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Courses & Events

Behind every successful man, there is a woman, and throughout history, America's First Families have embodied this saying. The role of America's First Lady is ever changing with each new occupant of the White House. They are embedded in our memory as activists and leaders of the causes they championed. Women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, Abigail Adams, and Hillary Clinton have advanced discussions on once-taboo subjects and have led as fascinating lives as their husbands. This course will examine the often-secluded lives of these women, their actions behind the scenes and their impact on our nation.
The three most noted artists of American Regionalism will be the focus of this class: Thomas Hart Benton from Missouri, John Steuart Curry from Kansas, and Grant Wood from Iowa. PLEASE NOTE: THE DATES FOR THIS COURSE AT CLARIDGE COURT DIFFER FROM THE DATES PUBLISHED IN THE SUMMER CATALOG!
Return to the magic and "shining moment" that is Camelot! Young King Arthur hopes to create an idyllic kingdom guided by honor and righteousness, embodied by his Knights of the Round Table. But Arthur's perfect world is an illusion filled with enchantment and pageantry-with glorious melodies, including "If Ever I Would Leave You," "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" and "The Lusty Month of May."
While almost everyone uses computers today, most of us have only a vague idea of how they actually work. Terms like "big data," "artificial intelligence," "cyber security" and "the internet of things" appear in news articles frequently, but are rarely more than superficially explained. Without some basic understanding of the inner workings of the computer, how are we to have reasonably formed opinions on these developments? This class will look at where computers came from, how they work, and where they might be going. The only class requirement is curiosity. No technical background is needed.
Donations to the Osher Institute help support its mission to offer noncredit enrichment courses and activities for folks over 50 years of age.
This course examines the fascinating development of secret intelligence services in the 20th century-their successes and failures in gathering enemy secrets and promoting national interests; their role in peace and war; and the shadowy world of foreign influence operations. We'll take a close look at Russia, Germany and Great Britain-specifically how spies changed the course of history. We'll also delve into the golden age of espionage-the Cold War-and the continuation of those practices well into the 21st century. As you will learn, cloak and dagger are not relics of the past. Please remember, the walls have ears...
The first stop on our adventure will be the John Brown Museum and Cabin in Osawatomie. The museum's displays tell the story of John Brown and his abolitionist exploits during the 20 months he spent in Territorial Kansas. Brown and his five sons stayed with Brown's half-sister, Florella Adair, and her husband Samuel. Their cabin is located near the museum.Then we'll travel to Chanute to visit the Safari Museum with its award-winning exhibits and programs highlighting the achievements of Martin and Osa Johnson, pioneering documentary filmmakers, photographers, authors and explorers. We'll relive the Johnson's 1917-1936 adventures in Africa, Borneo and the South Seas.
This course will examine the exploits of some of the Old West's most colorful and notorious individuals, such as Wild Bill Hickok, John Perrett (alias "Potato Creek Johnny") and Calamity Jane-and the towns they inhabited, such as Deadwood, S.D. Then we'll visit Dodge City, the "Wickedest Town in the West," home to lawmen Wyatt Earp, "Bat" Masterson and Bill Tilghman and showmen Eddie Foy and Mysterious Dave Mather. Finally, we'll explore Tombstone, Ariz., and the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral involving Wyatt Earp, his brothers and "Doc" Holliday. Other characters include John Behen, Johnny Ringo, the McLaury brothers and Ike Clanton.
Go mobile with your digital photography and explore creative possibilities with your iPhone camera. We will help expand your skill set using your iPhone camera, exploring the basic operations, tools, apps and tricks to help make you smartphone camera-smart. Included will be discussions and demonstrations on how to improve your photography through creative visual devices and techniques. Please bring your iPhones so we can do some hands-on practice in class.
Kansas once led wine production in the U.S. and was home to more than 90 breweries before Prohibition. The Kansas legislature legally abolished the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the state in 1881 and doomed these industries. National Prohibition wouldn't occur for four decades. We'll examine the growth and demise of brewing and winemaking in Kansas. We'll discuss the social, moral, cultural and political forces in Kansas during the early and mid-19th century. Next, we'll learn how Prohibition dashed economic dreams or prompted entrepreneurs to conduct business in Missouri. Finally, we'll discuss the renaissance of local breweries and wineries.
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was one of the most significant American musicians of the 20th-century. His contributions took place in a variety of venues-conductor, musical commentator on television and composer of both concert works and Broadway musicals, most famously "West Side Story." In the year that marks the centenary of his birth, this course will take a step back and review Bernstein's contributions in each of these areas. We will also consider the man's full life and celebrity, including many famous collaborators and friends and the strong political beliefs that helped guide his artistic choices.
This course examines the economic, political and cultural impact of U.S. railroad corporations, passenger and freight trains, as well as workers who built, ran and maintained them. Focusing on years from the Civil War to the present, the class emphasizes not only the Union Pacific-Central Pacific transcontinental route, but also lines in Kansas and Kansas City like the Santa Fe and the Rock Island. The nation's first big business, railroads still matter today. We'll view film clips, read book and magazine excerpts, listen to railroad songs, and see photos from the instructor's own collection.
We'll study the great oil paintings of Cassatt, Eakins and Homer along with their accomplishments in other areas. We'll discuss Cassatt's 10-color intaglio prints from the 1890s, which many consider to be some of the finest of this type of color printing, as well as her involvement with the French Impressionists. We'll cover Eakins' work in photography and his revolutionary approach to life drawing. Finally, we'll review Homer's work in watercolor as an illustrator covering the Civil War for Harper's magazine and his work in etching. Homer is "the" watercolorist by which all American watercolorists will forever be judged.

This course contains no sessions

Kansas has been home to a variety of unique, colorful and important individuals. First will be Joseph G. McCoy, the entrepreneur who brought cattle from the fields of Texas to the railroads at Abilene, creating the iconic cowboy image. Next will be Tom Pendergast, whose political machine ran Kansas City for almost 30 years. William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette, was an advisor to eight U.S. presidents. Finally, we'll focus on Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, and his years at the University of Kansas, including mentoring Hall of Famer John McLendon, who could not play at Kansas because he was African-American.
Excluded from the Major Leagues due to racial discrimination until the mid-20th century, African Americans formed their own professional baseball leagues. In this course we will examine the deep roots African Americans have in America's great game because of the Negro League era. We'll see how the Negro leagues provided a vehicle for African Americans and dark-skinned Latino players to showcase their baseball talents despite racial and economic obstacles. Telling the stories of "Satchel" Paige, Josh Gibson and others, this course paints a true picture of Negro League baseball embedded in the fabric of 20th-century American history.
Between 1917 and 1936, Martin and Osa Johnson of Chanute, Kan., travelled throughout the South Pacific and Africa documenting their adventures with reels of black and white film. In Borneo they encountered headhunters and cannibals, and in Africa Martin filmed close-ups of lions, elephants, rhinos, and zebras while Osa stood close by with a gun at the ready. We'll recount their adventures starting in Chanute before heading to more exotic places. We'll review the many books, still photos and documentaries they produced to wide acclaim around the world. Today, the Martin & Osa Johnson Safari Museum in Chanute stands in testament to their work.
This course will explore philanthropy from the donor's perspective. Examine real-life situations, tools and techniques that allow people to have more money currently through tax deductions, guaranteed income for life and asset protection from creditors. Did you know that you could redirect money that you pay in taxes to your favorite charitable organizations? Also we'll hear from a guest speaker from the KU Endowment Association who will explain how nonprofits operate today and how vital they are to our society.
Missouri bushwhacker chieftain William Clarke Quantrill and his bloody August 1863 attack on Lawrence have inspired many filmmakers. In this course, we will thoroughly examine the man and the raid, including its causes and aftermath, while viewing the ways cinema has portrayed the event. We will view clips of the 1940 John Wayne movie "Dark Command," as well as shorter segments from films like the 1950 Universal picture "Kansas Raiders." We will then contrast them with the 2009 Lone Chimney documentary "Bloody Dawn" and the most realistic Hollywood Quantrill movie, Ang Lee's 1999 "Ride with the Devil."
When bicycles rolled onto the national scene in the 19th century, they frightened horses, upset convention, and quickened the pace of everyday life. A new exhibit explores the impact of bicycling in Lawrence from the 1870s to today, with stories of races, clubs and controversies over bicycles' effects on mobility, clothing, gender, and youth. In this exclusive Osher tour, Curator Brittany Keegan will take you on a ride through the bicycle revolution, showing how it spelled new opportunities for women and children and how Lawrence riders have continued to impact our community through races and trails.
We'll study the styles of leadership of two American presidents as they dealt with the day-to-day issues of World War II and their plans for post-war recovery in Europe and Asia. We will compare and contrast how FDR was elected four times while Truman struggled to get elected in his own right. We'll also examine the style and flourish of FDR versus the quiet and reserved Truman. We will review the issues of the time-the Manhattan Project, integration of the Armed Forces, and dealing with Stalin and the oncoming Cold War with the Communists. Finally, we'll look at how the White House changed during Roosevelt's and Truman's terms in office.
Violence, illicit sex, treachery, abuse of women and other minorities-who would think that these subjects would be in the Bible? Well, they are, and in this course, we will examine selected passages where they occur. Our aim is not to dwell on the lurid but to analyze and interpret these texts in terms of historical and cultural context. We may also discover that our journey into the "dark side" of the Bible has helped us become more informed and responsible readers of a book that is foundational to much of Western civilization.
In 1775, gunfire broke out on a village green in Massachusetts. The skirmish was preceded by years of friction between Britain and its discontented American colonies. A new idea was taking hold, an idea that turned centuries of hierarchy upside down. Were people destined to be ruled by kings? Or, were people capable of choosing their own leaders? Subjects or citizens? The notion of a republic had been entirely discredited in Europe, but in the new land of America, people were enthused by the prospects. This course addresses the causes, the personages, the combat, and the diplomacy that launched an embryonic state on a path of greatness. PLEASE NOTE: THE DATES FOR THIS COURSE DIFFER FROM THE DATES PUBLISHED IN THE SUMMER CATALOG!
In this course, we'll take a fresh look at one of history's most fascinating power couples, Napoleon and Josephine. We'll learn about the birth of archeology and Egyptology, the exploration of Australia, and the Golden Age of Botany. We'll visit their home, Malmaison, and see Josephine's art, furnishings, fashion, jewelry and unique gardens and greenhouse. We'll also discuss Napoleon's reforms in law, education, religious freedom and other areas, and see how they affect us today.
This course will examine the crucial eastern theater of the Civil War. First we'll review the first two years of the war where Confederate tactical dominance consistently defeated larger Union armies. Then we'll review the pivotal year 1863 and Lee and Jackson's great victory at Chancellorsville and the war's great turning-point with the Union's victory at Gettysburg. Finally, we'll look in depth at Grant's assumption of command in the east and his brilliant "overland campaign" culminating in the siege of Petersburg and the South's surrender at Appomattox. In addition to the emphasis on the military campaign, the social and political events in the east will also be discussed.
Do you remember the Cold War? Did you ever worry about Soviet spies? Did you participate in civil defense drills? Did you feel a sense of relief that the federal government built nuclear missile silos throughout the middle of the country? This class will explore the early Cold War period, when Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist crusade captured the attention of the nation, when more than a million Americans watched the skies looking for Russian bombers, and America and the Soviet Union pointed thousands of nuclear missiles at each other.
As the University of Kansas began its 50th year in the fall of 1916, the administration of Chancellor Frank Strong was struggling against inadequate state funding, and German aggression was pulling a reluctant United States into the European conflict. When war was declared on April 6, Strong immediately put all KU resources at the service of the government. In this course we will examine the challenges the KU community met-military training, food drives, revamped class schedules, and the Spanish influenza-and the contributions of Strong, Olin Templin, James Naismith, Alberta Corbin, and R.D. O'Leary, among others, in the months that changed KU.
Did Jesus have a wife? Was Judas a hero rather than a villain? What of Jesus' youth? Was he a model child or a spoiled brat? What are we to believe about the life and teachings of Jesus now that hitherto unknown gospels have come to light? Which accounts are to be trusted? Indeed, do any narratives of Jesus' public career contain reliable historical information? These are among the questions to be addressed as the course examines selected early Christian gospels, both within and especially outside the New Testament, to learn something of their literary character, their purpose, and the varied images of Jesus they present.
Many scholars believe modern America was born in the 1920s. This raucous era brought us modern advertising, supermarkets, buying on credit, commercial radio and flight, culture wars, short skirts, fads, voter apathy-even television. Dramatic technological and social changes clashed with conservative values. Prosperity and mass media expanded their reach to more Americans than ever before, but this was also the "Aspirin Age"-a time of anxiety about health, public morals, crime, terrorism, corruption and race relations. This course will delve into the people and events that set the United States on a new path and continue to shape us.
We'll review the Roman Empire from 200 BC to 500 AD when the Empire expanded dramatically, and meet Julius Caesar, Augustus, Pontius Pilate, Nero and Constantine. We'll examine the Empire from a political, economic and theological perspective. Romans believed in God, or better yet, many gods. Within Roman power we meet the Jews-Herod the Great, Caiaphas the High Priest, Jesus and his disciples and later Paul. Tucked within Judaism emerges Christianity, and we'll grapple with many questions: Who was Jesus? Why did "Christians" separate from the Jews? Why did Rome hate Christians? What role did Constantine play in this drama? Lastly, we'll review Christianity's growth and the assembly of the New Testament.
Marco Polo, the famous 13th-century trader from Venice, was one of the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China. We'll follow in his footsteps to explore the history and culture along this ancient trade route, including its reemergence in the 21st century as an important source of energy. Learn more about the peoples along the Silk Road, what they value, where they've been and possibly where they're going as revealed in their art, technology, belief systems and stories.
We've planned a full-throttle, three-day visit to St. Louis that includes all the sites-the Arch, Anheuser Busch Brewery, the Art Museum, a Cardinals game, dinner on the Hill, Laclede's Landing, Missouri Botanical Gardens and of course, the St. Louis Zoo!
During the mid-19th century, the Underground Railroad was a critical network of routes and safe houses that provided escaped slaves a pathway from plantations in the South to freedom in the North or Canada. In this course, we will closely examine the important role Northeast Kansas played in the Underground Railroad. We'll meet the heroic men and women who risked their lives to aid those desperate fugitives whose only road to freedom ran through Kansas. We'll also meet those brave refugees, hear their stories, and visit the local routes and safe houses that were critical to their perilous journeys to freedom.PLEASE NOTE: THIS COURSE AT REGNIER HALL ON THE KU EDWARDS CAMPUS WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED TO BEGIN ON JUNE 28, BUT DUE TO A CONFLICT, IT WILL NOW BEGIN ONE WEEK LATER ON THURSDAY, JULY 5, WITH SESSIONS ON JULY 12 AND JULY 19. THE COURSE SCHEDULE IN EUDORA HAS NOT CHANGED.
This class will look at the quest for artificial intelligence and examine some significant achievements (and failures) in the field. We will look at Deep Learning and other methods currently being used to make computers "smarter," and we will consider the barriers to achieving human-level "thinking." How will we know when the threshold of true machine intelligence has been crossed, and what will that event mean for humanity? We will see what computer scientists, psychologists, philosophers and science fiction writers have said about the prospect of thinking machines.
This course focuses on the socio-cultural and regional dynamics of communities in conflict throughout history in the United States. Participants have the opportunities to 1) reference pertinent local historical and national events that shaped obscure places and the people who lived in these places; 2) identify regional and local values and attitudes that have persisted and may explain current actions by key individuals in roles; and 3) weigh choices and consequences, wrestle with momentous decisions, and voice their own values and positions in a deliberative response to current outcomes.
Vietnam has undergone dramatic changes in climate, rulers, populations, and politics even before its unification some forty years ago following America's long military involvement there.
The Holocaust has so many told and untold stories that show us more of what humans are capable of at our worst and our best. This class investigates the stories of multiple victims and survivors, focusing most on what survivors show us-after losing their families, communities, and whole way of life-about making and finding resilience, courage, and meaning. We'll also learn more about Jewish life in Europe before WWII, the incremental evolution of the Holocaust (including ghettos and concentration camps), and-drawing from memoirs, films, and interviews-we'll learn about survivor legacies.
Prior to 1925, women wrote 50 percent of all produced films. In 2016, that percentage was 14 percent. What changed? In this course, we'll learn about the fabulous female screenwriters of the silent era and look at the way stories and characters changed over decades. From Frances Marion, who still holds the record for Oscars, to the Golden Era with Mae West and married writing teams, to television where IF there was a woman in the room she was still called a "girl." This course will introduce you to women in film you should know.
Just as American women were starting to question their roles in society, civil war erupted and changed everything. This course introduces you to fascinating stories you've never heard--the women who fought as men, the ladies pressed into jobs in government and factories, and the slave women who ran to freedom and found work with the Union Army. Leaders of the new women's rights movement thought America was changing before their eyes. But their dreams would die after the war, in a raucous 1867 election in Kansas.
Just as American women were starting to question their roles in society, civil war erupted and changed everything. This course introduces you to fascinating stories you've never heard - the women who fought as men, the ladies pressed into jobs in government and factories, and the slave women who ran to freedom and found work with the Union Army. Leaders of the new women's rights movement thought America was changing before their eyes. But their dreams would die after the war, in a raucous 1867 election in Kansas.
Rock music during the 1967-69 countercultural era started with the Summer of Love and ended tragically just two years later. We will explore cultural and political events of the time from the Monterey International Pop Music Festival, through the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and ending at the Altamont Speedway Festival. While Monterey introduced the world to many soon-to-be famous performers, Woodstock gave its name to a generation, and Altamont brought the era of love and trust to a sad end. Join the conversation as we recall this seminal time in American history.
You have accumulated wealth-wealth of knowledge, experience, and values. To whom will you leave these precious possessions? Consider writing an ethical will. Unlike a traditional will that bequeaths material things, an ethical will passes on the ethics and life lessons of a family elder-YOU. Our exercises and discussion will help you discern the life experiences that shaped your values. Unlike the bequest of heirloom china or a CD, your ethical will reflects who you are as a person. It will give your loved ones a document to treasure and a reminder of how your values guided and shaped a family.
Research in the past decade has brought about a remarkable paradigm shift from aging as a problem to aging as a time of promise and potential. You already know the downfalls a normal aging brain may experience: slower speed of recall, "senior moments"and the "why-did-I-come-into-this-room?" perplexity. You know the downfalls; now learn about the marvelous gifts your aging brain wants to deliver. Understanding the positive power of a normal aging brain positions you to take full advantage of rewards and capacities which were unavailable to the younger you.