Community Education

Speaker Series

Join us for our Speaker Series at Desmond Campus

The Recovery of Hudson Valley Bald Eagles
In 1997, a nesting pair of bald eagles in Greene County produced the first fledgling in the Hudson Valley in 100 years. This past breeding season, nineteen years later, Hudson River watershed bald eagles produced more than three dozen new eagles. Join Tom Lake and follow the recovery of America's symbol from the brink of expiration to an endangered species, to its present healthy population.
Friday, March 10, 1-2:30 pm, $15

Celtic Spirituality
This early expression of Christian spirituality emphasized a love of creation, equality of women, and the sacredness of ordinary life.
Tuesday, March 14, 10:30 am-Noon, $15

The Ghosts We Live With
The Ghosts We Live With is a 36 minute documentary film featuring members of the community sharing their ghost stories and asking you to consider your own. Q & A with filmmaker will follow.
Thursday, March 23, 7-8:30 pm, $15

Reading the Woods
What is living in the woods? How do you know what is there or what is not there? You just need to know what to look for! Come and learn the tell-tale signs of the forest so that next time you hike, you will know what lurks in the woods you are walking in.
Tuesday, March 28, 10-11:30 am, $15

Black Holes and Other Things that Go Bump in the Night
The cosmos is populated with all kinds of strange and wonderful objects. Astronomers are continuously finding new and interesting examples almost daily. This talk will give a brief tour of some of these strange objects including black holes, pulsars, quasars, the big bang, the cosmic microwave background, and the recently discovered gravitational waves. What are these? How were they discovered or what is the evidence that they exist? Where are they? What ties these objects together? Dr. Holmes will answer these questions and tell the story of gravity from Isaac Newton to Einstein and forward to the motion picture Interstellar and the headlining LIGO observatories with their discoveries of colliding black holes.
Wednesday, March 29, 10 am-Noon, $15

Inside the Spirit World
Throughout history and in all parts of the world, there has been an understanding of the spirit realm to which one travels after death. Discover how descriptions of this plane have remained consistent and reflect a unified understanding across cultures of this world and its inhabitants. An extraordinary picture is presented which shows that indeed we are spiritual beings having a material experience.
Tuesday, April 4, 6:30-8:30 pm, $15

Of Ice and Men
The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912. Of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, over 1,500 lost their lives. Those lost were some of the richest men in America along with hundreds of emigrants seeking a better life. The survivors, primarily women and children, would forever be changed. Their stories are fascinating, heartbreaking, and provoking. Inspired by a recent visit to "The Titanic Exhibit" in Belfast, Northern Ireland, David and Cynthia Topps will share dozens of tales of heroism and cowardice, compassion and indifference, and sacrifice and greed.
Monday, April 10, 10:30 am-12:30 pm, $15

The Lincoln Funeral Train and the Transformation of Abraham Lincoln
152 years ago, the Lincoln funeral train moved up the east coast, through the Hudson Valley, and into history. Offering an account of how the news of the assassination was greeted locally as well as detailed descriptions of the train as it traveled up the Hudson River, historian Richard Heppner will also explore the ceremonies and emotions that awaited the train's passing on both sides of the Hudson. In doing so, he will also examine the seeds of transformation that were sewn during that fateful journey from Washington to Springfield, Illinois, a transformation that elevated the slain President's legacy far beyond what it was in life and secured for the 16th president the honored place he forever holds in the collective memory of our nation.
Wednesday, April 12, 10-11:30 am, $15

History of the Town of Woodbury
Woodbury was part of Monroe until 1889. Learn about the history of Woodbury in this presentation featuring many old photographs. The book will be for sale following the program.
Wednesday, April 19, 10-11:30 am, $15

Where Have All the Germans Gone?
A program on the history and heritage of German immigration to the United States from the 17th and 18th century colonial period through the 19th century to the present. We will take into account German contributions to America from the covered wagon to urban and rural industry to Kindergarten, the hot dog, the hamburger, the Christmas Tree, the Octoberfest, and the rocket. The lecture will conclude with a 60 minute film: "Where Have All The Germans Gone?", a history of German immigration to America by Films for the Humanities and Sciences.
Friday, April 21, 1-3 pm, $15

The Newburgh Shipyards
In the spring of 1917, Thomas C. Desmond announced he would build a new shipyard on the Hudson near Newburgh. The public met his announcement with skepticism. In this lecture you will look at the history of the Newburgh Shipyards and what it took to rise to success. The presentation will focus on the construction of the yards, some of the people, local involvement, the ships and their fates, and finally follow the yard from 1917 to present.
Monday, April 24, 1-3pm, $15

James Madison's Role in the Establishment of the US Constitution
"The challenges, promises, and risks of popular government were forefront in the minds of many of the founding fathers and American Enlightenment thinkers. No one contributed more to the creation of the U.S. Constitution, and thus the creation of the American Republic, than the reserved and brilliant James Madison." In this lecture Dr. Geddes will examine history's treatment of Madison, the philosophical foundations of Madison's thinking, and the causes that drove Madison and others to propose a radical restructuring of the federal apparatus.
Tuesday, April 25, 3-5 pm, $15

Women's Suffrage in New York
Millions of American women contributed to the drive for the vote in the United States, and New York State was home to many leaders of the movement. However, the suffrage leaders who are most recognized today - Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton - did not actually achieve their goal, since they were both dead before the suffrage victory. And most New Yorkers do not realize that women in NYS won the vote in 1917 - three years before the national constitutional amendment was passed. So who was responsible for winning the vote for women and why was NY the first state east of the Mississippi to allow women full suffrage in all elections? This talk will move beyond the well-known Seneca Falls Declaration of 1848 to introduce a new set of strategies and cast of characters: Miriam Leslie, Carrie Chapman Catt, Mrs. Russell Sage, Mary Garret Hay, and a flock of leaflet-dropping aviatrixes, among others.
Monday, May 1, 6:30-8:30 pm, $15

Privacy as a Hard Case
During this presentation four topics will be discussed: how privacy became a constitutional right, the legal development of privacy as part of tort law, why privacy is a more difficult right to utilize than free speech, and the threats to our privacy and what can be done about them. No legal knowledge is required.
Tuesday, May 2, 1-3 pm, $15

Birds and Spirituality
Birds have been seen for thousands of years as being deeply connected with religion and mysticism. Explore how these extraordinary creatures have been viewed by cultures throughout the world as being conduits for understanding the divine. In this way, we come to the realization that there is much that we can learn from birds and how on a symbolic and physical level they demonstrate our link to the creative source.
Tuesday, May 2, 6:30-8:30 pm, $15

The Palisades
In 1524, explorer Giovanni da Verrazano described the cliffs along the west bank of the Hudson River as "a fence of stakes," or "Palisades." Take a colorful tour of one of New Jersey's most impressive landmarks, from its formation and discovery to the American Revolution and the creation of Palisades Interstate Park. Explore history along the park's major trails from abandoned riverfront beaches and ferry landings to a vanished cliff top world of mansions and grand hotels. We'll also visit Fort Lee, when it was the home of the silent movie industry and Palisades Amusement Park.
Friday, May 5, 10 am-Noon, $15

"Spies, Patriots, and Traitors"
According to George Washington during wartime, "there is nothing more necessary than good intelligence to frustrate a designing enemy." Kenneth Daigler will speak about this topic during the era of the American Revolution from the perspective of an intelligence professional. Due to the importance of the Hudson River and its proximity to the British stronghold in New York City, the region saw its fair share of intelligence activity. Local committees of safety sprang up with a purpose of protecting the interests of the Continental Congress with actions like implementing loyalty pledges and identifying suspected loyalists to the King. The second half of Washington's popular quote on the necessity of intelligence cautions was there is "nothing that requires greater pains to obtain." Kenneth Daigler will reveal how his experience may give us a better understanding and appreciation for our past.
Wednesday, May 10, 6:30-8 pm, $15

Newburgh Rising
Newburgh Rising: A Photographers for Hope Journey is a half hour film that follows nine photographers as they capture the City of Newburgh through their own personal perspectives. A discussion will follow the film.
Tuesday, May 16, 6:30-8:30 pm, $0

Beyond the Gate, Beyond Paper, and Beyond the New Year: Symbolic Ornamentation and the Chinese Home
The entry gate to Chinese homes traditionally came alive at the New Year with bright ornaments, often comprised of red paper, with both words and symbols that invoke good wishes for the coming year. These are commonly discussed in books about Chinese customs. Ron Knapp's research over the past half century throughout China has revealed a much more comprehensive and diverse set of forms that go beyond paper, beyond the front gate, and beyond the New Year. This talk will be illustrated with images that capture the richness of Chinese traditional culture as well as the manner in which many forms are returning now in the 21st century.
Thursday, May 25, 10 am-Noon, $15

My Name is Eleanor: A Bannerman Island Adventure
Ulster County resident Eleanor Seeland spent her formative years growing up on Bannerman Island with her family during the 1930's and 1940's. Her stories were the inspiration for this book told through an adolescent's eyes. We are hopeful that Eleanor will make a surprise appearance and impart her many ame is Eleanor: A Bannerman Island Adventureadventures. Books will be sold following the presentation with proceeds to benefit the Bannerman Castle Trust.
Thursday, June 8, 10 am-Noon, $15

The Mansion on the Hill, The Story of the Hasbrouck House
This documentary film takes viewers back to the first settlers of Newburgh and explores the history of the Hasbrouck House, or Washington's Headquarters, and some of the events from the 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries. The film outlines the creation of the first publicly owned National Historic Site and how it was almost lost to history. It includes re-created music from the 18th and 19th Century, including music from Newburgh composers who lived during that time period. Following the film you will learn what triggered the making of it including arranging everything and putting it together.
Tuesday, June 20, 10 am-Noon, $15

Children Behind Bars: Juvenile Injustice
On any given day, about 70,000 young people are in juvenile detention or correctional facilities. America incarcerates children at a rate of 10x more than any other developing country in the world. These children are invisible. The cost of locking up our children is around $75,000 per year - far higher than the cost of educating one child. In this program, Harriet will share stories of actual juveniles using articles and documentary film clips. She will highlight the fact that children are still being put in solitary confinement and often given no access to drug treatment programs or counseling. Our children are our most precious resource. Shouldn't we find a better, more humane way to deal with this issue?
Monday, June 26, 10:30-Noon, $15


The Desmond Campus for Adult Enrichment offers non-credit, life-enriching education geared toward the adult learner. Browse our website to learn more about our Community Education, Day Trips, Speaker Series, Road Scholars, and L.I.F.E. programs (for 55+). You can register online, mail in the registration form from the catalog, or call us to register at 845-565-2076. For more information, please email desmondcampus@msmc.edu or call 845-565-2076.

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