Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Continuing and Professional Education

Eugene/Springfield Courses and Activities

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!

October 2018 Courses and Activities

Featured In October
Wednesday, October 10, 2:00–4:00 p.m.  Alaska-Mexico Room

Oregon seems to be a safe place to live, immune from tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. The deadliest natural disaster in recent history was a flash flood in 1903 that killed 259 people in Heppner, a small eastern Oregon town. However, we now know that earthquakes and tsunamis have devastated the Oregon Coast every few centuries. On October 12, 1962, the Columbus Day Storm hit western Oregon causing significant damage in many cities. On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington but the effects were felt in Oregon.

So how do we predict when an earthquake will happen or when a volcano will erupt? Every natural disaster begins as a surprise but there is an underlying predictability to these events. Floods, fires, and earthquakes occur in cycles, part of an ongoing process. If we can predict these events, we can prepare for these disasters.

William L. Sullivan will discuss Oregon’s history of natural disasters, citing select ones from his book Oregon’s Greatest Natural Disasters, and our ability to predict the next big, natural event. Sullivan is an author and outdoorsman who received his English degree at Cornell University, studied linguistics at Heidelberg University in Germany, and earned an MA in German at the University of Oregon. He is a fifth-generation Oregonian who has hiked and explored the Oregon wilderness and published various books about Oregon.  He has also written several novels based on historical events.

Wednesday, October 17 and 24, 2:00–4:00 p.m.  Alaska-Mexico Room

Everyone is a photographer, though most don’t know it. Everyone has the eye of a photographer, though most aren’t aware of it. Nearly everyone is a closet photographer, though most cannot bring her/himself to say it out loud. From early on in the history of photography we have labored under a pervasive mythology about photography that misrepresents the importance of the camera and misunderstands the role of the photographer. The resulting effect is that many now are uneasy about entertaining the thought they are a photographer, usually downplay any skills in taking photographs, and often apologize for what they sometimes do with a camera. Sound familiar?

This two-part series begins with demythologizing what we think of as photography, offering an alternative definition of the photographer. We examine the camera as only a secondary tool as we redefine and come to understand photography as “all about seeing”.

Presenter Gordon Nagai is a long-time OLLI-UO member and a highly skilled amateur photographer who has contributed many photographs to OLLI-UO and UO publications.

Tuesday, October 2, 2:00–4:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

Armed pilgrimages, or crusades, of the eleventh century will be the topic of this presentation by Professor David Wacks. The earliest of these crusades were in Spain against the Muslims, not to the Holy Land. Wacks will look at how the crusades were portrayed in fiction and how the fiction influenced the crusades.

Wacks is the Department Head of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon.  He is author of Framing Iberia: Frametales and Maqamat in Medieval Spain, published by Brill in 2007, and Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature 1200-1550: Jewish Cultural Production before and after 1492, published by Indiana University Press in 2015. His current book project is tentatively titled Crusade, Conquest, and Conversion in Medieval Iberian Fiction. He forms part of a research group (Symbioses) working on Biblical exegesis in Alfonso X’s General Estoria (13th c.).

Wednesday, October 3, 2:00–4:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

Gardens are works of art in three dimensions—four if you count time. The styles of gardens through the centuries are as recognizable as the styles of great paintings, sculptures or buildings. Identifying the elements characteristic of each style is essential to understanding why our gardens look the way they do, and why gardens are cherished by millions around the world. Moreover, gar- dens tell us much about the civilizations that produced them, reflecting the cultural, political and religious values of the people who designed them, and the conditions these people endured. In this three-part series, we will first examine gardens from the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. We will work through the Middle Ages, and on to the Italian and French Renaissance designs, leading to 18th century rococo gardens, and Victorian gardens. We will finish with an examination of 20th and 21st century innovations and eco-friendly designs in fashion now. Along the way we will examine the design of open and closed gardens, and finally how the garden has emerged from a place to put art to become a place that is art. Presented by OLLI-UO member Helene-Carol Brown, MA.

Monday, October 22, 2:00–4:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

UO Professor Pedro Garcia-Caro will discuss his discovery of the long-lost Mexican play "Tricks to Inherit" ("Astucias por heredar un sobrino a un tio" by Fermin de Reygadas, a mining engineer) while he was researching the mining industry in the New World.The play had been censored in 1790 in Mexico City and found its way to Alta, California, where it was known as the first drama staged in California and was performed in Spanish.Professor Garcia-Caro oversaw its translation into English.The play is relevant today for a clearer understanding of the roots of racism, misogyny, and anti-indigenous sentiment in colonial Latin America as well as in mainstream US society.

Professor Garcia-Caro is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of the Latin American Studies Program at the University of Oregon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2:00–3:00 p.m.  Alaska-Mexico Room

The horrors of WW I produced an outpouring of British poetry, memoirs and fiction, including Robert Graves’s Goodbye to All That, and Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End.  Professor George Wickes will discuss this period as part of OLLI-UO’s continuing collaboration with the UO Insight Seminar program.  Professor Wickes is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Oregon. His publications include Americans in Paris, The Amazon of Letters, The Memoirs of Frederic Mistral (trans.), and three collections of Henry Miller letters (ed.).

Mondays, October 8-November 12, noon–2:00 p.m.  Mexico Room

This six-part series will cover music of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The series will include presentation and discussion of sacred music, secular music, early polyphony, Art Nova, the Reformation and instrumental music. Composers of these periods include Marchaut, DuFay, Palestrina, Josquin, Gesualdio and Gabrieli.

Series instructor Barbara Myrick currently teaches Music History and Sight-Reading/Ear Training II at Lane Community College as a part-time instructor. She also advises music students. She has performed in countless LCC productions and coordinated many faculty concerts.  She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Montana State, after which she taught at Wilsall, Montana. In 1970, she came to the UO, from which she obtained her Master of Music in Piano Performance and her Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education, Piano and Flute performance. She joined the music faculty at Lane in 1973. In 1981-1983 she took a break and attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where she earned another Master's degree in Musicology, specializing in Performance Practice.

Registration is required for this course.

Tuesdays, October 2, 16, and 30, 10:00–11:30 a.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

About This Course

Focus: 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.


  • October 2: Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science—Metaphysics and the Nature of Science— Defining Reality
  • October 16: Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science—Mathematics in Crisis
  • October 30: Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science—Special Relativity.

Meets: The first, third and fifth (if applicable) Tuesdays of each month at 10:00–11:30 a.m.

Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Mike Rose

The class on Understanding Science begins a new topic called Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science. Class discussions are based on The Great Courses series by Professor Steven Gimbel (c)2015 who brings a lifetime of insight to this historical survey of our models of reality seen through the disciplines of the physical, biological, social sciences and technology. His holistic approach often brings fun examples of how the paths of science and math frequently run parallel to what was being explored in the graphic arts, literature, entertainment, and architecture of the times. How has our understanding of what the universe is and is not changed over time? And what definitions of "reality" help us best comprehend the universe around and within us.Re-experience the Enlightenment. Because Gimbel does not demean previous views of reality, he acts as an advocate for how these ideas could have been held by reasonable people.This course has the potential to help us understand how others experience a different reality—even today.

Mondays, September 10–December 17, 2:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

Politics. Love it or leave it, politics is inescapably a part of our lives. It is where our hopes and dreams, our fears and nightmares, our conflicting visions for the future come together and often clash. Small wonder that Hollywood finds the drama inherent in politics—the human conflicts and emotions, the confrontations of personal ambitions and political convictions, and the huge stakes—a rich and apt setting for so many very good films.

Join us in watching a selection of films that illuminate and often critique our politics, our political system, and ourselves in a new OLLI-UO Film Series beginning Monday, September 10, at 2:00 p.m. and thereafter on the first and third Mondays of the month through December 17.

Here is the list of films in this newest, compelling film series:

Tuesdays, September 25–November 6, 11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m. No meeting October 30. Canada Room

The popular series, Writing as Discovery, is back this fall. Join OLLI- UO member George Kaufman in a six-session writing course that begins September 25.

Writing is a conversation on paper, Kaufman says. Our life experiences make us into teachers, students, and observers, all rolled into one. In this course, you will have an opportunity to draw on your history to write from what you know, get in touch with what you feel, and let your words flow without the constant interference of yourself critic. The class will include ways to jump-start writing when you face a blank page and opportunities to fire up your imagination when it is time to write. There will be opportunities to share what you have written, but only if you choose to share. Some of the elements of writing that will be addressed are metaphor and simile, style, memoir writing, and Haiku. You may wish to read Writing from the Heart by Nancy Aronie or Gabriele Rico’s book, Writing the Natural Way.

Kaufman earned degrees from Columbia University and Yale Law School. He is the author of the book Balancing Life and Work, published by the American Bar Association, and also is the author of Accidental Spirituality, a series of intimate stories about finding extraordinary experiences in everyday life.

Registration is closed for this class.

Study and Discussion Groups

Monday, October 1, 15, 29, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: 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.

Meets: The first, third, and fifth (if applicable) Mondays of each month from 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Facilitator: Livvie Taylor-Young

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'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.

Mondays, noon–1:00 p.m. Alaska Room

About This Group

Focus: The hour starts with a 20-minute book discussion followed by 30 minutes of silent or guided meditation. The session ends allow for a few minutes of discussion afterwards. Additional articles, podcasts, authors, and internet sites are often shared or recommended for those who care to extend their understanding and deepen their practice.

Meets: Every Monday at noon–1:00 p.m.

Facilitator: Janice Friend

Mondays, 12:15–1:45 p.m. Belize Room

About This Group

Focus: Beginning level Spanish course; no basic knowledge required

Meets: Every Monday at 12:15–1:45 p.m.

Facilitator/Teacher: Sara Michener

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. I like to use kids’ books to practice reading. Come and check it out.

Mondays, 3:15–4:30 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: Learning and improving our French through grammar, conversations, readings and discussions.

Meets: Every Monday at 3:15–4:45 p.m.

Facilitator: Elaine De Martin-Webster

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.

Wednesday, October 3 and 17, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

About This Group

Focus: International affairs, history, current global developments and U.S. foreign policy.


  • October 3: Title TBA, Presenter TBA
  • October 17: Title TBA, Presenter TBA

Meets: The first and third Wednesdays of each month from 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Facilitators: Bill Taliaferro and Randall Donohue

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.

Wednesday, October 3 and 17, 3:30–5:30 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: The interpretive reading of plays, usually accompanied by some discussion of a play's merits, information about its author, or other related matters.

Meets: The first and third Wednesdays of each month at 3:30–5:30 p.m.

Facilitator: Jack Bennett and Iona Waller

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.

Thursday, October 4 and 18, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Patagonia Room

About This Group

Focus: Writing and speaking your inspiration and craft.

Meets: The first and third Thursdays of each month at 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Facilitator: Charles Castle

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.

Thursday, October 4 and 18, 11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: An informal discussion group devoted to the exchange of views on contemporary social issues and problems confronting the nation, state and local community.

Meets: The first and third Thursdays of each month from 11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m. People are welcome to bring their lunches.

Contact: Jerry Brule

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.

Thursday, October 4 and 18, 1:30–3:00 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: Reading a variety of short stories and discussing them as a group.


  • October 4: “Catch and Release” by Thomas Lynch (handout)
  • October 18 “Next Door” by Tobias Woolf (handout); “Widow” by Michelle Latiolas (handout)

Meets: The first and third Thursdays of each month at 1:30–3:00 p.m.

Facilitator: Shiela Pardee

Short story anthologies are generally used as a source of each term’s readings; additional selections may be provided by the facilitator.

Thursdays, 3:15–4:45 p.m. Alaska Room

About This Course

Focus: Understanding the cultural diversity of Italy’s regions

Meets: Every Thursday at 3:15–4:45 p.m.


  • September 27: We'll study the geography, history, cultures, economy, local products and food of the Trentino-Alto Adige/South Tyrol region.
  • October 4: We'll begin our study of the Emilia-Romagna region by learning about its geography, Bologna, Ravenna's mosaics and Luciano Pavarotti.
  • October 11: Viva Verdi, a BBC documentary film about the life, works and times of Giuseppe Verdi.
  • October 18: We'll study some poems composed by Romagna poets and then watch Amarcord (part 1), Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film based on his youth in 1930s Romagna.   In Italian with English subtitles.
  • October 25: Amarcord (part 2)

Facilitator: Lee Altschuler

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. But for those interested in Italian, the course is also an opportunity to share or improve their Italian language knowledge.

Monday, October 8 and 22, 9:30–11:30 a.m.

About This Course

Focus: 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.


  • October 8: Reading Plato’s Philebus with David Kolb—Part Three.
  • October 22: Reading Plato’s Philebus with David Kolb—Part Four.

The Philebus discusses whether the best human life should be devoted to gathering as much pleasure as possible, or to intellectual development and contemplation, and argues for a harmonious mixture of the two. The more abstract parts of the dialogue discuss the role of mixtures, ratios, and measures in constructing our lives.

Meets: The second and fourth Monday of each month at 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Contact: Henry Sholar

Facilitators: Byron Chell, Dennis Lawrence, and Lorraine Ironplow

Thursdays, 3:15–4:45 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: Speaking Spanish informally. Basic knowledge.

Meets: Every Thursday at 3:15–4:45 p.m.

Facilitator: Stan Cook and Carolin Keutzer

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.

Monday, September 10, 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: 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.

Meets: The second and fourth Mondays of each month from 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m. (People are welcome to bring their lunches.)

Note: Solutions will not be meeting on the fourth Monday of this month, September 24

Contact: Jerry Brule

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.

Wednesday, October 10, 10:00–11:30 a.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: The reading and discussion of historical novels and nonfiction.

Book for October: The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton

Meets: The second Wednesdays of each month at 10:00–11:30 a.m.

Facilitator: Joyce Churchill

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.

Thursday, October 11 and 25, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: Learning through a lively exchange of views on recent local, national, and world news.

Meets: The second and fourth Thursdays of each month at 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Moderator: Rotated among a team of volunteers.

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.

Tuesday, October 23, 1:30–3:30 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

Focus: The reading and discussion of classic novels and works of philosophy, political theory, religion or sociology.

Book for October: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Meets: The fourth Tuesday of each month at 1:30–3:30 p.m.

Contact: Sheila Patterson

This group meets once a month for approximately two hours to discuss the book selection of the month. We also briefly review the author’s biography and how he or she came to author the book. We alternate between classic fiction (fifty years old or older) and classic non-fiction (also at least fifty years old). Many of the non-fiction selections have philosophical themes. We choose books for the coming year in May and June.

An archive of previous courses and activities is available.