History, Political Science & Law

Upcoming Courses


In 1981, Osher Instructor Peter Begans set out to make a video documentary about old-time politics in a struggling New Jersey city. Four decades later he has finally made some progress. Hear his story about the making of the documentary, how the University of Richmond played a helpful role, and then watch the first episode of 'Once There Was a City.'

Wednesday, Dec 14, BML, Adams Auditorium
Brian McCann is a former attorney who represented families of children with disabilities and who now serves as CEO of The Faison Center, a premier autism service provider that serves more than 300 children and adults with autism. His journey from the courtroom to the non-profit boardroom provides a unique perspective on autism and the obstacles those with autism and their families face simply to get the support they desperately need.

Tuesday, Mar 14, TBD - UR Campus
The war in Ukraine has led to increased thinking about the unthinkable: the possible use of nuclear weapons. This class will focus on nuclear weapons in the post-WWII era. Specifically, we will cover the technical and policy debate surrounding development of the Hydrogen bomb, Russia's development of nuclear weapons, domestic and international controls, and efforts to dramatically reduce numbers of strategic and tactical nuclear warheads.

Tuesdays 2/14, 2/21 & 2/28, TBD - UR Campus
FIELD TRIP This traveling exhibition explores the causes and forces that sparked the Space Race, a decades-long rivalry between the United States and the USSR. In addition, The Virginia Museum of History and Culture has worked with NASA Langley Research Center to create a complementary exhibition that tells the story of Virginia's contributions to the exploration of 'the final frontier.' Because of the tour costs, fees for this class are non-refundable.

Friday April 21, Virginia Museum of History and Culture
Friday May 12, Virginia Museum of History and Culture
A young man in a young nation, John James Audubon had the ambitious goal of painting all the birds of America, life-sized. He labored without success for years, suffering personal rejection and financial ruin, as he discovered new species, studied their habits, and left a warning for future generations. This course will focus on Audubon's life and world, a time of explosive growth and rapid scientific and technological change.

Tuesdays 4/18, 4/25, 5/2, 5/9, TBD - UR Campus
Are you missing the beauty of summer flowers and nesting birds? Come join us for a peek at the beautiful bird and blooms that live within the Galvin Rare Books and Archives. In this course, we'll explore some rare botanical and ornithological collections, highlighted by recently donated materials, including a set of 19th-Century engraved lilies from the renowned French botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

Friday 3/24, Boatwright Library, Room B1-22
Come tour historic Brown's Island with the American Civil War Museum and learn the role this location played in the Civil War. (Fee for this course is non-refundable.)

Friday, May 5, Brown's Island
Come learn to paint the basic four subjects of orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and plum tree. Students will cultivate creativity, new mysterious ink painting ideas with rice paper, and radical constraint, but the brushwork remains in the heart as a story and symbol of things. Asian ink paintings enable students to know and appreciate beautiful East Asian art. The methods help develop a better cultural exchange, understanding of culture, and respect for the diversity of lifestyles.

Wednesdy & Thursday 5/10 & 11. Meets 10-11:30a and 1-2:30p on both days (there is a 1.5 hour break in the between each day), TBD - UR Campus
This class will take you on a musical tour of the history of the cello, featuring both lecture and musical examples played live. We will begin with a brief history of bowed string instruments, we'll toss in a little non-classical music, and end with a few holiday favorites in the Christian and Jewish traditions.

Friday, Dec 9, NRCT, Perkinson Recital Hall (6 seats (8%) remaining)
How do artists depict children in their art works? Are they merely miniature adults or do they possess a quality or character of their own? Join us in this interactive session to see how American artists have rendered children over the decades and how these images can reflect our social and cultural views of childhood.

Thursday May 4th, Synchronous Online
2023 ChinaFest's opening event will feature Handel Lee, who will discuss his observations from working and living in China for 27 years, and the happenings that caused the relationship to swerve back and forth between the extremes of alliance and loathing.

Thursday 2/2, TBD - UR Campus
Are you tired of the polarization on the major issues facing our country? Are there solutions that will meet the needs of the majority of us rather than one extreme or the other? We'll examine key issues of interest to the participants, bring in data on the subject, and work to find practical solutions. This is not a class to push your personal opinions, but one for open exchange and to find 'common ground.'

Thursdays, Jan 19, 26, Feb 2, 9, TBD - UR Campus
The election of 1876 stressed the Constitution like no other election in our history. The election highlighted several weaknesses in our presidential selection process, particularly the electoral college. This lecture will examine why an unprecedented, special 'Commission' was needed to resolve the election and how this Commission determined that Rutherford B. Hayes would become President.

Friday 2/10, TBD - UR Campus
Songs, essentially poems that are sung, can unite humans with their rhythm, artistry, stories, and universal truths. We'll study several songwriters of country music, a genre that is often overlooked by literary scholars who may not realize the sophistication and wisdom of these writers of truth. We'll look at Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and John Prine.

Monday and Wednesday 4/17, 4/19, 4/24, 4/26, Synchronous Online
How much does the accident of birth still matter to life possibilities and outcomes? Are we becoming a society where 'people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character'? How might these questions intersect with values, culture, and socioeconomic class? Many of us hold decided opinions about these issues. In this course, we will try to grasp the complex realities as clearly and honestly as we can.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 2/14, 2/15, 2/21, 2/22, 2/28, 3/01, 3/07, 3/08, 3/14, 3/15, 3/21, 3/22, 3/28 & 3/29, TBD - UR Campus
This course will address the advantages of a living trust over a will, the importance of durable Powers of Attorney and advance medical directives. Current Federal and state law will be explained. Questions are welcome.

Tuesday, Dec 13, Synchronous Online
Wednesday, Jan 25, TBD - UR Campus
What woman doesn't love shoes?! They tell the viewer if you are into fashion, comfort, adventure, or pain. Golden Lotus feet/shoes were the most desirable by wealthy Chinese men; it didn't matter if you were beautiful. We will explore the beauty and pain that was passed down from one generation to the next through the ancient tradition of foot binding.

Thursday 4/20, TBD - UR Campus
Join us as we explore the wonders of nature and history contained in national parks across the globe. We'll look at the purpose and important role of National Parks, how they are similar and differ around the world, and what we can learn from them, and do for them, to advance their missions.

Tuesday 3/7, TBD - UR Campus
Designed by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) and facilitated at the grassroots level, the Great Decisions program highlights eight thought-provoking foreign policy challenges facing Americans each year. The 2023 Great Decisions videos and briefing book serve as the focal material for the class. It is strongly recommended that students purchase the briefing book and read the relevant topic before each class. To purchase the briefing book visit http://www.fpa.org.

Wednesdays, Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, TBD - UR Campus
Built as the home of Westhampton College, North Court is one of the oldest buildings on campus. Learn about its many uses throughout the years from dormitory, military hospital, dining facility, and concert venue.

Tuesday May 2nd, TBD - UR Campus
Come and hear about an epiphany that changed a Christian writer's life and work, resulting in three literary works about the Holocaust, multiple trips to Israel and Lithuania, American embassy speaking engagements, a book tour at the invitation of two US ambassadors, and two plays.

Mondays 3/27 and 4/3, TBD - UR Campus
Join us for a journey from the early 1700s through the 19th century on how events in the United States influenced the Canada we see today: its government, culture, and people.

Mondays, Mar 27 and Apr 3 , TBD - UR Campus
What should happen to Monument Avenue? Should Critical Race Theory be taught in schools? Is it OK for anyone to have an assault weapon? Americans are deeply divided on many issues and Republicans and Democrats can't seem to agree on anything. It's time to begin to understand the reasons for the divisions in our culture. This course offers an opportunity to move beyond our differences and begin to compromise. Come share your thoughts and listen to some different opinions. Our goal is not consensus, but discovering new ways to resolve differences.

Tuesday, Jan 17, Wednesdays Jan 25, Feb 1, 8, TBD - UR Campus
In the fall, we wrestled with how we are so deeply divided on issues. We agreed that we all have differing opinions and that it's important to move beyond those differences and begin to compromise. It's not easy, and we don't seek consensus. This class will be a continuation of these discussions and will focus on the book, 'How Civil Wars Start' by Barbara Walter. The class size is intentionally small to allow for interaction and discussion. NOTE: You need not have taken the fall class to register for Part 2, but you may benefit from taking Part 1 this spring, which is offered beginning on January 17.

Thursdays, Apr 6, 13, 20, TBD - UR Campus
The 'Warren Court' (1953-1969) was one of the most controversial courts in American history and defined what its detractors labeled as 'judicial activism'. We will look at a dozen cases involving racial discrimination, criminal law, the right to privacy, and voting that came before the court and how they were decided. The class is designed for laypersons (not lawyers) and will give everyone a chance to express their own views.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, May 1,3, 5, TBD - UR Campus
Chief Justice John Marshall's court (1801-1835) heard three primary cases relating to indigenous land rights and sovereignty. How did John Marshall view indigenous sovereignty, and how did his decision-making and relationship with the US Presidency unfortunately lead to the forced removal of 16,000 Cherokee from Georgia in a tragic event known as the Trail of Tears? Furthermore, how do we see treatment of indigenous rights manifest in the courts today?

Wednesday 4/5, TBD - UR Campus
Join Tyler Rudd Putman of the Museum of the American Revolution for a virtual exploration of George Washington's life on campaign during the Revolutionary War. This program will include an exploration of the Museum's online interactive exhibit, a Virtual Tour of Washington's Wartime Headquarters, and explore the history of Washington's sleeping marquee and the surprising stories of the diverse people who made, maintained, and preserved it over three centuries.

Wednesday 1/18, Synchronous Online
Join us for the latest offering of the Osher Travel Interest Group's series. Harriet Tubman lived a long and storied life filled with hardship, resilience, and triumph. This is an introductory program that helps to demystify some of the misconceptions surrounding Harriet Tubman's life and the Underground Railroad. The program focuses on Tubman's life before, during, and after the Underground Railroad.

Thursday 2/9, Synchronous Online
This densely packed six-week exploration of our Constitution provides Osher members an orientation to the philosophical and historical foundations of the constitution, how it defines and limits governmental powers and exalts and applies to the rule of law.

No session is currently available for registration

Click here to be notified about the next scheduled program.
Moral disagreements are tearing the fabric of American society apart. In this series, David Smith will provide an overview of moral theories in circulation today, including relativism, egoism, utilitarianism, deontology, divine command theory, and virtue theory, and he will apply these theories to abortion, war, end-of-life questions, and gun control. Lectures will include commentary on both the ethical and legal aspects of these issues.

Wednesdays; 1/11, 1/18, 1/25, 2/01, 2/08 & 2/15, Synchronous Online
Let's go back to basics. We'll push past the headlines, the op-eds, and the shouting on cable news and talk candidly about what The 1619 Project actually says: and what it doesn't say. Critical Race Theory is a bit harder to pin down. There's no manifesto, no mission statement, or special magazine supplement. We hope to leave you with a better understanding of both subjects upon which you can then base your own informed opinions.

Thursdays; 1/12, 1/19, 1/26, 2/02, 2/09 (Skip 1/26), Synchronous Online
Felicia Bornstein Lubliner, a Polish survivor of the Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen Nazi concentration camps, wrote and spoke publicly afterward about her Holocaust experiences. Her son, the course instructor, invites you to delve into her written stories and oral presentation transcripts, published as 'Only Hope: A Survivor's Stories of the Holocaust.'

Fridays; 1/13, 1/20, 1/27, 2/03, 2/10 & 2/17, Synchronous Online
We'll follow the stories of six extraordinary women who pursued legal careers, justice, and equality, and became Supreme Court Justices. This course will examine the lives and careers of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Discover how their lives influenced their careers, and why they sought a position on the highest court in the nation.

Thursdays; 1/12, 1/19, 1/26, 2/02, 2/09 & 2/16, Synchronous Online
The class will focus on former Governor Ralph Northam's evolution from the blackface scandal of 2019 to a deeper understanding of systemic racism and the ways in which ongoing governmental policies and cultural attitudes perpetuate racial injustice. The class will challenge participants to evaluate their own lives and consider how they may consciously or unconsciously contribute to or benefit from racial myopia.

Monday 3/20, TBD - UR Campus
Enjoy some fun and funny anecdotes about being an Assistant Tally Clerk in the US House of Representatives while also being an undergraduate student and teenager from 1969-1971

Tuesday January 17th, Synchronous Online
Race and labor problems dominate this post-Civil War era. Further complicating the matter is a long wave Depression lasting from 1873 until 1898. Despite these hurdles, 12 million immigrants landed at Ellis Island. These and other issues will be discussed.

Mondays; 2/27, 3/06, 3/13 & 3/20, Synchronous Online
FIELD TRIP In this series of classes we will explore dishes and flavors from around the US. Featuring hands on cooking in class, students will learn how to make three to four dishes from each region while also learning cooking tips and tricks that will help with everyday cooking. Recipe packets are provided for students to take home. Fees for this class are non-refundable.

Thursday April 27th, Kitchen Classroom
On January 23, 1968, North Korean naval and air forces attacked and seized an essentially unarmed US Navy vessel, USS Pueblo, operating in international waters off North Korea. The crew was taken prisoner and eventually released exactly eleven months later; Pueblo itself is today is a tourist attraction in Pyongyang. We will examine the circumstances surrounding Pueblo, as well as the US response and subsequent events that may have been influenced by the Pueblo affair.

Wednesdays, April 5, 12, 19, TBD - UR Campus
This lecture will provide an overview of the DNA testing conducted by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) in the Department of Forensic Biology. It will also highlight OCME's response and role in 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday 4/6, Synchronous Online
Join us for this special guest speaker, who is part of our SPCS Community Conversations series. Jeannie Opdyke Smith will talk about the choices we make. Regardless if they are large acts of service or small 'spur of the moment' deeds, our choices make a significant impact. Our sacrifices of time, money, and caring, matter and have the ability to change the course of the world around us. This event is co-sponsored with the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

Sunday, March 19, JAC, Robins Pavilion 151
FIELD TRIP It'll be just us at the VMFA for a docent-led tour of this special exhibit, the first exhibition to explore the guitar's symbolism in American art from the early 19th century to the present day. Featuring 125 works of art, as well as 35 musical instruments, the exhibition demonstrates that guitars figure prominently in the visual stories Americans tell themselves about themselves: their histories, identities, and aspirations. Because of the tour costs, fees for this class are non-refundable.

Friday 2/17, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Friday 2/17, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The string quartet -- the combination of two violins, viola, and cello -- has been called 'the most perfect expression of human behavior.' We will examine the 250+ year history and development of the string quartet, and how it became a medium for many composers' most intimate and profound utterances.

Thursdays 3/23 - 5/4 **SKIPPING 4/6**, TBD - UR Campus
Hear the trials and tribulations of a dot-com start-up of the late 1990s: Netflix. Founded by a team with no entertainment experience and with the goal of taking on industry giant Blockbuster, this group of brilliant renegades ended up changing the face of entertainment forever. Hear stories and lessons from the University of Richmond's Dr. Joel Mier, a former director of Netflix during its formative first decade,

Tuesday 3/21, TBD - UR Campus
It is not uncommon for war to lead to great political and social upheaval within a society. This is particularly true for many of the West African kingdoms who fought various wars against each other and foreign forces. The outcome of those wars would have historically significant changes to both Africa and America.

Friday 3/3, Synchronous Online
CLASS AND FIELD TRIP Edgar A. Poe grew up, lived in, and started his writing career in Richmond as a popular journalist and short-story writer at the Southern Literary Messenger. Murray Ellison (a Poe scholar) and Poe Museum Curator Chris Semtner will lead one class on the UR campus on the life, work, and death of Poe around Richmond. In the second session, Murray and Chris will lead an inside tour of the 100-year-old Poe Museum in Richmond.

In class on Wed, Apr 5; field trip to Poe Museum on Wed, Apr 12, The Poe Museum
Come and learn about this unusual 212-year-old church, probably the earliest, independent, ongoing church founded by Blacks in the South, emphasizing their remarkable work in offering a place of worship; providing education even before slavery; and promoting political activity. Students would benefit from reading Dr. Dance's book, 'Land of the Free. . . Negroes: A Historical Novel' prior to class.

Monday 5/8, TBD - UR Campus
FIELD TRIP Led by a park ranger, the Pumphouse History Tour takes participants on a journey through time as they explore the 1883 Pumphouse, which brought unfiltered river water to the citizens from Richmond from 1883 to 1913. The building was designed as both a functional piece of public works and also a community gathering space.

Wednesday, Jan 11, Pump House Park
Thursday, Jan 12, Pump House Park
The presentation will focus on the background and history of the Camino de Santiago and the preparation involved to hike it.

December 12, GOTW, Auditorium Room A001
This course explores how aircraft changed warfare. Focusing on the Luftwaffe, the RAF, and the United States Army Air Force during WWII, it covers the development of aviation, air power, and the greatest clash of machines in the history of armed combat. It also tells how each enjoyed its own 'Finest Hour,' and how American industrial might brought victory, but only after enormous cost.

Wednesdays; 2/01, 2/08, 2/15, 2/22, Synchronous Online
FIELD TRIP Join this fun, unfettered tour of our state Capitol. We'll begin at the Library of Virginia for an overview, then go on a walking tour of the grounds en route to the Capitol. Your tour guide of the Capitol will be former Chief of Staff Bill Leighty, who promises to be unencumbered by facts. We will exit via the east entrance, and enjoy a short tour of the Governor's Mansion to end our day. (We will begin and end this tour at the Library of Virginia.)

Friday, Mar 17, Library of Virginia
Friday, Mar 24, Library of Virginia
FIELD TRIP Enjoy a docent-led tour of Richmond's Valentine Museum. Drawing from the Valentine's extensive collection of signs, the latest exhibit will highlight Richmond businesses and independent artisans' stories from the 18th century to present day. (Because of tour costs, fees for this class are non-refundable.)

Friday, May 12, Valentine Museum
This lecture and discussion will review the current situation in Ukraine, explore the struggles to define Ukrainian national identity, and discuss the complications of forging a lasting peace in this troubled country.

Tuesday 2/7, TBD - UR Campus
Since before the Revolutionary War, these First Ladies were advisors, campaign managers, and partners in leadership, instrumental in shaping the modern world. They are among the most powerful and influential unelected and unpaid women in the world. If George Washington had married anyone other than Martha Dandridge Custis, there would be no United States of America. That's how important these women have been to the leadership and success of our country and this continuing story.

Wednesday 2/01, Synchronous Online
FIELD TRIP Taste some wines from the up-and-coming winemakers and vineyards that are pushing the boundaries of what is grown and produced in Virginia. Chef Warren Haskell will make food pairing with two wines: one white and one red. Fees for this class are non-refundable.

Thursday 4/13, The Kitchen Classroom
George Washington did not have much military acumen, and his troops, although loyal, were woefully unprepared for battle. Friedrich Baron von Steuben, with his years of experience, trained the troops, won the war, and retired a hero. Washington, Ben Franklin, and others knew about his past, and his current interests in men, but chose to overlook it: as his expertise was direly needed to salvage the war effort.

Thursday 4/6, Synchronous Online
FIELD TRIP Join a Valentine Museum docent to learn about the cemetery's history, artwork, symbolism and famous residents, including two U.S. Presidents, writer Ellen Glasgow, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart. Fees for this course are non-refundable.

Friday. Apr 28, Hollywood Cemetery
Join a Valentine Museum docent for a walking tour to learn about the rich history of Jackson Ward through the many murals that enhance this area. Fee for this course is non-refundable.

Friday, Apr 21
Throughout our history, artists have been embedded on the battlefield to capture soldiers in action. Join us as we analyze and discuss how wartime artists serving on the frontlines apply their artistic talents to express what they experience real-time from their own unique perspectives.

Friday 3/10, Synchronous Online
CLASSES AND BUS TRIP We will review a brief history of America's founding and America's founding documents in conjunction with an overview of the National Archives and its role in preserving American history This introduction will be followed by a day-long trip to the National Archives in DC. A final session will be devoted to sharing our individual experiences at the Archives. (Part 1 was offered in 2019 and is not a required prerequisite for this course.) Due to costs associated with this course, fees are non-refundable unless we can fill your slot.

Tuesdays, April 11 and 18 for in person classes. Saturday, April 15 is field trip to DC, TBD - UR Campus
Join University of Richmond's 11th President, Kevin F. Hallock, for a presentation on why college costs so much. Hallock, an economist, will discuss a set of factors including wage inequality, increases in regulation and compliance costs, increases in student support, including for mental health, and the competition for amenities. He will also discuss finances at the University of Richmond today and challenges and opportunities for higher education in the future.

Tuesday, Mar 28, TBD - UR Campus