No tests or textbooks with Vanderbilt‘s free Classes Without Quizzes: Advances in music recording, space exploration and college admissions among topics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt professors will lead a series of Classes Without Quizzes on Oct. 14, with discussions ranging from the university scientists‘ latest drug discovery advances to reasons why The Da Vinci Code is a good but historically inaccurate story. In addition, there will be informative sessions for families interested in applying to Vanderbilt or other selective colleges and those seeking strategies to move up the career ladder.

The nine free educational events, part of Vanderbilt‘s Reunion/Homecoming Weekend, are open to the public. The classes will be approximately 50 minutes in length, and all will meet in Sarratt Student Center unless otherwise indicated.

“Jesus and Women” is the title of Amy-Jill Levine‘s talk at 1:30 p.m. Levine, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, will discuss why some of the perceptions about Jesus and the women around him that are highlighted by The Da Vinci Code are theologically problematic. In addition, she will focus on what is truly innovative and inspirational about Jesus and his first followers.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Michael Rose, composer and associate professor of composition at the Blair School, provides an introduction to “The Iconography of Music.” Those attending will learn how composers provide musical signs to help the audience interpret the music through listening — just as visual artists do the same for viewers of their works.

Francene Gilmer, director of the Vanderbilt Career Center, offers strategies for improving various career paths during a 1:30 p.m. presentation. Networking, building upon community volunteerism and professional development are among the topics Gilmer will discuss in the Student Life Center‘s Room 209.

The differences between 19th century recording technologies like the Edison Cyclinder and the latest portable and online music distribution systems will be explored in the interactive lecture “From Enrico Caruso to Norah Jones, From Victrolas to iPods: Advances in Music Recording.” Professors of Electrical Engineering A.B. Bonds and Ron Schrimpf will play music ranging from the 1920s to the Rolling Stones and contemporary jazz. This class meets at 2:30 p.m. in Featheringill Hall, Room 134.

Also at 2:30, Centennial Professor of Philosophy John Lachs will discuss the challenges of dealing with a rapidly increasing elderly population. “Dying Old as a Social Problem” will focus on how advances of medical science and graying of the baby boomers raise serious end-of-life issues, including attitudes toward death and euthanasia. Lachs will also discuss how communities can be more welcoming to the very old so that their lives will stay meaningful.

Participants will learn about Vanderbilt tours to exciting destinations when Cary DeWitt Allyn, Vanderbilt Travel Program director, and participating professors provide an overview of next year‘s offerings, which are open to everyone. The 2006 Vanderbilt Travel Program Preview is at 2:30 p.m.

Those who have dreamed about visiting Mars will be interested in the perspective of Rick Chappell, a former astronaut who will address “A Grand Challenge for America – A Human Mission to Mars.” Chappell, executive director of Dyer Observatory, will talk at 3:30 p.m. about progress made through recent robotic missions and plans for a future manned mission.

Also at 3:30 p.m., “Making Drugs in Universities” highlights how recent advances in technology have helped with drug discovery efforts at Vanderbilt and the implications for future pharmaceutical treatments. Presenters are Larry Marnett, Jeff Conn and Dave Weaver, who are directors of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology.

Families of prospective college students can find out more about admissions to Vanderbilt and other selective schools during a presentation by John Gaines, associate dean for Undergraduate Admissions. “A Look Inside Vanderbilt Admissions” takes place at 3:30 p.m. in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

For more information, call 615-322-6034 or click on

Media contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, 615-322-NEWS

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