“Bordering on Madness”

Coming This Fall. Sunrise Senior College presents a course on Borders And Boundaries

Lighthouse On Campobello Island, Looking North Toward Shipping Channel


Borders, like the humans that create them, are fickle. Nowhere is that more evident than right here in Maine. Why do the U.S. and Canada still quarrel over Machias Seal Island and the rich lobster fishery that surrounds it? Why is Campobello Island considered part of Canada when the only bridge out of the place goes to the U.S.? Why did Maine and New Brunswick lumberjacks almost come to blows in what is sometimes called the Aroostook War?


Beginning on September 14 from 11-12 noon and continuing at the same time on the 21st and 28th, Sunrise Senior College is offering a Zoom-based course entitled “Bordering on Madness” that shows how the convoluted, often random and extremely inexact process by which borders are drawn make such misunderstandings inevitable. Primitive technology, human fallibility and robust nationalism all led to errors and overreach in the building of the U.S. border that still haunt us today. Our local examples of Machias Seal Island, Campobello Island, and the Aroostook War serve as case studies to illustrate the many ways border-making can go wrong.


This is a timely discussion. Many Americans today regard our national boundaries as sacrosanct. But their histories, as the course shows, are unholy at best. The course will involve active participation by registrants and a give-and-take about the role of borders today given the erratic way they were put together.


Instructor Stephen R. Kelly is a former journalist, U.S. diplomat and academic who has long spent his summers with his wife Jane in Jonesport. He was the U.S. Consul General in Quebec City when Quebeckers voted to secede from Canada in 1995. He served in the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2000-2004, as Canada and the U.S. worked to create a "smart border" in the wake of 9/11. He then went to Mexico City, where he helped shape U.S. border policy with Mexico at a time of growing concerns over cross-border drug trafficking and undocumented immigration. Kelly translated his experience into classes on border issues at Duke University, where he became a full-time faculty member in 2011 after retiring from the Foreign Service. He also helps conduct training classes in diplomatic affairs for special forces units based at Fort Bragg, N.C.


Zoom Format The Zoom format means that interested learners throughout Maine can register and attend without leaving their homes, provided they have a decent internet connection and a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone (Android, Apple, or PC). A Zoom account is not necessary.


Online Registration

An additional innovation that Sunrise now offers is digital course registration, either through their website https://machias.edu/ssc/ or through their Facebook page. With a credit card, you can enroll in just a few clicks and have your seat confirmed!


Already a member of another Senior College? No problem! One final benefit is that any MSCN member in good standing can register for this course and only pay the course fee of $15. For more information on how to register as a non-Sunrise Member, follow the steps in this Sunrise SC Registration Guide Sheet.

Registering as a guest at Sunrise Senior
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Wikimedia Commons Picture Credit: Lighthouse On Campobello Island, Looking North Toward Shipping Channel - Lee Lockwood - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration





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