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!

December 2018 Courses and Activities

Wednesday, December 5 12:15–1:30 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

UO Vice President Roger Thompson will provide a Student Services and Enrollment Management (CPE’s home division) update and make opening remarks about the value of lifelong learning and community engagement programs in the division’s goal of sustaining campus and community connections in Oregon. Then, Vice President Thompson will take questions from members from both program sites during the second part of his presentation. Members in Central Oregon will join Eugene/Springfield members for the session via videoconference.

Wednesday, December 19 12:00–1:30 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

UO Director of Development in the Office of Gift Planning Mike Ritchey provides an introduction of what he does for UO, and how his office can work with our OLLI-UO members specifically, as we work towards our financial sustainability goals.

The session will begin with general education on estate planning (including wills, trusts, designating beneficiaries, tax treatment of assets, etc.) and one specific type of estate asset, the IRA. From there, we’ll look at how these two areas can be used to meet the charitable goals you have. Topics will include using required minimum distributions from IRAs to support charitable giving, the charitable IRA rollover (also known as a qualified charitable distribution), characteristics of assets (real estate, stock accounts, IRAs, etc.) to consider when making charitable gifts, and more. There will be plenty of time for questions, so bring yours along!

Mike Ritchey holds degrees in Finance (BS ’80) and Marketing (MBA ’81) from the UO and earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification in 1991. Prior to joining the UO in 2011, he spent over 20 years working in the personal financial planning profession. Mike was born and raised in Springfield, Oregon, is married to a retired middle school teacher, and represents the middle of three generations of his family to earn UO degrees.

Mike will give the same presentation to our OLLI-UO in Central Oregon counterparts on December 12.

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

Designed to present the microbiology and biochemistry behind the making of wines, beers, and spirits, this course requires no previous academic background beyond high school. This is not a ”how-to” course, but home brewers will benefit from a better understanding of the processes involved. No alcohol will be permitted and no samples will be served. However, participants will be able to enjoy this talk by OLLI-UO E/S member Jim Novitsky, who recently presented the popular presentation on Time: Does anyone really know what time it is? Dr. Novitsky holds a PhD and an MBA and is a former university lecturer.

Monday, December 10, 2:00–4:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

Oregonians love local food, but finding truly local fish can be hard, even on the coast. We’re now much more aware of ethically grown meat and vegetables, but seafood remains somewhat mysterious. How does that crab get from the ocean to our table, and what’s the true cost of cheap salmon at the grocery store? This conversation with food writer Jennifer Burns Bright engages with our complex relationship with American seafood. From cultural traditions to economic and ethical challenges, from the docks to the markets, we’ll explore ways to apply our food values to the products of the sea. OLLI-UO in E/S will host this Oregon Humanities Conversation Project event, and it is free and open to the public, so please invite friends.

Jennifer Burns Bright is a food educator and travel writer based in Astoria, Oregon. She moved to the coast after many years teaching literature at the University of Oregon, where she researched modernism and desire, led a faculty research group in the emerging discipline of food studies, and won a national pedagogy award for a team-taught, interdisciplinary class on bread. She holds a PhD from the University of California at Irvine and a Master Food Preserver certification from OSU Extension. When she's not out gathering seaweed or fermenting fruit, she might be found interviewing young farmers, old pirates, and mad scientists.

Wednesday, December 12, 2:00–3:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

Throughout his long career as novelist, essayist, commentator, and sage, E.M. Forster (1879-1970) kept his gayness hidden from the general public. How was it, then, that he managed to complete, in 1914, a draft of a magnificent novel about the heroic and yet ordinary man, Maurice, who not only does come out in homophobic England but affirms his choice by partnering, happily, with a gamekeeper Alec? How did Forster change his manuscript, which he suppressed until his death, and what message do Forster's life and novel carry for us today?

Presenter Henry Alley is a Professor Emeritus of Literature in the Honors College at the University of Oregon. Professor Alley has published over 40 stories in such journals as Seattle Review, Cimarron Review, Oxford Magazine, Harrington Gay Men's Quarterly Fiction, Webster Review, Outerbridge, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He has published articles of literary criticism in such journals as Kenyon Review, Papers on Language and Literature, Studies in the Novel, Twentieth Century Literature, and The George Eliot Fellowship Review. His latest novel, Men Touching, is slated for release in 2019.

The presentation is an introduction to a series he will present for the Insight Seminars.

Tuesday, December 18, 2:00–3:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. Does this make him a great poet—or even a poet? Does it matter? In this presentation we’ll talk about poetry (What makes a poem a poem?) and we’ll talk about Dylan (What makes Dylan Dylan?), and we’ll see how the twain meet. We’ll also talk about influences on Dylan, and the very idea of influence—and look at some of the charges leveled against Dylan (by Joni Mitchell and others), calling him a plagiarist and a fake.

Of course, we’ll listen to and discuss a few songs. Come prepared to jump into the action. What’s your favorite Dylan? What lines, passages, or songs do you think are especially “poetic”? You’ll have plenty of opportunity to share.

After two previous degrees at Duke University, presenter Jeff Harrison earned his PhD at the University of Oregon, studying with teachers like Jim Earl, George Wickes, and Bill Rossi, fellow leaders of Insight Seminars. He remembers the first time he heard “Like a Rolling Stone,” sitting in the back seat of the car his mom was driving down Highland Ave. in Jackson, Tennessee, in the summer of ’65. He didn’t manage to see Dylan until the big tour in ’74 with The Band, but he has seen him many times since. For a couple of years, he worked alongside Bill Strange, who taught the first Dylan course at a major university, here at UO from ’75 ‘til ’95, and he has taught his own Dylan course at LCC since 2009. He is a fan, but he’s working hard at being a scholar, in spite of what Dylan has said about Dylan scholars.

The presentation is an introduction to a series he will present for the Insight Seminars.

Wednesday, December 19, 2:00–4:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

In 1973, Nathan Fendrich recently had arrived in Israel when the Yom Kippur War broke out. Armed with press credential from KEZI, he travelled in press buses, hired press cars, and embedded himself with Israel Defense Forces (IDF), taking hundreds of pictures of air strikes, ground skirmishes, prisoners of war and soldiers in battle and at rest between the fighting. Nathan has recently donated his unique collection to the National Library of Israel (NLI) to be used for research by military historians, made available to the public, and preserved for future generations.

In a talk enhanced by his captivating photographs, Fendrich will describe the extraordinary set of circumstances that put him on the frontlines of another country’s battle for survival and share his first-person accounts of living through and documenting the war. OLLI-UO E/S member Avi Naiman, will present the process by which Nathan’s photographic testimonies came to the attention of the curators of the NLI and IDF archives, explain why the collection is so unique and valuable, and describe how the photos are now being used to improve the historical record of the Yom Kippur War.

Mondays, November 19, 26, December 3 and 10; noon–1:00 p.m. Canada Room

Popular representations of what is known as the conquest of Mexico (1519-1521) often swirl around romantic notions of Spanish conquistadores’ victory and the Aztecs’ inevitable defeat. We will cut through the fog to consider these events in the historical context of Mexico’s indigenous political entities and of Spain’s expansion. Special attention will be given to the siege of the Mexica capital Tenochtitlan as the pivotal event that shaped the subsequent development of Spanish colonies and opened the way for the extension of Spain’s imperial reach to Tierra del Fuego and Asia.

Four weekly one-hour lectures (including Q&A):

  • November 19 The Mexica Empire. Territories, political relations, and conflicts of the numerous military city-states of central Mexico, and the ascendency of the Mexica before the Spanish invasion.
  • November 26 The Spanish Empire. Spain’s expansion following the defeat of the Moors in1492 and Columbus’ voyages. Royal efforts to control the new Caribbean colonies and colonizers. Minor Cuban functionary Hernan Cortez goes rogue to get rich.
  • December 3 The Fall of Tenochtitlan. Nature of Spanish forces invading Mexico and their uneasy occupation of Tenochtitlan, capital of Mexica empire. Spaniards’ growing demands for enrichment, expulsion by Mexica. Spaniards and Mexica’s enemies lay siege to Tenochtitlan and subjugate Mexica to Spanish rule. Native resistance to and cooperation with the Spanish.
  • December 10 The Formation of New Spain. The unfinished business of the Spanish takeover. Cortez’s political battle for royal recognition and legitimacy. The realpolitik of instituting Spain’s formal colonial rule, the role of the indigenous elite and relations among indigenous cultures. Seeds of globalization.

Presenter Ilene O’Malley’s lifelong passion for Mexico began with a hippie 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. She is an OLLI-UO E/S member.

Registration is required for this course.

Study and Discussion Groups
Mondays, December 3 and 17 9:30–11:30 a.m. Canada Room; no meeting on December 31

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-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.

Mondays, 10:00–11:00 a.m. Alaska Room; no meeting on December 24 and 31

About This Group

Focus: 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.

Meets: Every Monday from 10:00–11:00 a.m.

Facilitator: Janice Friend

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.)

Mondays, 12:15–1:45 p.m. Belize Room; no meeting on December 24 and 31

About This Group

Focus: Beginning level Spanish course; no basic knowledge required

Meets: Every Monday from 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, 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:

Mondays, 3:15–4:45 p.m. Canada Room; no meeting on December 24 and 31

About This Group

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

Meets: Every Monday from 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.

Tuesdays, December 4 and 18, 10:00–11:30 a.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

About This Group

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.


  • December 4: Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science
  • December 18: Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science

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

Facilitators: Barbara Nagai and Mike Rose

The class on Understanding Science begins a new topic this fall 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.

Wednesday, December 5 and 19, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Alaska-Mexico Room

About This Group

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


  • December 5: TBD
  • December 19: TBD

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, December 5 and 19; 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 from 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, December 6 and 20, 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, December 6 and 20, 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.


  • December 6: Social Media - does the good outweigh the isolation, alienation, and lies?
  • December 20: Education reform, Common Core and free college

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, December 6 and 20, 1:30–3:00 p.m. Canada Room

About This Group

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


  • December 6: “The Sheriff’s Children” by Charles Chesnutt
  • December 20: “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas (handout)

Meets: The first and third Thursdays of each month from 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; no meeting on December 27

About This Course

Focus: Understanding the cultural diversity of Italy’s regions

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


  • December 6: Padre Padrone (part 2) This film “follows the story of young, barely literate shepherd boy Gavino who lives under the thumb of his tyrannical peasant father.” Based on the autobiography of the Sardinian writer Gavino Ledda. In 1977 Padre Padrone won the Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival. In Italian with English subtitles.
  • December 13: We'll learn about recent developments in Sardinia, its food and its environment.
  • December 20: We'll begin our study of Lombardy by learning about the region's geography, economy, Milan and Claudio Monteverdi.
  • December 27: No meeting

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

Monday, December 10, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Canada Room; no meeting on December 24

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.


  • December 10: TBD
  • December 24: No meeting

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 from 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 from 3:15–4:45 p.m.; No meeting on December 27

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, December 10, 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m. Canada Room; no meeting on December 24

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.


  • December 10: The Changing Nature of War - from Battleships to Cyberwarfare
  • December 24: No meeting

Meets: The second and fourth Mondays of each month from 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.

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. Attendees are welcome to bring their lunches. Visit the website with past and current subject handouts and schedules.

Wednesday, December 12, 10:00–11:30 a.m. Canada Room

About This Group

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

Book for December: TBD

Meets: The second Wednesday of each month from 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, December 13, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Canada Room; no meeting on December 27

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 from 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.

Friday, December 21, 1:30–3:30 p.m. Canada Room; Note: this is a special meeting date for December

About This Group

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

Book for December: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

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.

Tours, Field Trips, and Special Events
Tuesday, December 11 2:00–4:00 p.m. Canada-Mexico Room

Save the date! Watch this space for more information—coming soon.

Thursday, December 13 1:00–3:00 p.m. Alaska-Mexico-Canada Room

Celebrate the holidays with your OLLI-UO friends! A fee of $10 for this event will help cover the cost of savory and sweet fare, as well as a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. Registration will open in late November. Come join the fun!

An archive of previous courses and activities is available.