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Fall 2017 Course Schedule

 Click here to view a PDF version of the Fall 2017 Course Catalog. 

Click here to view a sortable schedule of Fall 2017 courses. Sort by day, class period, duration (5 or 10 week), or category.

To view the course schedule, click on each day of the week.

Fall 2017 courses will begin the week of September 25 and run through the week of December 4, with a break the week of November 20. There will be no courses on Columbus Day, Monday, October 9. For the Fall 2017 schedule, click here.

If needed, make up classes will be held December 11-14.

Please be sure to click on the name of the course to read the description before signing up.


Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday


Time Class

Period 1
9:30 a.m. to 10:55 a.m.

H&G1-10-Mon1   
Medical History of the US as Viewed Through the Lives of the Presidents
Ed Goldberg

LIT1-5a-Mon1 
Thoreau: Transcendentalist, Abolitionist, Anti-War Activist and "Gifted Weirdo"  
Sue Wurster 
5 Week Course - September 25 - October 23

SCI1-5a-Mon1  
Genetics: Science and Ethics
Laura Laranjo
5 Week Course - September 25 - October 23

SOC1-5b-Mon1  
Sundown in America
Sue Wurster
5 Week Course - October 30 - December 4

LIT13-5b-Mon1 
Existentialism at the Cafe
Jennifer Eastman
5 Week Course - October 30 - December 4

Period 2
11:10 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.

LIT2-10-Mon2  
Whodunit?: Murder in New England
Marilyn Brooks

LIT3-10-Mon2 
Historical Fiction: Traveling in Space and Time with Geraldine Brooks  
Sophie Freud 

H&G3-5a-Mon2  
The Reluctant Ally: America’s Entry into World War II
Fran Feldman
5 Week Course - September 25 - October 23

ART1-5b-Mon2  
Framing an Image: Art in the American Colonies
Miriam Goldman
5 Week Course - October 30 - December 4

12:35 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Lunch, Learning, and Social Life

Period 3
2:10 p.m. to 3:35 p.m.

ART2-10-Mon3 
History, Mysteries and Masters of Glass
David Rosen

SOC2-10-Mon3 
Utopias, Real and Imagined  
Tamara Chernow & Naomi Schmidt 

SOC3-10-Mon3  
Manipulation: How Hidden Influences Affect Our Choice of Products, Politicians and Priorities
Sandy Sherizen

 

H&G1-10-Mon1  Medical History of the U.S. as Viewed Through the Lives of the Presidents

Leader  –  Ed Goldberg

Monday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

Description    The theme of the course will be the march of medical progress from 1776 until today.  The class will focus upon medical events in the lives of the Presidents, especially while they were in the White House. We will discuss in great detail how these events affected political history.  Medical events shaped the men and the men were able in turn to change history, even medical history.  There will be secret surgery, poisonings, malpractice, innovation, great personal courage and maybe a murder mystery. The format will be mainly a lecture by the SGL, but students will be expected to present brief reports that will focus upon unsung heroes of our story, e.g. Betty Jackson, Onesimus, Cotton Mather, James Merrick, Mary Montagu. There will be opportunities for class discussion as provocative topics are introduced such as “Does the President have an expectation of medical privacy?”  Diversity of opinion is expected and encouraged. There will be a few videos and a short presentation of appreciation of the work of the artist Thomas Eakins. A sub-theme will be the thorny topic of presidential disability and the recurring issue of Presidents who received substandard care. 

Readings   Readings will be available online from the eBoard.  There is no required book since there is no one book that approximates our syllabus.  If you want to read further, I recommend the following:

  1. The Great Influenza by John Barry, published by Viking (hardcover) or Penguin (paperback). This is an outstanding and interesting book  
  2. The Health of the Presidents by John Bumgarner, MD (McFarland Publishing). This book is a bonus and may not be readily available. 

Preparation Time   2-3 hours of easy reading

Biography   Edward Goldberg began life at an early age.  His interest in American history was stimulated by his undergraduate studies at Cornell. Following his father’s strong advice he entered medical school and practiced internal medicine for 30 years.  Since retirement in 2000, Edward can now combine his love of American history with his medical knowledge to create this course. He has presented this course before at BOLLI, and has refocused his efforts upon the chronological train of events.

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LIT1-5a-Mon1  Thoreau: Transcendentalist, Abolitionist, Anti-War Activist and "Gifted Weirdo"    

Leader  –  Sue Wurster

Monday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

5 Week Course - September 25 - October 23
(No Class Columbus Day - Make Up: Wednesday, October 11 Period 1)
 

Description    Our homegrown, local hero Henry David Thoreau (whose name was actually David Henry) was, for quite some time, dismissed as a “gifted weirdo;” and yet, his ideas have endured for well over 150 years.  Most of us are familiar with Thoreau as a naturalist and even transcendentalist, but for many his abolitionist and anti-war activism is less well known.  We’ll focus in this course on Thoreau as activist.  Weekly outside reading and viewing material will be provided, which will serve to frame our discussion for each meeting.  In addition, we’ll be reading aloud together Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s compelling play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.    

Readings    Handouts provided by instructor (Biographic material, Abolition and Defense of John Brown, Manifest Destiny and the 1846-48 War with Mexico, etc.)
Some video viewing
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail – Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee 

Preparation Time   Perhaps forty to sixty minutes of outside reading/viewing per week.

Biography    After earning B.S./M.A. degrees in Theatre & Communications from Ohio University, Sue Wurster taught Speech at St. Cloud State University (MN), Writing at Elizabeth Seton College (NY), Drama and Theatre at the Chapin and Calhoun schools (NYC), and English/Humanities at Nashoba Brooks School (Concord), advising school newspapers, literary journals and yearbooks all along the way.  She received fellowships from Northwestern’s School of Speech, NYC’s New Actors Workshop (studying with Paul Sills), Bank Street College (studying with Jack Zipes), and Columbia University (studying with Howard Stein).  Sue served as chair of the high school division and on the executive board of the American Alliance for Theatre in Education, as director of the New York State Forensics League, and as co-founding chair of the Massachusetts Middle School Speech League.  (She is often referred to as “Wurster, the Wily Word Woman.”)

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SCI1-5a-Mon1  Genetics: Science and Ethics

Leader  –  Laura Laranjo

Monday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

         5 Week Course - September 25 - October 23
        (No Class Columbus Day - Make Up: Wednesday, October 18 Period 1)
 

Description   This course will present an overview of genetics from both scientific and ethical perspectives. The emphasis will be on DNA and current genetics tests and will include topics such as: genetic advances from 1952 to 2017; the ethics behind disease prediction;  DNA and forensics;  genetically modified crops, and DNA and the human genealogy. Classes are based on a series of articles and a book written by one of the “fathers” of DNA science, James Watson. Classes will begin with a short lecture followed by active discussions and debates. The goal of this course is to introduce students to current genetic findings and ethical concerns, as well as to give an overview of the growth of genetics since the discovery of DNA. It will provide information necessary to understand and discuss the main genetic discoveries, problems and controversies.

Readings    Book: DNA:The Secret of Life by James D. Watson and Andrew Berry (any book edition)
Packet of articles will be available at cost.

Preparation Time    Students should expect to spend about three hours of reading, researching, and formulating questions about the articles and chapters assigned.

Biography   Laura Laranjo is a PhD candidate in the Molecular and Cell Biology program at Brandeis University. She is a geneticist and her research focuses on DNA analysis, damage and repair. This will be her first time teaching at BOLLI. Laura aims to be a college professor, and has been part of a STEM teaching team at UMass Lowell and Waltham High School. She has worked as a mentor and teaching assistant for genetics, microbiology and biotechnology courses. Laura’s first scientific publication will be released soon. She aims to continue her genetics research and to pursue her passion for teaching.

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SOC1-5b-Mon1  "Sundown" America

Leader  –  Sue Wurster

Monday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

         5 Week Course - October 30 - December 4

Description    As we well know, the history of race relations in the U.S. is extremely complex, inordinately complicated, and deeply disturbing.  And while today various African-Americans occupy positions of prominence in our society, hidden aspects of our history of racism and segregation still persist in this country.  In this course we will spend some time looking at aspects of black history that many may have missed, but the bulk of our time will be devoted to a particularly striking dimension of that history—a hidden dimension known as the “Sundown” phenomenon in which towns (and even entire counties) all across the North, West, and non-traditional American South became all-white…on purpose.  We will look at how the legacy of that tradition is, surprisingly, still very much with us today, hampering our efforts to move forward and make sure that all lives truly matter.  

Readings    Handouts from instructor
                    Some online viewing

Preparation Time   Approximately 40-60 minutes of reading/viewing per week.

Biography   After earning B.S./M.A. degrees in Theatre & Communications from Ohio University, Sue Wurster taught Speech at St. Cloud State University (MN), Writing at Elizabeth Seton College (NY), Drama and Theatre at the Chapin and Calhoun schools (NYC), and English/Humanities at Nashoba Brooks School (Concord), advising school newspapers, literary journals and yearbooks all along the way.  She received fellowships from Northwestern’s School of Speech, NYC’s New Actors Workshop (studying with Paul Sills), Bank Street College (studying with Jack Zipes), and Columbia University (studying with Howard Stein).  Sue served as chair of the high school division and on the executive board of the American Alliance for Theatre in Education, as director of the New York State Forensics League, and as co-founding chair of the Massachusetts Middle School Speech League.  (She is often referred to as “Wurster, the Wily Word Woman.”)

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LIT13-5b-Mon1  Existentialism at the Café  

Leader  –  Jennifer Eastman

Monday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

         5 Week Course - October 30 - December 4

Description   Anyone who is curious about the meaning of existentialism will find an excellent and lively guide in Sarah Bakewell's book At The Existentialist Cafe. At the cafe, we will meet three French scholars, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus, three of the most noted French existentialists. Through their biographies and small excerpts from their writings, we will gain an understanding of such existential concepts as the absurd and freedom. How did they meet in the early 1940’s, why did they part in the 1950's? Overall, we will follow them from the movement's inception before World War II, through the occupation and liberation of France and the Cold War that followed. Historically, the movement ended in the 1960's, but the concept of existentialism still survives in popular culture.  This is not a philosophy course but rather an attempt to understand the lives that were lived bearing the name of existentialist. The course will be a mixture of lecture and discussion.  Previous experience with the subject and its characters is not necessary

Readings   At the Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell, 2016; Other Press, NY. Available at Amazon. The SGL will distribute a packet of readings at a reasonable cost.

Preparation Time   One and a half to two hours a week, approximately 75 pages

Biography   Jennifer Eastman has a BA in History from Brandeis University, CAS in psychology from Harvard Extension and a JD from Suffolk University. She taught law for 25 years at Framingham State University and also at Clark University. In 2001, she wrote and published the book Albert Camus: The Mythic and the Real.

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LIT2-10-Mon2  Whodunit?: Murder in New England   

Leader  –  Marilyn Brooks

Monday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Description     Why do we read murder mysteries?  What about them satisfies us?  Is it the plot, the characters, the setting?  Do we want to be frightened by one that’s hard-boiled or do we want a cozy that we know will end well for all concerned (well, except for the victim, naturally)?  What makes an author stop writing?  Why do characters in some series age or undergo different circumstances (Jesse Stone) while others remain pretty much the same (Spenser)?  We’ll discuss all this and more in the course that focuses on police, private and amateur detectives in the six New England states.  There will be familiar authors—Lisa Gardner and Robert B. Parker—and some perhaps not so familiar—Bruce DeSilva and Dave Zeltserman.  For many/most of the authors we will watch Youtube interviews; for those not on youtube, there will be links to written interviews.  We will share our viewpoints and hopefully introduce others to new authors and ideas.  We will act, in a way, as sleuths, examining the clues as to what makes a mystery worth reading and, as we all gather together in the “library,” perhaps come to a solution that satisfies us all.

Readings    God Save The Child – Robert B. Parker

Find Her – Lisa Gardner

A Scourge of Vipers – Bruce DeSilva

Fruits of the Poisonous Tree – Archer Mayor

Small Crimes – Dave Zeltserman

Primary Storm – Brendan DuBois

Trespasser – Paul Doiron

Hearts of Sand – Jane Haddam

Preparation Time     Except for the first and last weeks, we will be reading a novel a week to discuss in class.  Each book should take approximately 3-4 hours to read.

Biography   Marilyn Brooks has been a devoted mystery fan since her formative years, when she discovered Nancy Drew and read the entire series through The Ringmaster’s Secret.  She reads three or four mysteries a week and is equally devoted to private eyes, police investigators, and amateur detectives.  She has been writing a weekly mystery review blog since 2010, www.marilynsmysteryreads.com.  She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, which meets monthly in Brookline.  She has been featured in the BOLLI Banner under the non-de-plume Mystery Maven Marilyn.

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LIT3-10-Mon2  Historical Fiction: Traveling in Space and Time with Geraldine Brooks         

Leader  –  Sophie Freud

Monday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Description     I want to continue my exploration of historical fiction, by choosing the books of Geraldine Brooks, my favorite author. An essential element of historical fiction is that it is set in the past and pays attention to the manners, social conditions and other details of the period depicted. We shall be reading five compelling books by Geraldine Brooks, and discuss for each book what we can learn about the culture in that country, at that time in history. We shall use 2 weeks for each selected book, using class time for an SGL-led discussion partly leaning on questions which are part of the syllabus, but also allowing for the spontaneous responses and interests of class members. We shall travel from the views of Middle East women, to the description of the plague in 17th century England, to the history of an illustrated Haggadah over the centuries, to the story of King David and end with the adventures of Louisa May Alcott’s father during the Civil War.

Readings   Brooks, Geraldine. (1995) Nine Parts of Desire.

Brooks, Geradline. (2001) Year of Wonders.

Brooks, Geraldine. (2008) People of the Book.

Brooks, Geraldine.  (2015) The Secret Chord.

Brooks, Geraldime  (2005)  March.
Preparation Time     This is a heavy reading course: 125-150 pages per week.

Biography    Sophie Freud received a BA from Radcliffe/Harvard, an MSW from Simmons and 20 years later, a Ph.D. from the Heller School at Brandeis. After about 10 years of clinical social work practice she became a professor of social work at the Simmons College School of Social Work and stayed there for 30 years while also giving courses and workshops all over the United States and Europe. Sophie has given at least 15 different courses at BOLLI. Indeed, inventing new courses has become her old age pastime. Books have been Sophie’s cherished companions as reader, book reviewer and author.

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H&G3-5a-Mon2  The Reluctant Ally: America’s Entry into World War II

Leader  –  Fran Feldman

Monday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

5 Week Course - September 25 - October 23
(No Class Columbus Day - Make Up: Wednesday, October 11 Period 1)

Description     As German bombs rain down on Britain, bringing the country to its knees, Prime Minister Winston Churchill desperately searches for help from the United States, the only country that can save his homeland. To do so he enlists the support of three prominent Americans living in London during the darkest hours of the war. Edward R. Murrow, the head of CBS News in Europe; John Gilbert Winant, the U.S. ambassador to Britain; and Averell Harriman, the administrator of the Lend-Lease program in London, answer the call with courage, ingenuity, and passion. The course text, Citizens of London by Lynne Olson, vividly describes the three men’s efforts to persuade a very reluctant America to partner with Great Britain in resisting the Nazi onslaught in Europe. Some of the topics that will be examined during the term include the isolationism that pervaded America until December 1941, America’s lack of readiness for war, the personalities of Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, the role of the press, of diplomacy, and of the military-industrial complex during the war years, and the degree of cooperation among the Allies as the war progressed. Classes will be conducted by discussion with no lectures. NOTE: Study group members should be prepared to actively participate in discussions and to offer reports on relevant topics related to the war effort. This course is a repeat of a course offered in spring 2017.

Readings     Citizens of London by Lynne Olson

Preparation Time      Approximately 80 pages of reading a week

Biography    Long interested in government and history, Fran Feldman majored in government at Smith College, received a Master of Arts in Teaching (in history) from Yale, and taught social studies in middle school. Later, in California, she embarked on a second career editing cooking, gardening, crafts, and home improvement books for Sunset Books. After returning home to the Boston area, she worked as an administrator and financial trainer in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. Her passions include golf, traveling, and volunteer work. Previously at BOLLI she taught "The Remarkable Roosevelts" (Franklin and Eleanor) and “Allies and Adversaries: Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.”  

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ART1-5b-Mon2  Framing an Image: Art in the American Colonies  

Leader  –  Miriam Goldman

Monday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

         5 Week Course - October 30 - December 4

Description     This course will study the development of art, particularly painting, in the American colonies. We will consider the growing role of art and of individual artists and “art for art’s sake.” We will look at the important role the politics of the period played in the lives of the artists and the role art played in galvanizing public opinion in support of the revolution and in framing our historical narrative. The SGL will present historical and biographical material, and the class will examine and discuss the work of key artists of the period including Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, John Trumbull, and Gilbert Stuart. Supplementary reports by class members and museum trips will be optional but encouraged.

Readings    There is no required reading; optional reading may be provided by the SGL.

Preparation Time     No more than 30-60 minutes per week.

Biography    Miriam Goldman graduated from Brandeis with a major in comparative literature.  She is a retired educator, having taught high school English and creative writing for many years and then undergraduates and graduate students at Boston University School of Education.  She has had a long-term interest in art and art history, particularly American art, and the influence of the arts in society’s view of itself. She has taught several courses at BOLLI, including a Survey of Painting in the United States, and art history courses on The Armory Show at 100 and the Fauves.  She is an amateur painter.

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ART2-10-Mon3  History, Mysteries and Masters of Glass        

Leader  –  David Rosen

Monday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Description     Did Phoenician traders accidentally discover glassmaking 5000 years ago?  Our artistic journey begins in Mesopotamia, moves throughout Europe, and arrives in Colonial America.  Artistic techniques and styles constantly evolved.  Today, artists in the American Studio Glass movement, in conjunction with artists worldwide, are creating exceptional works in glass. We will follow the development of glass art over many centuries, and will note how, at times, local politics and government policies influenced the artists’ environment.  Videos and photos will allow us to view amazing examples of glass art and gain an understanding of how (and why) glass masters practice their craft.
Prior knowledge of glass art is not required. 

Readings   No formal readings are required.

Preparation Time    Handouts (via e-mail attachments) and/or video reviews (via the Internet) will be sent each week to allow preparation for the lectures.  Homework will require about one hour each week.

Biography     David Rosen has a BS and MS in Chemical Engineering from MIT and an MBA from BC.  He comments that “Glass must be in my DNA.”  His grandfather (and his father before him) worked in a glass factory near Pinsk, Russia over 100 years ago.”  As a collector, he remains fascinated by the intrinsic beauty and artists’ creations of exciting forms in glass. In addition to leading this course at BOLLI in 2015, he has led similar courses at Learning in Retirement programs at Harvard, Tufts, LLAIC, Concord (MA), and Boca Raton (FL).

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SOC2-10-Mon3  Utopias, Real and Imagined        

Leaders  –  Tamara Chernow & Naomi Schmidt

Monday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Description     Is utopianism an elusive goal – a concept that is not realizable, but can only be imagined and attained in fiction?  What defines a utopia, and what must be given up by individuals in order to realize a utopian society? This course will examine our varied reactions to concepts of utopias and also at attempts to achieve viable utopian communities or lifestyles. Looking at utopian ideas from the past and present, we will examine various successes and failures.  Starting with a summary of Thomas More’s ideas from his 1516 seminal work of fiction Utopia, we will then concentrate on 19th and 20th century utopian experiments in living, including some fictional utopias. We will “visit” intentional communities that are based on economic, philosophical, religious, or agrarian principles, as well as on counter-cultural, ecological and unorthodox themes, focusing on the United States.  In addition, we will look at the Israeli kibbutz movement, co-housing groups, and architectural innovation. Fictional depictions of Utopia will include sections from Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, the novel Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and scenes from the film of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. Without  necessarily reaching a consensus, we will think about and share our ideas on what we would find desirable in a utopian community.

Readings    The novel Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is available in libraries and free on the Internet. A packet of readings will be prepared by the SGLs and distributed at cost and there will be additional readings on an eBoard.

Preparation Time   1 to 2 hours, possibly more for the fiction sessions

Biography   Originally trained as a physicist, Naomi Schmidt taught Computer Science at Brandeis in the 1970’s and 1980’s and then worked for 16 years at both Brandeis and MIT in the field of Academic Computing.  She has been a BOLLI member since 2003 and a Study Group Leader for Invitation to the Dance and Science Fiction, as well as co-leading Who’s Afraid of 20th Century Music? and The Golden Age of Foreign Films with Peter Schmidt, and The New York Experience, The 1920s, and The 1960s with Tamara Chernow.

Tamara Chernow was a librarian and library administrator for 25 years.  During that time she organized and facilitated programs at the library and led a book club.  A BOLLI member since 2003, she has co-led The New York Experience, Utopias, The 20’s: A Decade of Turmoil and Change, and The 60’s: A Divisive Decade that Shaped a Generation with Naomi Schmidt

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SOC3-10-Mon3  Manipulation: How Hidden Influences Affect Our Choice of Products, Politicians and Priorities       

Leader  –  Sandy Sherizen

Monday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Description     We are all being manipulated daily in ways that are often invisible and unrecognized.  Elements of manipulation are essential factors in our important decisions, yet it is often difficult to know that we are in fact being manipulated, by whom and how. This course will explore the notion that manipulation is now so much a part of our lives that it is vitally important to gain an understanding of its impact in order to make appropriate and well-informed personal and societal decisions. We will explore a number of forms of manipulation to gain an understanding of how they influence our choices, among them: psychological, physical, interpersonal, economic, ideological and technological.

We will discuss fascinating examples of manipulation, such as placebo elevator buttons, consumer advertising, manipulative personalities, magic tricks, con artists, the lines at Disney World, lying, and neurological cognitive biases. Topics will also include how politicians create their brands, how the media select what they will cover, negotiating strategies, and self-manipulation. Personal examples will also be solicited from class members

Readings    I will prepare a packet of course readings composed of articles from the mass media, academic journals and policy papers. This will be distributed at the first class and reproduction costs will be collected.

Preparation Time    1-3 hours a week

Biography   Sanford (Sandy) Sherizen was trained as a sociologist, went bad and became a criminologist, and then really bad by becoming a computer security and privacy professional. He has taught at various universities, been interviewed on tv and by newspaper reporters, led seminars and given speeches in many domestic and international settings. As ex-president, he is active at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury. Flunking retirement, he taught ESL to adult immigrants and serves on a patient research ethics and safety board at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. At BOLLI, he has taught courses on Surviving the Inquisition: Conversos, Crypto-Jews and Marranos, Your Privacy is at Risk, Crime Topics, and The Sociology of “Deviant” Behaviors. 

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