Fall Courses are now open!

Other helpful links

Alumni Discount Codes

We offer discounts for our three alumni association partners: KU, K-State and Washburn. These discounts are only available for paid alumni association members and can only be applied to courses; they cannot apply to special events:

  • KU Alumni Association Member Discount - KUAAFALL2021
  • KSU Alumni Association Member Discount - KSUAAFALL2021
  • Washburn Alumni Association Member Discount - WUAAFALL2021

Courses & Events

Just like a teen, older adults face big transitions. Hormones, a changing body, shifting relationships, and big questions like Who Am I? and What Do I Want? leave many uncertain about what comes next. Using personal reflections, small group discussions and engaging activities, we will take you on a three-part journey to rediscover and embrace your aging self. Questions explored include: What are my attitudes about aging and what are others telling me about intimacy, touch and older adults? How does my family impact decisions about how I manage my life, where I live and whom I date? Life has sculpted my body. What messages have I received about its strength, beauty and capabilities, and what do I believe? 

Instructor Bio: An educator in the Our Whole Lives sexuality education program, Judith Galas has guided hundreds of people across the age span in open, informative and fun activities that nurture self-esteem and healthy intimacy.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
No one has captured contemporary fear and paranoia better than the legendary "Hitch." His films and his personality (not to mention his enormous bulk!) literally loom "larger" than ever before. John C. Tibbetts has extensively researched, published, and taught the life and work of a man whose career began in the 1930s with The Thirty-Nine Steps, and continued through the 1960s and beyond with his television shows and movie masterpieces Vertigo Psycho, and The Birds. Films will be screened and discussions will be encouraged. 

Instructor Bio: John Tibbets is Emeritus Professor at the University of Kansas, where for more than 25 years he taught courses in film history, media studies, and theory and aesthetics. He is an author, educator and broadcaster, as well as an artist and pianist. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in Multi-Disciplinary Studies. As a broadcaster, journalist and scholar he worked as a news reporter for CBS Television and National Public Radio; produced classical music programming for Kansas Public Radio; and wrote and illustrated 20 books, more than 250 articles and several short stories. He was awarded the Kansas Governor's Arts in Education Award, presented by Governor Kathleen Sebelius, in 2008.


October 28, 2021 to November 18, 2021, Edwards Campus KU Edwards Campus, Regnier Hall In-Person (Overland Park, KS)
Anna Akhmatova is said to be one of the greatest poets in Russian literature. Her life was filled with poverty, sorrow and unhappiness, yet it was from her life experience that she created her poetry. She suffered, both personally and professionally, under the Stalinist regime. Through it all she wrote poetry, giving voice to her own experience and that of the Russian people. This course will examine the various aspects of her life and delve into the poetry she wrote during those different stages. We'll discuss how what she experienced contributed to her poetic voice.

Instructor Bio: Renee Neff-Clark has a degree in Religious Studies from the University of Kansas and has been a lover of all types of literature since she learned to read.


November 15-29, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Join us as we explore the causes and history of climate change and discuss how the planet has been uninhabitable five times in the ancient past due to climate change. Learn about the evidence available to indicate that climate change is occurring as we look at the various floods, droughts, fires and storms in 2021 and compare them historically. In addition, we will spend time considering the current programs and long-term solutions to stop climate change. The class will conclude with a discussion on "With great change comes great opportunity"; in short, new industries will blossom and some companies and industries will disappear. 

Instructor Bio: Charles "Chick" Keller is a retired senior executive and retired professor. He worked 15 years at each Sprint, and Black and Veatch in strategic planning and strategic marketing raising to the VP level both times. In 2000 Chick began a career as a professor at the University of Kansas, Master of Engineering Management program where he taught Finance and Strategic Planning.


October 26, 2021 to November 9, 2021, Brewster Place Event Center In-Person (Topeka, KS)
Many interesting events happened, and many eccentric characters are to be found in the history of later 19th century Kansas. This was the era when the drovers from Texas made their way to Kansas cattle towns, and from the dust of the Old Chisholm Trail the American cowboy, our national folk hero, emerged. Besides the cattle towns, the cowboys, and their songs, there were outlaws (such as Tiger Bill and the Fleagle Gang), the Dewey-Berry feud (the only Kansas range war), towns such as Beer City, and unusual animals such as the Murder Steer. This class will explore all of those, as well as look at Black cowboys, Mexican vaqueros, and other herders from around the world.

Instructor Bio: Jim Hoy, a native of the Flint Hills near Cassoday ("Cow Capital of Kansas"), is director emeritus of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University. He is the author of "Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales from the Tallgrass Prairie" and "My Flint Hills: Observations and Reminiscences from America's Last Tallgrass Prairie."


October 26, 2021 to November 9, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
This course will focus on selected creation stories from around the world. We will explore origin myths from ancient Egypt and Babylonia, and compare them to current stories in the living religions of India and other parts of Asia, and among indigenous peoples of North America. And, of course, we will examine the story of Genesis and its role as the foundation of Judaism and Christianity. Each story will be considered in terms of its view of the world and nature, its understanding of humans and their manifold relations, and its conception of the powerful agent, or force, that gave rise to it all.

Instructor Bio: Barry Crawford, Ph.D., is professor emeritas of religious studies at Washburn University.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU was established in 2004 by a grant for the Bernard Osher Foundation as an outreach program of the University of Kansas. Its mission is to offer noncredit enrichment courses and events to folks over 50 years of age, although we welcome learners of all ages. We rely on financial support from our members and the community to create a sustainable program. If you would like to support the Osher Institute, please click the link below. If you have questions, please contact Linda Kehres at 785-864-1373 or linda.k@ku.edu. Thank you.


July 22, 2021 to January 31, 2022
The Watkins Museum of History, in partnership with the Osher Institute, invites you to a special tour of Encountering John Brown. This traveling exhibit tells the story of the radical abolitionist and his antislavery career through the eyes of people he met along the way, including Harriet Tubman and Robert E. Lee. This special Osher Institute event will also feature tours of two supplementary exhibits on the Bleeding Kansas era in Douglas County, as well as a talk by John Brown himself (as portrayed by local historian Kerry Altenbernd). Join us for this exclusive Osher event.


Friday, October 29, 2021, Watkins Museum of History (Lawrence, KS)
What is similar between these American cities: West Branch, Iowa, Hyde Park, New York, Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia? These places are homes to a United States Presidential Library and Museum. It all began with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the late 1930s. These impressive structures are repositories of valuable presidential documents and artifacts. Where else can you find a wheelchair that was used daily by one the presidents, a collection of moon rocks, the "Flying White House" (the presidential Air Force One plane), or view the World War II actual world maps studied by the U.S. Commander in Chief before sending American troops to strategic locations? The course gives a general overview of the Who, Where, When, What and Why of the thirteen U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums. Special emphasis is on the two outstanding local Presidential Museums in the Kansas City area, the Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas and the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. Insightful comments on the architecture of the Eisenhower structure and also on the $35 million building renovation of the Truman Library and Museum (projected completion date is 2022) are shared. Information relayed is based on personal visits of the presenters to the various libraries and museums. 

Attorney Anita Tebbe is retired Director of the Johnson County Community Legal Studies Program. Attorney Kathleen Harvey is retired from her Immigration Law Practice in 2016. Architect Keith Taylor is a retired architect.


November 16-30, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
Religions and science have very different concepts of the nature of reality. Religions make claims about reality based upon revelations of special seers, prophets and saviors. Science makes claims about reality based upon the scientific methods of observation, induction, and experimentation. In the ground between these two different perspectives, philosophers have attempted to understand reality using pure reason. In this course we will take a quick journey through the history of philosophy from Ancient Greece to modern America. Along the way we will examine the questions such as: does God exist? How can we know the truth? What is reality? 

Instructor Bio: James Gaither, Th.D., holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Kansas and ThD from Holos University Graduate Seminary. For over 25 years he has taught courses in history of Western thought, world religions, metaphysics and ethics and is currently a "semi-retired."


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
The usual distinction made between religion and philosophy in Western thought can also be applied to Eastern thought. However, Eastern philosophies are generally more tightly linked to religious ideas. Eastern philosophies inquire into the nature of reality and concepts of the Divine using paradigms distinguishable from yet similar to those found in Western philosophy. In this course we will take a quick journey through the great philosophies of India and China to explore how ideas about reality, God, and knowledge evolved in those cultures. We will see how Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism have both religious and philosophical aspects.

Instructor Bio: James Gaither, ThD, holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Kansas and ThD from Holos University Graduate Seminary. For over 25 years he has taught courses in history of Western thought, world religions, metaphysics and ethics and is currently a "semi-retired.


October 25, 2021 to November 8, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
Shortly after his birth as a slave in southwest Missouri, George Washington Carver, his sister and their young mother were kidnapped by slave raiders. He was found in Kentucky but without his mother and sister. Raised by his former masters, George left them at age 11 eager to pursue his interest in plants and agriculture at a nearby school for blacks. He continued his education in Kansas towns, including Fort Scott, Paola, Olathe and Minneapolis, where he completed high school. Denied admission to Highland College when officials discovered he was black, Carver then homesteaded near Beeler in Ness County before he eventually earned a Master of Agriculture degree from Iowa State University. Recruited by Booker T. Washington, Carver enjoyed a 50-year career of agricultural teaching and research at the Tuskegee Institute. We'll review Carver's successes in developing products from cotton, soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts; sharing advanced techniques with struggling farmers; advocating for racial harmony; and visiting Mahatma Gandhi to discuss nutrition developing nations. 

Jim Peters, J.D., is director emeritus of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU, and author of Arlington National Cemetery: Shrine to America's Heroes, which has been the nation's best-selling book on Arlington Cemetery for more than 25 years. He also teaches a course on the Underground Railroad in Northeast Kansas.


October 26, 2021 to November 9, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
Gladiatorial combats were prevalent in ancient Rome for 700 years. We will examine the origins of these "games," how they spread and grew in popularity and why they continued. We'll learn where gladiators came from, how they were trained and what their living conditions were like, as well as types of gladiators and how they were paired for combat. Find out about the building of the Colosseum and other venues throughout the empire, the attraction to individual gladiators and how many became popular and developed into sex symbols and, finally, the eventual decline of the institution. 

Instructor Bio: Larry Burke is a retired professor of history at Dodge City Community College and a retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserve.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
"Hamilton" (2015) by Lin-Manuel Miranda must be regarded as one of the most significant musicals in the genre's history. Remarkable for its score based on rap and other African American musical styles, its statement about race in the United States, and its appeal to people from both sides of the political spectrum, "Hamilton" tells us much about our history and how we perceive it. About half of this class will concern "Hamilton" and the other half will be brief considerations of other recent Broadway shows - including "Wicked," "Come from Away," "Dear Evan Hansen," and others - and how their music and social commentary relates to "Hamilton." 

Instructor Bio: Paul Laird is professor of musicology at the University of Kansas. He is a frequent Osher instructor and noted authority on the Broadway musical. Laird's most recent book is a co-edited volume (with Mary Jo Lodge) on "Hamilton" entitled "Dueling Grounds: Revolution and Revelation in the Musical Hamilton.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
For a significant majority of Americans, the fifties were good times. The Baby Boom, prosperity and rising home ownership fueled more fun than in previous and subsequent decades. Do you remember Howdy Doody, poodle skirts, S&H Green Stamps, the McGuire Sisters, as well as big cars with chrome and tail fins? We will look back on these things and more when covering such topics as suburbanization, television, cars, movies, music, fads, fashions, foods, beverages, toys, games and print media. We also touch on social critics and worries like polio. We will compare our memories to documents, film clips and music. 

Instructor Bio: Carl Graves, Ph.D., holds a master's degree in US history from KU and a doctorate from Harvard. He taught at the university and community college levels, and at Kansas City's Pembroke Hill School.


October 25, 2021 to November 8, 2021, Osher Institute In-Person (Lawrence, KS)
Explore new translations of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. What do these ancient Hebrew scrolls have to say to us for our time? Solomon, the wisest king of ancient Israel, had every material thing any person could ever desire, but still wasn't happy. Is everything under the sun "utterly meaningless"? Ecclesiastes details his existential crisis as it discusses the meaning of life. He ends with a beautiful poem on aging. The Song of Songs is a romantic classic of Hebrew poetry, read during Passover. Is it only about erotic love? It will be analyzed from the viewpoint of a Christian mystic, meaning those who have a deeply spiritual love relationship with God. Copies of the new translations will be provided.

Instructor Bio: Paul Williamson is a retired family physician who teaches Biblical studies as well as medicine. His education includes Protestant, Catholic and Jewish education through the doctoral level. The class will read excerpts of his translation of the Book of Job from the original Hebrew and discuss new insights.


November 15-29, 2021, Osher Institute In-Person (Lawrence, KS)
This course is taught by a collector of presidential campaign items. The course will cover the history of American presidential campaigns from George Washington to Joe Biden, with a focus on the political issues that have been pertinent in elections and the changing methods and practices of political campaigns. The course will be liberally illustrated with items from the instructor's own collection, which dates back to the election of 1840. The course is strictly nonpartisan. 

Instructor Bio: Don Dagenais has been a preview speaker for the Lyric Opera for more than 20 years and he teaches classical music and opera courses for local organizations. Among other pursuits, he enjoys studying American political history and has compiled an extensive collection of memorabilia from presidential political campaigns from 1840 - the present. He recently retired as a real estate attorney.


October 29, 2021 to November 12, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
What is it that motivates composers to write great music? Over the years, some of the most inspirational music has been written about events of history. This course is organized as a world history course, starting in ancient times and continuing to the present. Whenever we encounter an event of history about which a composer has written music, we play samples of the music. For example, for biblical times we will hear from Rossini (Moses), Saint-Saens (Samson) and Bach (the Passion masses); from the Middle Ages we will listen to Wagner (Lohengrin), Weber (Oberon) and Handel (Orlando); from Russian history we will listen to Borodin (Prince Igor); from Chinese history we will hear from Handel (Tamerlane) and Tan Dun (Marco Parlo); from Renaissance we hear from Ponchielli (Venice) and in Verdi (Genoa); for France we listen to Tchaikovsky (Joan of Arc). Well, you get the idea. This journey is too long for one course, so this is Part I, to be followed by Part II in the spring. 

Instructor Bio: Don Dagenais has been a preview speaker for the Lyric Opera for more than 20 years and he teaches classical music and opera courses for local organizations. Among other pursuits, he enjoys studying American political history and has compiled an extensive collection of memorabilia from presidential political campaigns from 1840 - the present. He recently retired as a real estate attorney.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
Before the Big 12 Conference, it was the Big Eight. Claiming Wilt Chamberlain as its greatest basketball alumnus, it was considered one of the most renown college basketball conferences in the country. From 1946 through 1978, the conference had its round robin holiday tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri between Christmas and New Year's Day. It was one of the best college basketball tournaments in the country. In the beginning, when only six, then seven, teams were in the conference, other non-conference teams were invited. Former pro basketball players such as JoJo White, Bob Boozer, Clyde Lovellette, Cliff Meely and Garfield Heard played in the tournament. There were also many who were part of this tournament's history that never played professional basketball. What made the tournament exciting is when a team not predicted to finish high in the conference would "catch lightning in a bottle" for that week and win the tournament. The course will explore the history of the tournament and discuss factors which would lead to the tournament's demise in 1978. 

Instructor Bio:  Kevin L. Mitchell is the baseball history blogger of The Baseball Scroll (www.thebaseballscroll.blogspot.com) and author of Last Train to Cooperstown: The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Era. The Kansas City, Kan. native earned bachelors and master's degrees from the University of Kansas.


October 29, 2021 to November 12, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
I goes to fight mit Sigel!, a popular song of the Civil War era, reflects the fact that roughly one-third of the soldiers fighting for the Union cause were either recent immigrants from the German states or sons of such immigrants. These Germans on the Northern side, to the soldiers in Southern gray either the "Damned Dutch" or the "Hessians," rallied to the cause in no small measure because they saw the "war to save the Union" as the continuation of the German Revolution of 1848-49, which failed to unite the German states and provide for democratic reforms. They were led into battle by many of the same military leaders who had played prominent roles during the Revolution in Germany, such as Friedrich Hecker, Carl Schurz and especially Franz Sigel. Join us as we explore this fascinating topic.

Instructor Bio: William Keel, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus of German at KU, having taught the history and culture of German settlements in Kansas and Missouri.


November 16-30, 2021, Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse In-Person (Prairie Village, KS)
This is an introductory course about the prophetic tradition of Islam. The course provides a brief survey of the diverse ways in which Muslims have practiced the message of Muhammad. It offers an overview of basic Islamic beliefs and practices by examining how Islam has related and negotiated identities with the other Abrahamic religions. The course also examines the relationship and interpretation of Islam with violence, peace, commerce and political governance, all designed to cultivate an appreciation and a richer understanding of Islam and its many manifestations on the world stage.

Instructor Bio: Hannington Ochwada, Ph.D. has researched and taught world history, African studies, and African history. He speaks and instructs Kiswahili. He is a regular contributor in East African media on topical issues about Africa.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
What's the matter with Kansas? Too few people know just how cool it is! This state has less than 1% of the nation's population, and yet Kansas has changed the world in remarkably positive ways. In Kansas from A to Z, you'll earn about some of the most important and interesting people, places and products from the rolling plains of the 34th state. After taking this course, you'll swell with pride when you tell people that you come from the land they call Kansas, from which so many good things come. 

Instructors Bio: Rex Buchanan, Director Emeritus of the Kansas Geological Survey and the author/co-author of several books (Roadside Kansas, Petroglyphs of the Kansas Smoky Hills) and veteran news broadcaster J. Schafer, from Kansas Public Radio, are your tag-team instructors. Each of them will take letters from the alphabet and connect them to something unbelievably interesting, important or just worth knowing. In this class, you'll learn how Kansas's contributions to society have made the world a much better place, for without Kansas, the free world might have perished, the universe would be smaller and the modern civilization we enjoy today would still be a distant dream. Rex Buchanan, who grew up in Little River, and J. Schafer, who grew up in Great Bend, are lifelong Kansas natives and world travelers. They will regale you with tales both large and small about the greatest state in America. Yes, Kansas!


Wednesday, October 27, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
The course discusses the discovery of coal in southeast Kansas. We will follow the development of the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad ushering in sub-surface mining and the development of Crawford and Cherokee counties as the center of "King" Coal in Kansas. We will cover milestones including Pittsburg growing to over 50,000 residents, UMWA membership exceeding 16,000 and the development of Pittsburg as the world's zinc smelting capital, fueled by coal. We will explore the State's national leadership in strip mining and the rising of area tycoons such as Mackie, Clemmons and Spencer before the industry's death in the 1960s.

Instructor Bio: Ken Crockett was born in Pittsburg, Kansas in a second-generation family of coal miners. He was educated at Central Missouri State University (BA degree) and Washburn University of Law (Juris Doctor). He is the author of two books relative to Kansas mining (Missouri Coal Miners Strike and Kenneth and Helen Spencer, Champions of Culture & Commerce In The Sunflower State).


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
What are some of the historic landmarks of Kansas and why are they important to us today? In this course, we will begin by learning about the federal and state historic preservation laws, discover historic structures both before and after statehood in 1861, and survey some of those buildings and structures that are now historic landmarks. The goal of the class is to learn what stories our ancestors tell us through the built environment and how we pass that knowledge on to future generations of Kansans.

Instructor Bio: Paul Post is a native Kansan, currently residing in Topeka. He received a bachelor's in history from Kansas State University in 1971 and a law degree from the University of Kansas Law School in 1974. Now retired from the practice of law, he has been a member of the Topeka Landmarks Commission since 2014 and was commission vice chair in 2018.


November 16-30, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
Recent excavations in central London show that Londinium was not a chilly Roman outpost, but an important imperial city. From these beginnings, we will travel through time and meet people and visit places in a blend of real history and events shrouded in mythology. The layers of the city below the streets will be explored on maps of underground London through which thousands of commuters travel every day. The course will be an idiosyncratic biography of one of the great world cities that many visitors take to their hearts as a second home. 

Instructor Bio: Dr. John Doveton is an Emeritus Senior Scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey. Although he does not qualify as a cockney, he was born in the greater London metropolis and is a tireless collector of London trivia to which there is no end.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
In this course, we will read and discuss Shakespeare's early comedy "Love's Labour's Lost." We will focus on the way the play is "funny," in every sense of the word. Its jokes run the range from complex theatrical jokes to fulsome wordplay. It delights and frustrates audiences. It is also "funny" in the sense that it is unusual, unexpected and a little odd. Together we will discuss what makes "Love's Labour's Lost" Shakespeare's most "Shakespearean" play. 

Instructor Bio: Jonathan P. Lamb is Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas, where he writes and teaches on Shakespeare, book history, computational text analysis, and more. He is currently working on a book called "How the World Became a Book in Shakespeare's England," and is editing a new edition of "Love's Labour's Lost.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
Using what geographers call the regional approach to learning the distinctiveness of an area of the world, this course explores several aspects of Scotland's physical and human geography. It is roughly divided into sections on its astounding physiography, Precambrian geology and natural resources, followed by contributions of key ethnic groups-Picts, Scots and Norse-to its cultural history. Discussion also focuses on what author Arthur Herman described as "the true inventors (Adam Smith, James Watt, David Hume, James Hutton and Sir Walter Scott) of the social sciences." The last segment compares two great cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with quite different origins and cultural character. Finally, the country's (is it a country?) dynamic political geography is explored including political parties and the highly charged, contentious issue of independence. 

Instructor Bio: Tom Schmiedeler, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of geography at Washburn University.


November 15-29, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
In previous Osher courses, instructor Don Dagenais has brought us information about the lives and music of 18 of the great classical music composers, including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Handel and many others. By popular demand, he is back with Part III of his series. This installment will feature more extraordinary composers: Gioacchino Rossini, Charles Gounod, Johann Strauss Jr., Johannes Brahms, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Richard Strauss, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ottorino Respighi and Philip Glass. Learn more about these composers, their lives and times, and listen to some highlights of their wonderful compositions. It is not necessary for you to have attended Parts I and II to enjoy Part III. 

Instructor Bio: Don Dagenais has been a preview speaker for the Lyric Opera for more than 20 years and he teaches classical music and opera courses for local organizations. Among other pursuits, he enjoys studying American political history and has compiled an extensive collection of memorabilia from presidential political campaigns from 1840 - the present. He recently retired as a real estate attorney.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Kansas offers noncredit short courses and special events developed especially for folks over 50. Give the gift of learning through an Osher Gift Certificate which enables the recipient to attend one Osher course for free! Our courses are taught two hours each week for three weeks. To give someone an Osher Gift Certificate, please click the link below. If you have questions, please contact Linda Kehres at 785-864-1373 or linda.k@ku.edu.


July 22, 2021 to January 31, 2022
Rediscover the county's sixth - longest river, its history in westward expansion, its uses for transportation and irrigation, and how current populations interact with it. The course will build upon the insights gained from two solo kayak adventures taken by Hannes Zacharias down the Arkansas River, one in 1976 and again in 2018, following a drop of water from the headwaters at Tennessee Pass in Colorado to the Mississippi and on to the Gulf of Mexico. Rediscover what you forgot about this wild, massive, and sometimes non - existent river as it cuts across 2,060 miles of America's midsection. 

Instructor Bio: Hannes Zacharias is a Professor of Practice at KU's School ofPublic Affairs and Administration. His 35-year career in local governmentconcluded as Johnson County Manager, Hannes has spent 45 years paddling rivers,including the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, 1,000 miles on the Missouri,and down the Arkansas River.


November 16-30, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
Over the past 50 years, remarkable changes have occurred in the fundamental structure and purpose of higher education. This course will review the writings of John Ruskin, Abraham Flexner, and Clark Kerr to provide some background into the beginnings of higher education in this country. We will then move on to discuss the post-1960s academics and others who have critiqued traditional higher education and attempt to reform it to better suit modern America. 
Join Osher presenter, Mike Hoeflich, as he reflects on his 50 years in higher education as a student, teacher, dean, and legal advisor. Mike has studied and taught at both public and private universities in the U.S. and in Britain. 

Instructor Bio: Mike Hoeflich, PhD, a professor at the KU School of Law, holds a doctorate from Cambridge University and a law degree from Yale Law School.


October 27, 2021 to November 10, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Join us as we discuss the iconic Notre Dame Coach Knute Rockne and explore his many Kansas connections to people and institutions. We'll also talk about his death in an airplane crash in the Flint Hills on March 31, 1931. Week two will be a study of the Glory Days of Haskell Athletics from 1900-1932. Reflections will be given on the founding of Haskell in 1884 and the growth of its football and track and field athletics programs. Haskell played the best teams in college football, such as Notre Dame and Minnesota, and had incredible success. Several of its track and field athletes competed in the Olympic Games. We'll wrap up class on week three with a lecture on the Border Showdown: Kansas vs. Missouri. This heated rivalry with its roots in the Civil War began in the late 1890s and continued until 2012 when Missouri left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeast Conference. Discussions will center on memorable games and outstanding players and coaches. 

Instructor Bio: Bernie Kish has taught sport management classes at KU since 2005. One of the classes that he created and teaches is The History and Tradition of Kansas Athletics. He also authored the chapter on KU Athletics in the recently published book "Transforming the University of Kansas, A history, 1965-2015." Kish is a veteran of the US Army, serving on active duty for over 29 years and completing his service as a Full Colonel.


October 28, 2021 to November 18, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
Theodore Roosevelt sits atop Mount Rushmore, nestled between Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. He was chosen to be a part of this historical structure in 1927 because he was considered among our greatest presidents, a position he retains among historians today. We'll examine T.R.'s life, overcoming debilitating asthma as a child to build a reputation as a robust outdoorsman, astute politician, pioneering conservationist and international statesman. Roosevelt was New York City's police commissioner, assistant secretary of the Navy, volunteer Rough Rider, New York governor and vice president before becoming the youngest president at age 42 following William McKinley's assassination in 1901. 

Instructor Bio: Jim Peters, J.D., is director emeritus of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU, and author of Arlington National Cemetery: Shrine to America's Heroes, which has been the nation's best-selling book on Arlington Cemetery for more than 25 years. He also teaches a course on the Underground Railroad in Northeast Kansas.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
Theodore Roosevelt sits atop Mount Rushmore, nestled between Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. He was chosen to be a part of this historical structure in 1927 because he was considered among our greatest presidents, a position he retains among historians today. We'll examine T.R.'s life, overcoming debilitating asthma as a child to build a reputation as a robust outdoorsman, astute politician, pioneering conservationist and international statesman. Roosevelt was New York City's police commissioner, assistant secretary of the Navy, volunteer Rough Rider, New York governor and vice president before becoming the youngest president at age 42 following William McKinley's assassination in 1901. 

Tallgrass residents will be charged $50 for this course and will be billed from Tallgrass upon the conclusion of the course. 

Instructor Bio: Jim Peters, J.D., is director emeritus of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU, and author of Arlington National Cemetery: Shrine to America's Heroes, which has been the nation's best-selling book on Arlington Cemetery for more than 25 years. He also teaches a course on the Underground Railroad in Northeast Kansas.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
In 1492, the "discovery" of the Americas made for the incredible and continuing exchange of foods between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. The chile pepper, for example, now a standard ingredient in the cuisines of China, Thailand and India, was unknown to any of those cultures. The Italians had never seen a tomato, nor the Swiss, chocolate. From the first legendary Thanksgiving, when Indigenous people shared harvest with Pilgrims, we have celebrated with American foods: corn, squash, green beans, pumpkin, potatoes, cranberries and turkey. Twenty years ago, Thomas Fox Averill wrote Secrets of the Tsil Cafe, a novel with a restaurant that serves only indigenous foods. Join him for a history and a tasting of the rich larder of the New World.

Instructor Bio: Thomas Fox Averill is professor emeritus at Washburn University where he taught Kansas literature, folklore and film for more than 40 years. He is the author of three story collections and five novels, almost all of them set in Kansas. His most recent novel is "Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr: A Novel".


October 27, 2021 to November 10, 2021, Northland Innovation Center In-Person (Gladstone, MO)
November 15-29, 2021, Riley County Seniors' Service Center In-Person (Manhattan, KS)
During the Golden Age we see the way of Greek life challenged by the threat of the mighty, autocratic Persian Empire. The background to this conflict will be discussed followed by the Athenian victory over a Persian force ordered to invade Athenian territory by the mighty Persian king Darius I, a shocking Greek victory. Darius's successor, Xerxes, sought revenge by ordering the invasion of Greece by a huge Persian army. This invasion caused many Greek city-states to unite to protect their way of life. The heroic Spartan stand at Thermopylae, the stunning Greek victory at the naval battle of Salamis, and the subsequent defeat of Persian troops at the Battle of Plataea ensured Greek independence from Near Eastern Persian autocracy. This resulted in the flowering of Greek culture and the development of democracy, art, literature and philosophy, which are foundations of Western Civilization. Join us as we explore this fascinating period full of progress, conflict, drama, and heroic activity as well as intellectual and artistic development. 

Instructor Bio: Larry Burke is a retired professor of history at Dodge City Community College and a retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserve.


October 27, 2021 to November 10, 2021, Senior Resource Center for Douglas County In-Person (Lawrence, KS)
By 1966, the Beatles had tired of a grueling concert schedule that was often fraught with life-threatening audience responses. A disastrous world tour saw violent outbreaks in Japan and the Philippines. This was followed by the ugly response in the USA to the "more popular than Jesus" flap which made the decision to stop touring easy. In addition, the Beatles' music had moved from craft (perfecting the set formula) to art (creating novel music). As a result, their studio-produced songs could not be performed live. Some thought the end of live performances would lead to the demise of the Beatles, but the studio recordings from 1967 to 1969 became even more revolutionary and influential. 

Instructor Bio: Steve Lopes, AE, BA, MA, M Ed, was an educator for 15 years prior to 30 years of advocating for teachers as a Kansas-NEA organizer. He enjoys researching Rock 'n' Roll history and sharing it with Osher participants.


October 28, 2021 to November 18, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
The role of first lady has evolved over the years and each first lady puts her own mark on the position. The first woman to be the president's partner, Martha Washington, was greatly influenced by what she had learned during her years of being in camps with her husband. Two later first ladies, Julia Dent Grant and Mamie Doud Eisenhower, were also military wives whose tenure as first lady was also influenced by their past experiences as military wives. This course explores their biographies and how they enacted the role of first lady.

Instructor Bio: Diana Carlin, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Communication at Saint Louis University and a retired professor of Communication Studies at KU. She has co-authored a book on gender and politics and taught courses on women as political leaders, the rhetoric of women's rights and communication and gender.


October 25, 2021 to November 8, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
In 1893, the KU Natural History Museum took the world by storm. It's Panorama dazzled more than two million people at the Kansas Pavilion in Chicago, revolutionizing how museums would forever think about the life of the planet. Nearby, surrounded by enormous crowds, stood Comanche, the 7th Cavalry horse, the lone U.S. Army survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn. Comanche's long, dark shadow would forever stain the peoples and the wildlands of the Great Plains. A decade later, twelve grotesque stone beasts would look down from the skyline on the Museum, its Panorama, and Comanche, decreed forever to keep the devils from the door.

Instructor Bio: Leonard Krishtalka is the director of the KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and the author of the mystery novels The Bone Field, Death Spoke, The Camel Driver. As a paleontologist, he knows about the three billion year comings and goings of life on Earth, and how the past informs the present and the future. As a scientist and author, he knows how the telling of stories can shape our view of nature, humanity, and our sense in them of place and purpose.


October 25, 2021 to November 8, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
This multimedia course details the impact injury and illness have had on the American presidency and, ultimately, United States and world history. Over the 232 years of the American Presidency there have been extraordinary advances in both diagnostic and treatment options for medical illnesses and injuries. Both the treatment at the time of presidential illness and speculation on outcomes with the advantage 21st century medical care will be discussed. We will also examine the changing American press and effects on disclosure of illness. Hidden illnesses in the White house are detailed, including clandestine surgery performed on a president on a yacht at sea, and illness and circumstance leading to the first "functional" woman president and re-election of a dying president. The fascinating medical history of Andrew Jackson and medical truths regarding John F. Kennedy are explored. Other topics covered include the medical aspects of presidential assassinations, controversies regarding the medical care and competency of the White House physicians, Dwight D. Eisenhower's heart attack, the health issues of 2020 presidential candidates, and health demographics which may affect the future of the American presidential elections. The course is designed to be historical, informative, entertaining, at times humorous, and ultimately inspirational and patriotic.

Instructor Bio: Dr. Jay Murphy is a recently retired cardiologist who practiced in Johnson County, Kansas for forty years. After being raised in Ohio and graduating from Denison University and The Ohio State College of Medicine, he completed post graduate training at the University of Kansas in Internal Medicine and Cardiology. Over his career he has been board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Echocardiography and Lipidology. He has spoken widely on preventive cardiology and the above topic and is the author of What Ails the White House, An Introduction to the Medical History of the American Presidency.


October 27, 2021 to November 10, 2021, Mission Chateau In-Person (Prairie Village, KS)
As life unfolds, things tend to accumulate. Can older adults continue to accommodate households of belongings that were assembled for lives that they now no longer live? Inevitably, they will face a reckoning with their lifelong store of possessions-special, ordinary, and forgotten. Such a predicament now confronts tens of millions of Americans as the Baby Boom cohort passes into retirement and beyond. Based on research in over 130 Midwestern households, the course explores the meaning of things in later life and how households approach and accomplish downsizing, examining the decision-making process and the effectiveness of different divestment strategies.

Instructor Bio: David Ekerdt, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and Gerontology at KU, specializing in work and retirement, focused on the changing role and practice of retirement. He is the editor-in-chief of the "Macmillan Encyclopedia of Aging".


October 28, 2021 to November 18, 2021, Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse In-Person (Prairie Village, KS)
Grief is arguably the most powerful of human emotions. Anyone who loves is vulnerable to loss and grief. This class examines thoughts, feelings and behaviors associated with grief, and explores what recovery means (hint: it doesn't mean "get over it!"). We will study stages, tasks, types of grief; as well as gender differences in terms of grieving and accepting help. The class will look at the 21st century cultural changes in how grief and recovery are viewed in our society, and the role or meaning in grief. Much of class is 'pragmatic psychology' with guidance for helping yourself and others recover. 

Instructor Bio: Sandra Lyke is a licensed clinical social worker with master's degrees in social work and counseling. Retired after 35 years as a psychiatric social worker, she has additional experience as a hospice worker, hospital chaplain and adjunct instructor at Park University.


November 15-29, 2021, Osher Institute In-Person (Lawrence, KS)
Dave Kendall and Rex Buchanan collaborated in the production of a documentary focusing on the history of the Santa Fe Trail. Entitled "The Road to Santa Fe: A Convergence of Cultures," this 90-minute program premiered in conjunction with the bicentennial of the trail in September of 2021. 

In this session, you will screen excerpts from the documentary as well as other short videos connected to the project. Kendall will describe the manner in which the program was produced, providing a few anecdotes of challenges that arose and background on those appear in the program, including historians such as Leo Oliva, a founding member of the Santa Fe Trail Association; Jennie Chinn, director of the Kansas Historical Society and Frances Levine, director the Missouri Historical Society and former director of the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe. Buchanan will share his views on the significance of the trail, providing an assessment of the challenges that travelers on the trail faced as they traversed through a landscape that changed significantly as they passed from one end of the trail to the other. 

This documentary was produced, in part, with grants from Humanities Kansas and Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area among others. The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation served as the sponsoring organization. More information about it can be found online at prairiehollow.


Thursday, November 18, 2021, Osher Institute, St. Andrews Office Facility and Online (Lawrence, KS)
Spices didn't just make merchants rich across the globe - they established and destroyed vast empires, revealed entire continents to Europeans and tipped the balance of world power. If the modern age has a definitive beginning, it was sparked by the spice trade. Arab traders controlled the spice trade between Europe and the East for almost 5,000 years until Europeans started looking for a new route to the Far East. Thus began the Spice Trade, and the Age of Exploration helped lay the foundation for the modern world - all in the pursuit of a more flavorful dinner.

Instructor Bio: Chef Larry P Canepa is a Certified Culinary Educator with over 40 years of food and beverage experience and 20 years of teaching expertise in cooking, food and culture, and STEAM-focused classes to every age of student from K-8 to post-secondary and beyond. He has taught culinary classes at Le Cordon Bleu, the International Culinary School at the Art Institute, corporate wellness events, libraries, community centers, and public and private elementary schools throughout the valley. His engaging, entertaining, educational 'food-tainment' presentations have been enjoyed by hundreds of local and national audiences.


Monday, October 25, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
We will begin with the history of Hawaii from its Polynesian roots as far back as the 8th century. Westerners came to Hawaii for the first time a thousand years later in the 18th century. On January 18, 1778, Captain James Cook went ashore at Waimea on Kauai. He called his new discovery the Sandwich Islands, after the First Lord of the Admiralty. We will explore some of the first kings and queens of Hawaii and how Hawaii evolved to a U.S. Territory and then statehood in 1959. We will look at Oahu's past and present the highlights of things to see and do on this island, including Pearl Harbor and the changes there for touring the last few years. We will focus on Honolulu, the state capital. We'll then delve into the islands of Maui and Kauai and if there is time, Molokai and Lanai. Lastly, we discuss the Big Island, Hawaii. Since all the other islands would fit in the Big Island, there is much to talk about from history to places to see and many activities unique to this island. Volcano National Park will be highlighted. 

Instructor Bio: Georgia Klein is a retired secondary educator from the Shawnee Mission School District. She has been to Europe 26 times and has presented workshops on travel to other continents. She has also been a guide for Road Scholars on a walking tour of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, MO.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
The Civil War caused a lot of soul-searching in the U.S., and other events coincided to make the late Nineteenth Century fertile ground for new religions (Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, and Pentecostalism) and new challenges (the poor in the great cities, leading to Dwight Moody's conservative approach and Walter Rauschenbusch's Social Gospel). Hanging over it all was the growth of conservative theologies, which rejected the Higher Criticism that tried to place the Bible in a historical context and rejected modern science. All this culminated in the "Modernist Controversy" that ended -- or didn't -- in the 1925 Scope's Trial. We live with the consequences of that today. 

Instructor Bio: James Showalter did seven years of historic preservation and 31 years of teaching History on the university level, including 30 years teaching American History at Langston University in Oklahoma. In addition to his university teaching, he has taught in the Oklahoma State University Osher course system for about nine years, covering a wide range of subjects. One of several areas of expertise he has developed is the History of Religion worldwide, and particularly the history of religion in the area that is now the United States. He now lives outside Strong City, Kansas, on the beautiful Flint Hills.


October 26, 2021 to November 9, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Vincent Van Gogh painted over 900 works in his brief 10-year career, and he is loved by many, but understood by few. As we enjoy many of these amazing pieces, we will look at the three places that influenced him the most - Paris, Arles, and Auvers-sur-Oise - and will discuss the important relationships that shaped him over his short life. We'll also learn about his obsession with Japanese art and culture and see how he expressed it in some of his work. Understanding more about the man and his art will help us answer the question of whether his illness inspired or impeded his creative work and will certainly enrich our experience whenever we look at a Van Gogh painting.

Instructor Bio: Janice Stuerzl has a lifelong passion for art history. After retiring from a 20-year career in social work, she became a docent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She has contributed research on French decorative arts for interior design books and has been field editor for interior design articles in national magazines.


Friday, November 19, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
At least as far back as the golden age of Greece, people have written about their idea of an ideal society. Beginning in the 20th century, writers have imagined what appears to be a perfect society that is not perfect for some-or all-of its members. This course will review some of those works (such as More's Utopia, Bellamy's Looking Backward, Huxley's Brave New World, Orwell's 1984, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale) and discuss what societal values the authors thought were important and how that has changed over the years. We'll also talk about why dystopias (in their various versions: books, movies, television series) are currently more popular than utopias.

Instructor Bio: Karl Menninger recently retired from a legal career in federal and state government, mostly dealing with issues concerning persons with disabilities. He teaches courses on disabilities and the law and the insanity defense at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law.


October 27, 2021 to November 10, 2021, Tallgrass Creek Retirement Community In-Person (Overland Park, KS)
At least as far back as the golden age of Greece, people have written about their idea of an ideal society. Beginning in the 20th century, writers have imagined what appears to be a perfect society that is not perfect for some-or all-of its members. This course will review some of those works (such as More's Utopia, Bellamy's Looking Backward, Huxley's Brave New World, Orwell's 1984, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale) and discuss what societal values the authors thought were important and how that has changed over the years. We'll also talk about why dystopias (in their various versions: books, movies, television series) are currently more popular than utopias. 

Tallgrass residents will be charged $50 for this course and will be billed from Tallgrass upon the conclusion of the course. 

Instructor Bio: Karl Menninger recently retired from a legal career in federal and state government, mostly dealing with issues concerning persons with disabilities. He teaches courses on disabilities and the law and the insanity defense at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law.


October 27, 2021 to November 10, 2021, Tallgrass Creek Retirement Community In-Person (Overland Park, KS)
The course will compare the U.S. rankings in over 25 key global categories for 2021. We'll consider economic factors like incomes, deductions and taxes; the environment & pollution; energy sources; healthcare costs and outcomes; marriage, divorce & birth rates; education levels & achievement; life expectancy and paid vacations; population trends; an index on religiosity & atheism; immigration populations & trends; a national prosperity index; murder and crime rates; a change readiness index; happiest & most competitive countries; "best" countries ranked, "where" to be born - 2021; et al. All charts and links to data sources will be provided to participants. 

Instructor Bio:  Doug Stowell has had various career highlights including as Director of Market Research for the Xerox Corp., U.S., Director for the U.K. firm National Opinion Polling, Ltd., and Senior Consultant with Wirthlin Polling in DC. He opened his own firm in 2002 and continues today conducting global consumer issues surveys and political polls.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
It was once thought that fascism had so violently discredited itself in World War Two that it could now survive only on the extremist fringes of democratic politics. But times have changed. Today journalists and pundits-often with a political axe to grind-issue dire warnings of fascism's return, comparing Hitler and Mussolini to contemporary leaders like Trump and Putin. This class will investigate "classical fascism" as it appeared from the years around WWI to 1945, paying particular attention to Italy and Germany. We will consider how understanding fascism in its historical moment enables us to evaluate the application of "fascism" to today's politics. 

Instructor Bio: Eliah Bures holds a PhD in history from UC Berkeley. He is a fellow at Berkeley's Center for Right-Wing Studies and the author of multiple essays and scholarly articles on far-right politics.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
The U.S. inaugurated its first woman vice president but still has not joined 70 other countries that have had women presidents or prime ministers. Since the 19th amendment in 1920, women have made progress on the political stage, but they often experience subtle or overt sexism. Going back to 1872, this course looks at women who ran for office and the challenges they faced from opponents and the media. Videos, political cartoons and newspaper headlines show that much has changed but many things have stayed the same over 100 years. 

Instructor Bio: Diana Carlin, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Communication at Saint Louis University and a retired professor of Communication Studies at KU. She has co-authored a book on gender and politics and taught courses on women as political leaders, the rhetoric of women's rights and communication and gender.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
The Christian New Testament Gospel of John is called the "maverick gospel" or the "compromise gospel." No matter what it is called, its presentation of Jesus, and those with whom he interacts, is unique. Women in the Gospel of John are not only significant in number but also in the theological importance of their stories. Commentator Gail O'Day puts it this way: "The Gospel of John narrates a faith world that would not exist without women's participation in it." Join us as we explore the Gospel of John from a literary and socio-historical perspective. We'll delve into specific stories of women and their significance to the gospel's author and to the community for whom the gospel was intended. Comparisons and contrasts with the Synoptic Gospels will be discussed. 

Instructor Bio: Renee Neff-Clark has a degree in Religious Studies from the University of Kansas and has been a lover of all types of literature since she learned to read.


October 26, 2021 to November 9, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
During the Second World War, German POWs were sent to camps in Kansas-Waconda, Eskridge, Lawrence. We will explore how the men transitioned from fighting on the battlefields of Europe to farming in the wheat fields of Kansas as a prisoner and enemy to the people they live near. How did Kansas react and treat the soldiers? What was it like during those years? What happened to the men after 1945 when the war ended? Was the language barrier a major problem? We will discuss these and other questions about the period. 

Instructor Bio: Russ Hutchins teaches U.S. History, Western Civilization, and Economics at Friends University-Topeka. He is a retired public school administrator and educator of 41 years.


This course contains no sessions
Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.