Study Groups











Winter 2018

Tuesday Morning Study Groups

Do You Want Fries with That?
9 - 11 a.m.
Tuesdays – January 16, 23, 30, February 6

We often face decisions regarding food and nutrition, whether dining out or eating in. The title of this study group reflects the challenges of healthy meal planning.

It finds us standing in the grocery-store aisles, examining labels, trying to figure out how many of the ingredients have nutritional value. And what are all those multi-syllable words listed on the box, that are a struggle just to pronounce? The dilemma continues, when debating whether package contents boasting “lite” or “low cal” are as easy on the waistline as suggested.

Our old favorite recipes from mom's recipe box, or Southern Living magazine, still taste delicious, but we begin to feel uneasy about adding all that sugar and butter. Are there ways to make substitutions in the ingredients which will still produce a casserole or cake with good flavor and texture? (Yes!)

One week a speaker will join us to discuss Diabetic Diets. This can also be an option for providing a healthy eating plan for non-diabetics. Another week we will learn about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet plan.

Join us to share your experiences in culinary problem-solving. We will talk about ingredients that can be substituted to update nutrition and lower carb and fat content and will include some recipes. Bon Appetit!

Convener: Gail Venteau, a retired RN, has been a member of LLI for several years.  She has previously convened classes on topics related to food, health care and wildlife. 


Democracy in Chicago
9 - 11 a.m.
Tuesdays – January 16, 23, 30, February 6

People puzzle at those who support political machines. Most of these "supporters" are common ordinary citizens with modest expectations to make a living, raise a family, and live in a community of shared values with neighbors and acquaintances having similar aspirations.

How different it must be to recognize and balance the conflicting interests of all the various segments of any community: labor and management, bankers and builders, rogues and reformers, diverse ethnic groups, boodlers and boosters. 

As we revisit Chicago, we will be taking a closer look at the political history of this “most American city” and will focus on select notable mayors who labored at reconciling the realities of politics with the requirements of government – the enduring tension that lies at the heart of our democracy.

Richard J. Daley: “Good politics is good government, and good government is good politics.”

Paddy Bauler: “Chicago ain’t ready for reform.”

Convener: Brian Fulton has convened previous sessions on Chicago history, national monuments, United States presidents, and, most recently, “A History of the Oil Industry.




Tuesday Afternoon Study Group

News and Views
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Tuesdays – January 16, 23, 30, February 6

Lively discussion and civilized conversation about what has informed, intrigued, and/or amused us in the past week’s news. With an upcoming Illinois gubernatorial primary and Congress in session, there is sure to be some political discussion, but we will also be talking about social trends, technology, education, science, and more.

Convener: Elizabeth Bass is an avid consumer of news, who enjoys conversations with fellow LLI members. She has led this study group before and looks forward to another term of interesting discussions.



Wednesday Morning Study Groups

The Practice of Medicine
Wednesdays - January 17, 24, 31, February 7

In the beginning, there was no concept of medicine. One was born, lived for a while, and died, all at the whim of the gods. Somewhere along the way, though, humans began to intervene, and medicine was born. This class will take a brief look at how that happened.

Among the areas to be covered:


  • The history of medicine in theory, fact, myth.
  • Ancient treatments.
  • What most people don't know about Florence Nightingale.
  • Great names in medicine and their contributions to modern medicine, including Lister, Curie, Semmelweis, Apgar, Pasteur, Taussig, and Salk, to name just a few.
  • The beginnings of public health.
  • Native American medicine.
  • Plagues and epidemics.
  • Hereditary disease and a royal case of hemophilia.
  • Great wars and medical strides.            
  • The history of psychiatry and mental illness.
  • Germ warfare.                                 
  • Vaccines.
  • Politics and egos in medicine.
  • The role of religion.
  • The evolution of surgery.                                                

Convener:  Judie Wright, known to LLI members for her knowledge and love of horses, is a registered nurse who is at least as dedicated to medicine as she is to all things equestrian. She also holds a Long-term Care Administrators license and worked in the medical industry in administration and consulting for 30 years.



Wednesday Afternoon Study Groups

National Parks: Extreme Climates -- Lush and Arid
1 – 3 p.m.
Wednesdays – January 17, 24, 31, February 7

Climate is the prominent factor influencing the national parks featured in this 6th and final session of our series on the geology of the national parks. Whether arid, lush, bitterly cold, or sweltering, climatic extremes amazingly encourage biological extremes in the national parks they affect. 

An extreme in environmental conditions is represented by the only rain forest – albeit temperate, not tropical – found in the continental United States: at Olympic National Park. While out West, we also encounter the national parks of Redwood, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon that boast the extreme life forms of the giant sequoia and the coast redwood in lush environments created by heavy precipitation.

In stark contrast, another national park, Death Valley, has one thousandth the precipitation of Olympic, while Gates of the Arctic National Park in northern Alaska receives a tenth of the precipitation as Olympic. Interestingly, both Joshua Tree and Saguaro receive approximately the same amount of precipitation as Gates of the Arctic, but the climatic temperatures set these deserts apart.

A desert environment similar to Joshua Tree, Saguaro, and Death Valley, Petrified Forest National Park protects a forest that gives the term “old growth” new meaning with fossilized logs, chunks, and chips from a 225-million-year-old coniferous forest. These petrified trees were the inhabitants of a once much wetter, much lusher world. Some trees were as tall as 200 feet. Mesa Verde is likewise dry country. The foremost saga celebrated in this park is the human saga. The ancient cliff dwellings and mesa-top settlements are a testament to human adaptability to a dry environment.

ConvenerLinda Fulton is a retired middle school teacher who has convened study groups on the geology of the national parks and "America: The Land – The People."


Four Memorable B&W Movies
1 – 3 p.m.
Wednesdays – January 17, 24, 31, February 7

Our selection of black-and-white films includes David Lean’s Great Expectations, Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17, William Wyler’s Roman Holiday and Robert Day’s hilarious British comedy The Green Man. Even if you have seen some before, all are worth another look.   

Convener: Retired NIU history professor George Spencer has convened many film study groups.



Thursday Morning Study Group

Lesser-Known Religions in DeKalb
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Thursdays – January 18, 25, February 1, 8

This class will present information on lesser-known religious groups in DeKalb. Representatives of four places of worship (Congregation Beth Shalom synagogue, Islamic Center, Hindu religious group, and Greek Orthodox Church) have graciously agreed to talk to LLI about the religions and faiths they represent. Although we have learned in previous classes about world religions in theory, this class should give us deeper understanding of what our own neighbors believe and practice.

Convener: Jitka Hurych has convened several LLI classes and will introduce the speakers.


Thursday Afternoon Study Groups

Women Who Make America
1 – 3 p.m.
Thursdays – January 18, 25, February 1, 8

In the last half-century, women have fought their way into most spheres of American life. Based on PBS documentaries, this class will look at the social revolution dubbed the “women’s movement” and highlight some of the women, both famous and less well known, who led the charge and continue to make their marks on society.

Convener: Carol Zar has convened numerous LLI classes ranging from politics to opera.