University of Oregon

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Continuing and Professional Education

OLLI-UO Study and Discussion Groups 2021 Archive

An archive of 2020 Study and Discussion Groups is listed below. Current course listings can be found on the Course and Activity Descriptions pages.

Study and Discussion Groups

Central Oregon Writers' Bloc

Mondays, 10:00 a.m.–noon


A casual gathering for writers at all levels to share in a supportive environment. Creative experimentation with styles and genres encouraged.

At this time, this group is only open to Central Oregon members.


Bruce Sharp

Meditation and Mindfulness

Mondays, noon–1:00 p.m.


This group utilizes what is known as Vipassana (or breath or insight) meditation, focusing on the sensation of breathing. Insight meditation utilizes the five senses to get us to awareness and being present.

The first 10 or 15 minutes of class is spent in a guided grounding meditation. The next 15-20 minutes of class are spent listening to an Internet mindfulness/meditation teacher on a variety of subjects. The last 20 minutes are spent in silent meditation.

There are many different levels of meditation being practiced by the group: some are beginners, some are returning to the practice through this group, and some are advanced meditators who are here to experience the benefits of group meditation and a sense of community (sangha).


Janice Friend

Philosophy Salon

First and Third Mondays, 9:30–11:30 a.m.


A peer-led exploration of philosophers and philosophy. Each session features either a presentation by a group member or a recorded lecture, followed by discussion.


January 4: no meeting

January 18: no meeting in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday

February 1: Eudaimonia, Part 1: Quest for the Good Life

Greek and Roman philosophers of the Hellenistic age, post Plato and Aristotle, concerned themselves with the question of phronesis, practical wisdom for the conduct of daily life. In this session, Jeffrey Allen will present an overview of the question of Eudaimonia (happiness, or human flourishing) and the four basic philosophical approaches of the age to finding it: Cynicism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Skepticism. This program is intended to provide a foundation for David Kolb's session on February 15.

A PDF of advance readings is now available for access in the OLLI-UO Member Portal.

February 15: Eudaimonia, Part 2: "A Shaky Walk Downhill: A Philosopher Moves into Parkinson's World"

David Kolb relates his journey with Parkinson's disease and how the Greco-Roman wisdom philosophers, particularly the Stoics and Epicureans, provide insights that have proven helpful in coping with the disease. In this time of uncertainty, David's experience provides lessons for us all on how to face adversity with dignity and grace.

In advance of the session, David recommends reading his essay about a philosopher's life with a chronic Parkinson's disease. The essay is available for access/download on his website. While the entire work is recommended, Chapters Three (and Four) are most relevant to this discussion on Stoicism.

March 1: TBD

March 15: TBD


Jeffrey Allen, Milton Janetos, and Henry Sholar

Nonfiction Book Group

First and Third Mondays, 10:15 a.m.–noon

Participation limited but space available; email to be added to the contact list.


The nonfiction book group meets twice per month to discuss a nonfiction book that the group has selected. The books range from political history to the history of science, to biography, exploration, and natural history. We learn a lot about different topics and have a great conversation.


November 30 and December 7: Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame by Michael Kodas. Facilitator: Steve Hussey

January 4 and 25: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe, facilitated by Rod Charny

February 1 and 15: The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good by Michael J. Sandel, facilitated by Steve Hussey

March 1 and 15: Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson

April 5 and 19: Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-69 by Stephen E. Ambrose

May 3 and 17: The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, facilitated by Barbara Carter


Joyce Pickersgill

Page Turners Fiction Book Group

Second Mondays, 10:15 a.m.–noon

Page Turners is not accepting new participants at present. Email to be added as space becomes available.


We are a lively and very welcoming group of fiction lovers who choose a novel to read and critique as a group every month. Over the course of the year, each member selects and facilitates the spirited discussion of a contemporary or classic novel of less than 400 pages. We have a great time!


December 14: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, facilitated by Ginny Donahue

January 11: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, facilitated by Joyce Pickersgill

February 8: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, facilitated by Karen Hill

March 8: The Milkman by Anna Burns, facilitated by Bill Rozar

April 12: The Other Americans by Laila Lalami, facilitated by Leslie Hopper

May 10: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, facilitated by Linda Rockey


Deb Hollens


Second and Fourth Mondays, 11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m.

Participation limited but space available; email to be added to the contact list


Focusing on some of the most critical problems in the world, this group takes the next step through study and discussion to identify and propose possible solutions to the problems.

Generally, each session begins with 15–20 minutes of Internet videos introducing the topic while generating questions and talking points for discussion. The topic for each session is emailed a few days in advance of that meeting so participants can familiarize themselves with the topic.


January 11: The environment

January 25: Bridging the political divide

February 8: Community policing, prison reform, restorative justice

February 22: Healthy eating

March 8: Education

March 22: Religion and spirituality

April 12: Immigration reform

April 26: Capitalism and the environment


Jerry Brule

French Language I

Mondays, 3:00–3:50 p.m.


French Language I is for those whose listening and speaking skills are a bit rusty. It is not for true beginners. In our 50-minute meetings, we spend the first half of the session encouraging participants to use the French they know to converse with each other about things of interest in their daily lives. We give each other constructive feedback in regards to vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar and help each other when we get stuck. In the second half of the session, if there is time, we read and discuss short texts and listen to native French speakers online, checking to make sure that everyone understands.


Thomas Walker

French Language II

Mondays, 4:00–4:50 p.m.


French Language II is for those who are at the intermediate or advanced level. The 50-minute sessions have no set format, but generally give all participants ample opportunity to speak. One person may do a “show and tell.” At other times, we have lively discussions of current events or share information about cultural events. Participants are fluent enough to keep up with the conversations. Time permitting, we may read and listen to native speakers using online resources such as “News in Slow French” so that we can practice listening to authentic French spoken at normal speed by native speakers.


Thomas Walker

Understanding Science

First, Third, and Fifth Tuesdays, noon–1:30 p.m.


Understanding Science presents outstanding introductory college-level prerecorded science lectures on a common theme or topic. After a lecture, the group discusses it, offers related ideas, and shares information.

No specialized knowledge is required to appreciate these excellent lectures. The lectures are only mildly cumulative in nature, and if you are occasionally unable to attend, this fact should not impede your enjoyment of a single lecture. Emphasis is placed on the natural and the formal sciences, but consideration is also given to a broader perspective that includes the philosophy of science, and the social, behavioral, and applied sciences.


January 5: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 5–Tracing the Spread of Humankind and Lecture 6–Anthropology and the Question of Race. Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Elizabeth Polidan

January 19: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 7–Archaeology and Human Tools and Lecture 8–Agricultural Roots of Civilization. Facilitator: Gary Whiteaker

February 2: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 9–Rise of Urban Centers and Lecture 10–Anthropological Perspectives on Money. Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Elizabeth Polidan

February 16: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 11–Anthropological Perspectives on Language and Lecture 12–Apocalyptic Anthropology. Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Elizabeth Polidan

March 2: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 13–Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity and Lecture 14–Field Research in Cultural Anthropology. Facilitator: Bonnie Campbell

March 16: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 15–Kinship, Family, and Marriage and Lecture 16–Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. Facilitator: Barbara Nagai

March 30: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 17–Religion and Spirituality and Lecture 18–Art and Visual Anthropology. Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Elizabeth Polidan

April 6: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 19–Conflict and Reconciliation across Cultures and Lecture 20–Forensics and Legal Anthropology. Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Elizabeth Polidan

April 20: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 21–Medical Anthropology and Lecture 22–Anthropology and Economic Development. Facilitator: Maggi Machala

May 4: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity: Lecture 23–Cultural Ecology and Lecture 24–The Anthropology of Happiness. Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Elizabeth Polidan


Barbara Nagai and Elizabeth Polidan

Interpretive Play Reading

First and Third Wednesdays, 3:30–5:00 p.m.

Participation limited, but space available; email to be added to the contact list.


The interpretive reading of plays, usually accompanied by some discussion of a play’s merits, information about its author, or other related matters. Members of the group take turns selecting plays to be read. The person making the selection becomes the "director" and casts it from members present. Character changes are made as necessary to make sure that all present get a chance to read.


Donna Bennett, Jack Bennett, and Kate Nelson

Spanish Conversation

Thursdays, 3:15–4:45 p.m.


Our meetings are quite freewheeling and informal. We hope that everyone who wishes has an opportunity to speak. At least they can listen. We "shoot the breeze" (one dictionary translates this as "charlar amable y casualmente"), but we have a little structure: the leaders see to it that we take turns around the table saying in Spanish 1) what's on our minds or new in our lives - we call these "noticias" - and 2) reading and translating from Spanish to English. Occasionally we take up a matter of grammar, when doubt arises. Mind, we have no authority, no teacher. Ultimately, we lift ourselves up by our bootstraps while we have a good time.

Some of us speak Español rather well; others are rusty, but get more fluent as they keep trying, week by week. If you once had a year of Spanish in high school or college, join us for a month or two and see if the language comes back to you!


Stan Cook and Carolin Keutzer

Bell' Italia e Italiano

First and Third Thursdays, noon–1:30 p.m.


If you are fascinated by all things Italian and would like to learn more about the language and culture of this bel paese, this is the right study group for you. We will explore the foods, culture, and customs of Italy's twenty regions while studying the rudiments of the Italian language in a casual, supportive environment.

Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region by Great Courses Plus will provide the group with a basic overview of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammatical conventions. The course is designed for learners with no prior experience of the language but offers more experienced learners the opportunity to refine their skills.

We will further explore each region with discussions and supplemental videos featuring food, art, architecture and other aspects of the culture. Facilitators are not experts, but rather volunteers who wish to share their love and knowledge of the language and country.

Although previous experience speaking Italian is not necessary, it might be helpful to have some background in speaking or reading a Romance language such as French or Spanish.


Janice D'Emidio, Judy Johnston, Larry Kikuta, Demetri Liontos, and Ellie Miller

News and Views

Second and Fourth Thursdays, 10:00 a.m.–noon

Participation limited, but space available; email to be added to the contact list.


Learning through a lively exchange of views on recent local, national, and world news. A team of volunteers suggest about dozen recent news stories for discussion, in the areas of international, domestic and local. The group and moderators work together to determine what will be discussed. Participants are diverse in their experiences and interests, and they read and watch a wide range of news sources. No additional preparation is necessary. It's OK to disagree with the views of the other participants—but not to be disagreeable.


Roger Galka and Stephen Koller

News and Views: Open Forum

First, Third, and Fifth Fridays 10:00–11:30 a.m.


Join regular attendees of the popular News and Views discussion group (during off-weeks) for an informal "open forum" continuation of discussion of issues of local, state, national, and international importance. Attendees raise topics for discussion and engage with member-facilitators to ensure a free flow of opinions and analysis of that week's biggest news stories.


Jerry Brule and Larry Kikuta

Creative Writing Critique

Second and Fourth Fridays,10:00 a.m.–noon


If you love to write, are a would-be author, or simply seeking a new outlet for your creativity, you are cordially invited to join OLLI-UO's Creative Writing group. We are columnists, essayists, poets, writers of memoirs, and authors of all genres of fiction and non-fiction. Our levels of experience range from those with multiple publication credits to anyone just wanting to try his/her hand.

We meet to encourage creativity-in-common and exchange ideas and information, but our main focus is the sharing of our work. This includes both reading our own and listening to other’s projects-of-choice at any stage from rough draft to completed masterpiece... and offering and accepting ideas, suggestions and gentle, objective, constructive critiques. Everyone is welcome.


Livvie Taylor-Young


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Oregon