On Friday afternoon, a group of alums gathered to taste local wines and pick up tips and insights into the wine industry. This was not a social reception, however, but in fact an academic offering – one of several mini college courses faculty and alumni/ae presented as part of Reunion 2012. The courses covered a diverse range of topics such as the upcoming election, immigration, China, space, murder mysteries and reality TV, as well as “The Making and Meaning of Wine,” taught by Professor of Economics Bill Waller.
In addition to economics, during the academic year Waller teaches a wine course at the Colleges. The focus of his Mini-College class was showcasing the wines of the Finger Lakes, particularly those close to campus, including Fox Run, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Billsboro Winery, Anthony Road Wine Company, Red Newt and White Springs. Everyone got the chance to try a variety of top wines that included Chardonnays, ice wines, Traminette, Pinot Noir, and “the Queen of the Finger Lakes,” Riesling.
Waller answered questions from the alums about how the climate affects the taste of the wine, what it takes to start a winery, and explained various wine terms. Mark Henderson, husband of Sandra Beretta Henderson ’72, appreciated the advice and affirmation the class provided, “My wife and I have had the fortune to do a lot of traveling and we enjoy serving good wine and food to our guests. The nicest thing is that he confirmed that it all boils down to what you like.”
In another Mini-College course, Jane Trice ’67 spoke about her experiences living on China’s Silk Road in Xinjiang for 15 years.
Paul Gasek ’72 discussed his work as the executive producer for the Discovery Channel’s popular TV show “The Deadliest Catch,” including the show’s handling of the death of Phil Harris, a friend and main character. Gasek showed clips of the show that were not aired, saying “work in progress is so telling.”
Nan Arens, associate professor of geoscience, presented a course called “Changing Images of Mars.”
Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman’s lecture “Election 2012” covered the big issues of this year’s election and how the results may change the political power balance.
Darrin Magee, assistant professor of environmental studies, presented “Energy and Environment in China.”
“The Power of an Idea: Entrepreneurial Leadership” was led by the Director of the Centennial Center for Leadership Susan M. Pliner and Associate Director Amy Forbes. Their talk focused on how to use a liberal arts education and the core tenets of entrepreneurship for problem solving, intellectual ingenuity, and calculated risk-taking.
Peter Beckman, professor emeritus of political science, discussed his transition from political science to mystery writing in “From Politics to Murder: New Directions for an Aging Mind.” Beckman is the self-published author of “A Lecture to Die For,” which is set on a small, liberal arts college in upstate New York, and “Of Sunsets, Mountains, And Murder.” In his course, he had attendees devise a plot for his main character, Henry V.
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Faculty Christine de Denus presented “The Connection between Forensic Chemistry and True Crime.”
“A Dark and Long Century: 1275-1400” examined the dramatic 14th century in Europe, which was marked by ecological disasters, famine, illness, war, the plague, and drastic social changes. Associate Professor of English Laurence Erussard gave attendees an overview of the literary achievements of this dark period and their historical background and significance.
“Where is Here?” showcased Geneva and gave alums a better understanding of the place they spent their college years. John Marks, adjunct instructor of history, provided the bigger picture of Geneva’s social and economic history.
Judith McKinney, associate professor of economics, taught “They Take Our Jobs! (Don’t They?),” which covered immigration issues from an analytical standpoint. Based on her Economics of Immigration class, the mini course sought to answer such questions as: “Do immigrants take our jobs?” “How many immigrants should we allow?” and “What rights and responsibilities should they have while here?”
Professor Emeritus of Political Science Thomas Millington presented “Strategically Essentializing Hispanic Race” which looked at the politics of race and what “being white” means for Hispanics and Latin Americans in the U.S.