Current Course Descriptions

Fall term 2015

Sept. 21 - Nov. 12, 2015

Each course costs $50; the cost to take two or more is $100. Registration and, if applicable, course fees are due at the time of registration. Unless noted below, classes will meet in the ILR classroom, located in Shultz Hall of Riley Court on campus.

Check the ILR home page for cancellations due to weather.


Making Melody in Your Hearts:
The Place and Role of Music in Christian Spirituality and in the Life of the Church
9 a.m. -10:30 a.m.
Moderator: Pastor Kevin Mohr, English Lutheran Church

In this course we'll look at the history and practice of music in the church down through the centuries, with particular emphasis on:

  • Famous musicians and composers and their faith journey
  •  Recent "worship wars" (for example, liturgical vs. non-liturgical, contemporary vs.traditional)
  • The place and use of musical instruments
  • The dynamic interplay of music, lyrics and context that make a hymn or song popular or turn it into a timeless classic

Mixing Things Up: Colloquium: TED Talks
10:45 a.m. -12:15 p.m.
Moderators: guest presenters

These eight weeks will be filled with an array of topics for discussion. Online videos from TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) will be viewed and discussed. TED Talks is a global set of conferences run by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan "Ideas Worth Spreading." TED's early emphasis was technology and design, but it has since broadened its focus to include talks on many scientific, cultural and academic topics. It will be an interesting eight weeks.

Greek Mythology
1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Moderators: Bob Cecire, Bluffton University adjunct professor

Our study will be concerned with ancient myth, centering on Greek religion and its deities. We will look at the nature of ancient Greek religion and its influence on Rome, art and literature. We will also briefly look at Norse-Germanic myth and its impact on the modern world.


Varieties of International Film Experiences
9 a.m. - noon                       
Moderator: Phyllis Bixler,  retired educator

  • Sept. 23.  To Kill a Mockingbird (United States, 1962, 129 minutes), directed by Robert Mulligan and based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel of the same name.  It won many awards, including Gregory Peck’s Oscar for best actor.
  • Sept. 30. The Color of Paradise (Iran, 1999, 90 minutes), directed by Majid Majidi.  A beleaguered widower considers his blind son a burden.  Spectacular photography of rural Iran and a sensitive portrayal of the blind boy’s experience.  
  • Oct. 7. Triumph of the Will (Germany, 1935, 110 minutes), directed by Leni Riefenstahl, is considered one of the most effective propaganda films ever made.  Portraying the Third Reich’s 1934 Nuremberg Rally and featuring, Adolf Hitler, other top officials and a cast of thousands, the film offers chilling evidence of how Germany could fall under the Nazi party’s spell.
  • Oct. 14. The Well-Digger’s Daughter (France, 2012, 105 minutes), directed by Daniel Auteuil.  In beautiful rural Provence near the end of World War I, young lovers encounter opposition from their parents because they come from different social classes. 
  • Oct. 21. Mary and Max (2009, Australia, 92 minutes), created by Adam Elliot. Friendless eight-year old Mary in Australia initiates correspondence with a lonely man in New York City.  Characters and sets are made of modeling clay which are slightly changed and then photographed; projected in series, these photographs result in an animated film. 
  • Oct. 28. The Other Son (set in Israel, 2012, 105 minutes), directed by French Lorraine Levy.  A Jewish and a Palestinian family struggle in many ways after learning that their young-adult sons were mistakenly exchanged at birth.
  • Nov. 4. The Son of Man (South Africa, 2006, 86 minutes), directed by Mark Dornford-May.  This is a vivid retelling of Jesus Christ’s life and death within in a contemporary authoritarian African state. 
  • Nov. 11. As It Is in Heaven (Sweden, 2004, 133 minutes), directed by Kay Pollak.  Because of a life-threatening heart condition, a world-renowned orchestra conductor returns to his rural home town and agrees to direct the local church choir.

Pie Crust and Pastries in the Making
1:30-3:30 p.m.                                           
Moderator: TBD
Location: First Mennonite Church kitchen
Limit of 10 students
Material fee, $15

This course you will have your hand in making the perfect pie crust with a variety of recipes.  The weeks following will be learning and making pastries from different ethnic origins. It will be an interesting course filled with a lot of “hand on” learning.  Please note the material fee and students might want to bring an apron for class participation.


A Plentiful Prismatic Poetry Class
 9 - 10:30 a.m.
Moderators:  Ruth Early, retired English teacher

Along with visiting classical English and American poets and their poetry, we will study poetry from many points of view:

  • Poems written by local poets
  • Love poems
  • Humorous poems
  • Religious poems
  • Poems written for or by children
  • My favorite poems/your favorite poems

We will also discuss what makes writing a poem and some of the devices that make poetry special. Please bring to class a written copy of your favorite poem(s) to share. 

Art Appreciation
10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.:
Moderator:  Bev Fisher Retired Art Professor

“. . . . . . . . . . .  the rest of the story.” In the spring session our overview of art that in one way or another often initiated great change, we had reached the Italian High Renaissance of the 16th century. So we’ll begin there in what is often seen as opening the ‘modern world.’ After a brief review, the sessions will continue on with the centuries that followed into our own time.

How They Do It: A Comparison of Sexual Life Cycles in the Animal Kingdom. The Mammals  1:30p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Moderator:  Fran Core, retired science educator

This is the last of three studies of this kingdom.  In this course we will review reproductions, life cycles and parenting in mammal beginning with the egg laying monotremes and the many, many marsupials. The placental mammals, most familiar to us, show variations in parenting, in length of “childhood” and parenting before adulthood is attained. Again, we will view the works of David Attenborough’s videos.

Extra opportunity

Biking the Trails
This course is not part of the ILR Fall course schedule
First ride will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16                                                                                                              
Meeting location:  Sommer Center parking lot                                                         
Moderators: Avid bike riders, Paul and Mary Fleck
Cost: $50

Come bike with us: This is an opportunity to get fresh air, get fit and have some fun.  We’ll help getting you riding for fun and fitness.  We’ll start riding around Bluffton to get our endurance up then progress to rides of local interest in Gilboa, Columbus Grove, and the Lima and North Baltimore bike trails.

And if we get really good we might try the Miami valley or Cuyahoga valley bike trails. Relax, you will NOT be riding your bikes to these locations. Transportation for trails outside of Bluffton will be provided on a bike trailer. In case of bike troubles or fatigue, we have arranged for pick-ups for both persons and bikes if necessary. The only prerequisite is to know how to ride a bike, own a helmet, and be ready for fun! 


Registration and course fees (if applicable) are due at time of registration. To register, contact Janet Schumacher, director of ILR: 419-358-3346 or

Forum programs are held on Tuesday mornings from 11 a.m.-noon in Founders Hall. Members of the ILR program are invited to attend the series. There is no charge.

Lunch: You may purchase a lunch for $4.25 at the Marbeck Commons. Tell the clerk you are an ILR member.