O.W.L.L. Courses

What is O.W.L.L.?

With the collaboration of the Lexington Council on Aging, the Friends of the Council on Aging present
O.W.L.L. - Older, Wiser, Lifelong Learners.

OWLL logo

O.W.L.L.’s Spring 2020 Semester Courses
(Sponsored by the COA and FCOA)

Download the Spring 2020 registration form

All classes will be at the Lexington Community Center


Climate Change and Energy Evolution: Will Team Humanity Step Up to Save the Planet?

Instructor: Rae Andre 

February 26, March 4, 11,18, 25

5 Wednesdays 9:30-11:30

Rae Andre  Instructor Bio:
Rae André is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Sustainability in the D'Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. A best-selling author of seven books, her popular press works include Take Back the Sky: Protecting Communities in the Path of Aviation Expansion (Sierra Club Books), which draws national lessons from the case of Hanscom Field in Lexington, Massachusetts. Her other works include Positive Solitude (Harper Collins), and The 59-Second Employee: How to Stay One Second Ahead of Your One-Minute Manager (co-authored with Peter D. Ward, Houghton Mifflin). Dr. André is the 2019 recipient of the David L. Bradford Outstanding Educator Award given by the Management and Organizational Behavior Teaching Society for lifetime teaching excellence and professional contribution. She received a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from The University of Michigan, an M.A. in Film Studies from The University of California at Los Angeles, and a B.A. (Cum Laude) in English from Cornell University.

Course Description: This class focuses on climate change and energy evolution and our personal and community reactions to these changes in our lives. Are you concerned about your family’s future under climate change? Do you want to stay informed about what’s happening? Do you want to contribute to solutions? This class explores the path forward.

The course opens with a summary of current scientific findings on the state of the planet and identifies the core problem as the burning of fossil fuels. It then moves quickly into material about how humanity is addressing this core problem. We will use a variety of approaches, including video case studies, personal reflections, mini-lectures, and guest speakers, to explore how change works and which strategies are likely to have the most impact on the climate crisis. Drawing on various social sciences, we will consider the most effective ways to foster sound decisions and broad-ranging solutions.

My personal aspiration for the course is that we will inspire each other to foster change that addresses the climate crisis—change in our personal lives, in our communities, and in our society.

*Before class: View Al Gore’s, An Inconvenient Truth


Virginia Woolf: Novelist, Publisher, Madwoman? Does She Still Speak to Us Today?

Instructor: Gillian Gill 

March 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10

5 Fridays, from 10:30 to 12:00

Gillian Gill  Instructor Bio:
Gillian Gill was brought up in the United Kingdom and educated at Cambridge University. While still an academic, she taught French, women’s studies, and critical theory at Northeastern University, Wellesley College, Yale University, and Harvard University. She has translated six books from the French, including the feminist classic “Speculum of the Other Woman” and a study of the orgy in the novels of the Marquis de Sade. Until her most recent work on Virginia Woolf, she has concentrated on the writings and the familial relationships of famous women whose achievements fit uneasily into the feminist canon--Agatha Christie, Mary Baker Eddy, Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, and Colette. She is now working on her seventh book.

Course Description: Woolf (1882-1941) lived in interesting times—the end of the Victoria era, the hecatomb of the First World War, the rise of communism and fascism, the opening of the Second World War. Amid the tumult of her age, she was personally threatened by a serious mood disorder that brought her periodically to the edge of suicide and confined to sanitoria. Refusing victimhood, Woolf worked tenaciously and savored the pleasures of love, friendship, travel, good food and food fellowship. She read voraciously, wrote essays, novels, reviews and memoirs, founded her own publishing company, and chronicled the influential Bloomsbury group in her now famous diary and letters.

The course will examine Woolf’s complex relationships with her father, her mother, her sister Vanessa Bell and her two half-sisters, Laura Stephen, and Stella Duckworth Hills, and to her husband and partner, Leonard Woolf. We will discuss Woolf’s influence on the new feminist movement of the late 1960s and the relationship between her writing and her bipolar disease. We will look at the controversial issue of sexual abuse, how it affected Woolf and her sisters, how she processed it in her writing.

The course will end with a showing of Sally Potter’s 1982 movie “Orlando”, starring Tilda Swinton.

*Course participants are urged to read Woolf’s most famous essay A Room of One’s Own, and one of the following novels--Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando.


Memoir Writing: Bringing the Past to the Present

Instructor: Christin Worcester 

March 17, 24, 31, April 7, 14, 28 (No class on April 21)

6 Tuesdays, 1:00-2:30

  Instructor Bio:
Christin Worcester received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and graduate degree from the University of New Hampshire where she specialized in the teaching of writing. She retired after thirty-five years of teaching English in secondary schools. Upon her retirement, she began teaching adult, community education and her writer’s journey by creating pieces for her memoir - a work in progress. Christin participates in a variety of writer’s groups as she continues to develop and practice her skills. In addition, her busy life is filled with actively volunteering for many community programs in Lexington. Christin has been a resident of Lexington for over 30 years.

Course Description: Do you have a remarkable moment in your life you want to share with family or friends? Is there a pivotal point in your life to examine or clarify just for yourself? During this introductory memoir writing workshop, we’ll explore various literary elements that contribute to an effective retelling of your moment in time. Through guided practice writing activities, you’ll have the opportunity to work on developing your story, characterization, setting, and dialogue for your piece. You’ll arrive with an idea in your head and work with that story… you’ll leave with a written snapshot – a gift to keep or share. After 5 consecutive sessions practicing and working on all elements of your “written snapshot,” we’ll spend a week apart as you put the finishing touches on your final piece. During our 6th session, we’ll return to our workshop to share final written snapshots!

Before Class: Think of 3 (or more) possible “moments in time” to explore.


A New Odyssey

Instructor: Cammy Thomas 

April 1, 15, 29, May 13, 27, June 10, 24
*Class meets every other week*

7 Wednesdays 10:00-12:00

Cammy Thomas  Instructor Bio:
Cammy Thomas received a PhD in English literature from UC Berkeley, an MA in English literature from San Francisco State College, and an MFA in creative writing, poetry, from Warren Wilson College. She wrote her PhD dissertation on the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. She has taught literature and creative writing for over forty years, having retired recently from Concord Academy. A resident of Lexington, she has published two books of poems, Inscriptions, and Cathedral of Wish, which won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Course Description: We'll read and discuss the critically acclaimed first English version of Homer's Odyssey translated by a woman, Emily Wilson, in 2017. It's lean, rhythmic, and accurate. This epic of Greek hero Odysseus' adventures, aided by goddess Athena, moves very fast, and covers it all: humans' relationship to the gods, animal behavior, the environment, race, class, gender, slavery, family dynamics, our capacity for change, the importance of ritual, freedom, enchantment, language. All this while telling the most exciting adventure story, on which many others are based. And when the hero gets home, what about his marriage? Seven sessions: the first is informational and requires no homework. The other six will meet every other week, so that participants can read four chapters per session. Emily Watson's translation of Homer's Odyssey is included in the course fee of $35.


Looking for Life in All the Right Places!

Instructor: Bruce Ward 

April 16, 23, 30, May 7

4 Thursdays 2:00-3:30

Bruce Ward  Instructor Bio:
Dr. R. Bruce Ward retired in 2015 from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics whereas a senior research associate for nearly three decades he directed eight National Science Foundation projects in astronomy, astronomy education, and assessment. Additionally, Ward was professor of astronomy at Middlesex Community College for a similar number of years. His primary interests include using astronomy to make the nature of science accessible to the general public, investigating strategies to involve more women and minorities in science careers, and studying how misconceptions block learning. Previously he taught high school chemistry and astronomy. Ward moved from the Midwest in 1962 to attend graduate school and has been a Lexington resident since 1969. His undergraduate degree is from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, and his masters and doctorate degrees are from Harvard University.

Course Description: While this class expands upon some concepts investigated in earlier OWLL astronomy courses, one does not need to have taken those courses to enroll. It draws upon findings that have emerged from recent missions to other planets and their moons and compares conditions that led to life on Earth to those in other settings. Each day we will use discovery-based activities – some created specifically for this course - to explore natural phenomena such as the nature of light (astronomer’s primary tool) and how it travels, energy transfer, and more. The course examines the possibilities of life existing in our own solar system. At the end it may reshape slightly how you see life on Earth.


Registration and Fees: Spring 2020

Separate check for each course- made payable to: Town of Lexington. Resident $25/course and NR $50/course.

Registrations mailed in before February 13 will not be processed until February 13. Online registration begins February 14. Non-resident registration begins on February 21.
Credit card registration: www.lexingtonma.gov/recreationdepartment.cfm
You may send/deliver a separate check for each course to: Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

For further information, email owll.fcoa@gmail.com or call the Community Center at 781-698-4870.