Category Archives: Past Fe University courses

Courses offered by Fe University in the past. These course offerings are no longer available, but be sure to contact us if you see a topic you’d like to have repeated.

Ireland through the Ages: A Virtual Tour

Published by:

Course Title:  Ireland through the Ages: A Virtual Tour

Dates:  Thursdays, January 21 through February 11

Time:  10-11:30 a.m.

Location:  Zoom class

Class Size limited to 12; Please contact instructor before adding more to class

Class Fee: $15

Objectives:  In this course we will be going on a whirlwind virtual tour of Ireland, one of Europe’s smallest countries and—in terms of the sheer number of historical sites and archeological remnants still present on the cultural landscape for the armchair visitor to see—one of its most fascinating. Nowhere in all of western Europe do these historical and archeological remnants survive in the concentration that exists in Ireland—hundreds of thousands of them in a country not even two-thirds the size of Wisconsin. This is often explained by pointing to the country’s traditionally rural culture, and more specifically to its dearth of tillable agricultural land. While about 80% of the total land area of Ireland is devoted to agriculture, most of it grazing of livestock, just 6% is tillable, compared with anywhere from a third to half elsewhere in western Europe. That’s meant that ancient temples and tombs, medieval castles and towerhouses, religious settlements and artifacts from the dawn of Christianity, and forts and other defensive dwellings of an age long past were never churned up or plowed under. Rather, they remain where they were constructed, “monuments” of the past—the physical, material, and “readable” record of a long and rich history that has lain largely undisturbed despite the many political, social, and cultural upheavals that have occurred in the interim. Experiencing these amazing monuments in person can be as close to time travel as we will ever get. Until that is again possible, it is my hope that this virtual visit will go some way toward sustaining the curious traveler in each of us.

Course structure:  The course will be given in four sessions, each ninety minutes long, covering the following topics:

“Day” 1: The South (Leinster & Munster)

“Day” 2: The West (Munster & Connacht)

“Day” 3: The Northwest (Ulster) & Northern Ireland

“Day” 4: The Northeast (Leinster)

Requirements: Only an interest in travel and history. Handouts provided on the website.Instructor: Dr. Mary Magray has an MA in European history and a PhD in British and Irish history, with a focus on women and religion. She has been teaching a wide variety of European history courses to students of all ages for more than thirty years, including the history of early Irish and British Christianity at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of The Transforming Power of the Nuns: Women, Religion, and Cultural Change in Ireland, 1750-1900, published by Oxford University Press in 1998, and is currently an instructor in the Division of Continuing Studies at UW–Madison.  Dr. Magray, a popular instructor, has taught four other classes for Fe University.

Civil Discourse

Published by:

Course Title:  Civil Discourse

Dates:  Jan. 25, 2021

Time:  10:00-11:30 AM

Location:  Zoom

Objectives:  Students will learn about what makes difficult conversations difficult, how to hone skills for coping with personal reactions to difficult conversations, ways to engage others in dialogue and some advanced skills for managing challenging circumstances.   

Course structure:  The course will be given in 1 session, 90 minutes long, covering the following topics: 

This non-partisan, non-political class is about ways to connect, understand, and have civil conversations when it seems there are no paths through the thickets. Pick up some fundamental skills in how to converse with people with whom we disagree. Learn a bit about how our brains work (stories vs. facts and data), how to ask a great question, plus a couple of strategies for keeping cool. 

Requirements: NoneInstructor: Jane Banning earned her Masters of Science in Social Work from UW-Madison in 1979. She worked in heath care for twelve years and then directed the Clinical Teaching and Assessment Center at UW School of Medicine and Public Health for sixteen years. Following retirement, she was an adjunct faculty member for Nicolet College, taught at the YMCA of the Northwoods and worked as a contact tracer for Oneida County Heath Department. She enjoys reading, writing and pickle ball.

On Viruses and Vaccines

Published by:

Course Title:  On Viruses and Vaccines

Dates:  February 15th and 22nd, 2021

Time:  3:00-5:00PM  with a 10 minute break.

Location:  Zoom

Fee: $10

Objectives:  The student will leave understanding the structure and function of viruses and vaccines with the goals of being able to make better informed health care decisions and to be able to understand and interpret media claims and articles about the pandemic.     

Course structure:  The course will be given in 2 sessions, each 120 minutes long, covering the following topics:

·   The characteristics and molecular structure of viruses

·   The co-evolution of humans and viruses

·   The structural and reproductive powers of DNA and RNA

·   How viruses enter the body and cells and what they do once there. Are viruses alive?

·   The mechanisms if immunity; antigens, antibodies and vaccines.

·   Discussion of the “politics” of vaccines.  The anti-vaxxer argument.

Requirements: The course is structured for students with limited or no scientific background who are intellectually curious about biology, viruses and vaccines.  Students who have had high school biology and have forgotten everything are welcome.  Scientific vocabulary used will be limited and simple.  Out of class viewing of a few videos on biology and evolution will be optional.  No homework will be required, and class discussion and questions encouraged.

Instructor: Richard Thiede is a resident of Oma, Wisconsin.  He has a BS degree from Southern Methodist University and extensive post-graduate work in science, medicine and education at UWM, University of Colorado, University of Texas Southwest Medical School, Dartmouth College, University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University.  His major field of study was molecular biology.  He taught biology, chemistry and physics at SMU, Mount Hermon School and Greenfield High School (Greenfield, MA)

Baffling and Breathtaking Bogs, the ecology of nature’s pickle jars

Published by:

Course Title:  Baffling and Breathtaking Bogs, the ecology of nature’s pickle jars

Dates:  2/8/2021 & 2/9/2021

Time:  Zoom program 2/8: 10-11:30am, In-person Hike 2/9: 10am-12:30pm

Fee: $10 for zoom class and hike or $10 for zoom sessions only of Bog Ecology and Winter Ecology classes. Please indicate if you want to register for the hike, as space is limited to 10.

Location:  Meet at the Discovery Center parking area, and we will caravan to the fieldtrip site

Objectives:  There a number of different types of wetlands in Wisconsin, but no marsh or swamp is as unique and captivating at the Bog!  In this program, we will discuss the characteristics that make a bog a bog, from their hydrology to their peculiar plant communities.  We will explore a bog and the fascinating adaptations of the plants and animals that thrive in the harsh conditions of this special landscape with both a PowerPoint presentation and a visit to a Bog in our own backyard. 

Course structure:  The course will be given in __2_ sessions, each __90 – 150_ minutes long, covering the following topics:

·   Wetland characteristics

·   Bog hydrology

·   Bog plant communities

·   Bog animal communities

·   Bogs and landscape succession

·   Interesting current research and climate change in relation to bogs

·   Notable bogs of Vilas County

Requirements:  An interest in the Northwoods environment and ability to walk ~1.5 miles on flat terrain for a 2.5-hour fieldtrip.  The instructor will provide a list of resources for further reading and more details for participants who desire more information. The number of students participating in the field trip is limited to 10. An unlimited number may sign up for the zoom class only.


Annie McDonnell is the Naturalist, Citizen Science & Volunteer Coordinator at North Lakeland Discovery Center since 2016.  She earned degrees in Biology and Wildlife Ecology and has spent 5 years researching grassland songbirds, waterfowl, and owls throughout Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Winter Ecology & Mammal Tracking

Published by:

Course Title:  Life on the Edge: Winter Ecology and Mammal Tracking

Dates:  2/17 & 2/20

Time:  2/17: 10-11:30am, & 2/20: 10am-12:30pm

Fee: $10 for zoom session and hike or $10 for zoom sessions only for Winter Ecology and Bog Ecology. Please indicate soon if you wish to register for the hike, as space is limited to 10.

Location:  Meet at the Discovery Center parking lot, and we will caravan to the trailhead

Objectives:  Winter in the Northwoods is a time of quiet and tranquility for us humans, but its harsh conditions present immeasurable challenges to our plants and animals.  We will explore everything winter, from the physics of snow and ice, to the fascinating survival strategies of our wildlife and plant communities.  Join us for a PowerPoint presentation discussing the basics of winter ecology and a fieldtrip in search of winter-active mammals.    

Course structure:  The course will be given in _2__ sessions, each _90-150__ minutes long, covering the following topics:

·   Intro to winter ecology & snow/ice dynamics

·   Survival strategies of plants and animals

·   Life under the ice

·   Mammal tracks identification

Requirements: An interest in the Northwoods environment and ability to walk ~1.5 miles on flat terrain for a 2.5-hour fieldtrip.  The instructor will provide a list of resources for further reading and more details for participants who desire more information. 


Annie McDonnell is the Naturalist, Citizen Science & Volunteer Coordinator at North Lakeland Discovery Center since 2016.  She earned degrees in Biology and Wildlife Ecology and has spent 5 years researching grassland songbirds, waterfowl, and owls throughout Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. 

Cross Country Ski Instruction

Published by:

Course Title:  Cross Country Ski Instruction

Fee: $30 (minus $5 if registration received by Dec. 20); Includes $10 discount subsidized by the Turtle River Pursuit, and $10 MECCA trail fee.  Scholarships available.

Dates:  Monday and Wednesday, Jan. 13, 15, 20, 22, 2020

Time:  1:00 – 3:00 PM

Location: Mecca Ski Trail, 4686 Fierick Rd., Mercer WI, 54547

Objectives:  At the conclusion of this course, students will understand the basics of both diagonal stride and skate style skiing, as regards both technique and equipment.  They will be able to stand comfortably on skis, compress each ski and grip the snow, kick off and then repeat with the opposite leg. They will be able to glide forward on the gliding ski after their kick, maintaining balance, as they shift their weight forward over the gliding ski.  They will be able to engage their poles at the proper time and push, assisting forward movement.            Continue reading

Repairing the Harm: The Root of Restorative Justice

Published by:

Title: Repairing the Harm: The Root of Restorative Justice, Dr. Jane Nicholson, Instructor

Fee: $30 minus $5 early bird discount if registration is received by December 31. This course is offered for less than half the normal Fe U rate for a 16 hour class to introduce students to the concept of Restorative Justice.

Dates: January 14, 16, 21, 23, 2020

Time: 1:00-5:00 PM

Location: Mercer Library, 2648 Margaret St., Mercer, WI 54547

Overview:  The field of Restorative Justice emerged during the late 1970’s in response to historically high incarceration rates around the world.  Currently, Restorative Justice is endorsed by the E.U. and the U.N., in addition to many nations. In particular, we can recognize its impact globally in peace and reconciliation processes, juvenile justice, and as an alternative to suspension and expulsion in schools.  Restorative Justice is a distinct approach to justice that involves everyone (stakeholders) affected in the particular harm caused; they share their perspectives, determine the appropriate accountability for the harm caused, and determine what resources are available to ensure better future outcomes.  Depending on the harm and its context, Restorative Justice may be mandated as a parallel process in Criminal Justice matters. Continue reading

The Making—and Unmaking—of the United Kingdom: 1283 to the Present

Published by:

Course Title:  The Making—and Unmaking—of the United Kingdom: 1283 to the Present

Fee: $38 minus $6 if registered by Jan. 15

Dates:  Wednesdays, January 29, February 5 & 12

Time:  9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Location:  Mercer Community Center, 2648 Margaret St., Mercer


The objective of this course is to survey the long and complicated history of the multinational state known as the United Kingdom. Today the country is much in the news because of the ongoing political crisis caused by “Brexit”—its 2016 vote to leave the European Union. In fact, the crisis caused by Brexit has been building for a very long time: its roots lie in the distant past—in the English Crown’s conquest, over a period of some 500 years, of its nearest neighbors Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Only since the end of that period of conquest in 1801 has the “United Kingdom” as we know it even existed.

Today the future of that multinational state is not assured. For not only did these three conquered countries “make” the United Kingdom, they may yet prove to be the unmaking of it. Committed and well-organized nationalist, independence-demanding movements challenging the very existence of the UK have developed over time in all three countries—and are still growing and active today. Understanding these historical complexities is essential, for only then can we make sense of the current precarious predicament of the first Western nation to develop a representative form of government and one of our oldest and closest allies. Continue reading

Furbearers of Wisconsin; Diversity, Trapping & Management

Published by:

There is still room in this class, please give us a call to register 715-561-3098.

Course Title: Furbearers of Wisconsin; Diversity, Trapping & Management

Fee: $25

Dates:  1/7 & 8/2020

Class Hours: 2 hours in class and 3 hour hike 

Maximum Attendance:  15

Time:  1/7, 1-3 pm (in class), & 1/8,  1-4 pm (hike) 

Duration:  5 hours

Location:  Mercer Public Library and MECCA trail system for hike 

Course Description:   The name Furbearer refers to a diverse group of mammals that have an interesting history of harvest and population management.  We will discuss the different species of Wisconsin’s furbearers, their life histories and adaptations. Following our in-class presentation, we will go to the MECCA trail system for a short hike in search of sign of these interesting mammals.   Continue reading

The Story of Reconstruction

Published by:

Course Title:  The Story of Reconstruction

Course: #19F08

Course fee: $35 with $5 discount if registration is received by Nov. 6. Scholarships available.

Dates:  Wednesdays, Nov. 20, Dec. 4, 11, 18

Time:  4:00-6:00 PM

Location:  Room 430, Hurley K12 School, 5503 West Range View Dr., Hurley, WI

Objectives:  Students will gain an understanding of the difficult task of restoring America to its former glory following the Civil War.

Course structure:  The course will be given in _4__ sessions, each _2 hours__ long, covering the following topics:

  •         The closing days of the Civil War,
  •         The impeachment of Andrew Johnson,
  •         Radical Reconstruction and the presidencies of U.S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes.  
  •         The last class will develop the ideas behind the impending Civil Rights movement.  

Requirements: No requirements.

Instructor: This will be the fourth class that Mr. Kelly will be teaching for Fe University.  He previously taught a History of the Civil Rights Movement, the Holocaust Examined, and the Causes of the American Civil War.  He has been a history teacher in the Hurley School district for the past 33 years, holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and has attended numerous seminars, graduate classes and workshops on U.S. History. 

Russia Through the Lens of Short Fiction

Published by:

Course Title:   Russia Through the Lens of Short Fiction

Course #19F07

Course Fee: $35 Early Bird Fee $30 by Oct 1st

Dates:  October 14, 21, 28, and November 4, 2019

Time: 10:00 a.m. to noon

Location: Mercer Public Library, 2648 Margaret St. Mercer

Objectives:    Russian literature is perhaps known best for its lengthy works: War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and the like.  This course, to the contrary, will introduce students to four outstanding Russian short stories.  Our study of these works will both illustrate the artistic variety of Russian short fiction and enhance our understanding of Russian life over the span of 100 years. Continue reading

Winter Birds of the Northwoods

Published by:

Course Title: Winter Birds of the Northwoods

Course # 19F09

Course Fee:- $25

Dates: Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov 12 and Nov 13

Class Hours: 2 hours in class and 3 hour hike

Maximum Attendance: 15

Time: 11/12 1-3pm in class lecture/discussion, & 11/13 1-4 pm field trip

Duration: 5 hours

Location: Mercer Public Library, 2648 Margaret St. Mercer and field location TBD

Course Description: The Northwoods region is known for its harsh winters, with heavy snow, freezing temperatures and lack of sunlight.  However, despite these conditions a number of bird species call this frozen landscape home.  During this session, we will discuss the winter bird species of the Northwoods and their unique adaptations that enable their survival.  We will also discuss how landowners can provide quality forage, cover for birds, and improve habitat for birds in the Northwoods.  Following the in-class portion, we will go for a field trip hike to observe birds in their natural habitat and expand our identification skills. Continue reading

The Bill of Rights: Its Origins and Evolution

Published by:


Course #: 19F03 

Course Fee: $35 ($5 early bird discount if registered by Aug. 28)

Dates: Wednesdays – 11 September through 2 October 2019; 

Time: 4 – 6 p.m.

Location: County Board room, Courthouse, 300 Taconite Street, Hurley, Wisconsin


Objectives: The student will learn the origins and history of the first ten amendments to the U.S.

Constitution and their guaranties of due process and equal protection of the law according with

Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Continue reading

Exploring the History and Legacy of Camp Mercer

Published by:

Course Title: Exploring the History and Legacy of Camp Mercer

Course #19F06

Dates: October  8 -3.5 hours, October 15 _3.5 hours, October 17 -3.5 hours,

Time: Classroom instruction and field instruction 2:00 pm-5:30 pm

Class size: Limited to 14 participants.

Locations: Mercer Library and Camp Mercer CCC site

Objectives: Participant’s will:

1.) explore both written and digital historic sources regarding the Civilian Conservation Corps and 

   Camp Mercer.

2.) engage in field work analyzing historic sites (as participants are comfortable).

3.) collaboratively suggest stewardship plan and products that will overview of the historic  

   importance of both the CCC and Camp Mercer

4.) consult with Cynthia Stiles Archeologist who recorded Camp Mercer as a cultural site with the

   State of Wisconsin Continue reading


Published by:

Course Title:  American Antiques: 1700-1950

Course #19F05

Dates:  9/30, 10/3, 10/10

Time:  10:00-12:00

Location:  9/30 – Mercer Library, 10/3 –  Thiede home, 10/10 – Antiques N Stuff, Mercer

Objectives:  Following this class, students will have a better understanding of many categories of antiques, what is an antique, and how to tell authentic antiques from reproductions Continue reading

Ceramics for Beginners

Published by:

Course Title:  Ceramics for Beginners

Course #19F04

Dates:  September 9-26, Mondays and Thursdays

Course Fee: $35 plus $10 for supplies with early bird discount of $5 if registered by August 26.

Time:  4:00-5:30

Location:  Art room, Mercer School, 2690 Margaret St., Mercer, WI

Objectives:  In the 6 sessions, students will learn three fundamental techniques for working with clay: coils, pinch and slab-work. By the end of the class, students will have made three projects, including a mug they will build out of coils, a multi-purpose bowl utilizing the pinch technique, and a flat dish made from rolling slabs from clay. Returning students will have the options to work in any three of the taught techniques and encouraged to combine techniques into more elaborate creations. Continue reading

Orienteering-Map and Compass Skills

Published by:

Class is full.  Submit your registration and get on our waiting list.

Course Title:  Orienteering- Map and Compass Skills

Course #: 19F02

Dates:  August 13, 20, 22, 2019

Course Fee: $35($5 early bird discount if registered by July 30)

Time:  1-3 PM (8/13&20) & 1-4 PM (8/22)

Location:  Mercer Library (Session 1 & 2) Session 3 TBD

Objectives: At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  •        Plan a route of travel to a location utilizing a map and compass
  •        Follow a route to a destination using a compass
  •        Predict a current location using terrain features and a compass
  •        Determine coordinates on a map
  •        Discuss the pros- and cons- of utilizing map/compass and GPS

Continue reading

The Realities of Immigration Today

Published by:

Course Title: The Realities of Immigration Today

Course#: 19F01

Dates: Mondays Aug 5 & Aug 19 and Tuesday Aug 13 From 9am – 12pm at the Mercer Public Library.

Course Fee: $40 with $5 discount for early registration by July 22.

Objectives:  This course is designed to help students develop a deeper understanding of contemporary immigration developments and policies. Participants will learn about global demographic changes that influence the flow of migration in the developed and developing world. Sessions will explore public perceptions toward migrants in host countries and compare those to reality, in terms of the decision to migrate, the economic impacts of immigration in host countries, and the role of political economy in integration. Upon course completion, students will be able to better assess the central issues raised by immigration today and the trends of tomorrow. Continue reading

Scientific Literacy in the Information Age

Published by:

Course Title: “Scientific Literacy in the Information Age”

Course #19S06

Dates: July 8, 15, 22, and 29 – Mondays, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (totaling 8 course hours)

Location: Iron County Courthouse, 300 Taconite St., Hurley, Wisconsin

Course fee: $35 minus $5 if registration is received by June 24, 2019

Course Objective: How do you find accurate and well-researched scientific and medical information online in a world overflowing with misinformation and bias? In this course you will learn how use critical thinking strategies to engage with scientific reporting in the media and online sources. Learn how to identify problematic claims or hoaxes attempting to take advantage of you or your money, in addition to well-informed but misguided information based on personal bias or hidden agendas. Navigate the internet wisely and safely! Continue reading

American Sign Language

Published by:

Course Title:  American Sign Language

Course #19S05

Dates:  Tuesday/Thursday, May 28 & 30, June 4,6,11,13

Time:  1:30 to 3:00 pm

Location:  Mercer Public Library

Course Fee: $40, Discount $35 if registered by May 14th.

Students will be required to purchase the following book before class: Signing for Kids by Mickey Flodin.  The book is available new through Amazon for $16.  Used books may be purchased for considerably less through eBay or Amazon.

Objectives:  Students will learn the basics of American Sign Language, beginning with the manual alphabet.  Students will also increase sign language vocabulary along with knowledge of grammatical structure.  Students will be able to hold basic conversations with deaf individuals. Continue reading

Exploring and Documenting the Flambeau Trail and Turtle Portage

Published by:

Course is full –no further students will be accepted.

Consider signing up on the waiting list for the next one.

Course Title: Exploring and Documenting the Flambeau Trail and Turtle Portage

Course #19S02

Course fee: $65, early bird discount $55 if registered before April 2nd

Dates: April 16 -3 hours, April 23 _3 hours, April 30 -3 hours, May 7 -3 hours, May 14 -2 hours May 21 –Rain Date as needed.

Time: Varies based on activity, classroom instruction 2:00 pm-4:00 pm, most field instruction 2:00 pm-5:00 pm

Class size: Limited to 12 participants.

Locations: Mercer Library, Mouth of the Montreal River & Oronto Creek, Long Lake & Turtle River Continue reading

Where Two Worlds Meet-Lac du Flambeau

Published by:

This Class is now full we will accept your contact information on a waiting list for a future class.

Course Title:  Where Two Worlds Meet—Lac du Flambeau

Course # 19S04

Dates:  Wednesdays, May 15- June 5, 2019

Time:  10:00 AM to noon

Location:  Mercer Library conference room, 2648 W Margaret St., Mercer

Course fee: $35 with $5 discount if registration is received by May 1, 2019

Maximum number of students: 12

Objectives:   I hope that students will come to have a greater perception of and empathy for people of differing racial/cultural backgrounds with a view toward bringing about a better understanding and acceptance of others and differing ways of life. Continue reading

Climate Change: Causes, Effects, Solutions

Published by:

Course Title:  Climate Change: Causes, Effects, Solutions

Course # 19W05

Course Fee – $15

Dates:  March 19 and 26, 2019

Time:  9:00 AM to noon

Location:  Mercer Community Center, 2648 W Margaret St., Mercer

Objectives:  Students will learn about climate change effects on life in the Midwest and Wisconsin. Options for reducing the rate of climate change and adaptation to changes will be presented. Continue reading

Poetry Workshop: Words At Play.

Published by:

Course Title:  Poetry Workshop: Words At Play.  (Poetry is like dancing with words.)

Course# 19S01

Course Fee-$25 Discount $20 if registered by March 23rd

Date: April 6, 2019

Time:  9:30AM to 1:30 PM

Location:  Mercer Library, Board Room

Objectives:  To acquaint participants in the ease of putting images of people, places, and things that have meaning for them into poetry.  We will discuss terms and techniques, including free verse, prose poems, and structured poems. Everyone’s personal history and aspirations are unique so why not put them into poems.  Poetry is a great way to express yourself in a concise and meaningful form. Continue reading