Current Eugene/Springfield course offerings are listed below. Course and activity descriptions for the following month will be published mid-month. Minor edits of topics and facilitators will be updated at the end of the month.
Members will be notified of monthly updates and critical changes via email. We encourage you to check both the course and activity descriptions and the course calendar at the middle and end of the month! Important announcements, like the President's Note and other notifications, will be published as information is available (up to twice per month).
Speaker Peter Bechtold will look at the life and death of Jamal Khashoggi, starting with a brief history of the man and his family, leading to the question, “Is or was he really ‘Saudi’?” Bechtold will discuss how Khashoggi’s journalistic writings changed, particularly after Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (MBS), the Saudi Crown Prince, launched Saudi Arabia (and US support) into the devastating Yemen war. Then he will focus on the very strange Who Done It story, which began in Washington DC and not Istanbul and which featured unconventional conduct by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the US. Finally, he will consider the new power dynamics between these three countries and about leadership in the contemporary Muslim world.
Bechtold began his teaching career in Eugene at the UO after completing his MA and PhD degrees at Princeton University. Thereafter he taught at four area universities in the nation’s capital, was active in think tanks and visiting some USG agencies. This led to an invitation to become Director for Near East North Africa at the Foreign Service Institute, a unit of the US Department of State where he worked for 28+ years. His duties resulted in professional visits to 28 countries in the Near East and South Asia including Yemen in three different decades and Saudi Arabia six times in four decades followed by a private tour after retirement. He returned to Portland State in late 2009 as Interim Director for the Middle East Studies Center from which he had been the first overall graduate. Since his last appearance at OLLI in 2015 he has appeared on international television more than 40 times.
The presentation will be followed by an informal discussion, with the afternoon session, Understanding Yemen, to follow. Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.
A United Nations report has called Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Speaker Peter Bechtold will continue his all-day exploration of current Middle East issues with a summary of that report and a look at why the UN came to this conclusion. His talk will provide context for Yemen, with “its stunning landscape and beautiful people, and more briefly, its tortured history,” he said. The history will include discussion of Yemen’s regional tribal and religious identities, with some references to the contested Asir region in southwest Saudi Aribia. Further, he will address why Saudi Arabia has considered Yemen its top strategic threat while blaming Iran for prosecuting a “proxy war.” He added, “Over 90 per cent of the slides will show beauty; less than 10 per cent destruction.”
Bechtold began his teaching career in Eugene at the U of O after completing his MA and PhD degrees at Princeton University. Thereafter he taught at four area universities in the nation’s capital, was active in think tanks and visiting some USG agencies. This led to an invitation to become Director for Near East North Africa at the Foreign Service Institute, a unit of the US Department of State where he worked for 28+ years. His duties resulted in professional visits to 28 countries in the Near East and South Asia including Yemen in three different decades and Saudi Arabia six times in four decades followed by a private tour after retirement. He returned to Portland State in late 2009 as Interim Director for the Middle East Studies Center from which he had been the first overall graduate. Since his last appearance at OLLI in 2015 he has appeared on international television more than 40 times.
With respect to our own history and Mexico’s, the Mexican-American War was arguably the most important war the US ever fought. It was an aggressive, expansionist invasion that almost doubled US territory by almost halving Mexico’s territory, and brought into focus sharp cultural differences. This three-part lecture series will look at the advent, course, and aftermath of that war along with social and political factors that continue to affect our relations with Mexico today.
After Mexico won independence from Spain (1821), US sentiment favoring annexing or taking over Mexico surged, fueled by the ideologies of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny and by pro-slavery elements’ desire to set up new slave territories in Mexico. At the same time, Mexico sought to populate more effectively its northern territory by encouraging foreign immigration while strengthening Mexico City’s control over the region. This session considers the growing confrontation between these competing tendencies, with special attention to Texas’s war for secession from Mexico as a harbinger of the much greater conflict that erupted a decade later.
With war officially declared, the US launched multiple invasions of Mexico by land and sea, finally laying bloody siege to Mexico City itself. Anti-war sentiment within the US grew as Mexico failed to roll over and instead fought back, although ultimately to no avail. This session will look briefly at the military course of the war, while considering how the class, religious, and nativist bigotry of the day affected not only support for or against the war but also life within the US military itself. By way of illustration, we will consider the so- called “Saint Patrick’s Battalion” (Batallón de San Patricio). It will also look at the legacy of Mexico’s 10-year war for independence as a factor weakening Mexico’s ability to repel the US invasion and leading to the “cession” of half its territory to the US as the price of peace.
The war ended in 1848, but US-Mexico troubles continued. Even the exact borderline was not settled until 1854, while the supposed protections for Mexicans who suddenly found themselves living in the US often vanished in the face of abuse by US citizens. Both countries wrangled over which one should be responsible for stopping Native Americans’ resistance to their loss of territory, as raiding across the border continued. This session considers these and other aspects of the war’s aftermath, including: 1) continuing efforts by US paramilitary groups (known as “filibusters”) to take over more of Mexico or Central America; 2) the symbolic importance of the war to Mexico’s national identity; and 3) the war’s role as the training ground for the officers, notably Grant and Lee, who would lead the opposing armies in the US Civil War twenty years later.
Presenter Ilene O’Malley has had a lifelong passion for Mexico that began with a backpack tour in 1972. She went on to earn a PhD in Latin American history at the University of Michigan. She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship for her research on the Mexican Revolution, and her resultant book, the Myth of the Revolution, is considered a pioneering work on the role of gender concepts in Mexico’s political culture.
The Socratic search for truth and foundational values has always been menaced by tribalism and rhetoric aiming to assert power rather than reach shared agreement. This perennial danger strongly menaces today’s political life. We are tempted to give up seeking agreement because our political Others are wrong, dishonest, deluded, etc., so we can only maneuver and manipulate around them.
But is that the only way? Perhaps we might get perspective by going all the way to the extreme. Consider real interstellar Others, whether bug-eyed monsters or little green men. Science fiction writers have written many stories of “first contact” and “living with aliens.” Can we learn from those stories practices and habits for talking and cooperating with our domestic aliens today?
OLLI-UO member David Kolb received his PhD in philosophy from Yale University, taught at Fordham University, the University of Chicago, Nanzan University in Japan, and at Bates College in Maine, as the Charles A. Dana Professor of Philosophy. Since 2002 he has devoted himself full-time to writing and lecturing.
Writer, editor, and activist Anne Bridgman spent a week in Florida witnessing at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Migrant Children, where more than 3,000 children and youth are held.
She will discuss how she got involved in witnessing at Homestead after Senator Jeff Merkley’s visit to a child detention center in Texas, and what she saw when she visited Homestead for a week in April. In addition, she will explore who these children are, where they are from, and why they are there, including accounts in their own words from interviews.
Other topics will include the significance of this facility being for-profit, who is profiting (including former Trump Administration officials), and why the children’s detention and separation from family is dangerous. Further, she will cover what she has learned since the visit, what is being done to help, and what individuals can do to help.
“Come hear about the facility, see photos, and learn what you can do to help the children,” Bridgman said.
If you love to write, are a would-be author, or are simply seeking a new outlet for your creativity, you are cordially invited to join OLLI-UO’s Creative Writing group. We are authors, columnists, essayists, poets and non-fiction and fiction writers of all genres. Our levels of experience range from those with multiple publication credits to those just wanting to try their hand. Everyone is welcome.
We meet to encourage our creativity-in-common and to 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) as well as offering and accepting constructive, objective critiquing, ideas and suggestions.
Since the written word often has a different feel than the spoken word . . . and since some of us just plain have trouble hearing . . . it would be extremely helpful if you’d bring several hard copies of what you plan to read.
Sharing the process of writing and publication of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and memoirs. Writers of all levels of experience and all genres are welcome.
The first, third, and fifth (if applicable) Mondays of each month from 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.
The second and fourth Mondays of each month from 9:30–11:30 a.m.
Byron Chell, and Lorraine Ironplow
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. Attendees are welcome to bring their lunches. Visit the website with past and current subject handouts and schedules.
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.
The second and fourth Mondays of each month from 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
The meditation/mindfulness group meets for one hour once a week. The first half hour is spent listening to a talk given by a meditation teacher from the Internet. The next half hour is 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 class, some are advanced meditators who are here to experience the benefits of group meditation and a sense of community (sangha.)
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.
Every Monday from noon-1:00 p.m.
Beginning Spanish is open to all, whether you know nothing beyond “hola” for “hello” or if you’re quite good at Spanish, but the time slot suits you. We speak in Spanish as much as possible. We use kids’ books to practice reading. Come and check it out.
Beginning level Spanish course; no basic knowledge required
Every Monday from 12:15–1:45 p.m.
Strangers brought together on an Overland Stagecoach ride must deal with their animosities and petty differences, confront their own fears and demons, and face danger from warring Apaches led by Geronimo. A Western classic by John Ford. Cast: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine. Rating: Not Rated Run Time: 96 MINS
A Texas cattleman leads a cattle drive, the culmination of over 14 years of hard work and struggles, to the market in Missouri. But his stubborn and tyrannical behavior along the way leads to a mutiny, led by his adopted son. Cast: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan, Colleen Gray, Harry Carey, John Ireland. Rating: Passed Run Time: 133 MINS
Marshal Will Kane learns that Frank Miller, whom he sent to prison years earlier, is arriving on the noon train, together with members of his gang. But as the Marshal prepares for the showdown with Miller, his newlywed wife begs him to just leave town as they had originally planned, and the townspeople whom he has protected for years turn their backs on him and refuse to help. Cast: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Harry Morgan, Lon Chaney, Jr. Rating: PG Run Time: 85 MINS
Poor Mexican farmers whose village has long been plagued by a local bandit seek help from a ragtag collection of American gunmen, each with his own reason for coming to the aid of the villagers. Cast: Yul Brenner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Horst Buchholz, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Brad Dexter. Rating: Approved Run Time: 128 MINS
Mel Brooks’ raucous parody of Hollywood Western movies. In order to ruin a western town so he can buy up property in the railroad’s right of way, a corrupt white politician appoints a black sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary. Cast: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Mel Brooks, Slim Pickens, Alex Carras. Rating: R Run Time: 93 MINS
A Confederate veteran, already consumed by his hatred of Indians, sets out on a quest to avenge the massacre of his brother’s families by a band of Commanches and to find his niece whom they kidnapped. But as he continues his search over five years, his belief that his niece has been tainted by living among the Indians for so long raises concerns about his motives. Cast: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Mills, Natalie Wood, Ward Bond Rating: Passed Run Time: 119 MINS
John Ford’s classic telling of the clash between the Earp brothers, Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan, and the vicious Clanton clan, which led to the shoot-out behind the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Cast: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, John Ireland. Rating: Not Rated Run Time: 97 MINS
An arrogant Texas millionaire hires four mercenaries to rescue his wife from a notorious Mexican bandit, but as they search, they find reason to question whether the wife was actually kidnapped. Cast: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Jack Palance, Claudia Cardinale, Ralph Bellamy. Rating: PG-13 Run Time: 117 MINS
A former Army scout looks to make a quiet home for himself in the Colorado mountains, but he inadvertently is drawn into a conflict with neighboring Crow Indians that threatens to forever change the peaceful relationship he worked so hard to achieve with his neighbors and the land. Cast: Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton. Rating: GP Run Time: 108 MINS
Balladeers Stubby Kaye and Nat “King” Cole provide musical accompaniment to this tongue-in-cheek ballad of Catherine “Cat” Ballou, who becomes an outlaw and enlists the help of a washed-up, drunk gunslinger and a handsome bandit to get vengeance on the land-development company whose hired gun killed her father. Cast: Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Michael Callan, Dwayne Hickman, Stubby Kaye, John Marley, Nat “King” Cole. Rating: Not Rated Run Time: 97 MINS
A mysterious preacher rides into a gold mining camp in the California foothills, and protects the prospectors and their families from a greedy mining company that is trying to steal their claims. Cast: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Richard Dysart. Rating: R Run Time: 115 MINS
A gambler, John McCabe, and a prostitute, Mrs. Miller, become business partners in a remote Old West mining town, and their enterprise thrives until the town’s mining deposits attract the attention of a large corporation. McCabe’s decision to refuse the corporation’s buy-out offer has major repercussions for him, Mrs. Miller, and the town. Cast: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberonoise, William Devane, Shelly Duvall, Keith Carradine. Rating: R Run Time: 120 MINS
In the first half-hour we have a session of grammar targeting an intermediate level of French. In the second half-hour we have a conversation class with intermediate levels and advanced levels together and in the third half hour we target an advanced level of French where we read an article or discuss ideas or topics of interest to French language and culture.
Learning and improving our French through grammar, conversations, readings and discussions.
Every Monday from 3:15–4:45 p.m.
Elaine De Martin-Webster and Thomas Walker
Understanding Science will begin a new lecture series on June 18 titled: Understanding the Quantum World. Class discussions are based on the Great Courses series by Professor Erica W. Carlson, PhD. (c 2109). Quantum mechanics has a reputation for being so complex that the word "quantum" has become popular label for anything mystical or unfathomable. In fact, quantum mechanics is one of the most successful theories of reality yet discovered, explaining everything from the stability of atoms to the glow of neon lights, form the flow of electricity in metals to the workings of the human eye. There are 24 lectures in the series.
To present outstanding introductory college-level DVD science courses, and to enjoy the opportunity to share and discuss related ideas and information among group members. 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 the course. Decisions concerning specific course subjects are made by a majority vote of the group. 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.
The first, third and fifth (if applicable) Tuesdays of each month from 10:00–11:30 a.m.
We meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month to discuss a classic book, usually at least fifty years old, which was important when published and remains significant today. For example, we read a collection of Anton Chekov's short stories which are as fresh today as written. At times we make exceptions to the fifty-year guideline. Usually the person who nominates a title leads discussion of that book plus gives a brief biography of the author and times when the book was written. We alternate fiction one month with nonfiction the next.
Read and discuss classic fiction and nonfiction.
Book for November: A Death in the Family by James Agee; discussion led by Dina Wills
The fourth Tuesday of each month at 1:30–3:30 p.m.
Members learn through presentations and discussions on topics connected with geo-politics, international business, global cultures, trade, the environment, and America’s place in the world. The facilitator maintains an email list for distribution of presenters’ materials, links to websites, videos and readings prior to the sessions.
International affairs, history, current global developments and U.S. foreign policy.
Violent extremism has manifest itself in myriad ways over the past decades in Pakistan. In response, the Pakistan state has sought to counter this extremism through different strategies albeit they have been fraught with problems. But what is often overlooked are the innovative efforts underway throughout the country to cooperate and collaborate to promote harmony and understanding and recapture indigenous identity in which many non-state actors are engaged. Based on the research she conducted for her forthcoming book, Countering Violent Extremism in Pakistan: Local Actions, Local Voices, Professor Anita Weiss will discuss and show us a variety of efforts underway to counter extremism in Pakistan through the use of poetry, art and music.
About the speaker: Anita M. Weiss received her doctorate in sociology from UC Berkeley and is professor of International Studies at the University of Oregon. She has published extensively on social development, gender issues, and political Islam in Pakistan. She has been in Pakistan extensively conducting interviews for her current book project, Countering Violent Extremism in Pakistan (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2020) between 2016-19, including six months on a Harry Frank Guggenheim research fellowship. Professor Weiss is a member of the editorial board of Globalizations as well as a number of journals from Pakistan and has been a member of the Research Advisory Board of the Pakistan National Commission on the Status of Women.
The first and third Wednesdays of each month from 9:30–11:30 a.m.
Susan Walcott and Howard Schuman
If you would like to brush up on history and enjoy a good story along the way, join us twice a month for some very lively discussions of the books by a group of thoughtful and insightful men and women. Expect diverse opinions—we'll welcome your insights too!
Titles are selected by group vote every six months and each book (or author) is discussed over two meetings.
The reading and discussion of historical novels and nonfiction.
Book for November: The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang
The second Wednesday of each month from 10:00–11:30 a.m.
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.
The interpretive reading of plays, usually accompanied by some discussion of a play’s merits, information about its author, or other related matters.
The first and third Wednesdays of each month from 3:30–5:30 p.m.
Jack Bennett and Iona Waller
Members share poems they have written, provide each other with supportive feedback, and delve into their own creative process in a like-minded group. All voices and levels of experience welcomed. Come as you are. Prompts are provided if wanted. Opportunities for reading in front of an audience discussed.
Writing and speaking your inspiration and craft.
The first, third, and fifth (if applicable) Thursdays of each month at 9:30–11:30 a.m.
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.
Learning through a lively exchange of views on recent local, national, and world news.
The second and fourth Thursdays of each month from 9:30–11:30 a.m.
Rotated among a team of volunteers
Thinking Allowed is a participatory round table discussion group where all can contribute their knowledge and opinions toward making broad, complex issues more understandable to everyone. The subject areas are selected by the participants, with a write up about the specific topic for each session emailed a few days in advance to permit personal thought and investigation. Visit the website with past and current subject handouts and schedules.
An informal discussion group devoted to the exchange of views on contemporary social issues and problems confronting the nation, state and local community.
The first and third Thursdays of each month from 11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m. Attendees are welcome to bring their lunches.
A shared period of silence with a bit of social connection on both sides.
Becoming comfortable with resting in the presence of others with awareness and acceptance.
Every Thursday from 11:45 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Note: period of shared silence between 12:10 and 12:50 p.m.
Short story anthologies are generally used as a source of each term’s readings; additional selections may be provided by the facilitator.
Reading a variety of short stories and discussing them as a group.
All selections, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, 2nd edition, edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Stories marked “handout” will be made available at the CPE office in Room 110.
The first and third Thursdays of each month from 1:30–3:00 p.m.
Shiela Pardee and Anne Pacheco
Culture Italiane (“Italian cultures”) explores the diverse geography, economies, history, cultures and products of Italy’s 20 regions. English-language videos and the Geografia d’Italia per Stranieri textbook are used to learn about each region.
Knowledge of Italian is not necessary for participating in the study group, which is conducted in English. Textbook passages are translated to English to make them accessible to everyone. For those interested in Italian, the course is also an opportunity to share or improve their Italian language knowledge.
Understanding the cultural diversity of Italy’s regions
Every Thursday from 3:15–4:45 p.m.
Someone volunteers to facilitate the meeting, and everyone contributes readings or topics for conversation in Español. Some of us speak Español rather well and want to practice it weekly. Others are very rusty but get more fluent as they keep trying.
Speaking Spanish informally. Basic knowledge.
Every Thursday from 3:15–4:45 p.m.
Stan Cook and Carolin Keutzer
Stroll through the fascinating history of downtown Eugene. Who were the first pioneers, where did they come from, where did they live and work? As it turns out, they lived and worked near the Baker Downtown Center!
This walk from past through present Eugene is led by author and illustrator Tyler Burgess. She has been an international tour guide for 15 years, giving 34 walking tours in 10 different countries through her business “Walk with Me.” Tyler was formerly a fitness walking instructor at the University of Oregon and Lane Community College. Registration and trip liability waiver required.
The Sports Bar of the Downtown Athletic Club is available to us the fourth Friday of every month, between 2:00 and 4:00pm. Order a beverage and a bite to eat if you wish and visit a while. Try it sometime and check out the Ax Billy Grill and Sports Bar Happy Hour Menu for this no host social.
Don’t miss our November get-together! It will be the last for 2019. Meet and chat with Helene-Carol Brown, one of our best-loved OLLI-UO members, lecturer, scholar and art teacher. Helene just finished delighting her audiences with a very popular four-part series on Masters of the Italian Renaissance.
Please stop in and visit for a bit–we always have a nice, fun group of people who enjoy a strictly social OLLI event! Remember, making friends and building community is essential for our mental health!
Fourth Fridays from 2:00–4:00 p.m.
An archive of previous courses and activities is available.