Sustainability Institute supports seed grants to develop sustainability courses

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Sustainability Institute is collaborating with the Penn State Office for General Education on a Seed Grant initiative for faculty interested in developing a new Integrative Studies General Education course. Integrative Studies courses were not previously designated nor required; therefore the University is preparing the way for their development and incorporation into the curriculum.

The Office of the Provost has provided over $400,000 for development of these courses. The Sustainability Institute is one of 13 collaborating units at the University providing additional funds or wrap-around expertise and resources to assist faculty. The deadline for submission is 5 p.m. on Feb. 28. Details about the new General Education requirements, the 2017 Seed Grant Initiative, grant proposal applications, and information on how to apply can be found at

The Sustainability Institute is looking to support the development of courses that develop students’ multidisciplinary sustainability literacy. Courses should use different disciplinary lenses to develop students’ sustainability competencies including the evolution of nested environmental, social, and economic issues, their ethical implications, and imag­inative solutions or coping methods. The institute’s academic programs fellow, Peter Buckland, will offer one-on-one support, a platform for sharing work through The Field Guide to Teaching Sustainability, connections to other faculty and resources, and a day-long workshop should three or more choose to bring sustainability into their Integrative Studies course.

An Adobe Connect informational webinar will be hosted by the Office for General Education at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, to describe the new Integrative Studies courses, requirements of the proposal, and the expectations for Seed Grant awardees. All faculty and staff are invited to participate. For those not able to join, a recording of the webinar will be made available at the Office for General Education website. Participants can connect to the webinar here

Students, faculty consider Plato, politics

Pitt arts and sciences faculty divided over proposal to eliminate foreign language exemption

Foreign language study helps high school students gain admission to colleges and universities, but should it also exempt from them from such study once admitted? An ongoing curricular debate at the University of Pittsburgh — in which about half the faculty seem to want to raise the standard for foreign language study and half want to maintain the status quo — highlights the role of foreign languages in general education at a public research university.

“Grades and what they mean at different high schools vary immensely, as do standards and practices — every state certifies its own foreign language teachers in different ways,” said Lina Insana, chair of French and Italian at Pitt. “They’re a totally unreliable measure of what a student has accomplished.”

Insana is a co-author of a proposal to eliminate what she called a “very large loophole” in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ general education requirements for foreign language. Currently, Dietrich’s undergraduates must complete a two-course sequence in a foreign language prior to graduation. Students may gain an exemption from the requirement in one of several ways, including taking a proficiency test administered by Pitt, scoring a four or five on an Advanced Placement exam, or earning B’s or better in all courses over three years of foreign language study in high school.

That last pathway out of foreign language study is what Insana and many of her colleagues want to change. They say precollege foreign language study that does not culminate in the ability to pass a proficiency test should not automatically exempt students from their otherwise required two terms of study. While the Advanced Placement exam and university proficiency tests are standard instruments that provide a good sense of what a student has learned, proponents say, a mere transcript is not.

“We would never dream of saying, ‘Oh, you took high school algebra, so you never have to prove your math competency again at this institution of higher learning,’” for example, Insana said. “The idea that there’s not enough time for language learning is a very typical American cultural bias. … Yet we can’t expect the world to speak English.”

Pitt doesn’t seem to expect the world to speak English, either. It has committed to “Living Globally” by 2020, meaning that it will “pursue research and scholarship that increase global understanding,” “develop our students into global citizens and leaders,” and “improve people’s lives by studying and solving the world’s most critical problems.” Nearly half of the students in the College of Business Administration, for example, study abroad.

Yet a number of professors in the Dietrich School have vocally opposed the proposal, saying that two terms of foreign language study is too onerous a requirement for all students. Adam Leibovich, chair of the department of physics and astronomy, wrote in an email to his faculty colleagues on the eve of a fully faculty vote on the proposal, “We need a large turnout of science faculty to have our voices heard so that resources are not taken away from us,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. “Please make sure that you go to the faculty meeting and that you encourage your faculty to do the same.” That was late last semester; Leibovich since declined an interview request.

David J. Birnbaum, chair of Slavic languages and co-author of the proposal, told Inside Higher Ed via email that prior to the meeting, “some colleagues in other divisions circulated alarmist announcements, filled with meticulous arithmetic, asserting that thousands of students would be required to enroll in language courses if the proposal were accepted. That was never true. What thousands of students would have to do is take a placement test, as they have always had to do with every other requirement that makes exemption an option except foreign language. If every one of those students who studied language in high school were to pass the placement test, there would be no additional enrollment in language courses.”

The only way thousands of additional students would have to study language at Pitt, he added, “would be if thousands of students who had studied language in high school failed the placement test, that is, if the assertion in the curriculum that high school language study automatically meets Pitt’s outcome requirement turned out to completely unfounded.”

Insana said she was still gathering data on how many students meet the high school exemption requirement.

The outcome of the faculty vote was 62 in favor and 67 opposed, but the idea is not dead. The proposal now goes to the student and faculty Undergraduate Council for further study, according to information from the university. The last time Pitt updated its general education requirements was in 2001.

Beyond Pitt

While the foreign language debate most frequently plays out in K-12 education, it’s also part of many conversations about general higher education: How many terms, if any, of a foreign language do students need to round out their studies and give them a head start on the job market? Over all, though, requirements are declining. According to information from the Modern Language Association, the percentage of four-year colleges and universities mandating foreign language study dropped 17 percentage points between 1995 and 2010, to about half of all institutions. Many language departments on a number of campuses also have been targets for elimination.

More institutions have come to expect foreign language study in high school for admission, however. Twenty-one percent of colleges and universities required it in 1995, compared to 25 percent in 2010.

Still, many top institutions that require foreign language study have exemption policies involving high AP scores or some other standardized demonstration of proficiency — not just general high school study. Princeton University is weighing a proposal to expand its foreign language requirement, specifying that all undergraduates — including those with high AP scores and even native fluency in another language — would have to study foreign language for at least one semester. Yale University, for example, also requires all students to take some foreign language courses.

The MLA also has highlighted the need for more programs for heritage speakers, or those who speak another language for cultural or family reasons. Pitt is somewhat unique among its peer institutions in that it admits a significant share of local heritage speakers who speak a variety of languages of study, including Italian, Polish and Russian. The university offers courses in more than 30 languages.

Rosemary Feal, executive director of the MLA, said that Pitt’s high school language exemption policy was unusual among its peers, in that most require an AP score or similar. Three years of high school study with B grades is “virtually meaningless” since at many high schools, “seat time in a language does not necessarily translate to any meaningful level of proficiency,” she said.

“One would expect college students going to the caliber of college as Pitt to be expected to have three years of language with a good grade — that’s generally an entrance requirement,” Feal said. “If Pitt wants to be like the University of Virginia or the University of Michigan or another highest-caliber public institution, then having higher standards would make sense.” Feal noted that many institutions already require four semesters of study, not two.

Birnbaum emphasized that the proposal isn’t about getting students to take more or fewer language courses, but to bring the current requirement to “the same honesty, consistency and integrity that we see in every other requirement.”

“If Pitt believes that students don’t need to have language proficiency equivalent to a year of college-level study, let us write that honestly into our curriculum,” he said. “But if we believe that they do, we need to test it. The current curriculum says one thing and does another.”

‘CV’s of Failure’ Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Writing at her personal blog, Ellie Macklin identifies something that’s been nagging me about the “CV’s of Failure” that now make their way through academic circles.

While they are no doubt well-intentioned, Dr. Macklin points out that at their heart, these “CV’s of Failure” are, in reality, success stories.

I do not mean to specifically pick on the individual who posted the particular “CV of Failure” that provoked Dr. Macklin’s response, but its concluding “coda” displays the most common shortcoming of the genre. 

“Now that I’m a graduate faculty member, an editor of an academic journal, and a voting member in faculty hiring decisions, I have participated in these processes of selection from the other side of the table. I’m here to tell you: it’s not you, it’s us. The way to succeed is to produce the best work you can and keep seeking out professional opportunities. The way to fail is to treat failure like the end of the story instead of the beginning.”

And here we are: Work hard. Learn from your mistakes. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, and eventually, success will come for you too.

In the parlance of Donald Rumsfeld, these are “known knowns.” In fact, they’re such known knowns they are clichés, and also, in the context of the world of academia they are lies.

Or at least not the whole truth. Sure, these CV’s are littered with all the things that didn’t pan out for the individuals, but given that these pieces are almost invariably written from the point of view of someone who has succeeded in arriving at a place sufficiently secure that they can out their failures without concern, the result is thin gruel indeed when it comes to offering useful insights.[1]

If we’re going to write about success and failure, rather than featuring the known knowns – work hard, fail, try again – I think we need to talk more about the unknown knowns behind those “CV’s of Failure” that inevitably end in success.

Though I am a failure, my own academic career is too haphazard and unintentional to serve as an example, but I thought I could perhaps illustrate how the unknown knowns have worked for me in achieving my status as contributing blogger for Inside Higher Ed.

No, it’s not a tenure track professorship, but it’s a pretty decent gig, the kind of steady freelance work that has allowed me to transition out of the full-time contingent academic workforce and into a full-time writing career.

I 100% deserve this job. I work hard and write lots of words. I think I’m good at it and my IHE editors seem to agree. I’ve been doing it for five-plus years.

Like every other writer, I’ve suffered my share of rejection along the way. I submitted a couple hundred times before publishing my first short story. I’ve written a full-length failed (by my own judgment) novel manuscript. My novel that was published required finding a new agent when my original one expressed no confidence in the book.

I was threatened with a lawsuit by the author and publisher of a beloved series of children’s books which resulted in the pulping of a parody book that was in multiple printings before it was even released.

So yeah, failures, I got ‘em. We all do. That’s the point.

But how did I  achieve this particular “success?” Here’s some things you might not know.

I first started writing for IHE as a guest of Oronte Churm who needed to take time off in order to transition to a new tenure track job at McNeese State University.

I met Churm in 2001 at the University of Illinois where he was assigned as my faculty mentor when I was a new lecturer in the English department. While I was qualified for the job, my path to securing the position was considerably smoothed by my relationship with Philip Graham, tenured faculty at Illinois, who had been my undergraduate creative writing professor and had also played a role in helping me get into graduate school at, wait for it, McNeese State (’97 MA/MFA).

After a year at U of I, I moved to Virginia Tech when, in June of 2003, I got a call from Dave Eggers, asking me if I could “help out” with the McSweeney’s Internet Tendency website.

How is one so lucky, you’re wondering, to get a call from one of my generation’s most accomplished writers/activists with a job offer?

Easy. Marry someone who was high school friends with Dave Eggers so you meet him and become friends when you’re both still young people.[2]

Now working as the editor for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and fairly desperate to expand the scope of what we published at the time, I hit on the idea of a column written from the perspective of a contingent faculty member. At first, I thought about doing it myself, but that I remembered I had a better candidate.

My old friend Churm. “Dispatches from Adjunct Faculty at a Large State University” ran on McSweeney’s from 2005 to 2008, at which time Churm got an offer he couldn’t refuse from an upstart higher education website called Inside Higher Ed

That’s not all. The reason Churm needed a hiatus in order to move to Lake Charles, LA to start his job at McNeese State is because I introduced him as a candidate to people working in the department there who had been in my grad school cohort in the mid-90’s.[3]

What do we call this? Luck? Connections? Where did it come from? Who or what gets the credit?

I have no idea. But I also know that without all of these things happening, I wouldn’t be writing for this space today.

At the time of filling in for Churm I had accomplished some things as a writer, but I had no track record as a “blogger” per se. There were likely many people already working at writing about higher ed who were far more qualified for the position, but they didn’t get the chance.

I did.

I believe this particular success is deserved. In fact, in my private times, when I take my ego out for a stroll, you might find me ruminating on how I deserve more, that in a just world, maybe some of the dead wood at the New York Times editorial page could shove over.[4]

But there’s an important difference between my work as a writer and my successes and failures versus what’s happening in our academic labor marketplaces.

Academia is a “system” in ways writing is not. There are no structures in place with control over the supply of writers. My apprenticeship is not formally overseen with a transfer of money from me to a mentor. Tom Friedman endlessly repeating himself at the Times is not predicated on me publishing here for less money and prestige. My work at Inside Higher Ed is not supported by a group of unpaid writers beneath me.

In fact, in the larger publishing world, it’s often the superstar authors whose success helps subsidize risks taken on less commercial writers.

At research universities, particularly in the humanities, we have tenured faculty whose jobs are predicated upon an apprenticeship system for future scholars that, in many disciplines, offers extremely limited odds for success in achieving sustainable, decent-paying positions.[5]

Worse, those former apprentices often become contingent faculty working as human shields, engines that generate surplus dollars to the institution by teaching general education courses for low wages, surpluses that support the privileges of the tenured. 

These systemic inequalities and the ways they protect the privileges of some at the expense of others should not be unknown knowns at this point.

When “CV’s of Failure” fail to acknowledge and grapple with this reality, no matter how encouraging and well-meaning they may mean to be, they only serve to perpetuate the injustice.

Articulating the ways we have been lucky or privileged and the role that luck and/or privilege has played in success does not diminish that success. We can only play the hands we’re dealt, and having been dealt a good hand doesn’t require any penance or guilt.

But we should strive to be honest. Let’s have some “CV’s of Failure” that seek to tell more complete stories.

[1] Let me stipulate that I am not arguing that the world owes a professorship to everyone who does the “right” things. We cannot guarantee outcomes, even for those who perform entirely admirably. But, the proportions of those who do the right things and yet still are flushed out of the academic labor system as waste should be cause to look at all aspects of that system. As to what should be or could be changed, that’s something for a post of its own.

[2] I don’t have the space to detail the story of how my future wife and I wound up on our first date, but the number of events that had to happen is mindboggling. Yes, I’m guilty of some hindsight bias here, but even taking that into account, it’s something of a miracle, and almost, but not quite, makes me believe in fate.

[4] Of course, I don’t run in those circles. Of the 13 main op-ed writers for the Times, only three (Charles Blow, Frank Bruni, and Andrew Rosenthal) even attended a public undergraduate institution, and Bruni is a grad of Columbia’s J-school. Andrew Rosenthal might’ve gotten a leg up – he was editorial page editor before settling into a kind of emeritus columnists position – by being the son of Abe Rosenthal, a former executive editor of the Times.

[5] What Marc Bousquet called academic “waste product” in his 2008 book, How the University Works.

New trainers join YMCA team

MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County YMCA Piqua Branch has hired two new personal trainers, Amanda Seas and John Sustarich, to help members meet their fitness goals in 2017.

Seas is a newly certified personal trainer at the YMCA. She received her certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in October 2016.

Along with personal training, she is involved in aquatics at the YMCA. She is assistant coach of the MCY Marlins Swim Team, lifeguards, teaches swim lessons, and is a member of the new Master Marlins Swim Team.

Seas has plans to further her education at Sinclair Community College in the fall 2017 semester, majoring in Exercise Science.

Sustarich has been personal training for four years, with certifications through ISSA (International Sports Science Association), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), Anytime Fitness, as well as military courses he took while enlisted in the Army.

He is currently taking general education courses at Edison Community College pursuing his bachelor of arts degree.

Personal trainers already on staff include Sue Peltier and Heather Sever.

Peltier has been a certified personal trainer since 1998, when she received her certification through ACE (American Council on Exercise). Her past experience with the YMCA also includes being the fitness coordinator and the health and wellness director. Her training experience has ranged from training the “average Joe,” high school and college athletes, older active adults (some needing post rehabilitation) to professional moto-cross riders.

Sever is currently the health and wellness director of the YMCA Piqua Branch.

Sever received her personal training license in November 2010, through the National Council on Strength Fitness (NCSF) and has been training clients from youth to seniors for the last six years.

The YMCA offers many different types of personal training packages including one on one sessions, two person sessions, and small group personal training. The YMCA offers special pricing for bridal boot camp sessions for brides or grooms. The YMCA also offers Sports Enhancement Training and Junior High Strength Training for youth looking to increase their sports specific athletic performance.

For the Daily Call

Teacher credentials for College in the Schools a concern at AHS

Scott Miller, Aitkin High School social studies teacher, asked the Aitkin School Board to consider putting together a team of teachers, administration and board members to address the need for teachers wanting to get accreditation for teaching College in the Schools.

Miller, who is one of several current instructors at AHS who is not currently credentialed, spoke during the public comment period of the regular school board meeting Jan. 9.

“Aitkin High School received some good news Dec. 19,” wrote Miller in his statement to the board. “We learned that Central Lakes College (CLC) of Brainerd received notice that they have been approved for an extension on their compliance date for College in the Schools instructors.”

In October 2015, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) released revisions to its “longstanding expectations regarding qualifications of faculty and the importance of faculty members having appropriate expertise in the subjects they teach,” according to the HLC website.

Part of the revision included the statement, “Those faculty members teaching general education courses, or other non-occupational courses (i.e. courses not designed to prepare people directly for a career), hold a master’s degree or higher in the discipline or subfield. If a faculty member holds a master’s degree or higher in a discipline or subfield other than that in which he or she is teaching, that faculty member should have completed a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline or subfield in which they teach.”

According to Miller, CLC was told their instructors have until Sept. 1, 2022 to get the proper education or else they can no longer teach those classes. The same goes for the College in the Classroom teachers at AHS.

“2022 may seem like a long time away,” stated Miller to the board. “However, the cost of graduate credits is extremely high in both time and money. We have teachers who want to work with the school to continue to provide these opportunities for our students. We need a solution to this very serious problem and I don’t think we can wait for someone to do something.”

In a time of declining enrollment at the high school, Miller said the district should do all it can to keep students in the building.

“I have more students in my college classes today than I ever have,” Miller said.

Quantifying the profession

Miller presented the board with some current numbers on the cost of college credits versus the free cost of the College in the Schools’ credits.

In 2014-15, students earned 1,335 total college credits; In 2015-16, 1,225 credits were earned; and this year 1,204.5 will be earned, according to Miller.

The total of 3,764.5 credits, if they were earned at the University of Minnesota, where each credit costs $438, could have cost families $1,684,851 over the last three years. If the credits were to be earned at CLC, at a cost of $157.51, families would have saved $592,944.

Miller said there is one faculty member at AHS who would fit under the criteria proposed by the HLC.

“If this does not change, students at AHS will no longer have the opportunity to earn college credit at zero monetary cost,” stated Miller.

Because Miller presented the information during the public comment period of the meeting, the board did not respond to his presentation.

College in the Schools

College in the Schools (CIS) is a dual enrollment program administered by Central Lakes College in partnership with local high schools. The CIS program gives high schools an opportunity to strengthen their academic course offerings while providing high school juniors or seniors a jump start on earning college credit.

Students experience the academic rigor of college curriculum and strengthen their study skills in a high school environment. CIS courses are taught during the regular school day at the high schools by exceptional high school instructors.

CSUN’s Sustainability Minor Enjoys Growing Popularity

Kiana Lucero ’16 (Marine Biology) knows how to use kilowatt meters to determine energy use, install water aerators to reduce water consumption and how to do waste audits — highly useful skills for any profession and in personal lives, but rare for today’s college graduates. Lucero is one of the nearly 100 students who graduated from California State University, Northridge with a minor in sustainability, which she said has been serving her well personally as well as professionally.

“You have an edge up on your competition when you’re applying for jobs,” she said. “When you have a minor [in addition to] a major, it shows that you were putting more effort into your education while you [attended college].”

Sustainability refers to maintaining an ecological balance that refrains from depleting natural resources. The goal is to meet the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable standards in professional and personal lives benefit not only the environment but also help the economy to conserve resources. CSUN has offered the sustainability minor since 2011, and the program has blossomed in terms of popularity since its launch.

“It has definitely grown a lot,” said Sarah Johnson, coordinator of CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability. “When it was first offered, there was one section of each class per semester. Some of the classes weren’t even offered every semester. And now there are two to three sections each semester, and they’re always full.”

The Institute for Sustainability worked with faculty across campus to determine the curriculum and course content for the minor, but the Department of Liberal Studies in CSUN’s College of Humanities hosts the program since the institute is not an academic department in itself. The minor consists of three core courses in sustainability and a choice of three electives in various disciplines. Many of those electives can overlap with students’ major requirements or general education courses.

“It complements pretty much any major,” Johnson said. “Sustainability is a growing field, and if students can add the minor to their resume and bring the knowledge and experience they’ve learned from those classes to their jobs in whatever field they are going into, it makes them more marketable.”

Two of the three core courses are hands-on classes in which students gain experience in real-life sustainability issues, go on field trips and explore volunteer opportunities.

In Best Practices in Sustainability (SUST 310), students are involved in a variety of community service projects, often in partnership with organizations and institutions serving environmental sustainability within the community.

Those organizations include companies such as GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit initiative that installs free solar panels for low-income homeowners, or Greywater Corps, which installs greywater systems to recycle used water in the greater Los Angeles area.

“Sustainability deals with some of the most important issues that we’re going to be facing,” said Loraine Lundquist, an instructor for the two hands-on courses. “[The] issues relate to fundamental questions of how our society is going to sustain itself, and how our society is going to survive. In some cases, there are sustainability issues that are threatening human civilization and the human species.”

The Applied Sustainability (SUST 401) class is a capstone course, in which students apply their knowledge on their own projects. Lundquist said that previous student projects have worked on projects such as installations of recycling methods like greywater systems or  the organization of alternative food sources. Last semester, a student introduced crickets as an alternative protein source, since the insects contain significantly more protein than steak, chicken breast, eggs, or salmon ­– farming insects demonstrates a more sustainable method than farming livestock.

Lucero, who took a sustainability class as a general education course for her marine biology major, wasn’t considering a sustainability minor at first — but the class sparked her interest.

“I loved it,” she said. “It’s a team-taught class and teaches you about different disciplines relating to sustainability. It opened my eyes to many things that I hadn’t really thought about before.”

For more information about the sustainability minor, visit


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Learning Goal Committee focuses on critical thinking

LHU Clearfield Student Journeys from Traumatic Brain Injury to RN

Tyler Peace (Provided photo)

Tyler Peace (Provided photo)

Tyler Peace thought his career path would start with the military.

The 2010 graduate of Punxsutawney Area School District had a full-ride ROTC scholarship to Edinboro University and was extremely excited about the future.

That’s when a bicycle accident during his senior year in high school caused a significant change in direction.

After recuperating from several brain surgeries, Peace worked as a carpenter in the family business, Peace Kitchens and Home Remodeling.

At the same time, he was certain that he wanted to continue his education and began taking general education courses at Lock Haven University Clearfield.

“I had a strong interest in the medical field and while working I enrolled in an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program,” said Peace.

He loved it and knew that he wanted to continue learning in the health professions.

Peace was accepted in the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) at LHU Clearfield in the fall of 2014.

“I chose LHU Clearfield because it was convenient, it allowed me to commute and the program has a great reputation,” he said.

So at age 22, he began his pursuit of becoming a nurse.

During his two years in the ASN program, Peace served as class president and demonstrated his leadership ability by starting a scholarship for future LHU nursing students.

He pitched the idea to his fellow classmates, the nursing faculty and administration at LHU Clearfield.

“Starting, or going back to school is a big step and many of the students have families of their own. Even though the dollars are small right now, the fund will help future students with the costs of education,” Peace noted.

Currently, Peace is working in the Emergency Department at Penn Highlands DuBois.

“It is challenging but rewarding work,” according to Peace. He is also enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at LHU Clearfield.

The fully online program will allow him to continue his education and work at the same time. Actually, Peace is following in the family career footsteps.

His mother, Tina Peace, graduated from LHU Clearfield in 2007 and is working as a nurse at the Punxsutawney Hospital.

“She really encouraged me to go down this path,” he said. He added, “It is great to be in the same line of work as my mom.”

Sharing a vocation with family is a significant point of pride for this newly minted nurse.

Spring enrichment course registration open; Kent Historical Society plans Sunday Series; ‘Animal Farm’ audition …

LITCHFIELD Horseback riding, computer software classes, and training for certifications in health care and other careers are among the enrichment courses now being offered through the Foothills Regional Adult Continuing Education Program.

The program’s spring 2017 brochure, recently mailed to over 80,000 households in western CT, provides details for nearly 400 different courses for adults over 18. The state and locally-funded program operated by EdAdvance delivers affordable enrichment learning opportunities for adults throughout the region.

“We are pleased to offer popular returning courses, such as Adobe InDesign and Food Handler’s certificate training, and are also very excited about our new courses, including art classes through Karen Rossi Studios in Torrington, and Saturday events through the Litchfield Historical Society,” said Anthony Sebastiano of EdAdvance, Regional Director for the Foothills program.

Foothills courses are held at eight school sites including Litchfield, Plymouth, Region 1 (Falls Village), Region 7 (Winsted), Region 14 (Woodbury), Region 15 (Southbury), Thomaston, Torrington, and at various program-specific locations. The Spring 2017 Foothills line-up includes more daytime classes at EdAdvance sites in both Litchfield and Danbury.

Trips and tours are extremely popular and fill up quickly. This spring, these include excursions to the Boston Flower Garden Show and the New York Botanical Gardens.

In addition to adult enrichment programs, Foothills provides free mandated adult education classes for students to successfully complete CT requirements for high school graduation including the High School Diploma (HSD) program, the National External Diploma Program (NEDP), and the General Education Development program (GED). Other mandated offerings include English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and Citizenship.

According to Sebastiano, expanded courses made possible through Program Improvement Project (PIP) grants from the CT State Department of Education provide “unique and innovative learning experiences” for students attending Foothills mandated classes. One of these programs, specifically for high school diploma students, is STEM: Exploring 21st Century Careers. “This program enhances students’ abilities to respond to the needs of a rapidly changing labor market by exploring careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering math) and advancing students’ skills and competencies for success in the 21st century workplace,” he commented.

For more information on Foothills Adult Continuing Education, call 800-300-4781 or 860-567-0863. To view the new 52-page brochure, visit

Sunday Series set in Kent

KENT Kent Historical Society Sunday Series on Jan. 22 will focus on “The Howling Wilderness: Western Connecticut in the 18th Century.”

Michael Everett, president of the Kent Historical Society and an Emeritus Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, will discuss conditions in Western Connecticut at the beginning of the 18th century. The Revolutionary period is often viewed as the starting point of Kent’s history, but the town was founded well before that. Through the entire period, the Puritan view of the countryside as a “howling wilderness” had theological and cultural consequences, which Everett will explore as he examines the natives and settlers, changing agricultural and ownership ideas, and more.

The lecture, as well as future Sunday Series events in 2017, helps give context to the Kent Historical Society’s upcoming exhibit in the summer of 2017, “The Founders of Kent,” on the emergence of one New England town in the 18th century.

The Kent Historical Society sponsors the Sunday Series every other month September through May. Free admission for members; $5 suggested donation for non-members.

For more information call 860-927-4587 or visit

TheatreWorks New Milford sets audition dates

NEW MILFORD TheatreWorks New Milford is seeking a cast for George Orwell’s satirical drama, Animal Farm, adapted by Ian Wooldridge on Sunday Jan. 29 and Tuesday Jan. 31 from 7 to 9 p.m. Auditions will consist of reading from the script. All roles are available and both professionals and amateurs are welcome. TheatreWorks offers a stipend to all performers, technicians, and directors. For character breakdowns, auditions sides, and to get more info, visit

Director Kevin Sosbe of New Milford is seeking about a dozen adventurous, creative people of all genders and ages 12 and up, although this will be a predominantly adult cast.

All physical types, genders, sizes, and ethnicities of people are encouraged to audition. In this production the director will be creating a barnyard of creatures that will commit to embodying the animal quality of their characters. There will be doubling or tripling of several roles.

Animal Farm is perhaps the most famous political novel of all time. George Orwell’s satire on Stalinism has proved magnificently long-lived as a parable about totalitarianism anywhere and has given the world at least one immortal phrase: “Some animals are more equal than others.” The animals on the farm drive out their master and take over and run the farm for themselves. The experiment is successful, except that someone has to take the deposed farmer’s place. Leadership devolves upon the pigs, which are cleverer than the rest of the animals. Unfortunately, their character is not equal to their intelligence.

This will be an open audition, however if you cannot make the dates listed, email director Kevin Sosbe at to arrange an appointment on an alternate date. Auditions will be held at TheatreWorks, 5 Brookside Ave., New Milford.

Rehearsals begin in March with performances running during the weekends in May 2017.