Courses & Events

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)
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 2021and 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.

June 4-18, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
To deepen any relationship requires us to increase our emotional intelligence. Yet it is remarkable how some people get entangled in each other's emotions. This course offers personal insights into your own emotional intelligence and the emotional intelligence of others. Students will learn how to recognize their emotions and what triggers them. Students will also discover what causes people to be emotionally hijacked and strategies to avoid it. You can expect to develop a greater self-awareness and increased emotional intelligence as you learn more about this topic. 

Instructor: Don Booz is widely recognized for his coaching expertise in the Kansas City area and his ability to help people increase their emotional intelligence. He is a professionally certified coach who teaches people how to develop their emotional intelligence with increased self-awareness. He has mentored and coached CEOs, presidents, directors, managers and staff in a variety of academic and healthcare settings. Don coaches individuals on how to make a difference in this somewhat contentious time. He is a trainer, keynote speaker, workshop presenter and author.

June 1-15, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
In the golden age of science fiction, stories of Mars captured the imagination, although the famous "canals" were shown to be illusory and the factual planet was considered to be a dry, inhospitable world. However, fly-by missions, satellites, and landers have discovered a complex history of ancient seas and rivers, with a tantaliz-ing prospect of life. In this class, we will begin with a session that reviews classic books with Martian themes that are still read today or seen in movie adaptations. In the last two sessions, we will follow the history of the missions to Mars and their discoveries that continue to make headlines.

Instructor Bio: Like many other geologists, John Doveton has enjoyed the virtual fieldtrips provided by the Martian rovers as they have explored a multitude of rock formations. The rover imagery and chemical analyses reveal an astound-ing planetary history that no one expected.

June 1-15, 2021, Zoom Facilitated Sessions (Online, WEB)
This course examines the origins and geographical diffusion of the three most popular caffeine drinks. Although containing the most widely used psychoactive drug, these drinks are seemingly so innocuous they are sold without legal age restrictions and with limited regulations worldwide, yet they have left a legacy of cultural and environmental destruction in the wake of their widespread adoption during the process of globalization. For example, we will learn of the role of tea in the Opium Wars of China, coffee's contribution to slavery in the Americas and the detrimental health effects of sugar in sodas-or "pop" if you are from Kansas. This course can be taken independently of the previous "Six Drinks" course on wine, beer and spirits, the alcohol drinks that changed the world. 

Instructor Bio: Tom Schmiedeler, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of geography at Washburn University.

June 28, 2021 to July 19, 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)
This course discusses how three generations of Spencers led Kansas to the forefront of coal mining and chemical manufacturing. John, the patriarch, his son, Charles, and the grandson, Kenneth, developed a coal/chemical empire from 1867 to Kenneth's death in 1960. During that century their companies became the world's leaders in mechanized mining processes and manufacturers of agricultural fertilizer. We'll also examine the Spencer Foundation's contributions to the arts and culture of the Midwest and nation such as the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. 

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).

June 3-17, 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)