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Ohio County Public Library’s ‘Cold War’ People’s University Series to Begin

WHEELING — The 33rd series in the People’s University program, “The Cold War,” starts Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Ohio County Public Library.

The Cold War was the crucible by which the United States was transformed into a global superpower and laid the basis for the national security state. The ideological and geopolitical competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union shaped the global and regional makeup of the modern world.

A driver for the development of both conventional and nuclear forces, the Cold War played out not just between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R, but also in Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and the entire world, leaving legacies that continue to influence global politics in the 21st century.

In this series of eight classes, we’ll look at the origins and developments of the conflict, from containment, the red scare, the space race, the building and tearing down of the Berlin Wall, to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We will also explore memories and events of Wheeling and the state of West Virginia during the period and end by examining how the Cold War is still impacting the world today.

The class schedule includes:

Dec. 2, Class 1, Introduction: Iron Curtain Rising. What was the Cold War? with instructor Dr. Gary Kappel.

Dec. 9, Class 2, Wars of Containment, with Kappel.

Dec. 16, Class 3, Fall of Empires, with instructor Dr. Joe Laker.

Dec. 21 (Tuesday), Class 4, The Second Red Scare, with instructor Dr. Hal Gorby.

Dec. 30, Class 5, Rivalries, Propaganda and Cultures, with Kappel.

Jan. 6, Class 6, A Global War, with Laker.

Jan. 13, Class 7, Reagan and Gorbachev, instructor to be announced.

Jan. 20, Class 8, Epilogue, Duck and Cover: Is the Cold War Over? with an instructor to be announced.

Kappel, emeritus professor of History and Political Science, spent his entire professional career serving the students and his colleagues at his alma mater, Bethany College. In addition to teaching courses in World History, European History, Military History and the history of ideas, for many years he taught first year seminars in the Cold War and the history of Bethany College. He earned his bachelor of arts at Bethany College, and his master’s and Ph.D. at West Virginia University.

Laker is emeritus professor of History at Wheeling Jesuit University and a board member of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. Following his graduation from Marian College with a degree in history, he spent two years teaching English conversation in Kyoto, Japan. He returned home to seek advanced degrees at Indiana University and received his Ph.D. in history in 1975. He spent the next 33 years at Wheeling Jesuit University.

He has written a number of articles on various aspects of Japanese and world history. Since retiring in 2008, he has written a history on Wheeling Jesuit and a variety of articles on West Virginia history.

Gorby is a teaching assistant professor of history and director of undergraduate advising at West Virginia University. He teaches courses on West Virginian, Appalachian and American immigration history.

He consulted on the research and script editing for the Emmy-nominated PBS American Experience documentary “The Mine Wars” and hosted and researched the podcast “Henry: The Life and Times of Wheeling’s Most Notorious Brewer,” produced by Wheeling Heritage Media. His book, “Wheeling’s Polonia: Reconstructing Polish Community” in a West Virginia Steel Town was published by WVU Press in 2020.

Classes start at 6:30 p.m. in the library auditorium. These programs will be available to watch live online though Facebook Live, on YouTube and on the Ohio County Public Library website under the People’s University Cold War livestream page.

Online viewers can leave questions for our presenters by logging into their Facebook or YouTube account during the program to leave using the comments box. The questions will be answered during the live broadcast.

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