News & Politics

Learn Something New

Want to find out how to solve crimes? Appreciate music? Think critically? Local colleges and institutions offer lots of interesting courses.

The Corcoran’s art classes include one in which you create a handmade book. Photograph courtesy of Corcoran College of Art & Design.

Create Your Own Book: Book Art Basics

Corcoran College of Art & Design

If you ever write that book rattling around in your head, you can take things a step further and actually create your own bound volume. This seven-week course is designed to teach people of all skills how to produce handmade books. The class explores techniques including Japanese stab binding, pamphlets, and sewing on exposed leather tapes. At the end of the course, you’ll have a finished book that’s sure to be a conversation starter.

The course is held at the Corcoran (500 17th St., NW) Sundays from September 8 through October 20 at 2 pm. Cost: $435. For more information and to register, visit

Make Sense of Relationships: Understanding Families Through Plays

Johns Hopkins University

In this class, popular plays spanning 100 years are used to explore family dynamics. The course—taught by Karen Gail Lewis, a marriage and family therapist for more than 40 years—is offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which caters to mature students, many of whom are retired. Students focus on three classic plays—Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen (1881), A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959), and The Sisters Rosensweig by Wendy Wasserstein (1992)—and discuss such topics as the influence of a character’s ancestors, gender roles, and how the play might have been different if the author were of a different race, ethnicity, or sex.

The class is held at Johns Hopkins’s Rockville campus (9601 Medical Center Dr.) on Tuesdays, October 29 through December 10, from 10 to noon. Cost: $570 for an annual membership to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. For more information and to register, visit, then click on “academics,” “non-credit programs,” then “Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.”

Be Inspired by Successful Women: American Women: Conversations With AU’s Inspirational Women

Network with interesting women at an American University lecture series. Photograph courtesy of American University.

American University

This five-part speaker series aims to empower women to tackle professional and personal goals by hearing the stories of those who have succeeded in a variety of tough fields—from theater and documentary filmmaking to politics and defense. The presentations are by AU professors from the government, performing-arts, communication, and international-service departments. Each talk is followed by a reception at which women—and perhaps some men—can connect.

The lectures are held at the School of International Service on AU’s main campus (4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW) Tuesdays from October 29 through December 3, 6:30 to 8 pm. Cost: $150. For more information and to register, go to

Bone Up on Crime-Solving: Crime Scene and Shooting Incident Reconstruction

George Mason University

Love the TV show CSI? During this two-day seminar, you can learn how the pros use logic and forensics to reconstruct a crime scene. The class is taught by forensic scientist Henry C. Lee—who has worked on such cases as the Laci Peterson murder and the DC sniper shootings—and Leah Bush, Virginia’s assistant chief medical examiner. Highlights include how to tell if a shooting was a homicide, suicide, or accident and how to review old records for new evidence. Breakfast and lunch are provided, and students receive a certificate of attendance.

The class is held at the Hyatt Fairfax at Fair Lakes (12777 Fair Lakes Cir., Fairfax) November 11 and 12 from 8 to 5. Cost: $650. For more information and to register, go to, select “programs,” then click on “seminars and workshops.”

Think Digitally: Technology in Contemporary Society

University of Maryland University College

How does technology change how we learn and think? How does it affect our relationships? What is technology’s impact on “digital natives” (those born into a world with digital technologies) versus “digital immigrants”? This mostly online course explores these and other questions using sociology, psychology, and other social sciences to explore the influence of technology on society and culture.

The eight-week class is offered several times in late summer and fall, starting August 19, September 30, and October 21. The session beginning in August has both online and classroom requirements; the later sessions are online only. Cost: $774 for Maryland residents, $1,497 for nonresidents; $50 application fee. For more information and to register, see or call 800-888-8682.

Weigh Medical Ethics: Introduction to Bioethics

Georgetown University

Explore some of the toughest challenges in health, medicine, and emerging technology in this free online class conducted by professors from Georgetown’s philosophy and ethics departments. The course is designed to make students think about the issues that shape bioethics—such as whether humans should be cloned, who owns our DNA, what control we should have over how and when we die, and at what point medical treatment becomes enhancement.

The six-week course is held online beginning October 15. Cost: free. For more information and to register, visit, click on “see all courses,” then “PHLX101-01: Introduction to Bioethics.”

Explore Music: Music—From Chant to Rock

Catholic University

Learn the art and beauty of many types of music in this course taught by conductor Murry Sidlin. Former dean of the Catholic University School of Music, Sidlin has been resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony and a guest conductor in Spain, Italy, Canada, and other countries. Throughout the semester, students watch performance videos as well as attend live opera and musical theater on the university’s campus, then discuss them. Topics include pop music through the centuries and sacred music from various cultures as well as opera and jazz. There also are in-class interviews with performers, composers, and critics.

The course is held at Catholic University’s Ward Hall (620 Michigan Ave., NE) January 13 through May 2; days and time to be determined. Cost: $2,430. For more information and to register, see

Share Your Life Story: Getting Started: Creative Writing

The Writer’s Center

One of the wonderful things about Washington is that there are so many fascinating people with stories to tell. If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, poetry, or your life story—if only to share with your children and grandchildren—but weren’t sure how to start, this course is for you. Taught by local poet Elizabeth Rees, the workshop focuses on transforming an idea into actual writing. The course focuses on different genres—including journals, short stories, poems, and memoirs—with the hope that by the end of the eight weeks, attendees should feel more comfortable with the process of writing and will have generated new material.

The workshop is held at the Writer’s Center (4508 Walsh St., Bethesda) Thursdays from September 19 through November 7, 7 to 9:30 pm. Cost: $360. For more information, visit

This article appears in the August 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.