Courses & Events

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).


April 13-27, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The Arkansas River pierces the heart of America, stretching 1,469 miles from the Tennessee Pass in Colorado to the Mississippi River at the eastern edge of Arkansas. Using the backdrop of the instructor's two solo kayak trips down the entire length of the Ark in 1976 and again in 2018, we will explore this heavily regulated river from beginning to end. The nation's sixth-longest river (45th longest in the world) is both the economic engine and burden to millions of people and scores of cities bordering its banks. From raging rapids to diversion dams for irrigation ditches, to dry streambeds, and finally barge traffic, we will examine the impact this wild, elusive and embattled river has had on cities, towns and adjacent farmland, starting with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 through to the present day. 

Instructor Bio: Hannes Zacharias is a Professor of Practice at KU's School of Public Affairs and Administration. His 35-year career in local government concluded 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.


April 14-28, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Following a long and arduous warring states period (1467-1600), Japan entered a time of peace under the Tokugawa Shogunate which opened opportunities for art and culture to flourish. The stunning theater arts of Bunraku (Puppet) and Kabuki delighted crowds while Samurai established schools and cultivated the arts of Zen meditation, tea ceremony, poetry, and calligraphy. This era features a distinctive aesthetic sensibility that is evident in a variety of art forms including screen paintings, scrolls, sculptures, ceramics, lacquers, textiles, and woodblock prints. Ms. Daugherty provides an engaging course through her stunning slides, video demonstrations, and entertaining stories. Sharing items from her own collection of kimonos, obi, tea ceremony items, and calligraphy is an added treat. 

Instructor Bio: Dianne Daugherty holds master's degrees in education and contemporary East Asian studies, with doctorate hours in public health and Gerontology. She lived and worked in Japan for three years, and taught Japanese to high school and college students for more than 20 years.


March 2-16, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
In this class, we will take a closer look at Shakespeare's most famous play and see connections to important historical figures. What is in the mirror that the playwright would hold before us to show the very age and body of the time? Why is Horatio at Elsinore? Why does Shakespeare bring Fortinbras to the Hamlet legend? What are we to make of a vanishing ghost in full armor? Starting with the playwright's historical circumstances, we will discuss influential 16th-century personalities, some who contributed to stage effects and others who lived the themes in Shakespeare's "Tragedy of Hamlet."

Instructor Bio: Carol Grieb has a degree in education from the University of Kansas and has taught German. She has enthusiastically researched The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark for more than a decade and is the author of the book, A Truant Disposition.


March 4-18, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The security of the U.S. homeland is not a recent concern. Ever since American independence, the U.S. government has dealt with numerous threats to domestic tranquility. George Washington's use of federal troops to enforce federal law during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, the federal government's response to domestic terrorism associated with Bleeding Kansas and Reconstruction, and the government's actions dealing with the San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 provide insight into historical and legal perspectives of the governmental responsibilities during domestic crises. 

Instructor Bio: Tony R. "Randy" Mullis, Ph.D., is Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Professor Mullis holds a PhD in History from the University of Kansas. His major fields include the history of the United States and military history. His secondary field is indigenous nations studies. He is the author of Peacekeeping on the Plains: Army Operations in Bleeding Kansas.


March 29, 2021 to April 12, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Dolly Curtis Gann was the half-sister of Vice-President Charles Curtis. She campaigned for him, was his secretary, and became his official hostess after the death of his wife. She was extremely influential in politics, though she did not support women's suffrage. Totally devoted to her brother and his success, she was remarkable in her own right. Historian Deb Goodrich has researched the Curtis Family extensively and will bring this often-overlooked figure to life. 

Instructor Bio: Deb Goodrich is the host of the TV show "Around Kansas," and the Garvey (Texas) Foundation Historian in Residence at the Fort Wallace Museum. She chairs the Santa Fe Trail 200, the bicentennial of that historic route in 2021. Deb has appeared in numerous documentaries including "The Road to Valhalla," "Aftershock," and "American Experience" on Jesse James, as well as the series, "Gunslingers" on AHC. She wrote and produced the docu-drama, "Thof's Dragon," about the discovery of a plesiosaur in western Kansas in the 1860s.


March 2-16, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
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.


December 8, 2020 to May 31, 2021
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."


April 13-27, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This writing workshop will explore the stories, characters, environments and experiences evoked by this universal (and hopefully) once in a lifetime experience. Change forces us to move and see differently. The last nine months have jolted, numbed and left us wondering or experiencing unanticipated joy. In this workshop we'll discover what these experiences yield, as well as what makes a story or monologue compelling: the power of place/environment, the pull of a particular voice, the potential for action, the unspoken influence, and other tools. Monologue writing is optional. Students who choose to write will produce a short monologue for class consumption (reading and reacting) and possibly a second monologue to be recorded during our last meeting.

Instructors Bios: Penny Weiner has been acting, directing, writing and producing for theaters in Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City since 1983. She spent twenty-seven years at Washburn University teaching, directing and developing Washburn's playwriting program. Penny's greatest joy is working on plays that stir, shake and move audiences; she loves the intersection of public and private life that is theater. Robert Baker enjoys telling tales. Verse, music, and plays performed in theatrical settings are mediums he uses to stage storytelling performance. He is a playwright and producer, a performance poet, and musical performer in a local group known as The Bopaphonics.


March 3-17, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This course will take you on a journey of learning about travel. You will learn how to choose what trips are right for you and how to prepare for those trips. We explore the different ways to travel and if you should travel alone or with a group. Should you go on a river boat or a freighter or a cruise ship. You will hear about travel insurance, money and how to pack light. Even if you aren't planning to travel right now, join a world traveler who will tell you stories about places that have fascinated tourist for years. Discover unique possibilities for your own travel adventures.

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.


April 26, 2021 to May 10, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
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.


March 4-18, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Is climate change real? This year alone we have seen extreme floods, fires, droughts and hurricanes. During week one of this course, we will discuss causes and impacts of climate change and what we must do to save the planet. Week two will focus on income inequality delving into the multitude of policy changes that started in the 1980s that many believe stacked the deck against the poor; allowing the rich to become richer and the poor getting poorer. In the final session, we will examine the history of state owned and regulated companies, globalization, deregulation, automation, and nationalism looking at how each approach to business impacts employment and what the consumer pays for products and services. 

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.


March 5-19, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Landscapes, gardens, and flowers have been popular subjects with artists for hundreds of years. We'll look at examples from a variety of European and American cultures and time periods. As we do that, we will learn a new vocabulary to describe them and will discuss how artists used their work to express their philosophical, religious, and political beliefs. These paintings are among the most beautiful in the history of art, and you will enjoy them even more with a new understanding of the artists' purpose and meaning. 

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.


March 22, 2021 to April 5, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Be invigorated by the engaging Caroline Cocciardi as she reveals new and little-known aspects of artist Leonardo da Vinci's life, work, and his passion for interlocking knots. Enter Luca Pacioli, the famous Renaissance mathematician, who becomes Leonardo's apprentice and plays a major role in his art masterpieces from "The Last Supper" to the "Mona Lisa." Then there is Isabella d'Este, patron of the arts and hostess to Leonardo and Luca when, in 1499, fleeing the perils of war, their Covid-19 moment, the men took refuge in her castle. Their sojourn creates a sketch of Isabella with a promise to be followed by a 'color portrait' of the Marchesa. Discover the intrigue of the relationships of the apprentice, the master and the Renaissance woman and her unfinished, unpainted portrait that will intertwine their lives forever. 

Instructor Bio: Caroline Cocciardi writer and filmmaker began an independent study on Leonardo da Vinci, while living in Rome. Her 20-year research lead to a da Vinci discovery.


March 5-19, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Freedom, trust, and democracy are proclaimed as sacred American ideals. Individual freedom can be understood as the right of each person to pursue his or her own moral choices. Trust can be widespread when social differences are respected. Democracy is a form of government that strives to provide peace and stability given our diverse moralities and our social divisions. While America has had historical deficiencies is achieving these ideals, our moral, social and political differences are increasingly portrayed as overwhelming. While there are no "right answers" to these issues, public discussions about them seem urgent. This class is limited to 15 to allow for a civil discussion and idea exchange. Concept and questions will be sent from the instructor to structure discussion on the issues presented by the instructor. A short bibliography of reading material relating to moral, social, and political pluralism will be made available. 

Instructor Bio: Paul Schumaker, Ph.D is a retired University of Kansas political science professor. He has taught courses in American political history and democratic theory.


March 3-17, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Fascinating look into the early 20th century world of adoption in Kansas City and is a follow up to "Kansas City: The Adoption Hub of America and The Willows Maternity Sanitarium." This course will share adoptees' and birth mothers' heartwarming and sometimes heart wrenching stories. Ranging from 1908 until 1969, these voices express the common need to know "Who am I?," longing for medical history, fear of hurting adoptive parents, and guilt for being forced to give up a baby. One voice is of a Willows baby who grew up to be the governor of Kansas. 

Instructor Bio: KelLee Parr holds bachelor degrees in agriculture and education plus a master's degree in adult and occupational education from Kansas State University. He has taught elementary school many years in Topeka and now writes science curriculum for Nancy Larson Publishers.


April 14-28, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The grandeur, drama and emotional exuberance of the Baroque era draws many of us to its splendor. Through the music, the art, and the architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, we will trace the language of artistic expression from the early Baroque era to its pinnacle through the works of J.S. Bach, Peter Paul Ruebens, Francesco Borromini and more. We'll explore why the Portuguese term "barocco" (bizarre) was used to describe the period. We'll also get a closer look at period instruments, explore what these instruments reveal about performance in the Baroque era and why modern musicians today are 'going for Baroque.'

Instructor Bio: Trilla Ray-Carter is the founding director of the Kansas City Baroque Consortium, which specializes in period performance. She is active as a performer and educator, holds a bachelor's degree in cello performance from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, with master's work from California State University and the UMKC Conservatory. She has served as principal cellist of the Liberty Symphony, the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra, and the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, and as instructor at Cottey College, Kansas City Kansas Community College and William Jewell College.


March 4-18, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
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.


December 8, 2020 to May 31, 2021
This course will focus on both significant and some little-known personalities of the American Revolution. The first week will examine the colonial patriots who instigated the revolution, the warriors who fought for the cause, the spies who provided the intelligence, and the loyalists who remained steadfast for Britain. The second week will focus on the British political and military leaders who attempted to bring the American colonies back into the empire. The final week looks at the French and other European military and civilian leaders, who for a variety of political and military reasons, aided the American cause.

Instructor Bio: Robert Smith, PhD, is the Director of the Fort Riley Museum. He has a doctorate in history from KSU, and has published numerous articles on military history.


March 25, 2021 to April 8, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald are notorious for their assassinations, but who were Charles Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz, and why did they murder Presidents Garfield and McKinley? There have been 28 documented assassination attempts on 22 sitting or former presidents or presidents-elect. In Milwaukee, Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest, but finished his campaign speech. In Miami, Guiseppe Zangara fired five shots at FDR, but killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. And we'll discuss attempts to assassinate Presidents Obama and Trump. We'll uncover them all and closely examine the men...and women...who killed (or tried to kill) the president of the United States.

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. He also teaches a course on the Underground Railroad in Northeast Kansas.


March 2-16, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
America's presidents lead extraordinary lives and make unique contributions to society. But the story doesn't end when their terms expire. Presidents have lived a combined 450 years after leaving the White House. Many go on to accomplish more than they did while in office. Jimmy Carter eradicated guinea worm disease, William Howard Taft became Chief Justice of the United States, and George Washington established one of the largest alcohol distilleries in the nation. This course will examine the lives of our former commanders in chief after public office, including their libraries and monuments, and often overlooked good deeds. 
  
Instructor Bio: Tyler Habiger holds a bachelor's degree in American politics and theatre and a master's in human services from Drury University. He has served as a college instructor and is now happily employed at KU Endowment in Lawrence.


March 3-17, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Religion was not the primary reason for the settlement of the colonies, and none of the colonies was a theocracy. But it did influence the culture that developed, including gender, death ways, economics, relations between Native Americans and euro-colonists, the treatment of children, and the status of African Americans. We will start with a quick overview of Native American religious beliefs since they were the majority through the colonial period. Then will get to Separatists (Pilgrims), Puritans, Anglicans, Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists, Anabaptists, Quietists, African American religious traditions, and the small beginnings of Judaism and Catholicism. We'll then hit higher education, the First Great Awakening, and the status of religion in the American Revolutionary period. 

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.


April 12-26, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
A portrait serves as a representation of a specific person, but it does not merely record someone's facial likeness. Portraiture can visually reveal someone's personality, to show something about who they were, how they lived and what they cared about. From the beginning, this course will explore the meaning and function of portraiture from ancient to contemporary art, while unveiling the secrets that lie beneath the surface of a smile and a pose, and lead you down a road to seeing and understanding the stories found in every detail. 

Instructor Bio: Jacquelynn Sullivan Gould is the Director of Galleries and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at Michigan State University. Sullivan Gould holds a BA in Art History & Studio Art from the University of Minnesota, Morris and an MFA in Sculpture from Michigan State University. In addition to maintaining an active curatorial and studio practice, she has lectured nationally and internationally about her work.


April 26, 2021 to May 10, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Rock 'n' Roll didn't die in 1959 (whew!), but rockers were exploring new avenues of expression as well as new markets. The songs of Jerry Lee, Fats, Chuck, Buddy and Richard were now honored "oldies," and "Rock" was firmly established as the official teenage soundtrack. Rock 'n' Roll morphed into new forms of what would now be called Rock music. These would include Motown, with its girl and guy groups; Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound;" surf music; "authentic" folk music; soul; folk rock; blues by Brits; and re-energized pop music. We will consider the first half of the 1960s music scene as a transitional time until the next Elvis appeared as Mop Tops bringing the First British Invasion to America. Join our conversation about how Rock adapted to changing times. 

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.


March 25, 2021 to April 8, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Elements of a controversial phenomenon that would become rock 'n' roll, and forever alter American and world culture, gathered during the first half of the 20th century. The musical roots- country & western, rhythm & blues, pop, jazz, gospel, and folk-were integral to birth the Big Beat. But other forces-teen culture, politics, business, technology, racism, media and chance, also played roles in rock's development. The Golden Age of Rock was all teen idols, doo wop, and girl groups until 1959, when "the music died." Was this the end of Rock? Join our conversation about how rock became rock.  

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.


March 5-19, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The Flint Hills of Kansas, the largest surviving expanse of tallgrass prairie anywhere in the world, have developed a distinctive folk culture, based largely on seasonal grazing of transient cattle, i.e., stockers raised elsewhere, grazed here during the summer, then sent on to packing plants in earlier years, feedlots today. We will look at changes that have occurred from the Open Range Era, through the Railroad Era, to today's Trucking Era and will examine differences that distinguish the Flint Hills from other ranching regions of the West, as well as stories of interesting people who have lived here. 

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, and has another Flint Hills book forthcoming: "Gathering Straysin the Flint Hills: Observations, Contemplations and Reminiscences from America's Last Tallgrass Prairie".


March 24, 2021 to April 7, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This course will delve into the history and literary themes of the Western novel. We will begin with Owen Wister's The Virginian (1902), which founded the genre. Continuing with Zane Grey, especially his Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), we will discuss how his books shaped the standard formula that the majority of later works would follow. The course will also examine Jack Schaefer's Shane (1949) before reviewing the works of Louis L'Amour, who combined his personal experiences with historical research and a deep appreciation for the land. Additionally, a variety of less significant authors working from the 1960s to the present will be examined. 

Instructor Bio: Darren Ivey is a museum assistant at the Riley County Historical Museum and the author of three books, the last two published by the University of North Texas Press. A former firefighter, he holds a history degree from Kansas State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library Science degree at Emporia State University.


March 23, 2021 to April 6, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This course will explore the historical development of the U.S.- Mexico border from the perspective of both Mexico and the United States. Together, we will explore how the border evolved and hardened through the creation of the Border Patrol, the Mexican Revolution and the effects of Prohibition. We'll review personal accounts, photographs and songs of "borderlanders," along with government officials providing crucial context to today's current debates. Finally, we will examine how to negotiate the border in the age of nationalism.  

Instructor Bio: Aaron Margolis received his doctorate in history from the University of Texas at El Paso where he concentrated on Latin American and Borderlands History. He is currently an associate professor of history at Kansas City Kansas Community College.


April 16-30, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Robert E. Lee was the son of fabled Revolutionary War general "Light Horse" Harry Lee. In this course, we'll examine how this general's son became one of the most respected officers in the U.S. Army, only to forge a record in the Confederacy that made him one of the most respected commanders in history. We'll look at the great maneuvers that carried him to triumph at Chancellorsville in 1863, and then to complete defeat in 1865. We will consider the factors that shaped Lee's generalship both in victory and defeat, then look at how Lee dealt with the aftermath of defeat in his postwar endeavors. 

Instructor Bio: Ethan S. Rafuse's many published works include Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865. He received his doctorate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and teaches military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.


April 13-27, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Five big things about life on Earth we need to know: (1) The diversity of life--the species of plants, animals and microbes. 90% is still undiscovered. (2) The tree of life, the ancestry/kinship of all species. (3) The language of life, their genomes/instructions. (4) The web of life, the world's ecosystems. (5) Humans and the control of Nature--we are the most powerful force on Earth, shaping air, water, land and life. These five subjects are fundamental to sustaining human life on Earth. So is knowing what we got right and what we got terribly wrong in portraying nature and humanity in museums and popular culture. So is preparing for the looming biological revolution that will make us forget everything we thought we knew about ourselves and life on Earth.

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.


March 23, 2021 to April 6, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
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.

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


April 15-29, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
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.


April 14-28, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
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".


March 23, 2021 to April 6, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The religions of the world all have a concept of an ultimate state of being or consciousness. The concept of "merging with the ultimate" is generally called "mysticism." There are mysticism traditions in both Western and Eastern religions as well as what might be called "spiritual mysticism" which is not attached to any particular religion. These traditions have much in common, including a transcendent reality and the possibility for humans to experience a merging with that transcendent ultimate being or consciousness. This course explores a few examples of mysticism from different ages in world history, examining mystical theories and methods.

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."


March 26, 2021 to April 9, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
With our world constantly advancing, learn more about the changes in educating the future on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics. The ways many adults learned to approach these topics has changed. Research is clear: it is never too late to advance knowledge in STEM at any age. Enhancing knowledge on STEM skills can benefit adults in a variety of different ways with better mentor future generations on cutting-edge topics and be involved in a variety of STEM programs. It can also have major benefits on the individual's health with an active mind and hands-on projects. 

Instructor Bio: Lucas Shivers is a life-long Kansas educator and currently serves as director of elementary education for USD 383.


April 15-29, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Western Christianity has a rich history of spiritual autobiography beginning with the Confessions of St. Augustine in 400 A.D. We will look at excerpts from landmark stories by authors such as Augustine, Teresa of Avila, John Bunyan, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris and Anne Lamott. In the process, we will discover how spiritual autobiography is different than other types of autobiography, how it reflects current events or religious trends, and how it has evolved. For added perspective, we will look at excerpts from at least one autobiography depicting a movement away from Christianity (e.g., Father and Son by Edmund Gosse) and one written in a different religious tradition (e.g., Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda).  

Instructor Bio: Tim Bascom spent half his childhood in East Africa, where his parents served as medical missionaries. He is the author of two memoirs about those years: Chamelon Days (Houghton Mifflin) and Running to the Fire (University of Iowa Press). His newest book, Climbing Lessons: Stories of Fathers, Sons, and the Bond Between, is also an exploration, to some extent, of the spiritual heritage passed on within a family. Until moving to Kansas in 2020, Bascom directed the Creative Writing Program at Waldorf University in Iowa. He is now the Executive Director for the Kansas Book Festival.


March 1-15, 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.


March 26, 2021 to April 9, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Humans are social creatures by nature and so is the honeybee! That may be one of the reasons why humankind has been keeping bees for thousands of years. Join beekeeper Paul Post to learn about this amazing social insect, and how bees benefit our way of life. We'll begin by looking at the world's many pollinators and their symbiotic relationship with plants. Our main focus will be on the honeybee and the extensive pollination services this little insect provides. We'll take a look at the physiology and morphology of the honeybee and study the bee caste system, where the queen rules. Or does she? Finally, we'll track the evolution of the beehive from the ancients to the modern day beekeeper, and learn why we depend on the honeybee for the food we eat. 

Instructor Bio: Paul Post is a native Kansan and retired lawyer. He lives in Topeka and now pursues several hobbies, including beekeeping.  Paul's interest in beekeeping began in 2013, when he saw a demonstration hive at the Mother Earth News Fair in Lawrence.  He joined the Northeast Kansas Beekeepers Association, and after attending beekeeping classes, began keeping bees in backyard hives.


March 2-16, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This class will explore the proliferation of the witch as a character in popular culture, through the lens of theatre history. Through three areas of inquiry (historical context, good versus bad witches, and fantasy versus human witches), we will consider questions such as, "how did the pointed hat become a symbol for witches?" as well as how witch characters are used to both uplift and critique expectations of female behavior. What kind of spell do artists cast when we create musicals and films that feature witchy characters? Why do we rely on witches to tell these stories? 

Instructor Bio: Jane Barnette is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Kansas who teaches courses in theatre history, script analysis, and seminars in theatrical adaptation and the performance of gender and sexuality. Her book Adapturgy: The Dramaturg's Art and Theatrical Adaptation explores the powerful alchemy of dramaturgically savvy adaptations for the stage, and her forthcoming book analyzes depictions of Witchy characters onstage as well as in popular culture. Jane writes and adapts for the stage, performs, and is a professional dramaturg. Her recent directing credits include the regional premiere of Sycorax at KU and The Book Club Play for Kansas Repertory Theatre in Lawrence.


March 23, 2021 to April 6, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Imagine a day without space-based capabilities. What would happen to your television? How do you forecast the weather? Global finance grinds to a halt. The stock markets crash. Your credit card becomes useless. Air travel stops. The trucking industry falters. Space-based capabilities touch your everyday life in so many ways that are normally unperceived. This course will examine the American and global dependency realized through space-based capabilities and how your daily life depends on those systems. We will look at the answers to several questions to include: Where are satellites? How do they orbit? How are they impacted by solar weather? Do solar flares really cause problems on earth? How does GPS really work? How critical are satellites to national security and commerce? And in all of those movies, what is reality and what is director's license?

Instructor Bio: As one of the Army's first 9 Space Operations Officers, Thomas A. Gray, MSA, is an education and training specialist working for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command teaching at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth as well as other institutions across the country.


April 15-29, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)