Class Listings

Winter 2017 Class Schedule

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


DVD Sessions are 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

United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11
  • April 4
    • 13) Yom Kippur War & Kissinger's Diplomacy
    • 14) Carter & Camp David
  • April 11
    • 15) Iranian Revolution & the Hostage Crisis
    • 16) Era of Limits—Energy Crises of the 1970s
  • April 18
    • 17) The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
    • 18) Reagan & the Middle East
  • April 25
    • 19) The First Palestinian Intifada
    • 20) The Gulf War
  • May 2
    • 21) The Rise & Fall of the Oslo Peace Process
    • 22) The United States & the Kurds 1908
  • May 9
    • 23) The United States & Osama bin Laden
    • 24) September 11 & Its Aftermath
  • May 16
    • 1) Heritage and Destiny
    • 2) Young Churchill
  • May 23
    • 3) On the Empire’s Frontier
    • 4) Political Beginnings
  • May 30
    • 5) Churchill and Controversy
    • 6) Post-War Challenges
  • June 6
    • 7) In the Wilderness
    • 8) The Nazi Menace
  • June 13
    • 9) Rallying the Nation
    • 10) The Tide of War Turns
  • June 20
    • 11) Champion of Freedom
    • 12) The Legacy of Churchill

(To be continued Spring Term...)


Mondays, 10am to 12 noon

Poetry Reading Fun – April 3, 17, May 1, 15, 29, June 5

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!

Keeping Tabs on America: Surveillance & You — April 10

Kristian Williams
This decades-long student and author of many books discusses the state of government surveillance and its dangers. He uses structured discussions to create audience involvement around the importance of privacy

Vintage Racing — April 24

Tom Styczyhsk
The rasping whine of a race car at-speed, the visual and physical treat of a highly tuned and stressed car enjoyed in an atmosphere of sportsmanship and competition, is truly exciting. Pride in owning a race car from the past and appreciation of its history, and the history of its times, is a part of the sport. That, combined with the setting of North America’s great tracks, associated social events, crew and friends, is what makes vintage racing. This long time driver will share his enthusiasm for the sport

Mid East Meltdown — May 8

Aram Mashigian
Where and why America should lead. Why does the world need American leadership?

A Life of Entertaining with Comedy & Music — May 22

Brian Bressler
Do you enjoy laughing? Brian Bressler does and hopes you do as well. Brian made his way through life by making others laugh, graduating from night clubs to television and film all while living in the city of roses. His credits include Laugh-In and The Tonight Show. Brian will tell us about his life in the comedy business and would like to have an interactive morning with the class. Be prepared to hear him sing some of his "silly songs," and maybe a straight song or two.

Laugh-In — June 5

Joe Leben
Instead of simply sharing a joke or two at the end of a Current Events sessions, it is time for an all out laugh fest and competition. Come one, come all and plan on rolling in the aisles as your fellow SSIers distract us from our personal and political blues with their best material. Bring your (Yes, YOU can do it.) competitive spirit, jokes and funny bone to vie for one of the coveted SSI Laugh In Awards. Don't miss this unique event and your chance to vote (even for yourself) by clapping, stomping, whistling, cheering and adding to the merriment.

Current events

See the full schedule on the continuous classes page.

Play reading

See the full schedule on the continuous classes page.


Tuesdays, 1-3pm

Pollinator Crisis — April 4

Khris LaMar
A presentation on pollinators, and small steps we can take to assist and insure their viability. Discuss the fallibility of food and politics of insecticides.

The Mongol Empire Shaped the Modern World — April 11

J J Jackson
Why is the densest concentration of hawks in North America in 200 square miles of Oregon bunchgrass prairie? Learn about Marcy's findings, which shocked the scientific community. Hear the surprising relationship between ranchers and environmentalists.

Finding King Richard III Bones in a Car Park! — April 25

Kathy Jackson
In 2012 the remains of England's last Plantagenet king were found under a car park in the center of Leicester, a bustling metropolis in northern England that was once a center of medieval life. This unlikely event helped scientists learn more about Richard III, his life and his death in 1485 on Bosworth Field at the hands of Henry VII, the first Tudor king. Find out about the role of DNA in identifying Richard III's bones and what other info was gleaned from his remains.

U.S. Supreme Court — May 2

Allison Gash
As we walk through the Court's history, meandering through landmark decisions, Professor Gash will use her research on law and social policy to highlight the importance of understanding the Court not only as a legal actor but also as a significant source of policy innovation and paralysis. Through this lens, Professor Gash will demonstrate why the Court's makeup--its personalities and its relationships--can make or break American public policy.

Sustainability & Us — May 9

Kris LaMar
How do the common, day to day choices we make in our lives impact and influence the fate of the planet. This session will include the use of pesticides and planting native, versus imported plants (and the diseases and insects that accompany them), choosing products in the grocery (or farmer's market) and purchasing new 'things' as opposed to re-using, re-purposing, trading, etc., as our needs dictate.

Ireland Rising — May 16

Kathy Jackson
On Easter Monday in April, 1916 a small, unlikely group of Irish rebels rose up against the British government in the heart of Dublin. In the midst of WWI the rebels took over the General Post Office and engaged the British Army in pitched battle. Who were these rebels and what motivated them? While initially unsuccessful, their actions triggered a series of events that resulted in an island divided between the independent Republic of Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland.

Counterintelligence — May 23

Art LeFlamme
Major spy cases make for major headlines. Whether they are big-name American cases like Aldrich "Ricky" Ames or Robert Hanssen, lesser known ones like Ana Montes, or others who spied for the US or the West, we all have a fascination for why anyone would betray their own country. But with this goes the art and science of counterintelligence.

Heaven or Hell: Visions of the Future (Western literature) — May 30

Sandy Miller
Our society isn't perfect: what would it look like if you got to decide the rules and create it from scratch? This is the enduring fascination of utopian ideas, as well as their dark, dystopian doubles. Sandy Miller leads us on a trip through five centuries of literary treatments of this subject beginning with Thomas More's seminal work, Utopia. Other authors who will be discussed - Swift, Voltaire, Wells, Orwell, Leguin, Delaney, and Atwood.

Native Plants of the Northwest Landscape — June 6

Cindy Manselle
Exploring the native plants of the Pacific Northwest as catalogued by Lewis and Clarke and David Douglas but known and used by Native Americans for centuries. Learn about the multiple ways Native American used these plants for food, clothing, utensils and shelter along with associated folklore. What distinguishes a native from an "alien" and what threats to our natives are posed by invasive plants?

Neighborhood House

Wednesdays, 10am to 12 noon

Responding to Domestic Violence — April 5

Kristi Smith
Bradley-Angle, first women's domestic violence shelter, in Portland. Learn about its long term and expanding roll in assisting women escape domestic violence and begin new and productive lives. Topics covered with include an overview of BA's other community services and its impact on reducing homelessness among women and their children.

Profiles of Not So Well Known Black People — April 12

Fred Taylor
The class will profile Black people who have contributed to society in varying ways, but who labored quietly and influenced on limited fronts.

True Story of the Bridge on the River Kwai — April 19

Carolyn Raz
In early 1942, the Japanese decided to build a railway from near Bangkok, Thailand, to Burma to supply the troops fighting in Burma as well as to ultimately supply an invasion of India. Years earlier, the British had considered building the railway, but after surveying the terrain, and the huge work force needed, they abandoned the idea. Now, the Japanese had a huge source of manpower from the conquered territories.

Science, Politics and Religion, What a Mix! — April 26

Duane Ray
This is a new era with new challenges to science and scientific research. There is newly empowered skepticism about climate change, vaccination, evolution and other topics that affect the politics and therefore the laws that govern our lives. Money interests have great impact. Educational institutions see new concerns. This class will review and present background on several of the issues - perhaps some yet to arise before this class starts.

Generations — Who are we? Where are we going? — May 3

Jim Williams
Some approach life believing improvements are contributed as each generation moves forward; others believe that life is the process of meeting events as they unfold. The Past and the Future are pretty much random experiences. Whichever operational philosophy you choose, generational research in the last 15 years by Neil Howe and Williams Strauss may surprise you. It appears that one’s generational cohort follows some recurring patterns which may change your perception of your life’s path without your awareness.

Oregon’s Total Solar Eclipse — May 10

Duane Ray
August 17, 2017 we in Oregon will be treated to a rare and unusual astronomical Event – a total solar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible from the shore near Newport and Lincoln City across the central part of the state, passing over Madras, continuing east past Baker and exiting Oregon at Webster.

Local Soils and Wines & May 17

Scott Burns
As seen on Oregon Field Guide and heard around town, Dr. Scott Burns, Professor Emeritus of Geology at PSU, will help us understand how past geologic activity shaped the landscapes and soils of the NW and, thereby, laid the foundation for our tasty and renowned Oregon and Washington vineyards. Several bottles appropriate to Dr. Burns' presentation will be raffled off to lucky attendees.

1816 — The Year Without a Summer — May 24

Sean Munger
During the decade of the 1810s, two large volcanic eruptions temporarily altered the world's climate. The most drastic manifestation of these changes occurred in the summer of 1816. In the U.S. there were snowstorms in June, bizarre swings of weather in July, and killing frosts in August. The dramatic events led to the year being called "The Year Without Summer." In this class, you'll get an overview of what happened, why it happened and what people thought about it, and why it matters today.

Oregon Lottery Success Stories — May 31

Sean Munger
Learn about the many good causes that have been funded by profits from our lottery. Also hear about their efforts to help those with a gambling problems.

The Last Vikings ‐ June 7

Marlyn Katz
This is about Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen and their expedition attempts to reach the Artic by crossing Greenland, and Amundsen's South pole attempts. These expeditions opened the way for explorers from other countries.

Thursdays, 1 to 3pm

Syrian Refugee Camp — April 6

Patricia Fink
Patricia Fink and her 14-year-old son will discuss their experience working in a Syrian war refugee camp, and their personal contact with the hurt and suffering of these innocent people and families.

Book Potpourri — April 13

Kathy McCulloch
Tell us about a book you like, a book you do not like, a book of poetry or a cookbook or a romance or any genre. And if you don’t want to talk about a book, just come listen. I guarantee that you will have a list of must-reads when you leave. This class is totally interactive and always popular, always unexpected, always stimulating.

Oregon Field Guide up Close — April 20

Todd Sonfieth
Todd Sonflieth, photographer for OPB’s Oregon Field Guide, will present a collection of short clips from his travels around the state for the past 27 years. Todd has traveled the nooks and crannies of Oregon, from the coast, to mountain summits, and to the most remote canyons of SE Oregon. Come hear some of his stories from nearly three decades of working on Oregon Field Guide.

Ocean Liners — April 27

Sean Munger
"In the 19th and particularly the 20th century, the transatlantic ocean liner was not merely a means of transportation, commerce and communication--it was literally an art form. The history of these ships, roughly from the late 1890s to the mid- 1960s, is an amazing story of engineering, art and artisanship, national pride, politics, war and tragedy. We will talk about how the transatlantic passenger trade worked, examine some of the most amazing examples of ships (including the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Normandy), and you'll come to understand how and why this amazing era ended--and why it may be starting again.

Missoula Floods — May 4

Rick Thompson
The Missoula flood left scars throughout the Portland area. Rick Thompson will present his research uncovering the effects of the Missoula Flood in the Portland /Vancouver area. This catastrophic flood propelled over 500 cubic miles of water, ice, rock and mud across eastern Washington, cut the Columbia River Gorge wider, covered the Willamette Valley with up to 400 feet of water and left gravel bars miles wide and hundreds of feet high. With color photos, topographical maps and space photos Rick shows some of the signs still visible today

Bridge Stories — May 11

Sharon Wood
A Storytelling Slide Show. See bridges from all over the world before returning to Portland and Vancouver harbors. Ride with Sharon on her journey of becoming The Bridge Lady, and author of five books about bridges. At the end of her performance, audience members climb with her through the arch ribs of the Fremont Bridge to stand at flag pole level.

Daughters of Hanford — May 18

Anna King
After refining two-thirds of all the United States’ weaponized plutonium, Hanford is a boneyard of some of the earth’s nastiest chemicals and radioactive waste. Much of the cleanup is on a scale that twists the mind -- like the more than $12-billion Waste Treatment Plant being built now amid the sand and sagebrush. Learn more about Hanford and the small dedicated group of women, Daughters of Hanford, who help oversee the project.

Obscure Countries — May 25

Mike Maunder
"Where in the world is it?" you might ask. "Is that really a country?" Well, it is! Learn about parts of the world not well known -- except for Iceland. That is included in this class but you have to come to hear about the others. Plane fare not included, double occupancy not required.

International Humanitarian Aid — June 1

Sara Posada
of Portland based international aid agency Mercy Corps will describe its work, from assisting refugees to emergency relief to long term solutions. She has served in Guatemala India, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, will discuss her work establishing education facilities for girls in Afghanistan, and some of the challenges inherent in being an international aid worker.

Deceptions in War — June 8

Anne McGee
The use of deception to confuse or mis-direct an enemy has been with us throughout history - long before the Trojan Horse there was Sun Tzu's use of deception in China. Deception must be accompanied by secrecy, so there are no doubt many examples that left no stories for the history books. Happily for us, some of the most thoroughly documented and now un-classified uses of deception were Allied operations during WWII. We'll explore a few examples through film clips and discussion of the Allied Ghost Army in France, as well as stories of double-agents and fake-outs in locations beyond France.