Saturday U: Free One

February 28, 2012
Man smiling
University of Wyoming Religious Studies Director Paul Flesher will discuss "Church and/or State: A Difference to Die For?," one of three lectures by UW professors during the Saturday UW program in Jackson. (UW Photo)

Separation of church and state, a discussion about today's economy and a look into the Broadway smash "Spamalot" are among topics Saturday, March 3, for the winter term of Saturday U -- the University of Wyoming's free one-day college education program.

A half-day of college classes and discussion begins with refreshments at 8:30 a.m., followed by a welcoming address at 8:45 a.m. at the National Museum of Wildlife Art Cook Auditorium.

Three representatives from UW will then present lectures, followed by a free lunch and a question-and-answer session.

Saturday U is a collaborative program that connects popular UW professors with lifelong learners in Jackson Hole. Offered three times a year, Saturday U is sponsored by the university, the UW Foundation and Wyoming Humanities Council and presented by Central Wyoming College (CWC), the National Museum of Wildlife Art and Teton County Library Foundation.

Listed are program topic descriptions and UW representatives lecturing:

9-10 a.m. -- "Church and/or State: A Difference to Die For?" Paul V.M. Flesher,UW Religious Studies Program director and associate professor. What is the relationship between a people's religion and their government? Americans often think its separation of church and state is a model for the world. Yet, in China, government rejection of religions is resulting in continuing crackdowns on Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese Catholics. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, religion is moving closer to government, as evidenced by the results of the Arab Spring.

"We'll look at different ways cultures around the world have handled the relationship of religion and government, and how America might navigate the world's turbulent waters of church-state relations, in the coming years, at home and abroad," Flesher says.

10:15-11:15 a.m. -- "Find Your Grail! Monty Python on Broadway." Susan Aronstein, UW Department of English professor. Eric Idle's Spamalot, "lovingly ripped off" from the cult classic, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," opened on Broadway in 2005.

"We'll examine Idle's translation of a very-British 1974 film into a very-American Broadway musical. We will begin by looking at the film's youthful rebellion: it's a send-up of Hollywood film, the Arthurian legend, and the nostalgia for a medieval past that never was, a past in which strange women lying around in ponds distributing swords could be a basis for a political system," Aronstein says. "And then we'll look at what happened when the film's mud-and-muck medievalism met Broadway's glitter and glam."

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. -- "Give Me Austerity and Fiscal Discipline, But Not Yet." Klaas Van't Veld, UW Department of Economics associate professor.

"You would not know this from reading the newspaper or listening to politicians, but the vast majority of economists (both liberal and conservative) agree that a large federal budget deficit is bad for the economy, but the deficit should not be cut during a recession," Van't Veld says. "If anything, it should be expanded, through tax cuts or increases in government spending. This talk will introduce just enough basic macroeconomics to explain why, using nothing more technical than a few charts and even a game or two."

12:30-1:30 p.m. -- Lunch and speaker roundtable moderated by Marcia Britton, Wyoming Humanities Council director, plus an audience question-and-answer session in the Wapiti Gallery.

Participants may attend one, two or all three lectures, plus the final roundtable. The program is free and open to the public. For more information, or to register for college credit or Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) credit, call Susan Thulin, CWC outreach coordinator, (307) 733-7425.

For more information about Saturday U, visit the website at or contact Teton County Library Adult Humanities Coordinator Oona Doherty at (307) 733-2164, ext. 135; or email

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