Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Stranmillis College offers a life of learning

This month sees the launch of Stranmillis University College's new lifelong learning programme.

It is by far the biggest and most exciting since 'Stran' first opened its gates to the public five years ago.

History classes, in particular, continue to attract huge public interest.

As resident historian, I take great pleasure in offering a range of courses to suit all tastes.

In synch with the currently unfolding decade of centenaries are courses in The Irish Border: From the Black Pig's Dyke to Partition and in Irish Secret Societies.

Ever-popular is the course on The Big House in Ireland from Plantation to Partition.

Local historian Jim McDermott looks at Ireland and the First World War.

The US expert Professor Tony Emerson deals with The USA and Ireland in World War Two.

A new 10-week course, In the Footsteps of Carson and Connolly, will focus on local sites associated with the Decade of Centenaries 1912-1922, including the Ulster Hall, 'Craigavon' (Sir James Craig's ancestral home) and the birthplace of the northern Home Rule leader and 'pocket Demosthenes', 'Wee Joe' Devlin.

Leading archaeologist Dr Ruairi O'Baoill hosts a new course on The Archaeology of Ulster, following the publication of his acclaimed book on Belfast, History Under Our Feet.

For those interested in observing the planets, astronomer Terry Moseley reprises his popular course The Night Sky.

Terry invites the public to "take a guided tour of the heavens", using outside telescopes.

Also, this month, the college will play host to a beginner's course in philosophy.

It will be run by the eminent former cardiologist Dr Gianfranco Campalani.

Italian-born Dr Campalani – the subject of a compelling BBC TV documentary in 2008 – is himself an inspiration, having retrained in philosophy following his retirement from the RVH.

Other options include genealogy, human evolution, Ulster placenames and a host of languages, from Italian to Irish.

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