Sandi Page

By Sandi Page, Member, FAU OSHER LLI Jupiter Marketing Committee member










Kurt F. Stone, D.D. is an ordained rabbi and college lecturer, teaching courses in political science, American history, and cinema.  Since 1995, he has also worked as a medical ethicist, first for the Cleveland Clinic Florida and now for Schulman Associates Institutional Review Board (IRB).  Schulman Associates is considered the leading independent Institutional Review Board dedicated to safeguarding the rights and welfare of clinical research participants. They have reviewed studies in pharmaceutical, bio-pharmaceutical, device, behavioral and data collection research.  Schulman Associates was even selected, in March 2016, as the national IRB for the Cancer MoonShot 2020 program.


Dr. Stone, what exactly is a medical ethicist?   How did you decide to become one?

From my perspective, a medical ethicist is one who explores, contemplates, and ultimately protects the rights of subjects in medical research protocols.  It is our task to ensure that not only are the tests, procedures, and research both medically and ethically justified, but also that subject participants are fully and freely able to give informed consent. The need for medical estheticians to oversee research protocols arose as a result of the “Doctors Trial” at Nuremberg in 1946, when an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In Nazi Germany, German physicians planned and enacted the “Euthanasia Program,” the systematic killing of those they deemed “unworthy of life.” The victims included people with severe psychiatric, neurological, or physical disabilities. Further, during World War II, German physicians conducted pseudoscientific medical experiments utilizing thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent. Most died or were permanently injured as a result. Most of the victims were Jews, Poles, Russians, and also Roma (Gypsies).  Sixteen of the doctors were found guilty. Seven were sentenced to death. They were executed on June 2, 1948.

Needless to say, the world was outraged; something had to be done to ensure that such medical atrocities never occurred again. Eventually, the field of medical ethics came into being; its three core principles – respect for persons, beneficence, and justice – became codified in the “Belmont Report.”

How I “decided” to become a medical ethicist is a quaint tale.  In the late 1980s and 1990s, I spent a lot of time as a patient.  At one point, I was hospitalized for more than 3 months.  As a result, I became rather close with a handful of physicians and surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic, Florida.  One doctor, a gastroenterologist, and I became particularly close and often went to baseball games together.  At one game, he mentioned that he thought I would make a great addition to the clinic’s “Institutional Review Board,” of which he was committee chair.  He explained that my role would be to translate informed consent documents – to turn “medicalese” into readily understandable English.  He was confident that I could make a contribution.  Well, I went to the first meeting the next week, at which he announced his retirement from the board!  He was replaced by my favorite surgeon, who also happened to be a congregant.  And so, a new career was born.

What types of people are on your Review Board? Doctors, lawyers, researchers, for example?  Do you serve in your capacity as rabbi?  

By law, an IRB must consist of physicians and surgeons, bio-engineers, scientists, nurses and at least one, maybe two “community representatives.” Whenever we are called upon to deal with an area of research for which none are expert, we call upon a specialist to go over the research protocol in question. The latter are frequently culled from the worlds of law, academia, and religion.  I do not serve in my capacity as rabbi.  Rather, my fellow board members (there are 7 of us) look upon me as the group’s thesaurus; the one person who views everything through the eyes of a literate, compassionate patient. Doctors and scientists frequently speak in a language which only they understand; my job is to make it understandable.  In order to handle anywhere between 3 and 8 or 9 research protocols a week, I have to do an awful lot of studying.  As my mother would say, “My son the doctor” is a doctor in every sense of the term… it’s just that he can’t diagnose or write prescriptions.”

Do you work as a team or do you each submit your individual opinion on a proposed clinical research study?  How much of your final evaluation is subjective?  

We work as a team.  We use a program which permits all of us to see the comments, questions, redactions, or objections of our colleagues in real time.  Then, at our meetings (which are done via teleconference), we go over everything we’ve put together individually, present the primary investigator(s) with our findings and either fully approve, conditionally approve, put on hold or, in very rare instances, disallow.  Our mandate leaves little room for subjectivity…even though medicine is both an art and a science.

Medical advances would be difficult without volunteers participating in clinical research.  How do you proceed when the proposed research participants are children?  Are subjects without a capacity to consent ever used in clinical trials?

No child may participate in medical research without parental consent and patient assent.  These are embodied in separate documents.  Children aged 7-17 are given assent documents written in simple to understand English – or, if needed, in translation into their native language.  In some cases, research necessitates using subjects who are not completely compos mentis. In this instance, ethics permit the informed consent document may be signed by an “LAR,” a “legally authorized representative.”

If your IRB disapproves a proposed study, can your client submit it to a second IRB?  What are the ethical ramifications of that?

Absolutely not!  Any application to any IRB includes the question “Have you submitted this proposal to any other IRB?”  Should the research sponsor or investigator lie and check the “No” box and it were to be discovered (not such a difficult thing to do), they could be in big, big trouble – not only in the research/scientific community, but with the National Institutes of Health Office of Human Subjects Research Protections (OHSRP).

When I worked in Paris, I had several clients in the pharmaceutical research field, including a brilliant Greek researcher with whom I had lengthy discussions on the subject of ethics.  He told me that just because he could develop a certain drug didn’t mean that he should do it from an ethical viewpoint. He said that in his home country of Greece, “Ethics” was a required subject in high school on a par with History, Literature, Mathematics, and Science.   Do you think Ethics should be taught in American high schools?

If I were in charge of creating high school curricula, I would definitely make room for at least one mandatory class in Ethics.  It is both intellectually and academically justifiable.  However, politically, it would be a struggle; there are simply too many people who “know” that what they believe is ethical and moral, but that anyone who has a different point of view is both unethical and immoral. It’s in the same realm as teaching evolution versus creationism.

How has becoming a medical ethicist changed the way you think?

Having spent the past 23 years as a working member of 2 separate IRBs has greatly increased my wonderment at how brilliant some people are, and how terribly difficult and time-consuming it is to bring a new drug, a new surgical procedure, or a new diagnostic tool to fruition.  I am simply in awe of my colleagues.  At Schulman Associates, I am proud to report, the vast majority of board members are women…and quite young.  Indeed, at many meetings I am the senior citizen!

Is it possible to be ethical without being religious?

Yes indeed.  One of the most important lessons I ever learned in my rabbinic studies was this gem of ethical wisdom: “In a place where people aren’t acting like human beings, you strive to be an ethical person.”

An even more difficult question: Is it possible to be religious without being ethical?

Most regrettably, the answer, again, is yes indeed.  In science, we speak of phenotypes and genotypes: the former is the set of genes in our DNA which is responsible for a particular trait; the latter is the physical expression, or characteristics, of that trait. In simple terms, one can have deep blue eyes (that’s your phenotype – what is apparent) but still have brown-eyed children (because genotypically, you carry genes for producing brown-eyed kids).  In terms of your question, one can go to church or synagogue, pray like the dickens, and eat kosher food (that’s your phenotype – what you see), but can nonetheless lie, swear, cheat on their taxes or spouse, and be a bigot (that’s your genotype – what you truly are).

The best thing I can say about working on an Institutional Review Board is that it gives me the feeling that I’m making a difference.  And in this world of ours, it’s a truly rare feeling.

Kurt F. Stone, D.D. –  Fall 2017 film appreciation course at FAU LLI Jupiter:
Making Heroes Out of Humans…and Humans Out of Heroes
Mondays, October 16, 23, 30; November 6, 13, 20, 27; December 4, 2017, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
(Full 8 weeks or Last 4 weeks option available)
To register for the full 8 week course, click here.
o register for the last 4 weeks of the course, click here.








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Gesture in Film and Novel

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Posted in Uncategorized


Sandi Page

By Sandi Page, Member,  Osher LLI at FAU Jupiter Marketing Committee member










Robert P. Watson, Ph.D., is Professor of American Studies at Lynn University, Senior Fellow at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and the political analyst for WPTV 5 (NBC).  He has published 41 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, book chapters and essays on topics in American politics and history, been interviewed by hundreds of media outlets across the U.S. and internationally and has served on the boards of numerous scholarly journals, academic associations and presidential foundations.  Professor Watson has won numerous awards, including the Distinguished Professor of the Year awards at both FAU and Lynn (three times) and the Faculty Service awards at both FAU (twice) and Lynn.  His recent book, “America’s First Crisis: The War of 1812,” received a 2015 “IPPY” Award for book of the year in U.S. history and his book, “The Nazi Titanic,” was featured at a dozen book festivals.  His book, “The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn,” has just been released and has received advance critical praise.


Dr. Watson, we are delighted that you are back at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at FAU, Jupiter for the fall 2017 semester to give two highly anticipated lectures: “Hamilton: Man, Myth, Musical” on October 19, 2017 and “The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn,” with a book signing immediately after the lecture, on November 13, 2017. 

Our last in-depth interview with you appeared on our May 6, 2016 blog post (The Professor’s Corner: Dr. Robert P. Watson), right before you left Osher LLI Jupiter, after years of teaching here, to pursue other projects.  So many of us have felt like political orphans with your absence in a year that has been fraught with political mayhem.  We’ll be discussing that a bit later in this interview, but, for now, let’s turn to your accomplishments this past year.  First of all, the hardcover version of your book The Nazi Titanic: The Incredible Untold Story of a Doomed Ship in World War II came out at the end of April 2016 to excellent reviews. (Congratulations, also, on the paperback version which has just been released). You embarked on a promotional tour and book signings last year for this book, a rare luxury for you, as your many professional obligations had prevented your doing any extensive touring for your other books.  How did you enjoy the experience? 

 It has always been both an honor and delight to lecture at Osher LLI, and I think I have said as much just about every time I step on the stage at the Jupiter campus! I have so many friends in the audience and I enjoy speaking to such enthusiastic, inquisitive, and sharp folks. So, it was a difficult decision to step away from Osher LLI after so many years. I did so largely for two reasons, one of which was to devote more time to family matters—I never like to miss my kids’ musical performances or sporting events. The other was that I enjoy visiting historic sites, museums, and universities as a “visiting scholar” and wanted to try to be a part of some book and literary festivals. I needed to carve out the time for these passions and goals. Happily, both recent books have been a part of several festivals and I had a number of visiting scholar invites… and was able to accept most of them. It is hard to pick a favorite, but I particularly enjoyed being at the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia to discuss The Ghost Ship and at Hebrew Union to talk about The Nazi Titanic.


When I lived in Paris, I regularly bought bilingual professional books, necessary study tools for me to support the many and varied projects of my French clients.  At a book festival, I purchased one such book from a French business author, well known for his bilingual French/English works.  He kindly dedicated it for me.  Here is his exact quote: “To Sandi, Enjoy my book! It is English as it should be spoke.”  My jaw dropped and my heart sank as I realized I had just bought a book which could now reasonably be expected to contain many other such errors.  I looked up and saw the twinkle in his eye and we both burst out laughing.  He told me that several people had asked for their money back after reading that same dedication because they hadn’t realized that he was the ultimate jokester!
What is the most outrageous dedication you have ever written (or wished you could have written) during one of your book signings? 

 Well, the two new books are in foreign language editions, so when folks send them to me for a signature, I try to write a blurb in the language in question. I am not multi-lingual (only a basic understanding of Spanish and French), so I am sure I inadvertently ended up signing “May you Mama dog-face to the banana patch” by mistake! However, I do admit to a few naughty dedications. For instance, I signed a handful of copies of my book Affairs of State (which is about the history of mistresses and misbehavior in the White House) as follows: “I hope you enjoy the sex as much as the presidents did…”


Watson action 2 Your latest book, The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution, which you will be talking about in your November 13 lecture, was released on August 15, 2017.   It has received many glorious reviews, including those by two Pulitzer Prize winning authors, The New York Times, and even Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW, who wrote, “The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn brings to life the hell on water that thousands of prisoners were forced to endure during the American Revolutionary War.  Through these untold stories, Robert Watson recounts the horrors inflicted aboard the HMS Jersey, remembers the courageous spirit of its captives, and ensures the memory of these American Patriots will never be forgotten.”
What was the catalyst for your writing this book?  Does discovering such horrors and writing about them haunt your dreams at night?  Will you be embarking on another promotional tour for The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn this fall?

 As was the case for The Nazi Titanic, it was a difficult book to research and write. What motivated me throughout the process was the notion of “lest we forget…” Twice as many Americans died on this one wretched prison ship than died in combat during the entirety of the Revolutionary War, making the struggle aboard this ghostly ship by far the bloodiest of the Revolution. Yet, the story has been lost to history. Forgotten. Any school child can tell you all about Paul Revere’s midnight ride or the Boston Tea Party, but we have forgotten the sacrifices of so many prisoners of war. This is, tragically, also the case for so many other wars.

Yes, I have a busy fall and winter. I will be speaking about the book at a number of historic and Revolutionary War sites. I think there are a few discoveries in the book that will help to change the way we think about the Revolutionary War. This is something I have discussed with some prominent historians and look forward to more of those conversations at these venues. One of my talks will be at the Brooklyn Historical Society, where a handful of artifacts from the “ghost ship” are kept! Part of the historical process involves a healthy debate among historians, researchers, and the museums that “present” history to the public. I love this facet of my job and can’t wait to hit the road!

Also, happily, The Ghost Ship has been accepted at a few literary festivals. I am particularly excited about being a part of the Miami Book Fair (it is my “hometown” festival) and the Brattleboro Literary Festival, as that part of Vermont is lovely, especially in the fall.


You recently had the honor of being asked to be the 2017 Commencement Speaker at Lynn University where you are a Professor of American Studies.  Lynn’s President Kevin M. Ross said, “Dr. Watson has made a significant impact on our students, through his teaching, scholarship and community outreach.  A prolific author and gifted storyteller, he was a natural choice for our 2017 commencement speaker.”  Dr. Ross praised you even more highly when he introduced you at the commencement ceremony but then, unexpectedly, he threw you a curveball by way of a hilarious challenge seconds before you were to start speaking.  What was that challenge and what was your reaction?

 It was, of course, a great honor to give the commencement address. It is also quite a responsibility and I didn’t want to give the “usual” address filled with empty clichés. I wanted to offer the graduates words of advice that they actually could use and would remember. I tried to do that through what is still the best pedagogical tool – storytelling; and I boiled their lessons down to one bit of advice.

We are fortunate at Lynn to have as our president not only someone who is very innovative and entrepreneurial but also who has, as I discovered, a great sense of humor. Yes, President Ross threw me a major curveball. The comedian Will Ferrell gave the commencement at USC and it was hilarious. If you have not seen it, do so… Among other things, he sang “I will always love you” in falsetto. Our students were still talking about it the day of our commencement, so the president introduced me as the speaker and then challenged me – on the spot — to sing, or better yet, rap my speech. He wanted people to be talking about our commencement rather than USC’s. Now, I have never been accused of being shy… but, for the first time in my life, my heart skipped a beat and my mouth went dry. I will talk about anything with anyone, but I didn’t want to rap in front of an auditorium full of graduates and their proud parents! But how do you back out of an invite like that? So, I rapped the opening of the musical Hamilton. I am pretty sure it will be the first (and last) time a professor rapped a commencement address!


Watson actionWhat was the most important piece of advice that you gave the graduating class during your speech?

 Well, you’ll have to watch the speech on YouTube to find out the details (the consolation is that it will likely come in handy if you are having trouble sleeping!)…  I emphasized the need for civility. It is the one thing that can help us solve any problem facing us today. We need to respect others and carry ourselves with dignity and humility.


You also addressed what you called the “Three C’s of the Constitution.”  I found it fascinating.
Could you share with our readers what you mean by that? 

 Yes, when the Framers set about trying to forge a new type of government, they knew it would be very difficult. There were egos and passions involved, and they wanted to frame a system that checked power. The answer to both questions of how to get along and how to form our government was… the three C’s, which are cooperation, compromise, and consensus. These constitute the conceptual framework of our system of government, yet all three principles and guidelines are being ignored today. In fact, many of our leaders boast that they will “never compromise.” They shun cooperation in favor of bullying and see consensus as a sign of weakness. They couldn’t be more wrong!


 As I said at the beginning of this interview, you, and your lectures, have been sorely missed this past year at Osher LLI.  We needed to hear your take on the crazy roller coaster ride that the U.S. has been on since the tumultuous 2016 presidential campaign, the debates unlike any that have come before, and the surprising, no matter how one voted, results of the November 8th election. We are dealing with a coarsening of political discourse and revelations each day that would sound preposterous had they been written about in any political or spy novel. Bigotry, racial divides and xenophobia have once more reared their ugly heads.  In the midst of all this, you have launched “Project Civitas.”  Could you tell us about that?

 Civitas is the Latin term for civility and citizenship. I have been shocked and deeply disturbed by what has been happening in politics… but also on television, in the entertainment industry, in business, in sports, and so on. There is a coarsening, as you correctly note, in society. Is it now alright to make fun of the disabled, scapegoat immigrants, blame the victim and excuse the perpetrator…?  Absolutely not! I created Project Civitas to promote the values of civility and citizenship on campus. I believe it is one of the most important lessons we can pass on to our students — we expose our new students and our student government to these values through workshops, host speakers to reinforce the importance of dialogue and respect, and even asked our students to take a civility pledge. Anything goes and all opinions are welcome, as long as they are civil. While violence and bullying are on the rise across the country and at college campuses, our campus is a “hate-free” zone… and the students are taking ownership of that!


What do you feel are the biggest challenges that we in America are now facing?  Is there an answer to facing these challenges or are we in uncharted territory?   Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

Well, I always point out that we survived Millard B. Fillmore and the Civil War, so we’re pretty darn resilient. That said, the sheer scope of the problems today are disconcerting and, when one considers that everything is shouted to the world through social media, the situation is unique. The two biggest concerns I have are the incivility and lack of critical thinking in society. Fear has replaced fact and paranoia has replaced civility. Millions of Americans do not believe in evolution, climate change, or vaccinating their children. We have a president who declares the real news to be fake and the fake news to be real. It is Orwellian. People are as susceptible to bold-faced lies and propaganda as we always have been, and we don’t ever seem to learn the lessons of history!


We are all looking forward to your upcoming lecture on “Hamilton: Man, Myth, Musical.” I hope we will be as lucky as your Lynn University students and that you will be rapping part of your speech!

Speaking of Founding Fathers, I have one last question for you.  Do you think Hamilton, Washington, and the others are spinning clockwise or counterclockwise in their graves?

 Well, politically speaking, Washington, Adams, and Hamilton would go to their left, while Jefferson and Madison would go to their right. Ben Franklin would figure out a way to spin both ways! One thing is sure – their leadership and wisdom are needed.


 Robert P. Watson, Ph.D., fall 2017 lectures at Osher LLI at FAU, Jupiter:
Hamilton: Man, Myth, Musical
Thursday, October 19, 2017, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn
Monday, November 13, 2017, 3:00-4:30 p.m.; Book-signing: 4:30-5:30 p.m.

To register for Hamilton, click here.

To register for The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn,  click here.

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Terence Rattigan – The Deep Blue Sea

Kimberly Bowman Coordinator of Academic Programs

Kimberly Bowman
Coordinator of Academic Programs








Terence Rattigan

Terence Rattigan

Inspired by the personal life tragedy of British playwright Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue Sea tells the story of Lady Hester Collyer, as set in Ladbroke Grove, West London in 1952. In the midst of a successful career as a writer in London, Rattigan had experienced the loss of his partner, actor Kenneth Morgan, to suicide. The narrative of Hester Collyer expresses the deep torment and sorrow that Rattigan himself experienced as a gay man, living in a time where his sexuality, his secret relationship, and his love were completely objectionable in society. The first performance of Rattigan’s play took place in London, on March 6, 1952, and received immediate critical acclaim. In the U.S., The Deep Blue Sea made its Broadway premiere in 1953.


The tale centers round Collyer’s deep desperation resulting from an unrequited love, which inevitably brings her to a suicide attempt. Collyer, the wife of a High Court judge, is involved in a turbulent affair with RAF pilot, Freddie Page. Her passion, now unanswered by her lover, brings her to her breaking point.


Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory

The dramatic opening scene of the National Theatre’s production of Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea reveals a tragic Collyer, collapsed in front of a gas fire following her suicide attempt. The role of Collyer, performed by actor Helen McCrory, has been hailed as one of the greatest female roles in contemporary drama. The play, directed by Carrie Cracknell, also stars Tom Burke in the role of Freddie Page and Peter Sullivan in the role of William Collyer.


The FAU Lifelong Learning Society (LLS) Jupiter is now partnering with National Theatre Live which broadcasts world-class theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet productions to cinemas in the United Kingdom and internationally.  Through this partnership, LLS Jupiter will bring the National Theatre pre-recorded presentation of The Deep Blue Sea to LLS on Friday, May 19, 2017 from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.  This program will have an intermission.


Tickets are $20 for members and non-members.

To register for the National Theatre Live pre-recorded broadcast The Deep Blue Sea, visit

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Instructor Spotlight: Jeffrey Nall, Ph.D.

Kimberly Bowman Coordinator of Academic Programs








  1. You are an author, speaker, and interdisciplinary scholar and received a Ph.D. in Comparative Studies: Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from FAU. What inspired you to pursue these degrees?


I dropped out of high school quite dissatisfied with my education experience.  After obtaining a GED, I returned to community college and discovered the humanities.  This set me on a path that led to a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies at Rollins College. In searching for doctoral programs, I quite accidentally discovered FAU’s Comparative Studies program. It was a wonderful fit with my previous education experience in that it allowed students to explore fundamental questions of human existence and society in an interdisciplinary manner. As someone who had long identified as a feminist, I was attracted to a course taught by Jane Caputi on feminist theory. The course broadened my understanding of feminist philosophical analysis of the structures of society and culture. One course led to another and I soon decided to alter my research focus from examining atheist culture in the United States to examining the cultural conception and representation of women, pregnancy and childbirth. I was also inspired by the important insights feminist theory had to offer about men’s lives, socialization, and identity, and began researching men and masculinity.



  1. Why do you like teaching lifelong learning students? How does teaching them differ from teaching traditional college students?


This will be my second time teaching for the lifelong learning program. I enjoy the opportunity to engage people of all ages. Recently, I visited a group of at-risk 8th graders to discuss masculinity. My typical classroom is comprised of students ranging in age from 16 to 45. Lifelong learning students, from my experience, bring not only a wealth of experience and existing knowledge, but also an openness to considering new ideas. What inspires me as an educator, whether I am teaching pre-teens or octogenarians, is the opportunity to engage those who have the courage and desire to confront unfamiliar questions and perspectives. I’ll also note that I believe one of the most significant problems our education system faces is its compulsory nature. Learning is a natural phenomenon for human beings. We learn every day in a variety of settings, most of which are not classrooms. When education is mandated and controlled almost exclusively by the educators, it can drive away the spirit of inquiry in even the brightest of students. Obviously, there are many different aspects that make education systems challenging to effectively create and maintain. My point, as it relates to programs like FAU’s Lifelong Learning Society, is that the ideal educational environment, even if not always achievable, is one where the student is significantly empowered and meaningfully involved in the classroom setting. This is clearly the case with lifelong learning students.


  1. For your upcoming lecture “Why Can’t We Eat the Cat?” at LLS Jupiter on April 18 at 12 p.m., you explore the case for veganism. Why did you want to examine this subject? What do you hope that LLS students will take away from this class?


Of the many issues I explore in my college classes, animal rights is among a handful of topics that tends to have a significant impact on students. This includes those who had previously given the subject little to no thought. The reason I think it impacts people so forcefully is that most have deep connections to animals such as dogs and cats. What’s more, most of us have a basic sense of what it means to be logically consistent. Yet, we exist in a culture where common sense has us sign petitions and speak with outrage over mistreatment of cats or dogs, where a person is sentenced to prison for fighting dogs for sport, but where the very people most outraged by such abuses articulate those outraged feelings over pleasantly prepared meals comprised of factory farmed animals who endured inexplicable suffering. As is the case with all my philosophy courses, I do not tell my students what position they should accept. Rather, I simply aim to present them with what I refer to as the “moral mirror” with which to honestly, fairly, and rationally examine their choices and beliefs with their own fundamental moral standards. As contemporary philosopher and public intellectual Cornel West has said, paraphrasing William Butler Yates, “It takes more courage to search the dark corner of your own soul than it does for the soldier to fight on the battlefield.” What I enjoy about teaching this topic is that it presents us with an opportunity to seriously and quite personally test our commitment to moral integrity—to ensure that our fundamental values align with the various aspects of our lives. As the instructor, I simply present the arguments and counter-arguments. The soul searching is left up to the student. In that process, which begins to present itself in classroom dialogue, I have often witnessed individuals bravely and compassionately take to those dark corners and light candles of humility, self-knowledge, and even personal transformation.


Why Can’t We Eat the Cat? The Ethical Case for Veganism or Why Eating Animals May Not Only Be Bad For Your Health, But Also Immoral

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – 12-1:30 p.m.





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The Trouble with living on an Island


By Suzanna Wells, FAU LLS Jupiter Facilities Manager








The trouble with living on an Island and having a good deal of access to the sea is that you often find yourself staring across the water wondering what’s really out there. I’ve always encouraged my girls (twins, now aged 23) to travel, telling them stories when they were small of my trips to India, Australia, Europe and much of America (I’m from the UK).  I got the travel bug from my father, who was adventurous and who always took our family on some wonderful holidays.  I remember one trip to Romania when I was 7, and my mother leaving her nylon stockings to the hotel staff as they couldn’t buy such exotic items there in the early 1970s.  In 1979, my dad eventually persuaded my mum to travel to America! None of their friends or family had ever ventured that far afield, most just doing the typical holidays to seaside towns within the UK or, for the more daring, the coast of Spain.

My dad worked in Fleet Street, London for the Evening News newspaper and one evening they had a supplement in there about house swapping all over the world!  After writing to many families from far flung reaches of the globe, he finally wrote to Bob. Bob and Sandra Weigle lived in Orange County, Los Angeles and after 6 months of writing back and forth (no emails in those days), we jetted off on Laker Airlines and made the 14-hour trip to Los Angeles.

We had decided we would not only swap houses and cars for the summer of ’79 but also stay with Bob, Sandra and their two daughters – who were close in age to my sister and me – for the first week and get to know them better.  “WOW” was my first impression when we arrived at their house. There was so much space compared to our 1920’s London 3-bedroom house. I think their kitchen was bigger than the whole of our ground floor! They had a microwave oven and a video recorder. All the mod cons English families wouldn’t get for a few years yet!

On arrival, the neighbors threw us a big house warming party. Amongst the guests was the cousin of Ritchie Valens, and a man who worked for NASA and had worked on the space mission team to the moon, and of course a few Hollywood script writers, including Bob!

So having followed in my father’s footsteps, taking my daughters on lots of trips and encouraging them to travel when they were younger, it shouldn’t have surprised me when last year the girls ventured out and trekked across the Mongolian steppe on horseback. Of course, I was worried but at least they were together.

They made it back safely, with only a few bruises and an entirely new taste for adventure. Then, this year, Jo, my eldest twin, announced she was going off to South East Asia on her own! What could I say!  I know she is streetwise and strong, and being a keen kick boxer could handle herself. So March 2016 comes around and off she goes.

Suzie 1

Having recently graduated in Zoology, Jo is a keen conservationist and headed to Vietnam to work with the organization Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, and the ever elusive Pangolin. “What?”, you may ask, just as I did.  Well, Asian pangolins are like small anteaters and are hunted illegally for their meat and scales that are made into Chinese medicine with the belief that they have properties that will cure cancer and help breast-feeding mothers!  Jo writes regularly and has her own website – SKIN and BONES – if you want to find out more about pangolins and other endangered species. It’s quite an interesting read and she would love more people to add their comments.

Once Jo had finished in Vietnam, she moved on to Cambodia to sightsee and work with Sun Bears. From there, she went for a well-earned rest at Vagabond Temple yoga retreat, where she called me late one night from suffering from big skin blisters which she was very concerned about! After a tearful conversation and a heart-wrenching decision to put her Australian part of the trip on hold, I managed to persuade her to fly home and get urgent medical advice and treatment, as the nearest hospital was a 6-hour bus trip away from where Jo was.

Suzie 2


Suzie 3

Picture 4








I booked her on the next flight back to the UK and the next morning she went straight to the doctor who, thinking it was an auto-immune disease, put her on antibiotics and sent her for an emergency dermatology appointment. As it turns out, it was Phytophotodermatitis, also known as “lime disease, a chemical reaction which makes skin hypersensitive to ultraviolet light when handling certain plants or fruits.” I am happy to report that her scarring is almost all gone now, but it is useful information to know, especially living in a hot place such as South Florida.

Not one to sit about for too long, Jo, feeling recovered, then went off to a week-long conference called Conservation Asia held in Singapore.  After that, she met up with her father and sister for an amazing trip around Indonesia.  After living under the stars and on a boat for a few days, trekking up volcanoes, meeting the local monkeys and swimming with wild Manta Rays, the hotel comforts were much appreciated.

As soon as she was back in the UK, she was off again, this time to South Africa where Jo was honored to have been chosen earlier this year by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) based in Massachusetts, as a Young Conservationist to travel to Johannesburg to be part of their Youth Forum where she met the 33 other delegates chosen for this event from all over the globe. The forum took place the week before CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), where, this year, international laws were passed protecting all eight species of pangolin and other endangered species threatened by wildlife trafficking.

The inspiring work these young conservationists do all over the world ranges from saving helmeted hornbills in Indonesia to protecting public lands in the USA and research on saiga antelopes in Uzbekistan.   In South Africa, together they discussed and developed innovative solutions to the problems faced by the world’s wildlife and local communities that live with them, as well as spotting the odd rhino in Pilanesberg National Park. There is no stopping them now as, since the forum, they have started their own organization called ‘Youth for Wildlife Conservation’ aimed to promote best conservation practices and support youth-led environmental conservation projects.

Please take a few moments to watch this Video of the group in South Africa

Jo is off to Mexico next for the Convention of Biological Diversity to spread the word far and wide about ‘Youth for Wildlife Conservation’ and the need to engage youth in international conservation policy and decision making.

I don’t know what the future has in store for Jo but I certainly know it won’t be boring!

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The Professor’s Corner: Dr. Robert P. Watson

Sandi PageBy Sandi Page, Guest Blogger, LLS Student and Volunteer, LLS Jupiter Marketing Committee member



Robert P. Watson, Ph.D.

Robert P. Watson, Ph.D.

Our spotlight this week is on Dr. Robert P. Watson, one of our most popular Professors here at FAU LLS, who is also Professor of American Studies at Lynn University, Senior Fellow at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and the political analyst for WPTV 5 (NBC). He has published 36 books and hundreds of scholarly articles on topics in American politics and history, and has served on the boards of many scholarly journals, academic associations and presidential foundations. Professor Watson has won numerous awards, including the Distinguished Professor of the Year awards at both FAU and Lynn (twice) and FAU’s Faculty Service award (twice). His recent book, “America’s First Crisis: The War of 1812,” received a 2015 “IPPY” award for book of the year in U.S. history.

While researching to formulate questions for an interview I hoped to do with Dr. Watson (whose lectures I never miss), I happened across his impressive résumé, all 80 pages of it…and not one line was superfluous! Knowing that his hectic schedule would most likely preclude him from participating, I nevertheless, at 1:30 a.m., emailed Dr. Watson an interview request along with my proposed questions. By 8:00 a.m., I had already received his enthusiastic reply and answers to two of the questions with a promise that more would be forthcoming.  By 5:00 p.m., our interview was complete, despite the fact that Dr. Watson had also fit in 3 classes, a radio interview, a meeting and a television show that day!

Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

Oh, did I mention that Dr. Watson also possesses a wicked sense of humor, which has his large LLS audiences laughing uncontrollably as he good-naturedly skewers the antics of political parties to the left and the right as well as the political and historical figures he lectures on?

Laughing while you learn……a lot. What a wonderful education.

Read on to appreciate even more the brilliant mind, generous spirit and fascinating life of

Dr. Robert P. Watson


Did you ever contemplate a completely different career path when you were first starting out?

Yes.  I never intended to become a professor.  The plan was to be a Foreign Service officer for the State Department, a political aide, a researcher for a policy think tank, or an activist with a progressive cause.

My problem was that I wanted to pursue all these – and several other careers.  Then, when I was finishing my Ph.D., it dawned on me that if I became a professor, I could pursue all sorts of interests.

I could write books, consult with politicians, be an analyst for television and news outlets, be an advocate for lots of issues, and, on top of all that, get paid to help preserve historic sites, travel and…….get this, talk about history and politics with impressive audiences at LLS!


You never use notes during your LLS lectures on history and the American political system and you are never without a ready answer (usually accompanied by an amusing historical anecdote) to any of the wide-ranging questions posed by our LLS students during your Q&A sessions. To what do you attribute your ability to maintain such a phenomenal store of information in your head?

I have always thought it ironic that some professors make their students memorize details, dates and quotes for exams when they themselves do not have them memorized.  One of the first lectures I ever gave was when I was in high school – I had won some athletic awards and was asked by some community leaders to speak at a function for the city where I lived.  My thought was, “Who would want to hear from a kid and what could I possibly say?”  So, I memorized several inspiring stories in detail…and it worked. When I finished my Master’s degree, I had the opportunity to lead a seminar at a local military base.  I was concerned that no one in uniform wanted to hear from a civilian in his mid-twenties.  So, I memorized countless details about the topic at hand – how the economy impacts the military…and it worked.  As a result, in 26 years of teaching and after thousands of media interviews and lectures, I have never used a note.

I think if a speaker knows quotes, dates, and details about the people in the stories of history, it helps to bring those people and, therefore, the stories to life.

I also think that if you have a genuine passion for what it is that you are doing, it makes it easy to memorize.  I am passionate about history and politics.  There is also the responsibility to know one’s topic front and back, up and down.


I attended your excellent series of lectures on the 2012 Presidential Election at LLS Jupiter. Why did you decide not to do a similar series for the 2016 Presidential election? Any regrets now that the race has gone in such surprising directions?

It was a pleasure offering that series.  However, I work seven days a week and have been doing so for many years.  I simply had to find ways of cutting back on my commitments.  It was hard to commit myself to four or eight weeks, so regrettably, I decided to cut back at LLS.  It was not an easy decision as I have so many friends that are members.

I have been lecturing on this bizarre campaign for other groups and have been offering media commentary for numerous outlets.  It is certainly one for the history books, but not in the way I would have wanted.  It has been enormously difficult to watch the media continually fail to ask legitimate questions and demand detailed answers, to watch too many candidates stir up fear and anger, and to observe people falling prey to all this nonsense.

As a nation, we are taking the low road to the highest office.  We must demand better of ourselves and our candidates.


Electoral college…..Thumbs up or Thumbs down? If the latter, what would you replace it with?

I have opposed the Electoral College my entire career – since I was in graduate school.  It has failed to work properly five times in our history (1800, 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000), it is non-democratic, and few people understand how it works.  We should replace it with a popular vote.

At the same time, it is but one of many electoral reforms this country desperately needs…including campaign finance reform, shorter campaigns, better designed ballots, new voting equipment, changes to the primary/caucus system, rethinking how we select delegates, and so on.


Those of us who religiously attend your LLS lectures already know the answer to this question, but for the others, what historical figure do you admire the most and why?

Hmmm…Let me think about that one….Harry Truman!  He demonstrated moral courage so many times in making the tough decision, was a visionary with his work on Israel, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin airlift, desegregation, NATO, and so many other issues, and he would rather do what was right and lose than do what was wrong and win.

Truman was an ordinary fellow who rose to extraordinary heights at one of the most critical moments in world history. Wow, what’s not to admire?

I have also always liked Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Eleanor Roosevelt.  That would probably be my top five!


Two of your accomplishments that you have shared with us during your lectures specifically stand out in my mind:

– your efforts to educate Florida children about their civic responsibilities;

– your role in bringing the 2012 Third Presidential Debate to Lynn University.

Could you tell us a bit more about these two programs?

I have visited hundreds of schools and classrooms over the past 26 years offering free civic education and history day programs.  It is something I have always done and intend to do until either I am unable to or until they don’t want me back.

If you approach the topics of civics and history in the right way with kids, they develop a passion for it or at least some interest in it.  I try to put them in the shoes of the people from history (which develops a connection), try to make them laugh, we utilize technology and social media (which they enjoy and it is how they learn), and ask them what they would do if they were there.  I also invite them to try and stump me – which they love – and I host mock elections.  We have had many tens of thousands of kids vote in these fun elections.

Hosting the Presidential debate at Lynn University was a wonderful experience for our students and the community.  The President of Lynn as well as our faculty, staff and students worked their backsides off.

After it was over, numerous reporters, political aides, and debate commissioners told us it was, by far, the best run debate ever.

The key was that we did not simply host a debate.  Rather, we used the debate as a vehicle to promote civic awareness!  For instance, I hosted over 1,000 area students on campus, developed a comprehensive debate curriculum for schools around the country, held debate “watch parties” for our students, organized a museum-quality debate history exhibit in our library, had debate-themed raffles, trivia contests, parties…you name it, we did it!


You have written 36 books on American politics and history as well as three novels and

hundreds of scholarly articles. Which book was the most challenging to write?

By far, the most difficult project was the current one – The Nazi Titanic.  It is the bizarre story of an unknown tragedy from WWII and the Holocaust.  Not only was the research challenging, but it was also emotionally draining to write about such an important and tragic event.  I felt a sense of responsibility to get the story right and get it out there because, with each passing year, we are losing Holocaust survivors and WWII Vets, and those who perished in this shocking event deserve to have their stories told.

The idea that such a momentous event could remain largely unknown for 70 years is remarkable.  Ultimately, the story constitutes the bloodiest hour of the Holocaust, history’s worst instance of friendly fire, the world’s most tragic maritime disaster, and the final major tragedy of WWII.


As a political analyst, you are frequently interviewed on radio and television as well as the print media. What transpired during your most surprising interview?

There are two interviews that I will always remember.  One was around midnight after the first Presidential debate in 2012.  I had given a few dozen interviews that day and had not slept

in some time…and was exhausted.  I had my earpiece in and was “in the field” doing an interview.  I saw the anchor in the small screen next to the camera and could hear him through my earpiece saying that they were going live to me for analysis.  Suddenly, my earpiece went dead!  I could not hear a thing, so I watched the anchor’s lips moving to try and figure out when he stopped talking.  When he stopped, I figured it was my turn to answer – but I had no clue what he had asked me.  So, I gave the most generic answer possible.

After I finished saying essentially nothing, I saw his eyebrows go up and a look of discomfort on his face.  His lips started moving again – but I couldn’t hear anything.  So, I said something else generic.  Later, I learned that he had asked me two very specific questions, so I must have come across as a knuckle-head.   It was embarrassing.  I should have simply said that we lost audio – but I was sleep deprived and not thinking clearly.

I offered a lot of commentary the night Osama bin Laden was killed.  I was contacted at home and told that something major was happening.  Could I come to the TV studio right away and be prepared to stay all night?  I agreed.  My concern was that it was a tragedy or another terror attack, but we soon found out that President Obama was going to announce that bin Laden was dead.  My job was to be the “filler”…that is, I had to talk about bin Laden, terrorism, and related topics until Obama spoke, and then fill afterward throughout the night in between segments with experts and government officials.  I had to remember a hundred facts and dates about al-Qaeda, 9/11, the War on Terror, bin Laden, and so on.

Fortunately, I have never been shy and, as my family can tell you, I can talk for forever!  It was a very cool experience to have hundreds of people call to say that they listened all night, that people quieted down in bars and restaurants to get the news, and so on.   I think we all remember where we were when the news of bin Laden’s death came.  People were emotional, celebratory, curious…and it was neat to be able to be a part of those experiences for them.


You often speak about your beautiful wife and children with such affection during your lectures.  How do you create opportunities to spend quality time with them given your hectic schedule? How would they describe you?

Well, I don’t fish, don’t hunt, don’t play golf, and don’t go out drinking with the fellas!

I have many hobbies – I swim, play basketball, play music, and so on – but my main “free time” activity is family time.  We are lucky in that we like to go out to dinner as a family, jog and swim together…in short, we have similar interests and do them together.

Also, I travel a lot and try to take my family along on many of the trips.  If I must do research at the Truman Library, Smithsonian, or Mount Vernon, I take my family along.  Or, if I am speaking at a battlefield, museum, or on a cruise, we all go along.

I suppose they’d describe me as funny, a workaholic, history nerd, and their number one cheerleader!


Game Time! 10 Quick Answers to 10 Quick Questions!

Your favorite Sport?                    One of my passions in life is playing basketball.

Favorite Food?                               Indian and Thai curry.  Yum!

Favorite Movie?                            Indiana Jones – He was a cool professor!

Favorite book?                               Well, not counting my own (!), Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man changed the way I approached science and academia.  But my favorites are my son’s book Tsunami and my daughter’s storybook for kids Fashion Rules.

Pet Peeve?                                      Arrogance

Favorite Music?                             I love all kinds of music.

Favorite Fun Activity?                 Going to the pool with my family

Favorite Travel Destination?   Anywhere in Europe…or a National Park

Dog or Cat Person?                       Dog

Early Bird or Night Owl?             Night Owl


Do you have a new book in the works?

Yes.  I am half-way finished with a book on the Revolutionary War.


Which group is a tougher crowd to lecture to…your undergraduate students at Lynn University or your FAU LLS students?

They are different challenges – the challenge for undergrads is getting them interested in the topic.  The challenge for LLS members is that they know everything…so I am always trying to think of new insights and info for them!


You are a former candidate for the United States House of Representatives.  Is there another political run for office in your future?

Goodness, no.  I plead temporary insanity.  I love what I do for a living.


What are your plans for the rest of 2016 and 2017? Have you chosen the subject of your future LLS lectures?

I am trying to finally carve out time for a few book tours.  It is something I have always wanted to do, but have never had the time…

Also, after years of focusing on political history, I have been developing more of an interest in military history.  I’d like to explore the causes and lessons of warfare.  There are still so many compelling and important stories out there…I’m sure a few of them would make good lectures!


Dr. Watson is currently presenting a series of lectures on “The Holocaust at 70: The Stories History Missed” at FAU LLS Jupiter (Tuesdays, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m., April 26, May 3, May 10, May 17, 2016). 


Dr. Watson will be signing copies of his new book The Nazi Titanic, which will be available for purchase, immediately following his lecture on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

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The Professor’s Corner: Kurt F. Stone, D.D.

Kurt F. Stone, D.D.

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So When Already?…The Next U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Which side is right under the Constitution?

The President and his supporters currently insist that the present nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court must be afforded a prompt hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and that an equally expeditious follow-on debate and majority vote by the Senate take place to determine whether that full august body will give consent or decline approval of the nomination.

Conversely, opponents of the nomination maintain, with equal vigor, that “the will of the American people must be served” and that so doing requires forbearing commencement of the “advice and consent” protocol by the Senate to await a new nomination by the next President of the United States.

The simple answer is that neither side likely enjoys a monopoly in claiming faithful adherence to the Constitution.

Article II, Section 2, Cl. 2, of the U.S. Constitution, in pertinent part says simply: “He [the President] shall have Power…by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate…to appoint…Judges of the supreme court…”

The Constitution nowhere mandates any time frame for either undertaking, nor has the Supreme Court ever interposed an imputation as to a ‘reasonable time’ for such happenings by either the Executive or the Senate to assure comportment with this Article.

With reference to somehow satisfying “the will of the American people”, both sides may unknowingly be correct, even though for the wrongly enunciated reason.  

Article I, Section 3 originally mandated that “The Senate of the United States shall be …chosen by the Legislature [of each state]”.  As such, the two Senators representing each state were not selected by the voters of that state, and as such, the composition of the Senate could hardly have reflected the “will of the people”, but rather the result of political machinations by state legislators. However, this circumstance changed in 1913, when Amendment XVII was ratified, thereafter requiring that Senators indeed reflect the will of the American people by mandating their election by direct vote of the citizenry in each state.

History reveals that both Democratic and Republican controlled Senates have sought to advantage their constituency in the last year of a presidential term by delaying or preventing hearings and Senate voting, respectively, as to a Supreme Court nominee. This nation has, indeed, “seen this movie before”, except that there is always the same ending in each instance; namely ultimate compliance with Article II.

The genius of our Founding Fathers in creating intentional legal tension as amongst the Executive, Legislative , and Judicial branches by establishing these three co-equal branches of government, is reflected by this current transient brouhaha.

Undoubtedly, the acknowledged legal discomfiture and uncertainty resulting from ongoing Supreme Court tie vote ‘deadlocks’ will remain fodder for criticism. However, one may take comfort that there is hardly a threat to the continuum of the place in our Constitution enjoyed by the Supreme Court as a separate equal branch of our Republic’s underpinnings.

“This too shall pass”.

Irving Labovitz, J.D.


labovitzIrving Labovitz, J.D., is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and holds a Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law. He is admitted before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as multiple federal appellate and trial courts. His experience includes: Federal Trade Commission legal staff in Washington, D.C., military federal prosecutor, Adjunct Professor of Business Law at Western New England Law School and FAU, attorney for major banks in concentrations of bankruptcy and secured lending, and contract counsel for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in the liquidation of failed banks. He has authored many scholarly law review articles and has been a national lecturer for the American Bar Association and Commercial Law League of America. He is presently general counsel for a large corporation.

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