Osher Online was created by the Osher National Resource Center (NRC) at Northwestern University, to expand member access, institute collaboration, sharing of resources, and ensure the legacy of all 125 Osher Institutes. These classes are delivered by the Osher NRC, and its staff will provide moderator and technical assistance.
Osher Online classes are $70 each, and available to OLLI members only.
Space is limited—please register by March 17 for spring term classes.
We hope you enjoy the opportunity to learn from premiere instructors along with OLLI members from across the nation!
Osher Online's Free Community Event is coming up on Tuesday, March 5, 4:00 p.m. Tune in with Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi as he discusses April's North American Eclipse of the Sun: How to View it Safely. Register Now!
Mondays, April 1–May 6, 8:00-9:30 a.m.
Our class on America in 60’s will ask some simple but also complex questions like: why did people rebel when they did, who rebelled and who didn’t, what came out of the rebellion, and did it cause the rise of conservative politics in the US? We will look at: Civil Rights, Vietnam, the rise of Feminism (round 2), the Green Movement (in which NU played a key part), and the exit of the traditional unionized working class from the Republican Party. We will begin with “When did the 60s start and when did they end?”
Dr. Jeff Rice is an Emeritus Senior Lecturer in Political Science. He has been at Northwestern since 1968 as an entering freshman and has been associated with the University in one way or another since then. He pursued graduate work at the University of Edinburgh in African Studies after completing a dissertation entitled "Wealth Power and Corruption: A Study of Asante Political Culture". He returned to Northwestern full time in 2001 teaching in the History and Political Science Departments and became a Weinberg College Academic Adviser. He ‘officially’ retired from that position in August 2018 and is presently teaching full time in Political Science. His courses have included West African History, History of the 60's in the U.S., Marx & Weber, Politics of Africa, Military Strategy, the Politics of Famine, Student Protest and Free Speech, and Africa in Fact, Fiction and Film and most currently a first-year class on free speech and student politics as well as a large lecture class on the politics of capitalism in contemporary America.
Tuesdays, April 2–May 7, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Within the broad field of peacebuilding scholarship, the scales are decidedly tipped to study phenomena around conflict resolution, transitional justice, and third-party interventions ~ most of them at the hands of diplomats and politicians. While these areas represent legitimate efforts to negotiate treaties and monitor compliance between state actors, history has shown the Sisyphean nature of these approaches in terms of implementation and securing sustainable peace.
What has drawn far less attention are the valiant and courageous efforts of peace builders on the ground who are working in unimaginable circumstances, and in many cases in partnership or cooperation with sworn enemies. This course will examine the elements of a construct known as “positive peace,” which can and does exist even in areas where conflict continues (such as the Middle East) through the lens of peace activists working on the ground. The six-week program will include a mix of background reading, video, faculty presentations and small-group interaction.
Dr. Aleen Bayard has been a long-time adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University, teaching courses in leadership and change management in the School of Professional Studies (SPS) as well as Kellogg’s Center for Nonprofit Management. Dr. Bayard served as the primary faculty member in Northwestern’s partnership with Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership to develop the curriculum for the Certificate in Jewish Leadership and taught in the program for several years. She holds degrees from Stanford University, Columbia University and Northwestern University and earned her doctorate from the Center in Values Driven Leadership at Benedictine University where she studied peacebuilding. Dr. Bayard is the Vice Chair of the Leadership for Peace group of the International Leadership Association and has published two book chapters on peacebuilding. In addition to her academic credentials, Dr. Bayard works with organizations through her consulting practice developing programs on leadership, culture, employee engagement and team performance.
Tuesdays, April 2–May 7, Noon-1:30 p.m.
Chemistry abounds in the real world, but few reactions in chemistry feel quite as intimate as those taking place inside our bodies. In this class, we’ll learn about the molecules we eat and why we need them, as well as learning why nutritional research sometimes seems so confusing and fraught, as though scientists can’t make up their minds. We’ll also explore the science behind popular diets, learn how food molecules fuel our activities, and tackle what some of the latest science is revealing about the importance of the microbiome.
Kjir Hendrickson is a Teaching Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University; they hold a PhD in chemistry and are the author of the textbook “Chemistry in the World.” Their academic work focuses on science communication, the reciprocal relationship between science and society, and matters of workplace climate and DEIJ in STEM.
Wednesdays, April 3–May 8, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Explanation and discussion of more fascinating themes in philosophy—another philosophy buffet! Topics include spirituality, religion and human rights, philosophy of sports and fitness, the process of belief formation, civil discourse, and philosophy of humor. What is spirituality and can it be trusted? Is religion good or bad for human rights? Why do so many people love sports? How do people come to believe things? How can we have respectful conversations with people who disagree with us about things that matter? And finally, what is humor and how does it work? Themes in Philosophy 1 and 2 are not prerequisites.
Dr. David E. Smith grew up in the world of fundamentalist religion. As an adult he gradually moved away from that worldview and became a religious progressive/skeptic. After earning an M.A. in philosophy of religion, he received a second M.A. and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Formerly a full-time philosophy and religious studies faculty member at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, he now teaches for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Washington and offers independent seminars and personal consultations in comparative religion and philosophy. He has published widely in these areas, as well. His mission is to empower people to think well for themselves about things that matter.
Thursdays, April 4–May 9, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Navigating the online marketplace can indeed be challenging. Unfortunately, e-commerce tips the advantage away from the consumer towards very sophisticated marketers. Whether dealing with a small business on Main Street or a giant firm on Madison Avenue, it is difficult to know who to trust or how to discern a true bargain from a real rip-off. So, how do you sort fact from fiction and take control of your purchasing power? Most importantly, how do you protect yourself from being duped out of money or worse, having your identity or account information stolen by hackers? In this course, we will cover critical aspects of being both a transactional and a relational shopper. We will discuss factors that can affect information perceptions and good buying decisions. And we’ll offer a variety of resources to enhance your ability to make safe, sharp, and savvy purchasing decisions with sellers you can trust. You will hear from expert speakers, learn about valuable resources, and engage in helpful discussion. Being a Capable Consumer will change how you respond to social media messages and how you approach online shopping experiences for products and services big and small. You’ll gain confidence and clarity through six enlightening discussions.
Susan Adams Loyd is Chief Executive Officer of Better Business Bureau Serving Minnesota & North Dakota. Ms. Loyd is regarded as an expert relevant to ethical business practices, customer service strategies and consumer protection. She is passionate about educating buyers to be astute in their purchasing decisions and particularly in protecting themselves from fraud and deception. She is a frequent contributor to the media and panel discussions on factors that make certain consumers more at-risk. In her series The Capable Consumer, she teaches empowering techniques and practical tips to safeguard one’s identity and financial assets and to bolster acumen in knowing who to trust, especially in this online world.
Thursdays, April 4–May 9, 8:00-9:30 a.m.
Welcome to ‘Psychology Fundamentals: A 101 Overview’, an introductory course designed to provide a broad, yet insightful glimpse into different areas of psychology. We will learn more about how psychology can help us understand humans’ individual personalities, as well as group dynamics. We are going to look at the influence of geography on psychology, as well as what psychology can learn by becoming more cross-cultural. Whether this is your first step into the world of psychology, or you are looking to deepen your existing knowledge, the discussions around classic studies, as well as the presentation of novel research findings, promise something new and exciting for everyone.
Andrés Gvirtz, PhD is an Assistant Professor at King‘s College London, University of London. His research aims to improve our understanding of behavior by combining personality data (who somebody is) with spatial information (where somebody is). Additionally, he is a Research Affiliate at the King's Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
Before joining King’s College London, he was a supervisor for Marketing and Organizational Behavior at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and taught Psychometrics at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, where he was nominated for the Student Led Teaching Awards. At King’s, he has been awarded an Innovation Education Fund, shortlisted for the Dean’s Awards (Teaching) and nominated for the King’s Education Awards.
Andrés holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Cambridge and was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Business School. Previously, he received a MPhil in Psychology (University of Cambridge) and a BA in Economics and Psychology (Clark University)
Fridays, April 5–May 10, 8:00-9:30 a.m.
American writer Patricia Highsmith first published The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1955. The story is told from the point of view of Tom Ripley, a man who is young, clever, and has a knack for fraud. A case of mistaken identity earns him a ticket abroad to a scenic coastal village in Italy, a far cry from his hardscrabble life in New York City. He soon becomes obsessed with Dickie Greenleaf, heir to a shipbuilding fortune and embarks on a series of deceitful and sinister acts that beget more of the same. Highsmith’s story builds its suspense as the reader traverses Tom’s physical and psychological journey through an affluent world too obtuse to recognize the extent to which he is a threat. The Talented Mr. Ripley has been adapted from book to screen multiple times, with the most notable being the 1999 film directed by Anthony Minghella, starring Matt Damon and Jude Law. Such is the influence of the story that it has invited comparison to the 2023 film Saltburn, whose main character commits a similar subterfuge on a wealthy British family over the course of a summer in their country castle. As stories of frauds and scammers endure across popular media, Tom Ripley’s is one that confronts the reader to examine how far they would go to gain access into a world whose entry requires reinventing oneself to the point of moral collapse. In this course, we will study the Highsmith novel as well as the 1999 film adaptation. We’ll close out the course with a discussion of Saltburn, which is indebted to the novel.
Dr. Heather Brown has a PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from Hollins University, in Roanoke, Virginia. She’s been designing and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses since 2004, including those in academic writing, English literature, language and linguistics, women’s literature, feminist theory and criticism, and rhetorical theory and criticism. In 2013, Dr. Brown transitioned from teaching courses face-to-face to hybrid and online delivery. She liked it so much that she wanted to learn how to design for eLearning, so she began working as a Learning Designer primarily serving graduate and professional studies programs in not-for-profit higher education institutions and library training organizations, and most recently the Northwestern University School of Professional Studies Office of Distance Learning. Since 2013, Dr. Brown has been an Adjunct Associate Professor of Academic Writing at the University of Maryland Global Campus, one of the largest distance-learning institutions in the world, where over a third of the students are Black and African-American and the University serves more than 55,000 military-affiliated students worldwide. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Professor of English at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey from 2010-2013, where she served as the Associate Director of Academic Writing and Co-Director of the Gender Studies Program.
Wednesdays, April 10–May 15, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Much research is currently being done on how humans and animals communicate and interact with one another. There are institutes at universities, books to read, as well as articles online about what your dog’s facial expression means or what your cat’s scratching behavior might indicate. Researchers such as Jane Goodall and Temple Grandin (to name just a few) live with and can tell us how animals experience the same emotions and what their thoughts might be. The perceived intelligence level of animals has repeatedly increased as the research continues, and we are able to learn more about animals and their life practices. Ethical farming practices, as well as everyday training for our domestic animals reflect that animals have many of the same basic needs and wants that we as humans have. The interesting practice is how that comes out in our everyday lives – all the way from what we eat to how we interact with our household pets. In this course, we will talk about and understand the latest research, what that means for human beings, and how this will continue to affect our co-existence in the future. This course will have a heavy student discussion component, coupled with lecture and media.
Dr. Jennifer (Jen) Baker’s expertise is in the interdependence of communication theory and practice, where she strives to help others find true self-awareness and confidence in their communication and interaction with others. She has been teaching communication courses for over 20 years, starting at the University of Texas at Austin, moving onto the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and now at Columbia College Chicago and Northwestern University. Baker has worked at a marketing company, an engineering firm, and a variety of educational institutions. Additionally, she has founded an inner-city high school speech and debate team, assisted with photography and animation in independent films, and produced a radio show on communication.
Courses taught include Theories of Persuasion, Business Communication, Collective Decision-Making and Communication in Organizations, Strategic Communication, Using Data to Make Informed Decisions, Professional Communication Skills, My Professional Persona, Leading from Design - as well as Theories of Relational Communication, Mad-Sad-Glad: Our Emotional Culture, and Human-Animal Communication. Her most current course was about Communication during COVID. She teaches practicum courses where she is able to champion both the theory of communication and the practical nature of interaction in organizations through the experiential learning model. In her workspace, she has been awarded the SPS Distinguished Teaching Award and has been called the happiest professor that a student has ever known.
Thursdays, April 11–May 16, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Since its inception, baseball has impacted race, politics, economics, and culture both in the United States and around the world. In this survey course we will analyze the evolution of the sport of baseball, as well as the modern game with its emphasis on data and scouting.
Katie Krall is a Senior Product Manager of Baseball Strategy at Hawk-Eye Innovations, a division of Sony Sports Business. She spearheads the development of new products that leverage biomechanics, player tracking, bat, and ball flight data. Krall spent 2022 as a Development Coach with the Boston Red Sox where she oversaw pitch design, advance scouting and integrating data into player plans. This was her first season in uniform and coaching 1st base wearing #43. She previously was part of the Global Strategy team at Google focusing on Google Workspace after two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds as a Baseball Operations Analyst, a position that combined the worlds of roster construction, analytics, and scouting. After graduating from Northwestern University, Krall worked for a year and a half at Major League Baseball in the Commissioner’s Office in New York City as a League Economics & Operations Coordinator. At MLB, Krall advised Clubs on 40-man roster management, MLB rules and compliance, major league administration, and salary arbitration. In 2016, Krall planned the World Series Trophy Tour for the Chicago Cubs. The previous summer, she was an Assistant General Manager in the Cape Cod Baseball League. She received her MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in June 2022. In fall 2023 she will be Adjunct Faculty in Northwestern’s Masters of Sports Administration Program teaching Sports Business: Finance, Accounting, and Economics.
Fridays, April 12–May 17, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The Intersection of Maps and History is a six-week course in cartographic history and visual analysis featuring the extensive (and largely digitized) cartographic collections of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine. Co-taught by the Osher Map Library's Executive Director, Faculty Scholar, and Reference and Teaching Librarian, this visually-rich online course will introduce participants to the history of cartography as a discipline and engage in deep visual analysis of maps and related ephemera. Over the course of our semester, we invite participants to take a deep dive with us into topics at the intersection of maps and history, such as: the History of Cartography project; Schoolgirl maps of the early-19th century; the History of Mapping in Color; City, Town, and County maps and genealogical research; Mapping and World War I; 20th Century Pictorial Maps, and more. Each session will feature an engaging illustrated topical lecture, and a lively Q and A session with the instructors. If you ever wanted to know more about how historic maps can serve as an illuminating window into historical eras, events, and topics, this is the class for you.
Dr. Libby Bischof is Executive Director of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education and Professor of History and University Historian at the University of Southern Maine. A visual and cultural historian of the 19th and 20th centuries, Bischof is interested in the ways in which friendship informs cultural production, especially in relation to landscape and place. A public historian, Bischof believes deeply in site-based, hands-on education, and the ways in which teaching local and regional history can lead to deeper civic engagement. She frequently lectures to public audiences throughout New England, and serves on the board of the New England Historical Association and as President of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium.
Dr. Matthew Edney is Osher Professor in the History of Cartography, Osher Map Library Faculty Scholar, and Professor of Geography at the University of Southern Maine, and director, History of Cartography Project, University of Wisconsin–Madison. He edited, with Mary Pedley, Cartography in the European Enlightenment (2019), volume four of The History of Cartography. He is broadly interested in early modern and modern mapping practices, especially in imperial contexts (Mapping an Empire ), and in the conceptual foundations of mapping and map history. His most recent book is Cartography: The Ideal and Its History (Chicago, 2019). He blogs at mappingasprocess.net.
Louis Miller is the Cartographic Reference and Teaching Librarian at the University of Southern Maine’s Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education. Prior to his current role he worked for five years at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, primarily with the manuscript, graphics, and map collections. He published his research article "'Honor For All'? Commemoration of the First World War in Kalamazoo," in volume 45, no. 2 of the Michigan Historical Review (Fall 2019) and continues to work on a larger project focusing on mourning and loss in the American Expeditionary Forces.
Thursdays, April 18–May 23, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for decades, but suddenly it seems to be everywhere. Whether we like AI, fear it, or try to ignore it, our lives and livelihoods will be changed forever by intelligent chatbots, self-driving vehicles, surveillance drones, precision medicine, robotic art and more. In six jargon-free class sessions, this course aims to help regular people understand modern AI. No experience with computers or programming is required, nor expected.
Course sessions will cover the past and future of AI, why older forms of AI failed to deliver, and where modern AI and self-guided robots are headed. The human elements of AI will be discussed throughout, including its impact on jobs and AI’s potential to both help and harm us.
This course will be co-taught by Dr. Hod Lipson, Professor of Engineering and Data Science at Columbia University and author and technology analyst Melba Kurman. At Columbia, Hod directs the ;Creative Machines Lab, where he and his students design and build artificially intelligent robots that can make new robots, paint original art, and physically express human-like emotions. Hod is one of the world's most-cited academic roboticists and his playful, innovative approach to artificial intelligence has been featured in the New York Times, Quanta, NPR, and TED. In the past, Melba worked at Microsoft, Cornell University and at a variety of technology start-ups. Melba and Hod are frequently invited to speak about technology issues and are the co-authors of two popular technology books, “Driverless” and “Fabricated: the promise and peril of 3D printing.” They divide their time between New York City and the Berkshires.
Saturdays, April 20–May 25, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Everyone has a story to tell and one way to tell it is through writing a memoir. Memoir is a subgenre of creative nonfiction that can be book or essay-length; it captures a slice of the writer’s life, is written from the personal and reflective perspective of the writer, and uses the techniques of creative writing, such as voice, sensory detail, scene, dialogue, and more. This course will guide you in the discovery of the story you want to tell, help you develop your story-telling skills, and provide strategies, tips, and tools to get you started on your story. Through reading excerpts of published memoirs as examples of craft, completing a series of targeted writing exercises, and sharing your writing output with your fellow writers, you will locate your story and begin your memoir.
Lisa Stolley is a creative and professional writer, and an English professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies. Her fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Florida Review, Passages North, Other Voices, Washington Review, and others. She is a recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Program for Writers at University of Illinois, Chicago.
Tuesdays, April 23–May 28, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Writer and director Billy Wilder told his cinematic stories for over 50 years. A Jewish émigré from Germany, he brought his considerable talents, creativity, and insight into the human condition to fruition in a prolific career in Hollywood. His films run the gamut – from hard-edged noir thrillers to intimate exploration of the human psyche, to the fraught nature of personal relationships, to the divine silliness of screwball comedy. His stories are told with verve and a keen sense of history, place, and American culture. He was a proponent of good fiction well told and an adversary of “fancy schmancy” camera work. We will meet Billy Wilder by exploring a variety of his films against the backdrop of the social and cultural movements which informed his body of work, seeking a perspective from a selection of Billy Wilder’s corpus of films as they are risen from and relate to American culture and an appreciation of good cinematic storytelling told by a master.
Additional information: Except for the documentary Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood, all films on the syllabus are available to stream from Amazon Prime Video. Some of the films may also be found on other streaming sites. Also, the DVDs may be available to borrow from your local libraries, including the documentary above-mentioned. Films should be viewed prior to the class meeting in which each film will be discussed, if possible. Even if you have seen a film before, please try to watch it again closer to the class session in which it will be discussed.
Roberta Rotman is retired after 16 years at Northwestern University, where she was the Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Radio/TV/Film Department of the School of School of Communication, teaching courses in that department and for the School of Professional Studies. Prior to joining the faculty at Northwestern, she taught at the University of Pennsylvania for 13 years, as well as in the Penn-in-London program and at Marymount Manhattan College in New York. Her scholarly work and teaching mainly focus on the transformation of literary works into the visual and performing arts of film and theatre. This emphasis flows from her earlier work as a professional actor in Chicago and her graduate degree in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Her interests also include the portrayal on film of other forms of media and the cultural implications of those views over time. In her research she has explored novel-to-film translation, audience reception of plays in performance, dramatization of history on screen and stage, cross-dressing and gender bending in film and theatre, and the tension between text and music in the early English opera libretto.