CommUniversity: Four Sundays in February

Program Description

CommUniversity logo

CommUniversity meets four Sunday afternoons in February and offers classes in diverse areas such arts/humanities, personal enrichment, regional studies and theology/spirituality. Since 1979, thousands of students have participated in this annual community program. CommUniversity is dedicated to offering this higher learning opportunity to all Quad-Cities residents (ages 18 and older). CommUniversity class descriptions (PDF)


SHARE THE FUN as you explore new ideas and opportunities in a friendly learning atmosphere with no exams or papers to write. If you enjoy lively discussions, free exchange of ideas and a mental challenge, CommUniversity is for you!

DATES – 4 Sundays, Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2020

PROGRAM FEE – $40

TIME – 2-4 p.m.

PRE-GLOW RECEPTION – Join us before the first class begins on Feb. 2 from 1-2 p.m. in the upper lobby of Building 1 for the Pre-Glow Reception! It’s a great opportunity to see the campus, find your classroom, and meet with fellow CommUniversity students.

ALL CLASSES will meet at the Black Hawk College Quad-Cities Campus at 6600 34th Ave., Moline, IL, in Building 1, Building 2 and the Sustainable Technologies Building. Campus map (PDF)


Registration for CommUniversity

Registration for the next session will be available soon.


PARKING is available in Lot 1 off 70th Street. Disregard the signs that say students need to park within the white lines and employees need to park within the yellow lines.

LAST DAY FOR REFUND is Wednesday, Jan. 22. There is no refund for withdrawal from the program after Wednesday, Jan. 22.

INCLEMENT WEATHER/EMERGENCY POLICY – If inclement weather or other emergency causes CommUniversity to be canceled, we will send an email to notify participants. You also can call 309-796-8223 or check our Facebook page (Black Hawk College – PaCE). In the event a Sunday session is canceled, there will be no makeup date or refund for missed class.

ACCOMMODATIONS – Should you need accommodations or this information in an alternative format, please contact Disability Services at 309-796-5900.

Suggested Courses

Arts & Humanities

1. Ancient Egypt from A to Y

Brian Alm, Member of the Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago
Religion, mythology, art, architecture, culture, ideas, history, stories, intrigue, mayhem and mystery. If you have been to Egypt and want to understand what you saw or you’re planning to go and want to make the most of your trip, or you’re simply enticed by this most fascinating of ancient cultures – join us! We’ll cover it from A to Y. (They didn’t have Z.) Please bring a notebook and a pen.

2. Poetry Everyday

Ryan Collins
We will read and discuss our way around the rich landscape of contemporary American poetry via some popular venues: The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day project, The Poetry Foundation and others. We’ll also respond with our own writing, to develop a conversation with our readings throughout the course and explore our own language. Please bring a notebook, a pen and a two-pocket folder.

3. Storytelling from Myth to Experience

Rev. Julie Monnard, Lutheran Pastor
Storytelling in public and private settings is experiencing a resurgence. From presenting a Bible lesson in worship to telling a story to grandchildren, people of all ages and backgrounds are yearning to learn how to tell a story better. Some stories originate in written form while others are created from personal experience. In this course, every participant will learn methods of storytelling and have opportunities to practice in class. Please bring a notebook and a pen.

4. The GDR Seen Through Film Comedies

Dr. Tamara Felden, Augustana College
The Berlin Wall separated the German Democratic Republic from West Germany and from much of the rest of the world from 1961-89. After the Peaceful Revolution brought down the Wall in 1989 and Germany was reunited, several filmmakers used comedy to look back at the different German cultures that had developed in the east and west. We will view several such films and explore what they can teach us about the continuing struggle to be one Germany today.

5. The Poet Within

John Turner, Poet, Playwright, Retired Prof., Scott Community College
Why poetry? What does it do? How do you read it? Can I write a good poem? Find out with a competitive poetry champion and 20-year editor of STIRRING, one of the first poetry magazines online. You can do this! Bring your imagination. Join us to explore the poet within you! Please bring a notebook, a pen and a dictionary.

Personal Enrichment

6. A Savvy Introduction to Digital Photography

Ron Chappell, St. Ambrose University
This class will demystify all the digits and dials of your camera. We will learn about the qualities of light, composition and caring for your equipment. The medium of photography is light-expect to learn more about light than you know now. Along with the booklet that came with your camera, we will encourage you to take the time to read the always well-stated functions of your camera. How best to handle your camera matters, so to avoid the trap of thinking all great photography depends on the newest, most costly accessories and equipment. The camera you bring to class will be just fine for quite some time. The class includes handouts as well as discussion. Please bring your camera, the booklet that came with your camera, a notebook and a pen.

7. American Sign Language (ASL)

Hershel Jackson, Black Hawk College
Learn enough basic signs, finger spelling and sign language syntax to be able to express and understand simple concepts in American Sign Language (ASL). You will be able to sign a simple conversation/dialog with others. Before the first session, please bring the required textbook: Basic Course in American Sign Language 2nd Edition by Tom Humphries, Carol Padden and Terrence J. O’Rourke, ISBN-13: 978-0932666420.

8. Basic Brush Writing

Paul Herrera, Art Legacy League
No previous experience necessary as the workshop will guide you through a hands-on understanding of two basic brushwritten alphabets. You will learn the special characteristics and “personality” of the brush as contrasted with hard-tool calligraphy while practicing the essential elements of uppercase and lowercase letterforms. On the practical side, you will be able to make creative calligraphic artwork as well as yard sale and garage sale signs for fun and profit. A $5 materials fee, with the additional option to purchase a brush, is payable to the instructor the first day of class.

9. Basic Spanish

James Thornton, Retired Teacher
Basic Spanish requires no previous knowledge of Spanish. Greetings, beginning conversation, counting, expressions, etc. are taught to give students a beginner’s ability in Spanish. There will be games and activities to make learning fun.

10. Beginning Acrylic Painting Class – Landscape

Allen Holloway, Figge Art Museum
Learn the basics of acrylic painting. You will complete a 16”x20” landscape painting using the skills taught in the class. You will learn color mixing and application of paints using various types of paint brushes. Please bring a 16”x20” canvas, water container, paper towels, Styrofoam plates for mixing, Grumbacher brushes – #10 hog-bristle filbert (rounded head), #4 hog-bristle fan brush (stiff hairs), #8 Golden Taklon or synthetic bristle round (pointed head), #6 hog-bristle filbert (rounded head), and paint – Liquitex brand titanium white, ivory black, cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium, raw umber, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre and burnt sienna.

11. Beginning Knitting

Belinda Holbrook and Kathy Conway
A beginning/advanced beginning knitting course for new knitters or for those who haven’t picked up their needles for a while. Students will learn how to cast on, the knit and purl stitches, and how to cast off. Please bring a pair of size 7 or size 9 straight needles and a skein of light-colored acrylic or wool yarn in a worsted weight. Additional supplies will be needed as projects are selected.

12. Bookmaking One-O-Fun!

Jennifer Petersen
You will learn how to assemble a new book and two variations, by hand, each week. You will also learn how to pick and design your own covers and materials to use for binding. The instructor will provide all the tools and materials you will need. A no-sew, rubber band, accordion and tunnel books are just some of the types of books you will make. You will hand carve some stamps and use them to make book covers as well as learn how to marble paper to use for covers.

13. Camera Raw and Photoshop – What to Do Once Your Images Are Out of Your Camera

Trent Foltz, Trent Foltz Photography
This is a basic photography class that goes one step further. A lot of people starting out in photography never get their files out of the camera. This class will address basic photography skills, processing files in Adobe Camera Raw, and how Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom work together. We will also cover a refresher in f-stops, shutter speeds and aperture as well as composition and why we photograph. Please bring your camera and the manual.

14. Introduction to Tai’Chi Ch’uan

Scott Caulpetzer, Great River Tai’Chi Ch’uan
T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a system of Chinese kung fu. These slow-motion, rounded, balanced movements are practiced by people of all ages around the world for self-defense and to achieve physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Please wear loose-fitting clothes for this moving meditation.

15. Miss Potter and Friends

Gloria Burlingame, Figge Art Museum
Writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist Beatrix Potter is best known for her children’s books that feature animals. Take a look at her life and the book illustrations she created. Then explore a variety of art materials to create your own Potter-inspired images. Topics will include a biographical timeline of Potter’s life and usage of various art materials (watercolors, oil pastels and pen-and-ink). A $3 materials fee is payable to the instructor the first day of class. Please wear an apron or old shirt to protect your clothing.

16. Paper Crafting with Becky

Becky Pilcher
Enjoy your time learning to make projects using paper. This will include making cards, sticky note holders and other projects. These are projects you can make for yourself or as gifts for others. Please wear clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty. A $10 materials fee is payable to the instructor the first day of class.

17. The Life and Times of the American Cemetery

Minda Powers-Douglas, Founder-Editor of TheCemeteryClub.com
This lively course will take you around the country as we discuss cemetery histories, symbols on gravestones, and much more. We’ll cover early American cemeteries through contemporary burial trends. Every life has a story to tell, no matter how large or seemingly small. Step into our cemeteries and listen. Please bring a notebook and a pen.

18. The Psychology of Humor

Dr. William Hampes, Professor Emeritus, Black Hawk College
Learn about the types and styles of humor, what makes something funny, and the use of humor in persuasion and advertising, interpersonal attraction, dealing with stress, the workplace and teaching. Commercials, films, television shows and individuals such as Abraham Lincoln will be used to illustrate various concepts. The personalities of professional comedians also will be explored.

19. The Why and How of Estate Planning

Nathan Sondgeroth, Vera French Foundation Executive Director
An estate plan is more than just a will. It allows you to take care of yourself, your family, and the charities you believe in. Nathan will be joined by guest speakers who will share the information you will need to either start your planning or enhance what you already have in place. After this class, you will feel confident in putting it all together, picking up the phone, and contacting an attorney to complete your plan, knowing what you want your estate plan to look like. Please bring a notebook and a pen.

Regional Studies

20. Settling the Tri-Cities

Dr. Maryan Wherry, Independent Scholar
From the migration of the Sauk and Meskwaki Indians to the establishment of a U.S. military reserve, the growth of this area is a fascinating tale of events and personalities, common and notorious. The first half of the 19th century transformed the area from wilderness to urban center. By 1860, Rock Island, Davenport and Moline had developed into their current locations with individual natures.

Theology/Spirituality

21. Ancient Shamanic Journey

Rev. Kathleen Collins, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Discover your power animal and travel down the rabbit hole to discover your wisdom and answers to life’s concerns as well as become empowered. Core shamanism as practiced by every culture since the dawn of man will be covered. Learn how to connect with your spiritual teachers who can help make profound changes to your life. This is empowerment work! This class is experiential with discussion about shamanism and how it can be used today. This is truly FUN! Please bring a notebook, a pen, an eye cover and a rattle or drum if you have one.

22. Celtic Spirituality – An Overview

Dr. Pat Shea, Augustana College
Each week we will consider some elements of Celtic spirituality and how it may be applied in our daily journeys. We will explore, reflect and experience some spiritual expression of Celtic spirituality. Other course topics include Celtic spirituality world view and values, the Celtic calendar, and spirituality of the Celtic seasons and of the cardinal directions.

23. Culture, Faith and Cuisine: A Tour of Islam and Muslims Around the World

Dr. Lisa Killinger, Muslim Community of the QC
We will explore three to four distinct regions influenced by Islam and the uniqueness of the culture and cuisine of each area. We will start with some common ground of these regions due to their faith practices, then set out on a journey that will take some of us to the Middle East, Indo-Pakistani subcontinent, Africa and, time permitting, the Balkans (Macedonia and Kosovo). In each of the last three weeks, we will sample foods and tea from that region as we explore the unique features of that culture.

24. Islam 101

Dr. Bachir Djehiche, Imam at the Islamic Center of Quad-Cities
Islam is a system of belief and practice adopted by nearly 1.6 billion people across the world. Islam 101 will provide an overview of Islam, its beliefs, practices, its relations with science and other cultures and faiths, and misconceptions. This course will lead students into a clear and balanced view about Islam and Muslims. Please bring a notebook and a pen to class.

25. Knowing Your Bible

Andy Ploenzke, Bible Teacher
This course will give an overview of the Bible and is designed to provide relevance to your daily lives. General themes, major movements, important life-changing events and the life views of the Biblical period will be discussed. Join us for a nondenominational look at the Bible and what it means to the individual and to others who may desire to understand these Biblical truths. Please bring a notebook, a pen, a highlighter and a good working study Bible (preferably NIV or NASB).