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CCSU Virtual Scholars For Life! Speaking Series

Scholars for Life Speaker Series

CCSU faculty and guest speakers bring their passions and knowledge to our Scholars For Life! Speaking series. We look forward to the time when we can safely gather again and enjoy our time together over dinner, but for now, we are happy to bring you our series online.

We use different platforms for different events. Information about logging on, passwords and assistance is embedded in each individual description.

If you are interested in learning more about lifelong learning, our virtual events and future on-campus events, please join the mailing list.

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Life & Leisure #3

Life Long Learning is a great way to keep your mind sharp!  The Speaking Series is a great program at CCSU – diverse subjects, well done! 

Gary Robinson, New Britain Resident and Life-long Learner!

Life & Leisure #2

I go to the fitness center to exercise my muscles, and I go to CCSU’s Life & Leisure Speaking Series to exercise my brain!  I have a high ‘curiosity quotient (CQ)” so the variety of topics covered in this series helps to satisfy my CQ.  It’s said that curiosity killed the cat, but for me curiosity makes for a more interesting life!

Reverend Dolores, Avid Life-long Learner!

Life & Leisure #1

Education is still important to us and now through the CCSU Continuing Education, ‘Life & Leisure Speaking Series’ it’s also fun again.  Thank You!”

Nick ’70 and JoAnn, Active Life-long Learners!

Scholars For Life! Speaking Series

Goths, Gargoyles and God; the Building of the Magnificent Medieval Cathedrals of Western Europe 1100-1500 AD

Dr. Richard Benfield, CCSU Professor Emeritus Geography

7:00 pm

Password: If needed- Cathedrals

At the turn of the 1000 AD millennium in Europe churches were small, dark, thick-walled, and dingy. Less than two hundred years later churches were large, spectacular architectural wonders, rising over two hundred feet in the nave, airy and lit by glorious colored glass windows the size of tennis courts. Today, a thousand years later, these glorious medieval cathedrals and churches soar above the European cities for which they are the center of the community and the focus of tourism, architectural renown, and Christian worship. What happened to make this frenzy of church building so marked and spectacular? In Scholars for Life we will look at the early antecedents of medieval church building, travel to Great Britain and France to examine how these churches were built to such grandeur, see the finest examples of these Cathedrals in Wells, Salisbury and Gloucester in England and in France, Paris, Amiens, Rouen and Chartres (and even look at one that collapsed!) We will conclude with a revelation of a Catholic Church secret, hidden in plain sight for one thousand years, but that has governed church life for two thousand years! Splendor and Secrets revealed ... all in one hour. Dr Richard W. Benfield is Professor of Geography at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut where he teaches Human Geography, Russia, The European Union and many of the courses in the departments tourism track. Prior to coming to Central he was Senior Program Coordinator in the Division of Continuing Education at the University of Oklahoma where he instructed citizens of the new Russian Federation on privatization and the transition to a market economy. He obtained his doctorate in geography from the University of Oklahoma in 1998. Prior to commencing his teaching career at the University of Oklahoma, he was Vice-President of Marketing at Whistler Ski resort, Canada, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Executive Director of the Banff-Lake Louise Chamber of Commerce and a tourism marketing executive with the Government of Alberta. His current research interests are in biogeography, particularly garden tourism, and the use of tourism as a conservation tool through the great botanic gardens of the world. He has also published extensively and spoken widely on the geography of Floriculture and in particular the business of the tulip. He is currently writing a book on the role of National Parks as locations for flora and faunal conservation, particularly endemic plant conservation in parks and the parks role in protecting large feline predators. This research has taken him to India for wildflower and Tiger research, Peru for Jaguars, Central Asia and Mongolia for tulips and Snow Leopards and the Canadian Rockies for Mountain Lions/cougars. In total he has travelled in over 115 countries and seen the botanic gardens and other public and private gardens in just about them all. In 2010 he traveled to the parks and gardens of South Africa, the Middle East, China and the Valley of Flowers, India where he researched the intersection of garden tourism and conservation. In the summer of 2015 he traveled to the Altai ranges of Siberia and Mongolia to undertake further snow leopard research. He is a much sought after speaker for local garden and nature clubs and Botanic Garden Conservation International, for whom he just finished presenting their plenary address at their conference in Mexico City and for whom he spoke at the World Botanic Garden conference in Dunedin, New Zealand. In 2015 1nd 2016 he was the plenary speaker at the World Tulip summit in Istanbul Turkey and Suncheon South Korea respectively. At that time he travelled to view, conservation of plants in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and from there he travelled to Australia to speak in all five major cities on garden tourism. In 2013 his best-selling book Garden Tourism was published by CABI Press, Abingdon, England. For comments, questions or assistance please contact Christa Sterling @ 860-832-2277 or After you register you will be sent a link to access the talk.

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The 2020 Election: What Happened, and Why?

Jerold J. Duquette, M.P.A., Ph.D. CCSU Associate Professor of Political Science & Director, Public Administration Concentration

7:00 pm

Password: if needed- Election

In this session, CCSU Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Public Administration Concentration will discuss how the development of political party strategies and tactics over the past half century help explain the 2020 election. Today’s highly polarized politics is the result of decades of asymmetric partisanship in which one party’s success became increasingly reliant on dividing Americans along racial, religious, and cultural lines, while the other party’s success became reliant on balancing the social and economic rights and interests of an increasingly diverse electoral coalition. The Republicans have been better able to enforce party unity, but less able to prevent their party’s extremists from taking control of the party’s nomination processes, while Democrats have struggled mightily to find and exploit sustainable unifying principles and policies, but have been more able to prevent their party’s extremists from taking control of the party’s nomination processes. For comments, questions or assistance please contact Christa Sterling @ 860-832-2277 or After you register you will be sent a link to access the talk.

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Hartford’s Civil War History

Dr. Matt Warshauer, CCSU Professor of History

7:00 pm

Password: if needed- Hartford

No military battles took place in the North. Yet it's still awash in Civil War history, revealing that places like Connecticut, especially Hartford, was gripped by war fever and struggling to survive the greatest challenge in the young nation's life. The echoes of this fraught exertion are everywhere. You just have to look. Join Scholars for Life as Professor Matt Warshauer reveals the Civil War history of Hartford that is "hidden" in plain sight. Dr. Matthew Warshauer is a professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and served for six years at the co-chair of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission, which was responsible for the state’s many activities remembering the nation’s greatest trial.  Warshauer is a widely recognized and sought after lecturer in the field of American political and constitutional history, and is the author of four books.  Two on Andrew Jackson and two on Connecticut and the Civil War. For comments, questions or assistance please contact Christa Sterling @ 860-832-2277 or After you register you will be sent a link to access the talk.

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The Early Days of Record and Radio

Dr. Heather de Savage, Assistant Professor, Music History

7:00 pm

Password: No password option

This class explores the introduction and development of two technologies that quickly became essential to the 20th-century mainstream consumer: recorded sound, and public radio broadcasts. Examples drawn from some of the earliest available commercial records and recorded broadcasts illustrate the discussion. Dr. Heather de Savage is Assistant Professor of Music History at Central Connecticut State University. She completed her Ph.D. in music history and theory at the University of Connecticut; she also holds a master’s degree in music history from the University of New Hampshire, and a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the Eastman School of Music (with an extensive background in early music performance). Her primary area of research, extending from her doctoral dissertation, examines Gabriel Fauré’s American reception, with a particular focus on Boston, 1892−1945. She has presented portions of this research at numerous conferences in recent years, and has published on the topic of Fauré as well. Other research interests include embedded elements in the late motets of Heinrich Schütz, harmonic text painting in the lieder of Franz Liszt, and historical performance practice in fifteenth-century Franco-Flemish chanson. Publications include several items for the Nineteenth-Century Music Review, Gamut: Online Journal of the Music Theory Society, and Early Music. Ongoing research includes a wide range of topics concerning Fauré reception in the United States, and, more broadly, Franco-American musical relationships in the early-twentieth century. In addition to her music history courses at CCSU, Heather has taught a wide range of courses at UConn for music majors, minors, and non-music students, and was the 2017 recipient of the Outstanding Adjunct Award from the UConn School of Fine Arts. Additionally, she has taught music history courses at the University of Hartford, The Hartt School, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Beyond teaching in the classroom, Heather also extends her love of music to the broader community through concert talks at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, and seminars and workshops offered through CCSU Continuing Education, Scholars for Life! series, and UConn’s Center for Learning in Retirement (CLiR). For comments, questions or assistance please contact Christa Sterling @ 860-832-2277 or After you register you will be sent a link to access the talk.

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Filipiniana Dress History

Dr. Ryan Raven Ong, CCSU Professor of Theatre

7:00 pm

Password: if needed- Dress

Coming soon

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Sinatra at 105

Dr. Gil Gigliotti, CCSU Professor of English

7:00 pm

Password: No Password option

From the Sinatrauma of the Bobbysoxers, through his storied fall-and-rebirth, to his becoming the Chairman of the Board (and beyond!), Frank Sinatra embodied the "American Century." During "Sinatra at 105," we'll listen and view some of his most entertaining, powerful, and significant performances in song and film -- with a peek behind the scenes at his wives, lovers, friends, and politics. Gilbert L. Gigliotti is a professor of English and Latin at Central Connecticut State University and the host for more than two decades of "Frank, Gil, and Friends" every Tuesday morning on WFCS 107.7 FM. He earned his PhD in comparative literature at The Catholic University of America. His books on Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra belie his more traditional academic interests in American Puritans like Cotton Mather and Anne Bradstreet, the late 18th-century writers The Connecticut Wits, and the literature of ancient Greece and Rome. For comments, questions or assistance please contact Christa Sterling @ 860-832-2277 or After you register you will be sent a link to access the talk.

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Deconstructing the Civil Rights Movement; Chasing the Dream

Mr. Stephen Balkaran, CCSU Professor of Philosophy

7:00 pm

Password: if needed- Rights

Stephen Balkaran, is currently an Instructor of African-American Studies at Central Connecticut State University, where he initiated, developed and coordinate a Civil Rights Project (2006-Pres). He also serves as an Instructor of Political Science at Quinnipiac University (2011-Pres.) The University of Connecticut-TRI CAMPUS (2005-06), Post University (2003-04), and Capital Community College (1999-03). He has also served as research Fellow for The Human Rights Research Fund at Yale University working under Black Panther and Yale Professor of African-American Studies, Mrs. Kathleen Cleaver. Before launching his academic career, Mr. Balkaran worked for the African National Congress (Nelson Mandela’s ruling party in South Africa) in partnership with the University of Connecticut. He was also a Research Associate for the United Nations in New York and was a former Legislative Aide to the CT Secretary of State. Mr. Balkaran has authored 8 books: America’s Promise: Chasing the Dream of Civil Rights (2020), Introduction to African American Studies; A Reader, (2018) Broken Promises, Broken Dreams, Disparities, and Disappointments: Civil Rights in the 21st Century (2017), Before We Were Called Hispanics: Conversations on the Politics, Race, and Immigration Reform (2016), The Continuing Significance of Race: An American Dilemma, (2014). and Re-Tracing the Civil Rights Movement (2011). His 8th and forthcoming book is entitled Trouble in Paradise: The African-American Experience in Key West. He has also authored over 70 articles in Academic Journals, Magazines, and OP-ED’s on Race Relations, Diversity & Inclusion, American Foreign Policy, and Public Policy. He has also given over 100 speeches on his research, publications, and books throughout the United States. For comments, questions or assistance please contact Christa Sterling @ 860-832-2277 or

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Imagining the World Anew

Dr. Jim Malley Associate Professor Emeritus Counselor Education and Family Therapy

7:00 pm

Password: if needed- Goodbye2020

The author, Suzanna Arundhati, wrote that pandemics often serve as turning points that compel humans to imagine the world anew. Will the allure of a fresh New Year serve as a portal to a new and re-imagined world? This session we be devoted to exploring what such a new and more hopeful world might look like as we put the catastrophic year of 2020 behind us. Come prepared to share what changes you believe will be needed for humanity to continue to survive and thrive on planet Earth? Dr. Jim Malley is an Associate Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Counselor Education and Family Therapy at Central Connecticut State University.(CCSU)  He is a founding member of CCSU’s Forum for Contemplative Practices and played a key role in introducing mindfulness to the CCSU campus. Prior to teaching at CCSU, Dr. Malley worked as a counselor for 2 years in a Federal Prison for drug offenders in Lexington, Kentucky and for 27 years as a Counseling Psychologist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Hartford, Connecticut. For comments, questions or assistance please contact Christa Sterling @ 860-832-2277 or After you register you will be sent a link to access the talk.

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Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Ghandi

CCSU’s Office of Continuing Education offers life-long learning opportunities that are friendly, stimulating and informal.
There are no tests and no grades! You will join a learning community that is full of diversity, conversation, stimulation and friendship.

Expand Your Horizons. Meet New Friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be over 50 to attend any Life, Leisure & Community Programs?

Most of the programs are scheduled to cater to our retired audience, however, anyone can attend.  Just be sure you can keep up with them!

Are there any discounts?

  Check back for our 2019 listing coming soon!

Are there any free events?

Yes.  AARP hosts many events on CCSU’s campus, and these events are free.

Where do I park?

Each individual event will have specific driving and parking instructions.  The events are at various locations, and we will provide the closest parking option.

Is there assistance to the event location?

Yes.  We have handicap parking at every location.  However, because we are a campus and you cannot drive to the front door of most buildings, we use a golf cart to transport those that need assistance.  Please let us know when you register if you require assistance.  Only authorized personnel can drive the carts, so we need to plan ahead.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Christa Sterling 860-832-2277;

Judy Ratcliffe 860-832-2276;