Coe Thursday Forum series will explore the world, ancient history, religion, prescription drugs and more

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or

2016-08-19 09:24:12 - General

Thursday Forum 2016-2017Coe College's Thursday Forum opens Sept. 1 with a presentation on Shakespeare and ends May 25 with a study of the Acts of the Apostles. In between, the 2016-17 academic calendar explores Spain, the city of Florence, Italy, England's Lake District and ancient Greece. Other diverse topics to be covered in the series include the conflicted Jewish world of Chaim Potok, a look at contemporary issues surrounding prescription drugs, and plant stewardship in the 21st century.

Thursday Forum lectures are held in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall on the Coe campus. Each session begins with registration and refreshments from 8:45-9:15 a.m., followed by the class until 11:30 a.m. An optional luncheon is offered at the conclusion of each series.

The courses are open to all adults. Admission to the entire four-week course can be purchased for $35 on the first day or in advance. Admission to individual lectures is $12 per week. The closing luncheons cost an additional $8. Payment can be made in person on Thursday mornings by cash or personal check. Credit card payments can be processed online only. For more information about paying by credit card or directly from your checking account, or to order gift certificates, call (319) 399-8619.

The 2016-17 Thursday Forum schedule will open with a one-week forum by English Professor Gina Hausknecht on Thursday, Sept. 1, who will offer a historical perspective on how Shakespeare’s plays made their way onto the printed page, and how they came to look like the modern editions we know and love.

Spain will be the focus of the series on the remaining Thursdays in September. Spanish Professor Monica Fuertes-Arboix will tackle the complex reality of Spanish society. Participants will explore the concept of Spanish identity through history, culture and tradition, art, and politics, with the ultimate goal of finding a possible definition of what it means to be Spanish.

In October, Art History Professor Andrea Kann will lead a virtual trip to Florence, Italy - from the city's ancient Roman past through its storied heritage as a leading Renaissance center and beyond. After seeing Roman ruins and visiting famous Renaissance residents like Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Medici, participants will examine Florence as a destination in the 18th century Grand Tour and its restyling as a European capital during the 19th century unification of Italy. Twentieth century Florence witnessed the fascism of Mussolini, as well as the ravages of Hitler’s destruction. The virtual journey culminates with a look at the city of Florence today as it engages with contemporary as well as Renaissance art and culture.

To close the fall in November and the first Thursday in December, Thursday Forum participants will learn about England’s Lake District, which has long been a tourist destination. But even before travel became popular, there were numerous public footpaths criss-crossing the hills and dales that are still in use. Travels of yesterday and today were and are intrigued by the mountains, the little gem-like lakes, and the gentle wildness. The sessions will be team taught by English professors Kate Aspengren and Ann Struthers, who will discuss the landscape and some of the art produced region, as well as the writers who explored the area.

Conflicts within Judaism will be discussed by Physics Professor Steve Feller during the February Thursday Forum, based on two pairs of novels by Chaim Potok, Coe’s Baccalaureate speaker in 1993. Potok's books will be discussed within the current context of broader Jewish life and moral issues. Beginning with Potok's classic "The Chosen" and its sequel, "The Promise," participants will visit the cloistered world of the Hasidim and its conflict with modern orthodox Jewry. The second book pair discussed will be "My Name is Asher Lev" and "The Gift of Asher Lev."

In a one-week session on March 2, History Professor Angela Ziskowski will report on the first season of excavations at the harbor site of the ancient city of Corinth, Greece. Coe students are training as archaeologists in the field school at this new excavation. The excavation’s goal is to elucidate how the city of Corinth interacted and traded with not just Greece, but the entire ancient Mediterranean.

Contemporary issues affecting patients, doctors, drug makers and regulators will be the focus of a March series. The rapid rise in the cost of prescription drugs has prompted ongoing discussions by everyone from patients to politicians and pharmacists to pharmaceutical executives. Led by freelance medical and scientific writer Rebecca Anderson, a 1971 graduate of Coe, this series will cover everything from significant historical event and drug discovery to clinical trials and regulatory oversight.

April's series focuses on the importance of the preservation and responsible use of the world's dwindling botanical resources. Over the course of the month, Education Professor Nancy Hayes will explore the history of plants as medicine and the known medicinal properties of plants, as well as seed saving and other practices that will help ensure a robust global botanical legacy for future generations.

The Thursday Forum calendar closes in May with a series focusing on Acts of the Apostles, which attempts to provide a history of the earliest apostles from Jesus’ ascension to heaven through the many travels and trials of Paul. Religion Professor Meira Kensky will lead participants through a close reading of the text itself as well as discuss the parallels with contemporaneous literature.

Thursday Forum schedule:


  • "Shakespeare in Print Before and After 1623" – Sept. 1
  • "Spain(s): A Diverse Country, A Complex Reality" – Sept. 8, 15, 22, 29
  • "The City of Florence: Past, Present and Future" – Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27
  • "Radicals, Writers and Rabbits in England’s Lake District" – Nov. 3, 10, 17 and Dec. 1
  • "The Conflicted Jewish World of Chaim Potok" – Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23
  • "The Lechaion Harbor: A New Excavation in Greece" – March 2
  • "The Drugs We Take: Contemporary Issues Affecting Patients, Doctors, Drug Makers and Regulators" – March 9, 16, 23, 30
  • "Plant Stewardship in the 21st Century" – April 6, 13, 20, 27
  • "The Acts of the Apostles: Luke’s Second Volume" – May 4, 11, 18, 25


Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe’s vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.