Library Virtual “Minicourses” Return This Fall

Registration opens Tuesday, August 30, for three virtual “minicourse” offerings through the Madison Public Library.

The courses, which will cover topics relating to the U.S. Constitution, Buddhism, and Reform Movements in America, are sponsored by the nonprofit Friends of the Madison Public Library.

One minicourse, titled “The Constitution in Flux – How Our Founding Document Has Changed, and What’s Next” will begin on Monday, September 19, and run for five Mondays in September and October from 10 am – 12 pm. Professor of Government and Politics, and Executive Director of FDU Poll, Dr. Daniel Cassino, will lead the sessions.

The course will focus on how although the words of the Constitution haven’t changed much since the passage of the Bill of Rights, the meaning of those words has changed dramatically. Through Supreme Court decisions, changes in rules, and shifts in culture, the meaning of the Constitution, and the system that it established, bear little resemblance to the version set forth by the founders, and that process is far from over. This course will look at how the interpretation of the Constitution has changed over time, focusing on provisions about Civil Liberties and Presidential Power, and see how these provisions are likely to change in the decades to come.

A second minicourse, titled “Many Buddhisms,” will begin on Tuesday, September 20, and run for five consecutive Tuesdays in September and October from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm. Dr. Anne Mocko, Associate Professor of Religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, will present these sessions.

This course examines Buddhism as a cultural and devotional phenomenon embedded in the varying histories and geographies of Asia. The course will start with a brief overview of Buddhist history and core insights and then examine several different forms of Buddhism, drawing material from Theravada contexts (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia), Mahayana contexts (China, Korea, Japan), and high-mountain contexts (Tibet, Nepal). Finally, the course will present a range of visual and video material to help students gain an appreciation of the cultural aesthetics of different forms of Buddhism.

The final fall minicourse offering will be “Reform Movements in America,” led by Dr. Ian Drake, Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. This session will begin on Wednesday, September 21, and run for five Wednesdays in September and October from 10 am – 12 pm.

This five-week series of talks will consider a different reform movement each session, especially the problems reformers sought to address, the methods of organization, and the goals and obstacles facing the movement.  Weekly topics include the Civil Rights movement, the Temperance movement, women’s rights, election reform, and the Animal Rights movement.

Interested students can find registration information here. The tuition for each course is $95, and couples in the same household only pay for one virtual link. No refunds or credits will be given once the course begins. These courses are organized by the Friends of the Madison Public Library, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.  All proceeds benefit the Madison Public Library.

These virtual non-credit courses are open to the public with no prerequisites or examinations.  For more information, please visit the website or email