Courses & Events

Join us as we say farewell to our outgoing director Jim Peters and welcome our new director, Linda Kehres. Farewelcome! We'll also celebrate the Osher Institute's 15th Anniversary.After nearly eight years as Osher Institute director, Jim is retiring. "We have always tried to refresh our program with new partners, instructors, courses, programs and volunteers," said Peters. "Now it's time to refresh our leadership as well, to pass the baton to our new director, Linda Kehres, who is certain to bring fresh ideas and new energy to the Institute. Let's welcome Linda!" Jim's last official day will be Sept. 30, and we wish him well.Linda comes to the Osher Institute from her position as executive director of Let's Help, a nonprofit community organization in Topeka that promotes a wide variety of services for those in need.We will salute our directors with a reception in their honor on Friday, Oct. 18, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Lied Center Pavilion. A brief program is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.The event is open to the public and admission is free, although registration is required. Register today!Join us as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary and the passing of the leadership baton.

Friday, October 18, 2019, Lied Center (Lawrence, KS)
Kansas City has been called "The City of Fountains," but isn't it so much more? Perhaps a better moniker would be "City of Great Public Art!"Join us as we take two tours of Kansas City's most notable artworks. One tour will start in Lawrence and another from the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Both will visit dozens of iconic artworks from Downtown to Crown Center to the Plaza, all introduced and detailed by Ann Wiklund, the Osher Institute's art historian in residence.Among the sites we'll see are "Bird Lives," the larger- than-life sculpture of jazz great Charlie Parker created by Robert Graham and located at 18th & Vine. We'll travel downtown to see Donald Lipinsky's 30-foot homage to Rodin, "Rodinrodannadanna and "Corps of Discovery" by Eugene Daub, honoring Lewis & Clark in West Terrace Park.We'll pass Lawrence-based sculptor Jim Brothers' "Citizen Soldier" at the VFW National Headquarters, "Spider" by Louise Bourgeois and "Crying Giant" by Tom Otterness both on the grounds of the Kemper Museum, and Roxy Paine's 56-foot silver "Ferment," standing like a sentinel in the Hall Sculpture Garden at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.Amid all this art, we'll stop for lunch at the historic Webster House Restaurant near the Kauffman Center. Join us for a lifetime of art, all in one day!

Thursday, September 26, 2019, Edwards Campus Regents Center 100 (Overland Park , KS)
Friday, September 27, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
From Superman and Batman to Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge to 50s horror comics to Spider- man and the X-Men to today's billion dollar movie blockbusters, this course takes us on a journey through the colorful action-packed history of comic books. Whether you favor funny animals, teenage hijinks, super-heroes, romance, science fiction or horror, we will cover it all in this examination of the almost 100 year history of this most American of inventions.

September 18, 2019 to October 2, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
Botanical gardens were first developed in the 16th century as medicinal gardens, but today they are destination sites for plant lovers around the world. From the oldest botanical garden in England, the Chelsea Physic Garden,to the newly revived Scampston Hall walled garden in North Yorkshire,and from the local Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kan., to the Irish National Garden in Belfast, we will explore the history, beauty and meaning of the botanical garden through photography, art and literature. You won't want to miss this armchair tour!

October 1-15, 2019, McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff (Kansas City, MO)
October 2-16, 2019, Brewster Place (Topeka, KS)
Join Chuck Warner as he discusses and reads from his new book, Birds, Bones, and Beetles. It's been called "a highly entertaining story about museum specialistCharles 'Bunk' Bunker, who was an early key figure ofthe Universality of Kansas Natural History Museum." He is also Chuck's grandfather.We'll hear about dermestid beetles, who diligently devour the decaying flesh off of animal skeletons that are destined for the museum's specimen collection. That time-saving process was developed at KU by Bunker, an assistant taxidermist who would rise to becomethe curator of recent vertebrates, and who made an indelible mark on his field.Chuck is a lifelong Kansan who grew up in Wichita and came to the University of Kansas, where he studied business and law. After graduation, he went directly into a nearly four-decade career in business, banking and community service in Lawrence. Although he retired from U.S. Bank in 2007, the seed for this book wasn't planted until a family reunion in 2009.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019, Edwards Campus Regnier Hall 165 (Overland Park, KS)
This course will explore the life and hardships of Kansas Territory immigrants in 1854 - 1860 as viewed through the personal diary and letters of Cyrus K. Holliday to his wife Mary, who remained in Meadville, PA. Holiday was one of the founders of Topeka, and first president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF). We will look at the historical events occurring in the eastern Kansas territory, with a principal focus on the free-state communities of Topeka and Lawrence. We will also look back at this period through newspaper stories documenting the birth of the AT&SF railway in Kansas.

November 7-21, 2019, Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging (Topeka, KS)
Celebrated as one of the world's oldest and best a cappella ensembles, The King's Singers have had a rich history of choral excellence for more than 50 years. Their exquisite vocal blend, vastly diverse repertoire and unique British charm are among their most cherished trademarks. The King's Singers have performed around the globe on the most prestigious stages-from London's Royal Albert Hall to the Sydney Opera House or New York's Carnegie Hall. Join us for dinner and a presentation before the show.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019, Lied Center (Lawrence, KS)
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU provides noncredit enrichment courses and events specially developed for folks 50 and older-although learners of all ages are welcome. Highly qualified instructors present a wide range of courses, including history, literature, art, music, religion and more. There's no homework. No tests. No pressure. It's learning just for the joy of it.And while we strive to keep the cost of our courses as low as we can--$50 for a single course, there are still many low-income seniors who cannot afford to participate. Our goal is to establish a scholarship fund that will allow these eager adult learners to take Osher courses for just $10 per course. Based on a similar program of the Douglas County Senior Resource Center for county residents, our goal is to make the scholarships available across the Osher program. We will start with senior agencies in five other counties-Riley, Shawnee, Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte-to identify eligible seniors. To qualify, seniors must meet one of three conditions: Live in subsidized housing; receive food stamps; be on Medicaid. Once they qualify they can register for two courses each semester, paying $10 per course with the remainder of the fee covered by the scholarship fund.

July 22, 2019 to December 31, 2019
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. This is your opportunity to support the Osher Institute. Simply click on the dates below. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jim Peters at 785-864-9142 or jimpeters@ku.edu.

July 22, 2019 to December 31, 2019
What stories do congressional archives tell, where are they found, and how can they be used? What role do historical records playin democracy, civic engagement and our nation's future? How does a Congressional Archive relate to your story and the story of our nation? We'll discuss these questions and use the Dole Archives and intergenerational conversation to examine 20thcentury history, politics, policy and culture. This course will include discussion with first-semester freshman students in the KU Honors Program.

October 28, 2019 to November 11, 2019, Lawrence Campus Dole Institute of Politics (Lawrence, KS)
William Shakespeare wrote comedies, tragedies and so-called romances, but during his lifetime, his most popular plays were his English history plays. In this course, we will read three of Shakespeare's best-loved history plays, Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. We will discuss what makes these plays so special, and why audiences from the 16th into the 21st century have enjoyed them.

September 12-26, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (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.

October 23, 2019 to November 6, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
Go mobile with your digital photography and explore creative possibilities with your iPhone camera. We will help expand your skill set using your iPhone camera, exploring the basic operations, tools, apps and tricks to help make you smartphone camera-smart. Included will be discussions and demonstrations on how to improve your photography through creative visual devices and techniques. Please bring your iPhones so we can do some hands-on practice in class.

November 6-20, 2019, Edwards Campus Regents Center 108 (Overland Park , KS)
November 8-22, 2019, Matt Ross Community Center (Overland Park , KS)
In this course we will examine some famous-and not so famous-cases, both state and federal, that have had significant impact on the law and general society in the United States.We will read the decisions, supporting documents, popular and legal commentaries and try to understand the role of the judiciary and courts in shaping the U.S. The cases include Marbury v. Madison; Dartmouth College v. Woodward; Swift v. Tyson; Dred Scott v. Sandford; Plessy v Ferguson; State of Tennessee v. John ThomasScopes; Macpherson v. Buick Motor Co.; Brown v. Board of Education; District of Columbia v. Heller; Citizens United v Federal Election Commission and Obergefell v.Hodges.

October 17-31, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
November 13, 2019 to December 4, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
The music of many of history's greatest composers is best understood in the context of the times in which they lived, and the experiences they had in their own lives. Part I of this course covered 12 of history's greatest composers and discussed their music and their lives. This course will add 12 more composers, including Handel, Beethoven, Rossini, Chopin, Smetana, Borodin, Ravel, Gershwin and Prokofiev. Come learn more about the vibrant music created by these masters and how that music reflected their lives and times.Note: Attendance at Part I is not a prerequisite to your full enjoyment of Part II.

September 26, 2019 to October 10, 2019, Roeland Park Community Center (Roeland Park , KS)
When Reconstruction ended in 1877, the federal troops occupying the "unredeemed" Southern states were withdrawn, unleashing racial violence by white supremacist groups such as the Ku KluxKlan and the White League. This forced as many as 40,000 African American "Exodusters" to flee to Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado. But it was Kansas, the land of John Brown and the Free State, which attracted most of the refugees.We will review the events that caused the exodus, the arduous trek to Kansas and its leaders, the communities that were established here and the fate of those communities.

September 11-25, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
November 5-19, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
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.

October 15-29, 2019, Eudora Community Museum (Eudora, KS)

Long before Kansas womenobtained the unfettered right to votein 1912 (a full eightyears before the 19th Amendment established that right nationally), they foundother ways to affect policy in publicspheres dominated by men. The same indomitable spirit that enabled pioneer women to withstand the rigors of frontierlife infused their efforts to shapethe society in which they lived. Sara Robinson, Julia Lovejoy, Clarina Nichols, Carry Nation, Annie Diggs, Mary Lease, and Lilla Day Monroe, among others, took on such struggles as those toabolish slavery, repel demon rum,improve the lot of farmers and secure more rights for women.

September 25, 2019 to October 9, 2019, Tomahawk Ridge Community Center (Overland Park , KS)
The landscapes of the Weald and Downs have made Sussex a beautiful setting for a rich history of dragons and dinosaurs, Romans, Normans, saints and devils, cannon ironmasters, and smugglers. In this class, we will take a virtual tour through a pageant of myth and history, people and places of this county from ancient times to the present day.

November 5-19, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)

Few places in the world have experienced as much historical drama as the world's longest river. For more than 4,500, years the Nile has witnessed sweeping events of discovery, conflict and engineering. It's been the stage for larger-than-life characters, remarkable edifices and far-reaching ideas. Join us for a sampling of stories that illustrate the geography, cultures and history of that primeval waterway, the Nile River.


October 15-29, 2019, Aldersgate Village Manchester Lodge (Topeka, KS)
The Oracle at Delphi was the superstar of the ancient Greek world. Speaking from the "navel of the earth" as the voice of Apollo, her soothsaying launched wars, ratified laws, counseled marriages and helped spark western philosophy. For over a thousand years her influencewas felt throughout the Hellenic sphere. Her prophesies were often mysterious and prone to misinterpretation, making fertile soil for many Greek tragedies.

September 17, 2019 to October 1, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
We will relive one of the most spectacular journeys in American history, the Lewis and Clark "Corps of Discovery" expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase and find a route to the Pacific Ocean. This exciting human drama, which lasted from 1804 to 1806, began in St. Louis, reached the Pacific Northwest, and then returned, adding to our knowledge of the region while generating stories and adventures. We will view the beautifully produced Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan PBS video, listen to music played during or inspired by the trip, and read brief commentaries of trip participants and observers.

October 2-16, 2019, Lawrence Presbyterian Manor (Lawrence, KS)
October 8-22, 2019, New Century Fieldhouse (New Century, KS)
This course will examine the crucial eastern theater of the Civil War. First we'll review the first two years of the war where Confederate tactical dominance consistently defeated larger Union armies. Then we'll review the pivotal year 1863 and Lee and Jackson's great victory at Chancellorsville and the war's great turning-point with the Union's victory at Gettysburg. Finally, we'll look in depth at Grant's assumption of command in the east and his brilliant "overland campaign" culminating in the siege of Petersburg and the South's surrender at Appomattox. In addition to the emphasis on the military campaign, the social and political events in the east will also be discussed.

October 9-23, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
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.The dates for this course have changed from those published in the catalog. The course will start one week later: Oct. 8, 15 & 22.

October 8-22, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)

The Great Depression of the 1930s was the longest period of "hard times" in U.S. history. However, not every family had the same experience. We will cover various personal situations and national trends, as well as events in Kansas, including the Dust Bowl. We'll examine President Hoover's efforts and Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs like the Works Progress Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. We will also view the New Deal's legacy, including the FDIC and Social Security. Finally,we'll listen to 1930s music and share family stories from this tumultuous era.

October 3-17, 2019, Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging (Topeka, KS)

George W. Bush and Donald Trump won recent presidential elections despite getting fewer popular votes than their opponents. They owed their victories to the role of the Electoral College, a unique institution mandated by the American Constitution. Why was the Electoral College included in the Constitution? How did it work initially? How does it work now? What prompted the changes in its functioning over the course of American history? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Can it be eliminated or reformed? What are the leading proposals to change the method by which we select our presidents? This course will address these questions.

November 6-20, 2019, Brewster Place (Topeka, KS)
Geography is much more than place locations and this course will prove it! We begin with the Kansas natural environment, specifically the land including aspects of geology and the state's physiographic regions, ranging from the Ozark Plateau in the southeast corner to the High Plains in the far west. Historical economic geography of Kansas regions involving resource extraction in the form of coal, oil and natural gas production; and agriculture, particularly the role of irrigation and its impact on water-today the state's most important resource-will follow. This course has been cancelled.

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

"Hey kids! Let's put on a Show!" KU Professor John Tibbetts presents this unvarnished look at the sometimes celebrated, often-maligned genre of the musical film, from 42nd Street to Hamilton. Tibbetts will share his interviews with Hollywood musical stars Cyd Charisse and Russ Tamblyn and director Richard Attenborough. Other films to be featured are the Judy Garland/ Mickey Rooney "backstage" musicals, the Astaire/Rogers Top Hat, the revolutionary Show Boat, the racially controversial Stormy Weather, and the experimental A Chorus Line. And yes, Hamilton will be examined.

September 19, 2019 to October 3, 2019, Edwards Campus Regnier Hall 165 (Overland Park, KS)
Rita Blitt is an international award-winning painter, sculptor and filmmaker whose works are included in many museums and private collections, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, John F. Kennedy Library, National Museum of Singapore, Spencer Museum of Art and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, and now grace the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Through a generous gift of Ms. Blitt, more than 100 pieces of her work are on display across the campus. Join Rita Blitt as she reviews her life and work first in a conversation with her biographer, Connie Gibbons, curator of the Mulvane Museum of Art at Washburn University in Topeka, and then on a tour of selected pieces of her artwork at the Edwards Campus. A reception will follow the tour.This event has been cancelled.

This course contains no sessions
One of the leading musical figures in the history of the United States, George Gershwin (1898-1937) combined influences from Tin Pan Alley, classical music, jazz, and blues into a distinctive music style heard in his numerous Broadway musicals, songs for Hollywood films, and concert works like the famous Rhapsody in Blue. This course explores his biography and each aspect of his musical output.

September 17, 2019 to October 1, 2019, Lawrence Campus St Andrews Classroom (Lawrence, KS)
Star Wars premiered nearly half a century ago to become a cinematic and cultural phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people the world over, young and old, have seen episodes of this motion picture series, and have become eager consumers of its merchandise from action figures to lunch boxes. Many fans, however, are unaware of the powerful mythological themes animating the Star Wars narrative, especially those surveyed in Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. We'll embark on our own hero's journey through Campbell's work, and with the aid of excerpts from Star Wars, learn how and why this saga has had such a hold on our imaginations.

October 10-24, 2019, Senior Resource Center for Douglas County (Lawrence, KS)
Many scholars believe modern America was born in the 1920s. This raucous era brought us modern advertising, supermarkets, buying on credit, commercial radio and flight, culture wars, short skirts, fads, voter apathy-even television. Dramatic technological and social changes clashed with conservative values. Prosperity and mass media expanded their reach to more Americans than ever before, but this was also the "Aspirin Age"-a time of anxiety about health, public morals, crime, terrorism, corruption and race relations. This course will delve into the people and events that set the United States on a new path and continue to shape us.

September 16-30, 2019, Brandon Woods Smith Center (Lawrence, KS)

The well-documented orphan trains brought a wave of humanity to the Midwest in the late 1800s. A lesser-known wave arrived in secrecy. In the early to mid-1900s, Kansas City was known as the "Adoption Hub of America." More than 100,000 pregnant, unwed young women arrived to give birth in one of several maternity facilities. The babies were placed for adoption and the women returned home heartbroken.We will explore how Kansas City received this distinction, delve into the history of The Willows Maternity Sanitarium (the "Waldorf"of such facilities). Finally, we'll study the family who ran The Willows for 64 years.

September 17, 2019 to October 1, 2019, Kansas State University - Olathe (Olathe, KS)
Works of art tell fascinating stories about 18th-century France-the century of Versailles, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. We'll learn about the people who shaped the history of this very important period, including the kings of France and their loves, Americans Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson-both of whom lived in France-and many others. We'll explore fashion, economics, philosophy, ballet, interior design, landscape gardening and much more, and we'll discuss how they are related and how they play a part in our lives today.

October 10-24, 2019, Tallgrass Creek Retirement Community (Overland Park, KS)
November 4-18, 2019, Edwards Campus Regnier Hall 165 (Overland Park, KS)
On three historic occasions, there were spirited wars of words before Americans chose between fighting and compromise. Colonists debated if they should remain loyal subjects of England or seek to become an independent nation. After less than a century, Northerners and Southerners wrestled with whether it was possible for our nation to remain half slave and half free. Decades later, U.S. citizens argued about the wisdom of entering or staying out of the Great War in Europe. We will relive these three monumental debates by sampling history-based documentary videos and written comments by participants and scholars.

November 7-21, 2019, Senior Resource Center for Douglas County (Lawrence, KS)
History's most destructive war began on September 1, 1939 in Europe, and eventually spread across the world. We'll review the events leading up to the war, the German advances of 1939-1941 and America's subsequent entry into conflict. Then, we'll focus on the titanic struggle in Russia, and the campaigns in North Africa and Sicily. The final class will examine the Allies' return to Europe with the D-Day landings, the 1943-1945 Russian counteroffensives, the liberation of Western Europe, and the fall of the Third Reich.

October 30, 2019 to November 13, 2019, Washburn University Henderson Learning Center (Topeka, KS)