Seminars & Adult Ed

Joe casualI’m grateful to Chicago’s Newberry LibraryOakton Community College and the North Shore Senior Center for the opportunity to lead adult seminars and courses on topics in history and political thought. I am equally grateful to the thoughtful, engaging participants in those programs, whose observations and insights have so enriched the content.

Here are topics I have been selected to present at OCC and the NSSC since 2017:

  • The Making of Modern North America: 
    Canada, Mexico, and the US, 1857-1867
  • Creating Our Constitution and Bill of Rights
  • The Civil War and Our Constitution
  • Our Constitution in an Age of Global Commitments
  • Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy
  • Nations and Nationalism
  • Church and State from the Reformation to Today
  • America in the World, 1920-2020
  • Race in America: The Origins and Evolution of
    Our National Dilemma
  • North American Visions: The Mexican Muralists,
    American Regionalists, and Canada’s Group of 7
  • The Imperial Powers and Colonial Peoples, 1870-1920

Here are categories and topics for seminars I have led at The Newberry since 2008:


  • The Political Thought of the Reformation Era
  • Three Writers and Revolution: Thomas Paine,
    Mary Wollstonecraft, and Edmund Burke
  • The Moral Breakthrough to Capitalism
  • Political Economy: Adam Smith and his Contemporaries
  • America’s Beacon: The Declaration of Independence
  • Debating the Constitution: The Federalist Papers and anti-Federalist Essays
  • The Origins and Adoption of the Bill of Rights


  • The Irrepressible Conflict: The Debate Over Slavery, 1830-60
  • Secession and War: The Crisis of the Union, 1860-61
  • Lincoln’s Road to Emancipation, 1861-63
  • Conscription, Race, and Citizenship, 1861-64
  • The Diplomacy of the Civil War
  • The Moral History of the Civil War
  • Myth, Memory, and the Meaning of Reconstruction


  • The Catholic Church and the British Empire, 1763-1963
  • Tumult and Transition: Canada, Mexico, and the United States, 1857-67
  • The Challenges of the Habsburgs
  • European Colonial Expansion and Rivalries
  • Mandate for Mobilization: The Franco-Russian Alliance and World War I
  • War, Peace, and Social Democracy

20th and 21st CENTURY TOPICS

  • Folly and Fury: The Diplomacy of the Mexican Revolution
  • World War I and the Western Hemisphere
  • War Without End: Failed Attempts to End World War I
  • US-Russian Relations, 1918-2018 (presented independently to previous Newberry participants)
  • Supreme Commands: Major Decisions of World War II
  • Obama’s Favorite Philosopher: Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism
  • George Kennan and the American Century
  • Peace in Our Time: How Violence Has Actually Declined