Taos Cultural Institute: July 19-22, 2018

Taos Cultural Institute

Current Course Offerings

2018 Courses

Commanders In Chief

Commanders in Chief: The History and Consequences of Presidential Military Leadership

Instructors: Jeffrey A. Engel and Lindsay M. Chervinsky


Achieve a greater understanding of the American presidency by exploring key moments in the complex and evolving role of commander in chief. The president’s wartime authority and military leadership is written unambiguously in the Constitution: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States ...” But not every commander is equal, especially when first thrust into an office for which nothing in life can adequately prepare. Some have had experience, others prudence, still others a strategic vision. Some wielded none of the above. Jeffrey A. Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at SMU and author or editor of 10 books on American foreign policy, and Lindsay M. Chervinsky, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Presidential History at SMU, lead a course that explores how America’s presidents, from George Washington to Donald Trump, have commanded in times of war and peace, and, in turn, how the nation’s fate rose and fell with them.

The Middle East

The Middle East: Its Future, Faith and Free Press

Instructors: Robert W. Jordan and William McKenzie


Explore the cultural, religious and political causes of conflict in the Middle East and the future of freedom and democracy in the region. Robert W. Jordan, U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001–2003 and current Diplomat in Residence in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies at SMU, and William McKenzie, editorial director for the George W. Bush Institute and editor of The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute, lead a lively course that debunks popular myths and misconceptions about the Middle East. Providing a framework for understanding future events as they unfold in the area, the course also highlights American foreign policy and the elements of statecraft in the policymaking process. Ambassador Jordan draws upon his diplomatic experience to analyze the latest challenges, crises and reforms in the Middle East and lead a discussion of excerpts from his memoir, Desert Diplomat: Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11. McKenzie evaluates religious trends and conflicts, the role of the press and efforts to develop freedoms and human rights in the region.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird: Our Great American Novel

Instructor: Thomas DiPiero


Understand the intricacies of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which may well be “The Great American Novel,” because it takes on, in strikingly disarming ways, some of the most difficult and perplexing issues facing the country in the 1930s, the 1960s and today. Although most people read the novel in junior high, this stunningly complex literary work requires adult knowledge and experience to be fully appreciated. Thomas DiPiero, dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, where he is also a professor of English and of World Languages and Literatures, leads this timely and timeless course. Participants explore the genesis of To Kill a Mockingbird by reading and discussing both the masterpiece (July 2005 edition) and its controversial predecessor, Go Set a Watchman (May 2016 edition), to understand how To Kill a Mockingbirdcan – and will – continue to speak to Americans about the plethora of contradictions that make America a nation.

Devils and Angels

Devils and Angels: Southern Traditions and Healthy Cuisine

Instructor: Wilks Medley


On Day 1, participants will learn to cook traditional Southern-style dishes, from gumbo to fried catfish, which they will be able to recreate at home. Born in Mississippi, Medley considers himself a Southern boy at heart and will explore the varied aspects of the foods of the South, as well as the history that has shaped its unique, world-renowned cuisine. On Day 2, participants will explore techniques of preparing healthy dishes that also taste good. They will focus on specific methods to enhance the taste of healthier foods and prepare truly delicious dishes, helping them to feel comfortable utilizing healthy cooking methods. Each day, participants will enjoy their delicious lunches with wine pairings offered by sommelier Molly Steinbach. Wilks Medley worked for Chef Todd English at his flagship Boston restaurant, Olives. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he graduated with two degrees in the culinary arts and hospitality management. After his formal training, Medley worked in many fine dining restaurants from Boston to Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. He and his wife, Colleen, a pastry chef, now reside in Taos, where they own and operate their restaurant, medley.

Native American Pottery

Native American Pottery: Science and Spirituality

Instructor: Sunday Eiselt


Explore the micaceous ceramic traditions of Jicarilla Apache, Picuris and Taos Pueblos through visits to archaeological collections, mountain clay sources and potters’ studios, and learn how to judge the quality of individual pieces. Visits to clay sources and mica mines provide opportunities to experience the spiritual meanings ascribed to landscapes by potters who have used them for over 700 years. Discuss the physical and chemical properties of this clay while cooking in micaceous pots and sharing traditional recipes. Micaceous clay, as a living thing, completes life’s circle when it is formed, fired and shared to create the unique flavors of New Mexico meals.

Sunday Eiselt, associate professor of anthropology, is the author or co-author of several articles and books on societies of New Mexico, community-based and engaged approaches in archaeology and ceramic source geochemistry. With specializations in the archaeology of Southwest Athapaskans, protohistoric to historic transitions and archaeological ceramics, she has studied in numerous geographic regions, including New Mexico, Arizona, California, Texas and the Great Basin.

On the Green

On the Green with Jeanne

Instructor: Jeanne Sutherland

Take a swing at improving your golf skills in the august company of Jeanne Sutherland, who is in her seventh season as head coach of the SMU women’s golf team, amidst the spectacular desert scenery of the Taos Country Club. The unique setting of the club’s Jep Wille-designed championship course, featuring silver-green sagebrush, manicured greens, gently rolling terrain and panoramic mountain views, puts players’ skills to the test while creating memorable golfing experiences. This course includes individual instruction with Sutherland as well as coaching tips through nine holes of golf on Day 1 and 18 holes of golf on Day 2.

Under Jeanne Sutherland's leadership, the SMU women's golf team made its 15th NCAA appearance in 2017 and saw the program's highest-ever ranking at No. 20. A PGA Class A professional, Sutherland has taught at the renowned John Jacobs Golf Schools. She spent 15 years at the helm of the Texas A&M women’s golf program and came to the Hilltop after three years as head professional at Vail (Colorado) Golf Club.