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Meet Our Instructors


Instructor Bio


FAROUK AL-NASSER, PH.D., is the past President of the San Diego World Affairs Council. As the Executive Director for Iraqi Operations for a Fortune 500 Company, he was responsible for the execution of contracts with the U.S. government in the areas of Information Technology, Telecommunications and Global Service Management.

Manuel Arriaga

MANUEL ARRIAGA, PH.D., received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy. He is currently an assistant professor at Cal State San Marcos where he teaches Non-Western Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, and Bioethics and Medical Ethics.


DOUGLAS R. BARKER, M.A., is an art historian, a professional meta-physical worker and an avid world traveler. He holds a Master’s degree in Art History from the University of Chicago and spent fourteen years in England, Germany and Switzerland where, among other things, he studied Dr. Rudolf Steiner’s system of alternative education – the Waldorf Schools – and worked as a tour guide on art/study tours in Great Britain, Israel and Kashmir/Ladakh in northwestern India. Douglas has traveled extensively in nearly forty countries, most recently in Peru. Much of his expertise derives from spiritual experiences in sacred sites around the globe. Douglas also earned a diploma in Astrological Counseling from the Astrological Psychology Institute near Zurich, Switzerland in 1986.


Osher_Alexandra Bunyak

ALEXANDRA BUNYAK, M.D., is a regenerative medicine physician who's known for translating the latest stem cell research into actionable therapies in her arthritis, sports, and spine clinic. She is quadruple board certified in Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Holistic Medicine, and Pain Medicine, and completed a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health.


STEVEN CARLISLE, PH.D., is a cultural and psychological anthropologist who is very interested in the points where culture, religion, psychology, and philosophy meet. He received his doctorate in cultural anthropology from UCSD in 2003.  When he has the time to travel, he conducts research on Buddhism and daily life in Bangkok, Thailand.

 Rob Crisell

Rob Crisell is an author, attorney, actor, and Shakespearean in Temecula, CA. He’s teaches Shakespeare with the Murrieta Valley Union School District as part of its Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program. He also regularly teaches at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac and other area schools. He has appeared in The Merchant of Venice, Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Tempest, and Macbeth, among others. Rob is the author of an adventure novel for pre-teens The Zoo of Impossible Animals (De Portola Press 2016). His 2016 TED Talk entitled “How NOT to Hate Shakespeare” can be found on YouTube. He’s a graduate of Yale University and George Mason University Law School. He lives with his wife and their two children Soren and Miranda in Temecula, California.

Jeff Demsky

JEFFREY DEMSKY, PH.D., is a tenured professor of history at San Bernardino Valley College.  Jeff earned his doctorate from the University of Florida. The American University in Washington DC awarded his Master’s Degree. Dr. Demsky is active scholar who lectures globally and has published his research in academic presses across the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany.

Robin Douglas

ROBIN DOUGLAS, M.A., an art professor for 36 years,  has experience in many materials and techniques. She served as associate director of the school of art & design, art education chair, faculty senator, chancellors honors faculty, served on the board of the Spurlock museum, Krannert Art Museum council and the Urbana Arts Council. She was ranked excellent by her students, awarded teaching awards, and is still considered a distinguished faculty member. Her commissioned art work is in private collections, offices, hotels, and university buildings.

Karen Eso

KAREN ESO, has been a professor at Cal State San Marcos since 2004. Her undergraduate studies were in Biology and Chemistry and as a graduate student at the University of Victoria she studied Clinical Neuropsychology.  Eso's area of specialty is traumatic brain injury and in such, she is thrilled to be teaching a class on the Aging Mind.  On a more personal note, she is the proud mother of seven and grandmother to one with one on the way.

Graeme Gissing

GRAEME GISSING, M.S. has a background in Science which includes 25 years as a Research Ecologist working on birds.  After his research career, he transitioned into education and over the past six years have served as an Adjunct Professor in Biology at Loyalist College and, most recently, as a Faculty Lecturer in Biology, Ecology, and Conservation Biology at Ambrose University. 


PHILIP GOSCIENSKI, M.D., retired from the Navy with the rank of captain and was head of the Infectious Diseases Branch in the Department of Pediatrics at the Naval Regional Medical Center in San Diego.  A former clinical professor of pediatrics at the UCSD School of Medicine, today he invests his expertise in writing newspaper and magazine articles.



FRANCE-MARIE HAEGER, M.A., ATR-BC, is a fine-arts instructor, registered board certified art therapist, and artist. She brings more than 40 years of experience in the arts to our program. She designed and facilitated an Art Therapy program in her native Switzerland, as well as several expressive arts therapy programs in San Diego. She currently teaches and advises for a certificate program she helped develop at UCSD Extension called Art and the Creative Process.

Mea Hall

MEA HUTSON HALL, M.A. holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Arizona’s prestigious Theatre Arts program, with an emphasis in Dramatic Theory and coursework including Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting, and Theatre History. She spent many years doing dramaturgical and administrative work with educational and professional regional theatre groups before pursuing her Master of Arts in Literature and Writing from Cal State San Marcos. She is especially interested in modes of expression that empower individuals and groups who often experience alienation. She finds great joy in teaching her students how to respond to their world with confidence in their own voices.

Bill Havlicek

WILLIAM HAVLICEK, PH.D., has over 30 years of experience in college teaching, museum administration, publishing and fine art/studio production and exhibition. He currently teaches at the Laguna College of Art and Design. His military experiences as a psychiatric technician included a study of psychology and art therapy. With combined strengths in art history, studio art, aesthetics, philosophy, psychology, art therapy, museum education and publishing, he brings a broad range of experience to the classroom.


JIM HINTON’S professional music career spans over 40 years. He specializes in the traditional songs of Ireland, has directed two successful folk groups and served seven years as the contemporary choir director for Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church.

Ghazala Jones

Dane Kuta

DANE KUTA, is a Certified Sommelier and Italian Wine Professional. Dane has traveled, tasted, and explored in the wine regions of California, New York, Oregon, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and New Zealand. When not teaching a wine appreciation class, Dane can be found pouring at major wine festivals, attending local wine and food events, providing sommelier services, and hosting private parties.

Ben Kamin

RABBI BEN KAMIN, D.D. is a rabbi, award-winning author, and a scholar of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.- about whom he has written and taught extensively and around the nation. He speaks frequently at both the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute at Stanford University and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. In 2004, he founded Reconciliation: The Synagogue Without Walls, an interfaith outreach institute serving Southern California.


ALBERT KOETSIER, M.A., received his degree in electronic engineering. He managed a medical X-ray company for many years and specializes in all matters related to radiation. Albert has special interests in x-ray photography as well as the history of science and technology.


BRUNO LEONE, M.A., earned his degrees in history with supporting fields in European intellectual history, history of science and technology and anthropology. Bruno has taught at several universities throughout this career and is currently an adjunct faculty member at SDSU.  The recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, his most recent publications include: Origin: The Story of Charles Darwin (2012) and Disease in History (2016).

David Lewis

 is the founder and director of the San Luis Rey Chorale which he has directed for the past 32 years. He is the director of music at Trinity Episcopal Church in Escondido and also teaches continuing education music classes for Mira Costa College.

David Miller

DAVID MILLER, PH.D., completed his graduate work in 19th Century United States history at UCSD. He teaches at USD offering courses in the history of race, immigration, and the Civil War. He is co- editor for the Journal of San Diego History and speaks frequently at organizations and institutions throughout Southern California. In his spare time he enjoys watching soccer and braking for historical markers.


LAURIE RICHARDS is a lawyer who has turned her analytical skills to the craft of writing. She has served as the director for the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, judged the San Diego Book Awards, and received numerous awards for her short stories.


DAVE ROBERTS, PH.D., has worked in the field of applied anthropology for over thirty-five years. Dave worked as a U.S. government scientist throughout Panama and Central America, has traveled the world, and now shares his experiences with audiences on cruise ships across the world. Dave, now retired, is actively involved in many museums throughout Balboa Park.

John Rose

JOHN ROSE, MBA, is a former faculty member at Benedictine University who specializes in government and politics. John also has over 30 years experience as a senior manager with the Government Accountability Office specializing in public policy evaluation. 

Andy Strathman

ANDY STRATHMAN, PH.D., is a lecturer in the Department of History at California State University San Marcos, where he teaches courses on United States history, with an emphasis on California history and the American West. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of California, San Diego in 2005. His doctoral dissertation focused on San Diego County water politics from 1910 to 1947. He has also taught in the History Departments at UCSD and the University of San Diego. Dr. Strathman is the co-editor of The Journal of San Diego History; he served as the book reviews editor for the journal from 2007 to 2018.


Bruce Thompson

BRUCE THOMPSON, PH.D., has been teaching philosophy and the history of ideas for more than thirty years. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and is a published author of two books and several articles. He’s taught Comparative Philosophy for Alliant University.

Frank Turner

FRANK TURNER, M.A., received his B.A. in History, and M.A. in Digital History, both from CSUSM. He is an instructor at Palomar and San Diego Miramar College, where he teaches United States  and Ancient World History. He is the Vice-Chairman, and Historian, for the Oceanside Historical Preservation Advisory Commission (OHPAC).​

 ramon veloso

RAMON C. VELOSO, Ph.D., teaches United States history at Palomar College. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Irvine, and graduated with a B.A. Cum Laude from Santa Clara University. He is a cultural and social historian, who specializes in the history of youth, family, gender, and middle-class formation in early America. Prior to teaching at Palomar College, he taught at the University of California, Irvine; California State University, Long Beach; Occidental College; and La Sierra University.