All classes for the Winter 2021 Term of the Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) of Marietta College will be offered on Zoom. Program Director Martha McGovern says, “We are pleased that Zoom delivery enables us to offer challenging courses while protecting our community’s health.”

The Institute for Learning in Retirement is a community-based organization of retirement age people who share a love of learning.  At its heart is an academic program designed by its members to suit their interests and taught by knowledgeable instructors. Dave Cress is the ILR Director.

The ILR Board made the firm decision to continue, as in the fall term, to go virtual in order to provide planning certainty for instructors and participants and to comply with the campus and community safety precautions required by the pandemic. The Winter Term will run from January 11 through March 5, and classes will be held 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on Zoom. Cost will be $20 or $30 per course. In response to the COVID-19 situation, registration and payment cannot be made in person at the Marietta College cashier’s office or with office staff.

To register for courses, go online at Click on Register to enter the ILR storefront, select the course(s) of your choice, and proceed to checkout. Pay by using your VISA, Mastercard, or Discover card. To participate, enrollees in ILR will need to click on the Zoom link emailed to them by the instructor. The connection to Zoom is free. Please register by January 5 to give instructors time to mail/email information before the first class meeting.

Course Descriptions

Mondays – What’s Happening Down on the Farm? A review of agriculture in the 21st Century, led by Instructor Jim Moon, BS Chemistry, Iowa State University, this course will look at the history of farming in America and will trace how we have arrived at the current state of agriculture. Some topics will be food supply production, the importance of fiber production, trends in the dairy industry, the impact of gene splicing on crop yields and pesticide use, the size of the agricultural industry, and the survival of family farms. In addition, the instructor will share his personal experience with specialty crop farming. Cost: $30

Tuesdays – Gates on Recent U.S. Foreign Policy with Instructor Mike Smith, Professor Emeritus, Glenville State. This course will provide a forum for the discussion of the means and ends of U.S. foreign policy.  In 2020 Robert Gates published a book about U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War world. Gates spent much of his working life as an intelligence analyst. He served on the National Security Council, led the CIA, and served Presidents Bush (43) and Obama as Secretary of Defense.  His book, Exercise of Power, describes and analyzes a number of U.S. foreign policy successes and failures since the Bush (41) administration. The purpose of this course is to discuss selected chapters from his book. These include the first two chapters, which describe the instruments of foreign policy and the U.S. foreign policy process, and the last chapter, in which Gates offers recommendations for future U.S. foreign policy.  Smith says, “We will decide which five substantive chapters to discuss.” Cost $30 (Enrollees are encouraged to purchase the book Exercise of Power.) Class size will be limited to 25 participants to allow for discussion.

Wednesdays – Gardening Gone Viral will be led by Marcus McCartney, OSU Agricultural & Natural Resources Extension Educator. In 2020, our society experienced a phenomenon because of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders. What was this phenomenon? A resurgence of interest in gardening! With citizens looking for new hobbies, backyard gardens exploded. As a result, garden centers had trouble keeping up with the demand for transplants and seeds in the spring and canning supplies in mid-summer. This course is also a response to seekers of gardening skills and knowledge. Participants will learn about such topics as soils, ornamentals, woody ornaments, container gardening, entomology (insects), organic and non-organic pest control, and plant pathology. Cost: $30

Thursdays – Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them. Ted Goertzel, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University at Camden will be the instructor. Goertzel says that participants will examine old and recent conspiracy theories (e.g., Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Anti-Vaxxers, the 911 Truthers, and QAnon), the psychology of the people who believe them, and their impact on political and social life. Conspiracy theories, which can be found on both the right and the left, rely on arguments that can be persuasive despite their logical and empirical flaws. Of course, real conspiracies do exist, and participants will discuss ways to distinguish plausible and testable claims from implausible and groundless supports. Short videos from conspiracy theory proponents and possibly some live interviews will be included. Also, consideration will be given on how to interact with friends or relatives who advocate a conspiracy theory. Cost:  $30

Fridays – Henderson Hall at the Hub of History will be the topic explored by Randy Modesitt, Henderson Hall Director. Henderson Hall, an historic place museum in Boaz, West Virginia, was built by George Washington Henderson in 1859. This course will reveal how the Henderson family is tied to the founders of Williamstown and how the members of the family are connected to many of the major figures, events, and trends of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries in our country. Participants will also experience a virtual tour of Henderson Hall, which is filled with priceless artifacts, and will include a look at its expansive grounds. Cost:  $20 Note that this is a 4-week course to be held February 12, 19, 26, and March 5.