9 am, 19 June 2017 - Exciting New Courses for 2017-18

There is something to suit all tastes and interests in our 2017-18 programme. And that’s in huge part due to the great suggestions we receive from you, our students. So, thank you. When we organise our programme, we obviously concentrate on popular subjects with tutors who have a solid following. Yet we always aim to introduce new contemporary topics which open up new perspectives and ways of thinking. As you make your selections for 2017-18, I am sure you will see that this helps keep our offer continually fresh and stimulating.

As in previous years, there’s a healthy emphasis on art, architecture and archaeology – surely some of our most popular topics. Our nine-part history of British architecture continues with a look at Victorian styles, and there are courses on the Northern Renaissance, Symbolist art, Art Nouveau and the architecture of France, America and the City of London. Amateur – and even professional - archaeologists will also enjoy our examinations of the civilisations of South America and Ancient Egypt.

With music, we’ve placed greater emphasis on genres and themes. Gwyn Parry-Jones takes us through the development of the Concerto, and in another course opera lovers can bask in the glories of the Bel Canto style. We look at music’s relation with colour, and, with “What on earth is that Noise” Robert Carrington concludes his seven-part history of music by bringing us into the 20th century.

Although there are slightly fewer study days this year, there is no let-up in range and quality. We look for example at film music, geophysics and propaganda posters - as well as in-depth profiles of Caravaggio, Isaac Newton, Gustav Holst and the controversies surrounding Donald Trump.

Popular tutors Val Pretlove and Margaret Simons return once more, with fascinating journeys through the local history of London and Reading – and broader topics cover both the Stuart Kings and the Russian Revolution. In the autumn, a shamefully neglected subject – that of women writers through the centuries – receives the attention it properly deserves in a fascinating new course from Shirley Roberts.

As we live in a time of great changes, we always aim to include courses which help you make sense of new issues and ways of thinking. With this in mind, Dick Smethurst will be examining the problems associated with growth and globalisation, and Philip Giddings will take the microscope to how our political processes are likely to change in light of our changing relationship with the European Union. 

Issues, often controversial, surrounding nutrition and food will be assessed in a course from a new tutor, John Fletcher. Whilst for those with a scientific bent we explore the nature of comets with Guy Hurst – and examine the conundrums of ciphers and secret codes with Simon Jones.

Absorbing new facts is important – but so also is training ourselves to evaluate them. Which is why the critical approach required in our philosophy courses have always been so popular. Two courses on key philosophical concepts from Richard Playford will help in this respect – as too should a fascinating new offer from Marie Hughes on how human beings relate to one another.

As the WEA is as much about fostering friendships as it is about learning, this course perhaps has a wider and even more valuable relevance.