Seminars & Adult Ed

Joe casualI’m grateful to Chicago’s Newberry Library and to Oakton Community College 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 since 2017:

  • The Making of Modern North America
  • 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

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