Kansas City, Kansas

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)
These women pushed the boundaries of art in media, style and subject matter. First, Georgia O'Keeffe, known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers and New Mexico landscapes; and Käthe Kollwitz, a German painter, printmaker and sculptor whose work depicts poverty and hunger. Then Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter whose naïve folk art style explored identity, gender, class, and race; and Faith Ringgold, African-American, known for her narrative quilts influenced by the people, poetry and music of Harlem. Finally, Barbara Hepworth, English painter and sculptor whose work exemplifies Modernism; and Louise Bourgeois, French sculptor, installation artist, painter and printmaker known for her large-scale sculpture and installation art.

October 9-23, 2019, Northland Innovation Center (Gladstone, MO)
We will examine the famed Kansas aviator who twice attempted to fly around the world. Both attempts failed with the last one creating an international mystery as to what happened to Earhart, how she may have died and the possibility that she may have survived. We will look into her life and discuss the assorted accounts of what may have happened to Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan on July 2, 1937. We will discuss the $4.5 million search-and-rescue mission over a 250-square-mile area ordered by President Franklin Roosevelt. Lastly, we will look at the many theories surrounding her disappearance and whether she survived.This course has been cancelled.

October 8-22, 2019, Aberdeen Village (Olathe, 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)
Three strands of Scottish culture braid themselves together in a class that celebrates the essentials of Scotland. We'll learn to appreciate the life and poetry of Scotland's greatest poet, Robert Burns. Then we'll examine the kilt (inside and out), and enjoy a demonstration of bagpipe tunes from different pipes. Finally, we'll "taste" Scotland itself with a lesson on single malt whisky regions, flavors and lore.

September 10-24, 2019, Mission Square (Mission, 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)
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
Have you ever wanted to play the game of Ba', walk the Ring of Broghdar, sit in a Black House,smell a peat fire, speak Orcadian or sail Scapa Flow? If the answer is yes, come aboard the ferry departing from the Scottish mainland on October 27 for Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. We will explore the physical, economic and cultural geography of these fantastic islands. After an introduction to the geography of Highland Scotland, we will discuss topics such as archaeology (why Orkney is the "Egypt of the North"), land tenure (clans, crofts and clearances),ecology (the machair) and economies (sheep and oil) of each of the three island groups.

September 19, 2019 to October 3, 2019, Northland Innovation Center (Gladstone, MO)

This course will explore events leading to WWI and how western society, so full of progress and optimism, became embroiled in the most horrific conflict in history. We will discuss pre-war tensions and diplomatic maneuvering, how the nations of Europe were drawn in, the failure of rival plans for quick victory, the resulting stalemate and the evolution of extensive trench systems. We'll identify the main personalities and battles, which determined the outcome along with the factors that led to the Allied victory, including U.S. involvement. We'll examine the individual soldier and the"psychology of war," the misery of life in the trenches and how soldiers adapted.


September 24, 2019 to October 8, 2019, Townplace Suites, Jayhawk Room (Leavenworth, KS)
Our first segment will examine the early trails of Territorial Kansas and how they gave way to the development of cattle towns atthe railheads of Ellsworth, Hays, Wichita and Dodge City. Then we will evaluate how the two most valuable resources in Kansas-oil and natural gas-helped urbanize southeast Kansas and the "oil patch" towns of western Kansas. Our final segment focuses on how early promotional efforts led to the rise of Wichita; how Topeka "captured" the state capital; and how Lawrence became the classic college town.

October 10-24, 2019, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church (Mission, KS)
Did you know that 30 percent of Kansans claim German ancestry, and German is the most prevalent language after English and Spanish spoken in homes in 77 counties in Kansas? Since the opening of Kansas in 1854, thousands of German-speaking immigrants have sought to better their lives here, including Pennsylvania Dutch, Volga Germans, Mennonites, Austrians and Swiss. German churches dot the prairie, and even now, many rural Kansans speak a dialect of German as their first language.

November 7-21, 2019, Kansas State University - Olathe (Olathe, KS)
Kansas is home to numerous inventors and entrepreneurs who have contributed to the history and culture of food and drink. We'll examine the territorial days of Kansas in the mid-1800s to discover what people ate and drank. Next, we'll explore how generations of immigrant and native Kansans influenced and created sweet treats, kitchen staples, fast food, and booze consumed from the 1900s to present. From ICEEs to oysters, burgers to bierocks, this food history of Kansas will whet your appetite to learn more.

October 14-28, 2019, Edwards Campus Regnier Hall 165 (Overland Park, KS)
Kansas once led wine production in the U.S. and was home to more than 90 breweries before Prohibition. The Kansas legislature legally abolished the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the state in 1881 and doomed these industries. National Prohibition wouldn't occur for four decades. We'll examine the growth and demise of brewing and winemaking in Kansas. We'll discuss the social, moral, cultural and political forces in Kansas during the early and mid-19th century. Next, we'll learn how Prohibition dashed economic dreams or prompted entrepreneurs to conduct business in Missouri. Finally, we'll discuss the renaissance of local breweries and wineries. This course has been cancelled.

This course contains no sessions
This course will review a selection of motion pictures that have forever transformed our world. Some of them, like The Birth of a Nation (1915), threw a racist bomb into contemporary politics; others, like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Fritz Lang's Metropolis, expanded our vision of the future. Still others, like the work of Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney, used comedy and animation to deliver satiric jabs at our popular culture. The medium of the motion picture itself has been radically transformed by experiments in storytelling by filmmakers like Ken Burns, in his documentaries about the Civil War, jazz and baseball

October 9-23, 2019, Kansas State University - Olathe (Olathe, KS)

In this course we will explore the music and lives of some of the great composers of classical music. We will track their careers from their early work, through influences that impacted their musical styles, to the late work that culminated their careers. Each class will explore one or two composers in detail, with many musical examples. Composers will range from Johann Sebastian Bach to Philip Glass and several in between.

October 30, 2019 to November 13, 2019, Claridge Court (Prairie Village, 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)
Rediscover the county's sixth- longest river, its history in westward expansion, its uses for transportation and irrigation, and how current populations interact with it. The course will build upon the insights gained from two solo kayak adventures taken by Hannes Zacharias down the Arkansas River, one in 1976 and again in 2018, following a drop of water from the headwaters at Tennessee Pass in Colorado to the Mississippi and on to the Gulf of Mexico. Rediscover what you forgot about this wild, massive, and sometimes non- existent river as it cuts across 2,060 miles of America's midsection.

October 24, 2019 to November 7, 2019, Edwards Campus Regnier Hall 165 (Overland Park, KS)
Spirit of the Mask: Works of Mystery and BeautyMasks are much more than just disguises--they can transform a person's face into a new powerful spirit. For thousands of years, people have created masks as a means of expression. They are treasured worldwide for their historical and cultural significance, teaching us how cultures deal with their lives and their environments. Masks are attributed to folklore, chiefs, shamans and religious leaders. They play a role in dance forms and storytelling and are used in agriculture, carnivals, celebrations, dance, death, fertility, hunting, initiation, midwinter observances, religion and theater.

September 12-26, 2019, Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse (Prairie Village, KS)
Violence, illicit sex, treachery, abuse of women and other minorities-who would think that these subjects would be in the Bible? Well, they are, and in this course, we will examine selected passages where they occur. Our aim is not to dwell on the lurid but to analyze and interpret these texts in terms of historical and cultural context. We may also discover that our journey into the "dark side" of the Bible has helped us become more informed and responsible readers of a book that is foundational to much of Western civilization.

October 22, 2019 to November 5, 2019, Mission Square (Mission, KS)
In 1775, gunfire broke out on a village green in Massachusetts. The skirmish was preceded by years of friction between Britain and its discontented American colonies. A new idea was taking hold, an idea that turned centuries of hierarchy upside down. Were people destined to be ruled by kings? Or, were people capable of choosing their own leaders? Subjects or citizens? The notion of a republic had been entirely discredited in Europe, but in the new land of America, people were enthused by the prospects. This course addresses the causes, the personages, the combat, and the diplomacy that launched an embryonic state on a path of greatness.This course has been cancelled.

October 3-17, 2019, Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse (Prairie Village, KS)
Almost 3,000 years old, but still as current as the morning news, the Psalter has enticed generations into an exploration of its spiritual and secular depths. As history, the psalms reveal a people searching for a homeland, for a psychic identity, and for internal and national peace. As literature, they invite readers to examine the poetic power of parallel construction and perhaps to try their own hand at writing such personal verse. As windows into the human heart, they capture our lives, from the sadness of war and exile to the everyday experiences of relationships, worries, and work.This course has been cancelled.

This course contains no sessions
Marking the 75th anniversary of the 1944 Ardennes counter-offensive, commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge, we'll examine one of history's most well-known battles. Fought in the rugged Ardennes forest of Belgium in the dead of winter, this epic struggle marked Nazi Germany's last offensive to split the Anglo-British allianceand compel a negotiated peace. Surprising American troops by attacking in a seemly quiet sector, the battle became one of the largest campaigns in U.S. Army history.This course examines the campaign from the political decision-makers in Washington, London and Berlin to the experiences and the harsh conditions of the individual soldiers and Belgian civilians.

October 21, 2019 to November 4, 2019, Roeland Park Community Center (Roeland Park , 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.

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.

October 7-21, 2019, Lenexa City Hall at City Center (Lenexa, 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
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 and the Helen Foresman Museum of Art at KU.

November 4-18, 2019, Village Shalom (Overland Park, KS)
During the mid-19th century, the Underground Railroad was a critical network of routes and safe houses that provided escaped slaves a pathway from plantations in the South to freedom in the North or Canada. In this course, we will closely examine the important role Northeast Kansas played in the Underground Railroad. We'll meet the heroic men and women who risked their lives to aid those desperate fugitives whose only road to freedom ran through Kansas. We'll also meet those brave refugees, hear their stories, and visit the local routes and safe houses that were critical to their perilous journeys to freedom. The start date for this course has been postponed until Monday, Oct. 14.

October 14-28, 2019, Washburn University Henderson Learning Center (Topeka, 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)
Two Holocaust survivors, one a young Jewish boy, the other a Catholic teenage Polish Resistance fighter, would meet years later as professors at KU and form a strong friendship. The story of Lou Frydman explores the Holocaust and his eyewitness account of Jewish resistance in the concentration camps. Jarek Piekalkiewicz's story as a Polish Resistance fighter illustrates the mistakes, triumphs, history and organization of the Polish Resistance-the most effective underground movement to challenge the Nazis. We'll also discuss what it means to lose not just one's family, but one's whole community and way of life, and the subsequent challenge of creating a new life in a new land.

November 6-20, 2019, Townplace Suites, Jayhawk Room (Leavenworth, KS)
Issues will include birthright citizenship granted by the 14th Amendment and citizenship through naturalization or birth abroad, distinctions between U.S. citizens and nationals, how to immigrate or work legally in theU.S. and how to become a citizen. We'll also address whether asylum at the U.S. border is working, which citizenship or immigration laws and "quotas" might change, the N-400 U.S. citizenship application, civics test and mandatory interview for acquiring citizenship, and an overview of the naturalization ceremony. Not to be missed: Isbaby Archie Windsor a U.S. citizen? Could he be king of England? Will his children be U.S. citizens?

November 5-19, 2019, Edwards Campus Regnier Hall 165 (Overland Park, KS)
You have accumulated wealth-wealth of knowledge, experience, and values. To whom will you leave these precious possessions? Consider writing an ethical will. Unlike a traditional will that bequeaths material things, an ethical will passes on the ethics and life lessons of a family elder-YOU. Our exercises and discussion will help you discern the life experiences that shaped your values. Unlike the bequest of heirloom china or a CD, your ethical will reflects who you are as a person. It will give your loved ones a document to treasure and a reminder of how your values guided and shaped a family.

October 31, 2019 to November 14, 2019, Northland Innovation Center (Gladstone, MO)