Winter 2022 Course Descriptions

OLLI will offer a blended model this winter, 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 December 1 for Premium Members and December 6 for Basic and Session Members.

View detailed course descriptions below.

For the course schedule, view the Winter Session 2022 page.

America has had a number of prominent family political dynasties over its 250 year history, but none was more influential—or glamorous—over a prolonged stretch of time than Joseph Kennedy and his progeny. For over seven decades, a Kennedy served on government commissions, in the diplomatic corps, in the halls of Congress and the Senate, and for a brief one thousand days, in the White House. In this course, we will examine the personal lives and political careers of these remarkable men and women.

For the past 40 years, despite all attempts by every American administration to reason with, negotiate with, contain, and change the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran Regime, the Ayatollahs have continued to be the world’s number one sponsors of terror worldwide, and the greatest threat to regional security and stability.

The goal of this course is to provide a comprehensive look at the decision-making process in Iran and what they want to accomplish. We will study the DNA of the Islamic Republic and their decision-making process. We will examine their “Election” process. Who is in charge? Where are the corridors of power? What do they want?  What are their red lines? What are some of the most significant conflicts between the system of the Islamic Republic in Iran and western democracies?

The Balkans have always been at the crossroads of European history, existing simultaneously on the eastern edge of Europe and the western edge of Eurasia and the Middle East. This course will explore and explain the Balkans on their own terms, and will cover Greece, Albania, and all of the countries that composed the former Yugoslavia.

Threats to our safety and security are in the news and certainly seem to be multiplying. In these four lectures I will review personal and family disaster preparedness, explain biological threats, discuss the dangerous hotspots around the world that could ignite a global conflict, and finish with a look at how future wars are likely to be fought. Disasters, biological warfare, pandemics, rising nationalism, cyber war, robots, and artificial intelligence seem to be coming out of Pandora’s box and although somewhat scary, they demand our attention and best efforts to prepare and defeat them.

Week 1: John Singer Sargent: By 1856, Sargent was wildly famous. His “sitters” included the rich and famous. An expatriate, Paris was home until a scandalous painting drove him to England.

Week 2: Barnes Collection: Dr Albert C. Barnes had 180 Reniors in his massive collection of Impressionists, including Cezanne, Monet, Gauguin, Picasso, and Matisse. Later, the tenets of his will blocked access to this art, sparking a 70-year legal battle.

Week 3: Gauguin: Gauguin’s art speaks of love but has roots in the darker side. His modern style pitted him against the norms of society. Let’s explore this enigmatic artist.

Week 4: Judy Chicago: In the 1970s, Judy Chicago was leading the pack for women’s rights. Her iconic art piece is The Dinner Party. We will review her life and many works.

The Economist magazine provides unbiased reporting and thought-provoking articles on global political and economic developments. Each week we will review 5-6 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

Note: A Zoom tutorial will be held for new participants on equipment and etiquette prior to the first group meeting.

This course is a cultural history of Imperial China, starting with the Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty in 221 BCE and ending with the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty in 1911 CE. Because there are so many dynasties, which span more than two millennia, the course will focus primarily on the major ones, such as the Qin, Han, Tang, Song (Sung), Ming and Qing dynasties. Consideration will be given to discussing the broad constructs of art, architecture, science/technology, philosophy, literature, society/ culture, language, religion, and popular culture, as contextualized by the political narrative and China's evolving foreign relations.

As our culture has changed over the years, so too have Broadway musicals shifted to reflect our altering tastes, interests, priorities, lives. The art form itself has changed reflecting innovations in writing, scoring, production, publicity and more. Join popular San Francisco Bay Area instructor James Sokol to explore some of the Broadway musicals that broke new ground and shaped the evolution of this popular and indigenous art form. Video performance clips bring the magic & excitement of musical theater into our discussion.

We are an interactive group with a healthy exchange of ideas. Our aim is to develop a deeper understanding of global problems and world issues while having fun learning. For the Winter Semester, we plan to use topics from the “Great Decisions” program, developed by the Foreign Policy Association. Participants would need to purchase their booklet ($32) from the FPA website Foreign Policy Asso.. The Fall group had a great time discussing Organized Crime, US Foreign Policy, Disinformation and other interesting subjects. Classes will respectfully tolerate and encourage a wide range of opinions.

Note: A Zoom tutorial will be held for new participants on equipment and etiquette prior to the first group meeting.

Imagine what we’ll know by the end of this year. Is the pandemic over? It’s left a long trail of challenges, but one of them (hopefully) will not be economic growth. Is the economy growing robustly as we now expect? Did the Rescue Plan work, and what is to become of all of that debt that was created? What are the coming challenges and what are the prospects? How employers are changing the workplace? Are people still working from home?

Early Netherlandish artists achieved an unmatched level of reality and fantasy in the works of Jan van Eyck, Hieronymous Bosch and Pieter Breughel. By the 17th century, the first real art market saw the development of specialized genres: landscapes, seascapes, church interiors, tavern scenes, and still lifes, and the mastery of Rembrandt, Rubens, and Vermeer. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, van Gogh, Mondrian, and Magritte helped create modern art, and the tradition of innovation continues today.

Van Morrison’s career has spanned 57 years, ranging from the early R&B of his band Them to his masterpieces, Astral Weeks and Moondance, into the 1970’s when he achieved superstardom. Morrison has gone from one genre to another, yet always staying true to the themes of jazzy rhythm and blues and Celtic folk of his ancestors. We will break down that extraordinary catalog into eight periods, chronicling his evolution as a man and a musician.

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 stimulating conversation.

Prerequisites: Must have opinions and be willing to share, listen, and maintain civility at all times.

All Republics after Rome look back to Romulus’ village of refugees and migrants that threw off tyranny to become the Roman Republic. In time the free poor of Rome achieved political equality with the upper classes, but the class struggle never ceased. We'll look at ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern republics, consulting Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Adams, and Hannah Arendt. We will watch republics fall into factionalism, and finally collapse gratefully into dictatorship, as Plato predicted they must.

Flash fiction presents a glimpse into a door that opens, shines and closes – on one sheet of paper. It’s a short short story. Micro fiction is a universe that shines in one elegantly crafted paragraph – a journey that begins, travels, twists and resolves in a brief moment of time. This workshop introduces the cutting edge of a new genre – with minimal use of language for maximum impact. Flash fiction can be memoir-based, dream-based, or totally invented. Diane's teaching style is joyful, loving, and intuitive.

Every generation wants its own music. This course offers a lively overview of the Swing and Big Band music that swept across America engaging a generation whose courtship rites focused on dancing the Foxtrot and that sustained them through a global conflict. Novel dance rhythms, precision horn sections and growing musical complexity offered unparalleled impact in popular music. In this hothouse Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Billie Holiday shaped a new musical idiom, launching a second flowering of America’s most original art form, Jazz.

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