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Courses & Events

Behind every successful man, there is a woman, and throughout history, America's First Families have embodied this saying. The role of America's First Lady is ever changing with each new occupant of the White House. They are embedded in our memory as activists and leaders of the causes they championed. Women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, Abigail Adams, and Hillary Clinton have advanced discussions on once-taboo subjects and have led as fascinating lives as their husbands. This course will examine the often-secluded lives of these women, their actions behind the scenes and their impact on our nation. This course will be held in-person at Brewster Place and the public is allowed to attend. 

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.


June 1-15, 2021, Brewster Place Cultural Arts Center (Topeka, KS)
After the United States entered World War II in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the continued operation of both Major League and Negro League baseball. The president believed the "National Pastime" would help boost homefront morale during the difficult war years lying ahead. This course examines the results of President Roosevelt's decision. We will explore the war's effect on professional baseball, the fans, teams and individual players. Class participants will also learn how the "National Pastime" operated during the war and the post-war changes that occurred in baseball. 

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.


July 14-28, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The beauty and serenity of Japanese Gardens never cease to amaze and delight! What draws us to these wonders? Are they representations of nature recreated or are they intended to manipulate our view of nature in natural and unnatural or altered ways? In this course, we'll look beyond the exquisite beauty of Japanese gardens and learn to identify and more deeply appreciate the common elements that comprise a Japanese garden while exploring their various styles. Dianne will once again wow you with visuals, videos, culture, history, and insights through this tour of prominent and lesser-known Japanese gardens in Japan as well as in our own backyard. 

Instructor Bio: Dianne Daugherty holds master's degrees in education and contemporary East Asian studies. She lived and worked in Japan for three years, and taught Japanese to high school and college students.


July 14-28, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Join us for a continuation of the Forgotten Jayhawks series, which explores women and men whose impact as Jayhawk athletes and coaches have been somewhat forgotten. Week one will highlight two basketball coaches, Ted Owens and Roy Williams. We will then move on to a discussion around two stellar African American legends, Gale Sayers and Jo Jo White. Week three will focus on two young women, track and field athlete Andrea Guebelle and volleyball All-American Cassie Wait. Each week's presentations will include not only their accomplishments on the fields of friendly strife, but also the impact these icons had on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the KU. 

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.


June 22, 2021 to July 6, 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 course will examine the origin of jazz music through the lens of American and World History with a special emphasis on the contributions of musicians in Kansas City and the development of the drum set as a crucial instrument in this art form. Participants will gain an understanding of how jazz developed in the United States, its important creative movements and musicians throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and how other musical traditions from Africa, Cuba, and Brazil have had a role in shaping this art form into the musical melting pot it is today. 

Instructor Bio: Samuel Gould holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance from Michigan State University. He has lectured at Grand Valley State University, and Grand Rapids Community College, and his recorded work has been heard on Innova Records, Quite Scientific Records, NPR's Weekend Edition and the BBC television show "Waterloo Road.


June 23, 2021 to July 7, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
117 writers have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but only 16 have been women. Setting aside this lack of inclusion, these female writers stand out for their artistry, their contribution to their country's cultures and the universality of the themes they convey with their work. This course will offer a look at the lives and accomplishments of all these women-from Sweden's Selma Lagerlöf in 1909 to the most recent recipient, U.S. poet Louise Gluck in 2020-and most closely at the laureates who wrote in English-Pearl S. Buck, Toni Morrison, Louise Gluck, Nadine Gordimer, Alice Munro and Doris Lessing. Some short out-of-class reading assignments will enhance the study of some of these masters' art if participants decide to delve into the reading. 

Instructor Bio: Robert Weibezahl is a writer, editor, cultural critic and publishing industry veteran who has worked with Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and countless bestselling authors. He has published a number of works of fiction and nonfiction, is an award-winning, internationally produced playwright and writes a monthly literary column for BookPage. Weibezahl has a master's in humanities, a bachelor's in English, and an associate degree in music. He has taught at Osher programs in California, Utah and Hawaii.


July 14-28, 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.


July 16-30, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
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: 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.


July 15-29, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The Beatles were more than just another rock band. They were a cultural tsunami that forever changed fashion, manners, humor, media, values and style, while influencing musical genres and future musicians long after the group's demise. Their 213 songs, 28 albums and five films over seven years as a group were a mere prelude to their cultural impact that continues to this day. In addition to reviewing their origin story and "Beatlemania," we will try to understand how these four became so fabulous. Participants will be asked to engage in trivia quizzes and discussions of their legacy. 

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.


June 24, 2021 to July 8, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This course offers an introduction to films produced in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The course will examine a series of topics through the lens of each country, including cultural appropriation, religious transformation, identity, gender, education and immigration, war and exile through film screenings, discussions, and supplementary readings. We will explore films from Arabic countries and review short readings. The three films discussed in class and recommended for student viewing outside of class (Saint Sharbel, Marock and Yacubian), will have English subtitles. The links will be sent to participants prior to each session enabling students to watch online free of charge. The instructor will provide short readings for students to help in understanding the background culture of film production. Readings are also an attempt to familiarize learners with some approaches to critically interpret and react to visual media. 

Instructor Bio: Asmaa Ben baba is an Arabic and Islamic studies lecturer for the African and African-American Studies Department. She earned her doctorate in adult and continuing education and master's in urban and community planning from Auburn University and an additional degree in cultural studies and bachelor's in English literature from Mohamed V University in Morocco. Dr. Ben baba's research interests include online learning communities, online distance education learning environments in the foreign language classrooms, and the incorporation of cultural forms (films, literature, space, built environment, music and popular culture) in second language teaching and learning. Further teaching interests include Middle Eastern and North African sub-cultures, gender and diaspora.


July 26, 2021 to August 9, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
In three previous Osher courses, instructor Don Dagenais brought us information about the lives and music of 27 of the great classical music composers, including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Handel and many others. This series will conclude with Part IV, featuring more extraordinary composers: the Czech master Bedrich Smetana, the great opera composers Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, Scandinavian composers Edvard Grieg (Norway) and Jean Sibelius (Sweden), Camille Saint-Saens of France, the English composers Frederic Delius and Ralph Vaughan-Williams and the American maestro Leonard Bernstein. Learn more about these composers and their lives and times, and listen to some of the highlights of their wonderful compositions. It is not necessary for you to have attended the first three classes to enjoy Part IV. 

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.


June 2-16, 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)
With the help of an inexpensive app, we can shoot and edit film-quality videos with our smartphones, easily up to the standards of social media, commercial and brand video work, and documentary and narrative film work. Gain the control and capabilities of professional cinematographers and design the look, color, lighting and framing of every single shot in a smartphone film. This course is suitable for aspiring filmmakers, entrepreneurs, video storytellers, social media content creators and content producers. Note: Students will be required to purchase and install the Filmic Pro app on their phones. You can purchase it directly through your mobile device or on your home computer, through either the Google Play Store (Android) or through the App Store (iPhone). 

Instructor: Stephen Knifton is an Emmy-award winning TV news producer, credited for creating and producing engaging and highly rated news programming. Steve moved onto the digital content world and created work for museums, engineers, architects, designers, hospitality + tourism and business development clients. For the past few years, Steve has (remotely) taught video storytelling and smartphone filmmaking at a number of colleges. Steve lived and worked in both New York and Toronto and teaches in both Canada and the U.S.


June 24, 2021 to July 8, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Tales of the Chessboard As portrayed in the recent Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit," the drama of the game of chess is not necessarily confined to the sixty-four squares. Join us for stories of famous and not-so-famous players and matches that have helped make chess the most iconic of all board games. There is no need to be a chess player to appreciate these tales of conquest, salvation and madness that are intertwined with the "game of kings." Come join the fun as we explore this exciting game. 

Instructor Bio: David Mannering earned a doctorate in higher education administration from KU. He recently retired from a 40-year career in information technology, including 15 years as a chief information officer. He has taught management information systems courses and computer programming.


June 25, 2021 to July 9, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
We all have stories to tell, from tiny anecdotes to major turning points in our lives. Professional storyteller Priscilla Howe guides participants in mining life experiences for the tellable tale, shaping and crafting reminiscences, listening for underlying themes, and telling the stories face-to-face and heart-to-heart. While the emphasis is on oral storytelling, this class will also be helpful for writers. 

Instructor Bio: Since 1993, storyteller Priscilla Howe has traveled the world telling family stories, folktales and literary stories to listeners of all ages. She performs on Zoom and, when it isn't a pandemic, in schools, libraries, festivals, house concerts and literally her own backyard.


June 22, 2021 to July 6, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This visually-driven class explores photography from early glass plate to digital capture. We will view photographs from Library of Congress collections, archives of the Lawrence Journal-World and the instructor's 30-year photography career. With each photograph, we will take a behind-the-lens viewpoint, attempting to understand each photographer's creative process in documenting their subject. Along the way, we will meet image makers focusing on diverse content, from steam trains to snowflakes and we will address the questions, "What makes an interesting photograph?" and "How can we capture better photographs?" Participants will also be invited to submit their own favorite photographs for instructor review. 

Instructor Bio: Mike Yoder, formerly with the Lawrence Journal-World, has 25 years of experience in film and digital documentary


July 26, 2021 to August 9, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The Great Train Robbery was a silent movie that appeared in theaters in 1903 and represents the first example of the western film. In the century since, the western genre has endured on the big screen. Indeed, from the 1930s to the 1960s, the western movie dominated at the box office. In the 1950s, this trend was emulated on the emerging medium of television in which most programs were westerns. During this class, author and historian Darren L. Ivey will examine the trends and themes of the western film and discuss its impact on American culture. 

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.


June 7-21, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The war in Vietnam was the subject of several memorable books and movies showing various perspectives about the war. Some stories were told while the war was going on, and others were done years after the last troops left Saigon. How well did they reflect that time? We will be discussing works about the conduct of the war, the soldiers who fought in it and how the war affected the nation. The books we may discuss include A Bright Shining Lie, Dispatches, The Things They Carried and A Rift in the Earth. Movies may include Go Tell the Spartans, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter and Coming Home. Join us to learn more about this important time in history.

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.


June 28, 2021 to July 19, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
The collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II resulted in the creation of the modern American musical play, where a serious story was told through dialogue, music and dance. Building upon their decades of writing Broadway musicals with other partners, Rodgers and Hammerstein became the most important creative team in the history of the American musical theater. This course will include detailed commentary on several of their most important shows. 

Instructor Bio: Paul Laird is professor of musicology at the University of Kansas. He has published widely on musical history topics including four books on Leonard Bernstein. The most recent is the biography Leonard Bernstein in the "Critical Lives" series from Reaktion Books(University of Chicago Press).


June 2-16, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
In this course, we will explore some of the best quaint locations throughout western Europe. Discover the ways to travel from someone who has done everything from backpacking alone to attending group tours by bus, train or river boat. Favorite countries will include Italy, France, Portugal, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Norway and England. Many learning experiences from over 26 trips to Europe will be shared with the class. Find out the "do's" and "don'ts" of travels that will make your trips more rewarding.

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.


June 23, 2021 to July 7, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
Why were Wyeth and Rockwell's artwork beloved by the public, yet given a back number by art critics, whereas Jackson Pollock was shunned by the masses yet exulted by art critics as one of America's greatest masters of abstract expressionist art. This course will examine the major works and lives of these artists to try to answer the disparity in their importance to the art world and the general public. 

Instructor Bio: Dan Kirchhefer is an artist and professor emeritus who taught drawing, printmaking and the history of American Art at Emporia State University.


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