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January 31, 2007
DH 07 JH15
Contact: Joanie Harmon-Whetmore
(310) 243-2740/2001

Lifelong Learning for Seniors Series Focuses on the Middle East

Carson, CA - The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the College of Extended Education (CEE) at CSU Dominguez Hills will present a series titled, “History and Cultures of the Middle East – Connected Continents, Divided Destinies” through its TV and Web simulcast program, OLLIonline. The 14-week course is broadcast on Wednesdays, 1-2 p.m, beginning on Feb. 7.

Joanne Zitelli, associate dean, CEE, delineates some of the goals of the course, as taught by faculty from throughout the California State University local community colleges, and private institutions.

“To arrive at conclusions or views about the Middle East, people should be informed by scholars and experts who don’t necessarily have an agenda,” she states. “The more we see and hear from those who have studied it, the more we can eradicate some of the romantic and false ideas that we have. The Middle East, like other parts of the world in the 18th and 19th century, was exoticized, so we have inherited views about the Orient or the Middle East that cloud our ability to perceive the truth about it, or even the ability to want the truth.”

Zitelli explains the title of the series as indicative of the divergent social, political,
and economic issues that typically characterize the Western view of the Middle East.

“I’m a little leery of that title, but it appears to be what is going on,” she says. “Although the various countries share some commonalities, their histories, purpose, and goals seem to be diverse within religions or cultures. Why that is, is something we will explore.”

Margaret Gordon, dean, CEE, underscores the timeliness of the series, saying that, “I think the reason you’re seeing a lot of unease in those countries is because they’re experiencing change. You can see it between generations, with the younger people dressing differently and having different mores than their parents. And you see a reaction to it also. You see a lot of marked contrasts. For
example, there is a tremendous amount of traffic in cities that weren’t built for cars. And at the same time, you’ll still see the donkey carts. There is clearly a lot of change going on.”

Among the presentations are “Arabic Philosophers and the Medieval Period,” presented by Sheela Pawar, assistant professor of philosophy, CSUDH on April 25; “Music of the Middle East,” presented by Joanna Nachef, El Camino College on April 11; and “The Afro-Asiatic Origins of Language and Writing,” presented by Rev. William Fulco, Loyola Marymount University on February 28. Hosting the television series is Leon Cohen, professor emeritus and former director of community service learning, CSUDH.

“The importance of this series is that it helps viewers to get a better understanding of the complex political, social and religious issues the Middle East,” says CSUDH Provost Allen Mori, who will introduce the online series. “Facilitating this kind of understanding is something that universities do best.”

The OLLIonline television series is available on Channel 36 throughout Los Angeles, and Channel 6 in El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale, and Torrance. For more information and a complete broadcast schedule, go to www.OLLIonline.tv or call (310) 243-3208.

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Joanie Harmon-Whetmore
(310) 243-2740


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Last updated January 31, 2007, 11:22 a.m.
by Joanie Harmon-Whetmore