Wed, June 26

Big Park Academy for Advanced Learning launches

Dr. Bob Kraft

Dr. Bob Kraft

Are you seeking to stimulate your brain by participating in engaging discussions with others from your community?

If so, the Big Park Academy for Advanced Learning is your opportunity.

Conceived by Canyon Mesa resident Dr. Bob Kraft, a retired university professor, the Academy fulfills one of the goals of Big Park Regional Coordinating Council: providing learning options. This goal results from the vision-building exercise led by the late Mel Copen, a past president of BPRCC.

The Academy received endorsement and startup funds from BPRCC, and is endorsed by the Sedona Village Vision Alliance, a group initiated to serve as a catalyst between organizations and businesses to promote ideas that enhance the lives of Big Park residents.

Kraft and his associates, international educators Dr. Don and Jan Groves of Sedona Golf Resort, have put together a program of readings and discussion topics designed for "advanced" learners, those with college degrees and beyond.

However, applicants are not screened. Anyone who enrolls, does the assigned reading and wants to participate is welcome. There will be no tests or written products required.

The program begins on Thursday, Sept. 24, and runs from 2 to 4 p.m. Participants meet in Conference Room 117 at Red Rock Ranger station below the visitor center on SR-179.

The first course of Big Park Academy is "The Dynamics of Cultural Evolution," which addresses change, both national and global, as it evolves over the short and long term. Readings generally come from journalistic sources, such as The Economist, Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic. There are no lectures from experts -- only group discussion. If a large number of participants enroll, they will be divided into discussion groups of four to seven.

Academy sessions are held every other Thursday over a 10-week period and end before Thanksgiving. The five topics to be explored are:

• The Big History of Everything (video), Sept. 24

• The War on Science, Oct. 8

• Why Do the Best Soldiers in the World Keep Losing?, Oct. 22

• What's Gone Wrong with Democracy?, Nov. 5

• The Curious Case of the Fall in Crime, Nov.19

Participants receive reading materials by email.

There is a $35 fee to cover expenses, which may be paid in cash at the first session.

To enroll, email