then? Here’s your chance to ask a doctor who also was a Medical Examiner – but not the TV type. Don’t miss it!

Portland's Urban Canopy – March 8

Jenn Cairo:
Jenn Cairo, City Forester and City Nature Manager for Urban Forestry, Community Gardens and Horticultural Services for the City of Portland, will explain the value of trees and the urban forest, how Portland’s urban forest is managed, and some key challenges for the City’s forest of the future.

Neighborhood House

Wednesdays, 10am to 12 Noon

A Whale of a Tale – January 6

John Peters:
Guest Jon Peters, a local physician and biologist, will explain the evidence supporting the theory that whales evolved from a small land animal beginning about 50 million years ago. New discoveries from independent scientific areas of study including fossils, developmental biology, modern whale anatomy, DNA analysis, and atavisms have combined to give us one of the best examples of evolution.

Philosophy 101 – January 13

John Schilke:
There have been many male philosophers, but what about women? Yes, Virginia, there have been a few. In another Philosophy 101 session, John Schilke will tell the bizarre story of one outstanding lady. Then we’ll discuss some ideas, as well.

Estate Planning – January 20

Gene Christian:
Taking the scare out of estate planning. A noted Northwest estate planning expert will discuss the basics and pitfalls to avoid when writing or updating your will. No life insurance or investment products of any kind will be promoted or sold. Gene will discuss the five documents seniors need.

Norwegian Artists – January 27

Marilyn Katz:
SSI member Marilyn Katz will tell us about three Norwegian artists – playwright Henrik Ibsen, composer Edvard Grieg, and painter Edvard Munch, and explore the artistic connection among them.

World War I History – February 3

George Davidson:
Without understanding The Great War it is impossible to understand the world today. Governments were given broad new powers which have persisted ever since, even in peacetime. Another legacy can be seen almost daily in today's headlines, as border disputes, ethnic conflicts, and ideological arguments smolder on, a century after they were first ignited in the Great War.

Civil Rights Struggles – February 10

Arnold Panitch:
From issues affecting Jews in Detroit to getting Idaho to join in the M.L. King Holiday, Arnold Panitch will share his personal experiences. Hear what the situations really were; and the results that came from organized efforts.

What is Human? – February 17

Garland Holt:
We explore aspects of life that may be uniquely human. Topics include family life, use of fire and language, tool making, the arts, and belief in an after life. He ends with the tantalizing question, "Is our evolution done?" Although ending a series, this class will be understandable and accessible even if you have not attended previous sessions.

National Parks (100th Anniversary) – February 24

Duane Ray:
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that mandated the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein." 2016 is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park system. We will describe major figures that gave us our National Parks and present some of the challenges they faced.

Climate Change – March 2

Duane Ray:
Climate is complicated but we understand enough to see the relationships between human activities and the changes in weather patterns that are starting to affect our lives. Since the first report in 1990 the IPCC has continued to produce predictions of our climate future. Recent science both confirms and extends those predictions. Increasing efficiency means we need less energy to get the job done. Renewables – Solar, Wind, Biofuels, and others – will let us move rapidly away from carbon-based energy.

Women in History – March 9

Marilyn Katz:
In honor of International Women's Day, observed globally on March 8, we hear from four outstanding SSI women: Dawn Carol, Sue Cowan, Carol Markewitz, and Jan Vaillancourt. Each will introduce us to another remarkable female who helped shape the history of our country and the world.

Wednesdays, 12:30 to 3pm

Play Reading - see Continuous Classes

Thursdays, 10am to 12 noon

Current Events - see Continuous Classes

Thursdays, 1 to 3pm

Book Potpourri – January 7

Kathy McCulloch:
Bookies Unite! This is your chance to tell us about a book you liked, didn't like or heard about in any genre. We have learned about mysteries, historical fiction, chick lit, biographies – and even cookbooks! Come share or at least get a list of must-reads to take to your library. Sandy Foran, SSI member and bookstore persona, will fill us in on the up to date must-read books.

The War Between North and South Korea – January 14

Alan Lertzman:
The lecture will cover three areas:

  • Events leading up to the war between North and South Korea
  • Personal experiences and observations of the speaker during the war
  • Photographs and observations during a re-visit to South Korea in 2013

I Build and Fly My Own Airplanes – January 21

Dann Parks:
See and hear about Dann’s nine year process of building one plane and restoring another. Learn about the safety issues as well as the fun he has found in flying his personal aircraft.

Creating the U.S. Constitution – January 28

Tom Edwards:
Everyone seems to know about the U. S. Constitution, but just how did it come about? Retired history professor Tom Edwards will take us on a tour of the events surrounding its creation and adoption, explaining its key position in and impact on our daily lives.

The Real Sherlock Holmes – February 4

John Ellis:
Sure, you know the world’s first and most famous consulting detective, but do you, really? John Ellis, from Portland’s Order of the Blue Carbuncle, will regale us with details about Sherlock Holmes, explaining the character’s grip on us all. "The game is afoot!"

Portland Japanese Garden – February 11

Susan Hornung:
While our Japanese Garden is closed until March for the construction of the Cultural Crossing, we will take a virtual tour of the garden with beautiful photographs of all seasons. Peak into all five gardens. Learn about some of the symbolism of the garden's lanterns, gates and the pagoda. See some of the special activities like Obon, Children's Day and Moon viewing. Get some answers about the new buildings.

Exploring Caves with Oregon Field Guide – February 18

Todd Sonflieth:
An award-winning photographer from OPB's "Oregon Field Guide" explores stories about caving expeditions in the northwest. He will take us on adventures to Mt. St. Helens, the Malheur Caves underground lake, the Oregon Cave National Monument and many more. We will also learn about the equipment needed for capturing these places on camera. Enjoy the underground with no claustrophobia!

A Senior Treks Across Spain – February 25

Nancy Panitch:
Nancy Panitch started out solo but soon joined a stream of hikers and pilgrims in a weeks-long journey on the El Camino trail across Spain. She will show us what she saw and where she stayed. She shares about how she prepared and some of the people she met. A retired senior, she is an active hiker in the Portland area.

Gettysburg Part 1 – March 3

Anne McGee:
Gettysburg was the northernmost point of the Confederacy's surge, and is thought by many to have been the high point of the Confederacy. The site is one of the most visited of all the Civil War battlefields. We will watch sections of the film "Killer Angels" based on the historical novel, as it covers the conflict in chronological order. The focus is on the leaders and their relationships and decisions during this critical clash of armies, as well as the wider implications of these events for the people of both sides. We will also discuss what the book/movie got right and which parts of this "History" are maybe not quite accurate.

Gettysburg Part 2 – March 10

This is a continuation of the Gettysburg story. See the description above under March 3.