Short academic courses offered to community through Minds on Millennium VI

Sept. 23, 2005

Lacey, Wash. – Minds on the Millennium will offer three short courses in October as it launches the sixth year of a series designed to offer thought-provoking lectures and courses for the public.

Sponsored by Saint Martin's University and Panorama City, Minds on the Millennium was inaugurated by the neighboring communities in 2000 to share knowledge, build a community of learning and create life-long learning opportunities.

The series’ fall courses meet for an hour and a half once a week for six weeks at Panorama City’s Quinault Auditorium, 1835 Circle Lane. While the courses do not carry academic credit, they are taught by some of Saint Martin's most respected faculty members, says series co-organizer David Suter, professor of religious studies at Saint Martin’s.

Enrollment has started for this year’s classes, and is taking place at the Panorama Hall lobby, 1835 Circle Lane, Lacey. A $35 fee is charged per course to cover expenses, and students may need to purchase a textbook, depending on the course.

A series of free public lectures next spring will be announced early next year. For more information about the series, please call 360-438-7557.

This fall’s courses are:

“Moral Choices”
taught by David W. Suter, Ph.D.
Professor, religious studies
3:30-5 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Oct. 13

Moral Choices uses several approaches to ethical decision-making to examine case studies dealing with current ethical dilemmas from euthanasia to the ethics of war and peace or the environment. The ability to tolerate and deal with ethical ambiguity is a sign of maturity. Ethical issues are seldom black and white, but come in all shades of gray. Two deeply held values may pull the same person in opposite directions – do we emphasize the sanctity of life or freedom from pain in making end-of-life decisions? Or the same value may lead persons of good will to opposite conclusions – does belief in the sanctity of life suggest that we support or oppose the death penalty for murderers? The class will be conducted as a seminar, with a goal of fostering discussion and reflection among the participants.

Professor David Suter teaches religious studies at Saint Martin’s. He has a doctorate from the University of Chicago Divinity School and teaches in areas related to biblical studies, comparative religion, ethics and moral choices.

“Trial by Jury”
taught by Robert Harvey, J.D.
Professor, criminal justice
Saint Martin’s University
1-2:30 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Oct. 13

Learn about the development of the jury during the Middle Ages, its changing nature over time and its role in early criminal trials. The course will look at the role of the jury during the 18th and 19th centuries and how and why that role changed during the 20th century. Studies that have explored jury decision-making, as well as cases from the United States Supreme Court that focus on juries will be examined.

Professor Robert Harvie has a law degree from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. He taught at the University of Illinois and Montana State University before coming to Saint Martin’s, where he chairs the criminal justice program. His research interests include legal history and comparative constitutional law.

“African American Literature”
taught by Jeff Birkenstein, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, English
3:30-5 p.m. Fridays, beginning Oct. 14

Selected African American works will be read and discussed in an attempt to better our collective understanding of the African American experience in the United States. The course also will include mini-lectures relating to the authors and events behind the works, as well as a book list for further reading and inquiry. As a class, we will read and discuss Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and several short stories and poems. Please bring your own copy of the book to class. The short stories and poems will be distributed in class.

Asst. Prof. Jeff Birkenstein taught courses at the University of Kentucky on the short story, survey of American literature, African American literature, argumentative writing/composition and business writing. His major interests are in composition, post-1865 American literature, American and world short story, the short story sequence and narrative theory. He has published several papers in academic journals, as well as book reviews, commentaries, essays and a short story.

David W. Suter, Minds on the Millennium co-director
Saint Martin's professor of religious studies
(360) 438-4360;

Veronica Kessler, Minds on the Millennium co-director
Panorama City activities director
(360) 438-7557

Deanna Partlow
Media coordinator / senior editor