Fall Course Descriptions

OLLI will offer a blended model this fall, which means courses will either be in-person or via Zoom, not a hybrid model where in-person courses are offered via Zoom simultaneously.

Registration Opens August 20 for premium members and August 27 for basic and session members.

View detailed course descriptions below. For the course schedule, view the Fall Session 2021 page.

What can be known, and how can we know it? Early modern philosophy significantly revises ancient and medieval attempts to understand reality by giving problems of knowledge primacy over metaphysics. We will examine the rationalism of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz; the empiricism of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume; and the attempt of Kant to reconcile these into a synthesis that still sets the parameters of theoretical philosophy today.

The stars in the sky tell us who we are and how we got here. Starlight is created by stellar furnaces that created the very elements in our bodies. In this course we’ll learn where the Sun and Earth came from, forming together from vast clouds. We’ll learn how stars shine by turning simple elements into heavier ones, and how stellar death spreads those elements into new gas clouds that become new stars and planets.

We often hear political descriptions like “radical left” or “far-right” or “moderate centrist” but what exactly do these terms mean and how do we know? Using examples from the past and present, this course will explore and explain the entire political spectrum, covering not just different political views and ideologies but also political phenomena like polarization and radicalization.

Some have altered the term “diva” to “divo” to express the adoration of male opera singers with exceptional voices. Some are legendary; others almost forgotten. Join James Sokol to discover or re-discover some of the great men of opera. Learn about their backgrounds and experience their brilliance through performance videos. Hear the variations among the male vocal ranges – countertenor, tenor, baritone and bass. Bask in the gorgeous voices and repertoire. Don’t miss this series, terrific for opera newcomers and long-time fans!

The Economist magazine provides unbiased reporting and thought-provoking articles on global political and economic developments. Each week we will review 6-9 articles from the current week’s issue. Class participants are expected to volunteer to lead a discussion on at least one article. Participants must subscribe or have access to current editions of The Economist (on-line or paper copies, also available at most libraries) and be familiar with Zoom. Information on subscriptions, student rates and special rates is available at 1-800-456-6086 or economistsubscriptions.com.

*Note: All discussion groups are limited to 25 participants. A Zoom tutorial will be held for new participants on equipment and etiquette prior to the first group meeting.

In the mid-to-late 1960s, the San Francisco Bay Area exploded with psychedelic rock that captured the imagination of the world. The heyday of the San Francisco Sound will be explored with rare videos and recordings by greats like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Santana. We’ll also investigate how the Bay Area’s unique counterculture, promoters such as Bill Graham, and venues like the Fillmore created a scene in which the music could flourish.

Taught by a recognized writer and social historian, the course gives an insider’s view of Russian history, politics and culture. Among central topics are the myths that feed President Putin’s ideology, the coping mechanisms used by the Russian people to deal with an omnipotent state, and Russia’s culture and history expressed in film, music and literature.

A study group for people with an interest in interaction, strategies, and issues of countries around the world. We’ll create our own “think tank” and develop a deeper understanding of global problems and world issues. Participants will pick and lead discussions on topics of interest to the group (e.g., Are interests of China and Russia converging? What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for workers?) Classes will respectfully tolerate a wide range of opinions.

*Note: All discussion groups are limited to 25 participants. A Zoom tutorial will be held for new participants on equipment and etiquette prior to the first group meeting.

The field of depth psychology emerged in Vienna at the very same time that Gustav Klimt was transitioning from a sentimental portrait style to a radical exploration of sex and death in his painting. We will explore the parallels between Freud’s theory of the unconscious drives and the Interpretation of Dreams with the Secessionist work that made Klimt famous, and then turn to how in his later years, Klimt’s work forged a new style that wove together Egyptian, Greek and Hebrew mythology with nature to achieve a synthesis of integration that parallels Carl Jung’s ideas of individuation and the Self.

World War 2 transformed the U.S. from an isolationist nation with minimal influence on the global stage to an economic powerhouse and world leader. With this rapid rise in power and influence, the U.S. took on new responsibilities, signaling the beginning of the "American Era" of global leadership. This course will showcase the successes and failures of the U.S. military, while giving us a look into the future.

The struggle for Irish independence was marked by violence and colonial repression from Great Britain. Deep resentments grew between the Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. This course will examine the conflict in Ireland from the Easter Rising in 1916 to the present. The Bloody Sunday massacre, sectarian fighting, terrorist bombings, the hunger strikes and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 will be examined in detail.

Is there a conflict between the economy and environmental preservation? A lot of people think so, but they are misinformed. Conflicts always arise among winners and losers in political battles, but environmental preservation hasn’t “cost jobs”, as is frequently the claim. Economics provides insights about how we preserve the environment and the lowest-cost ways to do it, not whether we preserve the environment. We will explore the economic principles relevant to these conclusions in a four-week course, including the guidance economics provides on global warming.

The Socratic Circus is a salon where you will find intelligent and thoughtful discussion on myriad topics. Each week the group selects challenging, and at times controversial, subjects to discuss. Our goal is not to change anyone’s mind rather, we look at each issue from a big picture perspective and attempt to understand its essence, as well as engage in intellectually.

*Note: All discussion groups are limited to 25 participants. A Zoom tutorial will be held for new participants on equipment and etiquette prior to the first group meeting.

This workshop explores the Japanese tradition of haiku, using images of nature to express human emotions and the miracle of the moment. You will also learn to write haibun – a brief memoir, prose poem or travel story – where 2 or 3 short paragraphs culminate in a haiku. The haiku takes the story of the haibun even further, to an epiphany, a mystery, or a koan. It’s a magical way to explore your life experience and express yourself with power and beauty. All writers are welcome, regardless of experience. Diane Frank’s teaching style is joyful, loving, and intuitive.

A king who embodies Enlightened Absolutism. A family who embodied wisdom in power. And an age that showed the true potentialities of reason, as well as its limits. The 18th Century – one of the finest periods in European history.

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