Course Catalog and Auditor Only Series

Class catalog

Community auditors are not eligible to take Visual or Performing Arts courses or Writing courses. Very few courses are offered in the evening. Courses are not offered during the summer.

Just Added:  

Spring 2022 Auditor Only classes

ASC 100 – America Divided: Slavery and Antislavery on the Road to Civil War

Professor: Matthew Karp Department of History, Princeton University 

DescriptionThis course traces the forces and figures that produced America’s greatest political crisis, the rupture of the Union and the start of the Civil War in 1861. That war remains the country’s deadliest military conflict – and one that led to its greatest social and constitutional revolution – but all of those changes flowed from the specifically political crisis of the 1850s. Our four classes will explore different aspects of that critical moment, beginning with the place of slavery in the antebellum United States (and the explicitly proslavery worldview it engendered), as well as the new antislavery mass politics that emerged after 1854. Finally, we will explore the collision of those two forces in the crisis moment of 1860-1861.
1.      A Slaveholders’ Republic 
2.      Slavery and Empire 
3.      Millions of Abolitionists 
4.      The Revolution of 1860 and the Counterrevolution of 1861

Time: 11:00 am -12:30 pm

Dates: Friday's, March 4, 11, 18, 25, 2022

Matthew Karp is a historian of the U.S. Civil War era and its relationship to the nineteenth-century world. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 and joined the Princeton faculty in 2013.

His first book, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy(link is external) (Harvard, 2016) explores the ways that slavery shaped U.S. foreign relations before the Civil War. In the larger transatlantic struggle over the future of bondage, American slaveholders saw the United States as slavery's great champion, and harnessed the full power of the growing American state to defend it both at home and abroad. This Vast Southern Empire received the John H. Dunning Prize from the American Historical Association, the James Broussard Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Stuart L. Bernath Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
Karp is now at work on a book about the emergence of anti-slavery mass politics in the United States, and in particular the radical vision of the Republican Party in the 1850s.

ASC 200 – Einstein 

ProfessorMichael D. Gordin, Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History; Professor of History; Director, Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, Princeton University 

DescriptionAlbert Einstein is the most renowned, and most recognizable, scientist of the twentieth century — and possibly of all time. (He also bears the even more impressive distinction of being Princeton’s most famous resident.) This short course provides an introduction to the biography, science, and political and philosophical views of the renowned physicist. We will also pay particular attention to Einstein’s 23 years in Princeton, the longest time he spent in any one place.

March 4: Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
March 11: Relativity theory, the quantum debates, and the quest for unification
March 18: Einstein on His World: Religion and War
April 1: Einstein in Princeton

Time: 2:00 pm-3:30 pm

Dates: Friday's, March 4, 11, 18 and April 1, 2022

Michael D. Gordin is the Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 2003. A specialist in the history of the physical sciences, especially in Russia and the Soviet Union, he has researched and taught on a wide range of subjects, including nuclear history, space history, the history of pseudoscience, and the history of language. One of his earliest fascinations in the history of science was the science and life of Albert Einstein, and he recently published a history of the scientist’s brief residence in, and then lifelong connections to, the city of Prague: Einstein in Bohemia (Princeton University Press, 2020). He has written seven other books, including Scientific Babel: How Science Was Done before and after Global English (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Five Days in August: How World War II Became a Nuclear War (Princeton University Press, 2007), and most recently On the Fringe: Where Science Meets Pseudoscience (Oxford University Press, 2021). He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship, and is a member of the Leopoldina, Germany’s National Academy of Sciences. He is currently the Director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton 

ASC 300 – The New Princeton Companion: Insights into the Evolution, Distinctiveness, and Defining Characteristics of Princeton University

Led by: Robert K. Durkee, Princeton University Vice President and Secretary, Emeritus

Description: In March 2022, Princeton University Press will publish The New Princeton Companion, a 584-page compendium of more than 400 articles about Princeton University’s distinctive history and traditions; the personalities, aspirations, and turning points that have made it what it is today; and its defining characteristics and idiosyncrasies. Completely updated, revised, and expanded from the classic 1978 edition of the Companion, the book also includes a capsule summary of the University’s transformation from a tiny colonial college to an acclaimed multicultural, multiracial, and multinational research university, an essay about its informal motto (“In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity”), annotated maps that trace the growth of the physical campus over more than two-and-a-half centuries, and a “this day in Princeton history” calendar. Many of the entries in the book respond to the University’s call to be more honest and transparent about aspects of its history that have often been “forgotten, overlooked, subordinated, or suppressed.”  Each participant in the course will receive a copy of the book. The three classes will examine:

  1. Decisive Turning Points in Princeton’s History
  2. The Evolution of the Physical Campus  
  3. Pivotal Personalities  

Time:   2:00 pm-3:30 p.m.

Dates:  Tuesdays, March 29, April 5, April 12, 2022

The New Princeton Companion was written and edited by Robert K. Durkee, following his June 2019 retirement from the University after working for more than 47 years in its most historic building, Nassau Hall. He served as Assistant to the President from 1972 to 1978; as Vice President for Public Affairs from 1978 to 2018; and as Vice President and Secretary from 2004 to 2019. As a Princeton undergraduate in the Class of 1969, he was an award-winning reporter and editor-in-chief of the Daily Princetonian and an on-the-campus columnist for the Princeton Alumni Weekly. He has served on the boards of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, McCarter Theatre, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, and the Princeton University Store, and was the founding chair of the University’s Martin Luther King Day committee. Immediately after his graduation from Princeton, he taught fifth and sixth grades in the Trenton Public Schools.  

ASC400 - Princeton and the American Revolution

Led by: Barry Singer, Historical Society of Princeton

Description: This 3-lecture series provides an overview of the period of Princeton’s beginnings and early history, and then highlights the events of the American Revolutionary War up to the “10 Crucial Days”, culminating in the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. We will focus on the effects of the war on Princeton, and hear sometimes in the soldiers’ own words of their sacrifice and perseverance which led to the creation of our free nation.   We will also discuss in detail the Battle of Brooklyn, the largest battle of the war, and its implications for Princeton. Finally, we will discuss the 4 ½ months in 1783 when the small rural town of Princeton rose to the occasion and became the nation’s capital.

February 10: Princeton and the American Revolution Overview
February 17: The Battle of Brooklyn
February 24: Princeton, the Nation's Capital, 1783

Dates: Thursdays, February 10, 17, 24, 2022

Time: 10:00 am-11:30 am

Barry Singer has been a Princeton area resident for about 30 years. He has a Bachelors Degree in Economics from City College of New York and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. He has also studied military history and served two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-1960s.  During a long career in the financial business, he relocated to the Princeton area to work for Merrill Lynch and Co.  For five years he served on the Board of Advisors of the Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill.  For the last fifteen years, as a volunteer with the Historical Society of Princeton, he has been educating people about Princeton’s history and the events of the American Revolutionary War which took place here.  In that time, he has led hundreds of walking tours of the town and the Princeton University campus.  He has also created and taught a course at Rutgers University Continuing Ed (OLLI) entitled “Princeton and the American Revolution”.  He has lectured extensively on this subject at various local libraries, senior centers and historical societies.  For the past two years he has been writing a novel, soon to be released, about coming of age in the 1960s during the Vietnam war.  If you would like to learn more about Barry’s Revolutionary War activities, please visit his website at

ASC500 - Historic Princeton

Led by: Eve Mandel, Historical Society of Princeton and Shirley Satterfield, Witherspoon-Jackson Histor District

Description: The town of Princeton was settled more than 300 years ago. What has changed over the years, and what has stayed the same? Enjoy a virtual of the town from the comfort of your home and compare images of transportation, shopping, education, and historic sites, past and present. We will discuss the Princeton Cemetery, referred to as the “Westminster Abbey of the United States”, hear the fascinating stories, accompanied by images of the final resting places, of many of Princeton’s prominent citizens, including a U.S. president, vice president, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. We will close out our historical tour with a one-of-a-kind presentation of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District which highlights the history beyond Nassau Street. Learn about the “Princeton Plan” that desegregated schools; the life of Paul Robeson; and the establishment of Palmer Square, which demolished much of the historic African-American neighborhood across from the University.

1. Princeton Then and Now

2. Princeton Cemetery

3. The Other Side of Kings Highway: African American Life in Princeton

Dates: Tuesday, February 15, 22, and March 1, 2022

Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am

Special Lecture Series

ASC600  - Princeton and the Dawn of the Information Age, From Alan Turig to Jeff Bezos

Professor: Vincent Poor, Michael Henry Strater University Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Information technologies, such as computers, smart phones, and the Internet, pervade today’s world, and Princetonians and Princeton institutions have played major foundational roles in conceiving and creating these technologies. This talk will trace these developments through the contributions of Princeton faculty, students and community members who made major contributions to them.  These include pioneering figures such as Alan Turing, John Von Neuman, Claude Shannon, who were the progenitors of much of modern information technology, as well as more recent figures such as Eric Schmidt, Meg Whitman and Jeff Bezos, who have brought these technologies into our everyday lives. The material will be presented at a level suitable for people with general backgrounds. 

Date: February 4, 2020

Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am

H. Vincent Poor is the Michael Henry Strater University Professor at Princeton, where he is engaged in research and teaching in wireless networks, energy systems, and related fields. He received his Ph.D. in EECS from Princeton in 1977, and from then until joining the Princeton faculty in 1990, he was on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has also held visiting positions at several other universities, including most recently at Berkeley and Cambridge. During 2006-16, he served as Dean of Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science In addition to his academic career, he has also served as a consultant or advisor to a number of technology companies and other organizations, and he is currently serving on the boards of Hyster-Yale Materials Handling (NYSE: HY), the non-profit Corporation for National Research Initiatives, and Swarthmore College. Dr. Poor is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a foreign member of the Royal Society and other national and international academies. Other recognition of his work includes honorary doctorates and professorships from a number of universities in Asia, Europe and North America.

ASC700 - Court Packing

Professor: Keith Whittington, Willian Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Department of Politic at Princeton University

Description: On the campaign trail in 2020, then-candidate Joseph Biden promised that if elected he would appoint a bipartisan commission to examine potential reforms to the United States Supreme Court. That promise came in response to growing calls in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to add new seats to the Court to counterbalance the justices that President Trump had been able to appoint during his term. After his inauguration, Biden fulfilled his promise and appointed a presidential commission. I was honored to serve on the commission, which completed its work and gave a report to the president in December 2021.  The report can be found at  Some of the proposals examined in the report include Court expansion, term limits, jurisdiction stripping, and legislative overrides of judicial decisions. What is the case for and against Court reform? What are the challenges and what are the risks?

Date: February 8, 2020

Time: 10:00 am – 11:15 am

Keith E. Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University and is currently the chair of Academic Freedom Alliance and a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution. He works on American constitutional history, politics and law, and on American political thought. He is the author of Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present and Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History, among other works. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Texas School of Law, and he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and served on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin and completed his Ph.D. in political science at Yale University.

ASC800 New Politics of Supreme Court Nominations: What Happened, Why, and What Comes Next

Professor: Charles Cameron

Date: Friday, March 25, 2020

Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Charles Cameron is jointly appointed in the Department of Politics and the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. He specializes in the analysis of political institutions, particularly courts and law, the American presidency, and legislatures. His work often combines game theory and quantitative methods, and sometimes historical materials. The author of numerous articles in leading journals of political science, he is also the author of Veto Bargaining: Presidents and the Politics of Negative Power (Cambridge UP 2000) which won the American Political Science Association's Fenno Prize, for best book in legislative studies, and William Riker Award, as best book in political economy. A recipient of multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, he has been a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a Visiting Scholar at Princeton's Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, and has a recurrent visiting affiliation as Professor at New York University School of Law. Before joining the faculty of Princeton, he taught for 15 years at Columbia University. He holds the M.P.A. and Ph.D. (Public Affairs) from Princeton University. He was inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014. He is an extremely avid, though hardly expert, horseman. He is not a fan of stuffy portraits.