Lectures/Special Presentations


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 Lectures and Special Presentations                            are open to everyone, so invite a friend!

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NEW for Fall 2015!

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Albemarle County’s Sheriff Harding:

Support for DNA Databank Expansion and The Innocence Project

Friday, September 25, 2015 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Meadows Presbyterian Church,

Course Number: L11

In 1998, Sheriff Harding founded “Citizens for DNA” to lobby the General Assembly for funding to process over 160,000 untested DNA samples sitting in refrigerators in the Department of Forensics here in Virginia. This citizen’s group was successful in getting $11 million appropriated to have the samples processed and their corresponding profiles entered into a state-wide databank. Sheriff Harding has appeared on CNN and has testified before Congress advocating for the expanded use of DNA databanks in all states. Harding supports using the DNA profiles not only to solve crimes, but also to prevent injustice and to exonerate the wrongly convicted. He is featured on the website for UVa Law School’s “Innocence Project,” a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing.  Come hear Sheriff Harding speak about his experience in law enforcement and his passion for implementing these initiatives in Virginia.

Instructor Bio:

Sheriff “Chip” Harding holds a degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, has trained at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, and has attended Darden’s Graduate Business School.  He has been a Juvenile Probation Counselor (1974-1978), served with the Charlottesville Police Department (1978-2001), was Captain of the Charlottesville Police Department (2001-2007), and is currently Sheriff of Albemarle County, originally elected in 2008. Harding was the first local officer to supervise the DEA Drug Task Force in Charlottesville, is the former Chairman of the State Board of Juvenile Justice, and in 2007 was awarded the “Top Ten Cop in America Award” in New Orleans by Parade Magazine & International Association of Chiefs of Police.


Health, Place, and Aging: Landscapes of Longevity

What are the secrets to living a long and healthy life?  It may have as much to do with the landscape where you live as how you live.

Friday, October 23, 2015   1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Meadows Presbyterian Church

Course Number L12

Landscape architects Harriett Jameson and Asa Eslocker visited three of the world’s “Blue Zones,” geographic areas of the world where people are living measurably longer lives. During their travels, they had an opportunity to observe and interview several of the inhabitants, some of whom are centenarians. The result of their study and travels is the documentary, Landscapes of Longevity.

While their research approach is from the perspective of place and design, they also examine the links between longevity, diet, activity, spirituality, and family.  Harriett and Asa will show their uplifting, intriguing documentary and answer questions after the presentation.  Now being considered for a national award, Landscapes of Longevity premiered at the Virginia Film Festival in 2014 and later won the Virginia chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ award for state’s most outstanding project in the Communications category.

Instructor Bio:

Harriett Jameson is a landscape designer at Michael Vergason Landscape Architects in Alexandria, VA.  She has served as a lecturer and Program Director of the Community Design Research Center at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Harriett holds Masters degrees in Landscape Architecture & Urban and Environmental Planning from UVA.  In 2013, she and Asa Eslocker were awarded the Howland Travelling Fellowship for Landscapes of Longevity. During graduate school, she received numerous university and national awards for her scholarship, including the 2014 Finalist for the National Olmsted Scholarship and the 2014 ASLA Student Honor Award for Research for her thesis, A Spatial Analysis of the Uncharted Territory of Growing Old.

Asa Eslocker is a two-time National News Emmy award winning investigative journalist, news producer at ABC News in NYC, landscape architect, and urban systems researcher who currently leads program development for the Thriving Cities Project–a cross-disciplinary venture creating a new paradigm of holistic urban assessment tools, housed at UVa’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Weaving his storytelling and investigative sensibility with urban design theory and cultural landscape scholarship, Asa received his Masters of Landscape Architecture from UVA in 2014. He subsequently taught graduate level courses in the School of Architecture and helped Dean Elizabeth Meyer establish the interdisciplinary Center for Cultural Landscapes.


Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82

Friday, November 13, 2015 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Meadows Presbyterian Church

Course Number: L13

During the American Revolution another event that would also change the course of the nation was about to be unleashed. Learn the role that smallpox played in the execution and outcome of the American Revolution. What were the difficult choices George Washington struggled with in bringing the war to the British? How do you fight with a quarantined army? How did the epidemic impact enlistment and the support of the effort by the states? Was germ warfare inflicted by the British? How did the Continental Congress respond to this challenge? How did small pox impact the future of the nation after the war?

Using Elizabeth Fenn’s fascinating book, Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 as his foundation, Dick Somer will explore and examine these questions by tracing the movement of the smallpox epidemic during the final years of the American Revolution.

Instructor Bio:

Dick Somer received his B.A. in English history, with a focus on the 17th and 18th centuries, from California State University. As his family’s historian, whose roots extend from Jamestown and Plymouth throughout New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, he has researched America’s colonial period in depth. He is a voracious reader of histories concerning this period.  Dick Somer is a longtime instructor for OLLI at UVa, having previously taught the two-part course, 150 Years of Lost American History (1615-1765), as well as the Fall 2015 course, The First Hundred Years of North American Colonization (1600-1700).