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2023-24 Distinguished Lecture Series Announced by IRSC Fielden Institute for Lifelong Learning

2023-24 Distinguished Lecture Series Announced by IRSC Fielden Institute for Lifelong Learning

November 6, 2023 Jon Pine

One of the most anticipated offerings through the Fielden Institute for Lifelong Learning is the Distinguished Lecture Series, offered by Indian River State College’s (IRSC) School of Continuing Education. This series is designed for men and women who are interested in exploring shared topics of interest in a college atmosphere, focused on subjects in science, the arts, environmental concerns, global issues, and education. Lectures are offered once per month, starting December 7 at the IRSC Mueller Campus in Vero Beach. Lectures begin at 10:00 a.m. and end at Noon.

Here are the lectures planned for the 2023-’24 season:

December 7, 2023:  Lenny Dave - “100 Years of Comedy” Location: Mueller Campus, Vero Beach

Lenny DaveLenny Dave is the first (and only) performer to appear in both the Red Skelton Entertainment Series and at the Oliver Hardy Festival, sustaining and preserving the enduring legacies of two of comedy’s all-time legends—Red Skelton and Laurel and Hardy. Audiences will laugh, learn and lighten up as nationally recognized comedy historian Lenny Dave takes them on a fast-paced, entertaining and nostalgic trip down comedy’s Memory Lane, back to a special time when the best comedians were both funny and clean.


January 11, 2024:  Dr. Paul Gray Ph.D. - “History of Ornithology in America, Florida and around Okeechobee” Location: Pruitt Campus, Port St. Lucie

Paul GrayHear about the discovery of bird life in the New World, especially Florida, and man’s history of learning about them. Humans were hunting them so heavily for table meat, market meat, decorating hats with their plumes, and recreation, that many populations were crashing, some going extinct. The exploitation inspired the establishment of Audubon Societies to try to protect them. Shooting is now mostly controlled but habitat loss and degradation continue to threaten them. Dr. Gray will cover this history up to today and Audubon’s Everglades Restoration program. Dr. Gray is a Science Coordinator for Audubon Florida’s Everglades Restoration Program and has been working in Florida for 36 years, the last 29 years for Audubon.

February 22, 2024:  Sandra Pearce – “Africa – A Trip of a Lifetime!” Location: Pruitt Campus, Port St. Lucie

Sandra PearceSandra has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years and has earned the Master Photography, Master of Electronic Imaging, and Craftsman in her national association, Professional Photographers of America. For this lecture, Sandra will share photographs and stories of the main animals in Africa — elephants, leopards and rhinos. She also will discuss their habits and how they all work together, including the dangerous endeavor of crossing the Mara River in Kenya.

March 07, 2024:  Jeff Hessel - “Eyewitness to History: My Time at Cape Canaveral During the Space Race” Location: Chastain Campus, Stuart

Jeff HesselHear Jeff Hessel as he recounts his incredible journey at Cape Canaveral, and ground zero of the U.S.A. Space Program. After graduating with an engineering degree, Hessel started his career at the Cape during the height of the Space Race and the time of the Apollo program. The presentation includes a history of the Cape, why the location was selected, competition with the Soviet Union, rare archival footage of JFK’s last visit to the Cape—six days before his tragic trip to Dallas—witnessing the Apollo 11 launch, and more. Hessel’s presentation combines history, little-known facts, and his own experiences. Hessel’s behind-the scenes narrative about this unique time in our history is both educational and entertaining.

April 4, 2024:  Dr. Stephen Kowel, Ph.D. - “Chip Intelligence: Magnificent Possibilities, Menacing Portents” Location: Chastain Campus

Stephen KowelMicrochips connected over the Internet already manage much of modern life, but might become so powerful that our machines become a competitive species, or, perhaps, our salvation. They can network over the internet, accessing all data, misinformation, and facts, plus all the implicit biases accumulated by humankind. How do we use the power of ‘artificial intelligence’ to improve health and education, and create a prosperous, sustainable world? Can we put in protections against the Singularity, a network that could arise from anywhere, anytime, deciding that it knows best how to save the planet and protect its future? Or could the Singularity be our progeny, preserving the best of human culture, and eliminating the worst? Dr. Stephen Kowel has held faculty positions at Syracuse University, the University of California, Davis, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the University of Cincinnati, where he also served as Dean of the College of Engineering. Dr. Kowel also was the Director of Research Development for Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 2012-2015.

The Distinguished Lecture Series is presented by the Fielden Institute for Lifelong Learning. Doors open 30 minutes before each lecture. Lectures last approximately one hour and are followed by a moderated 30-minute question-and-answer session. Registration for the five-part series is $125 per person for new and returning members; $100 per person for lifetime members and peer leaders. Individual lecture seats are offered at $35. For further information call Shauna Monahan at 772-462-7880.

The Distinguished Lecture Series is presented by Indian River State College Foundation and School of Continuing Education. To subscribe to the Distinguished Lecture Series, contact the Fielden Institute for Lifelong Learning at 772-462-7880 or visit For more information on Lifelong Learning program offerings, visit

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