Santa Clara University

Osher Lifelong Learning

Fall 2007 


  • China in Revolution: The People’s Republic
  • Decline of Literacy in American Schools and Colleges: 1965 to Present
  • Film Odyssey/The Son of Films from the Fifties
  • Gospel of John
  • Alternative Energy
  • History of Electricity and Magnetism: From Greek Amber to Edison’s Light Bulb
  • The Emergence of a World Power: The United States from 1900-1945
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the US after 9-11


  • Spirituality and Neuroscience
  • Growing Up and Growing Old in Contemporary American Short Stories
  • Compassion in Action: Skills and Strategies for the Helping Journey
  • Fuente Ovejuna (of the Sheep’s Well)
  • Fuente Ovejuna THE PLAY
  • Economic Policy for Social Well-Being
  • Introduction to Crossword Puzzle Solving 2.0
  • I am Charlotte Simmons and the College Generation Today


China in Revolution--taught by Allison Rottman
This class continues the series called China in Revolution, which explores topics in 20th century Chinese history.  The course will introduce students to life in the People’s Republic of China since its founding in 1949, when the reunited nation declared that it had “stood up” after more than a century of “national humiliation.”  We will discuss the 1950s, including land and marriage reform; the 1960s, with emphasis on the Cultural Revolution; the post-Mao years of economic reform; and topics concerning China today.  Throughout, we will consider the social and political tensions between the forces of modernization and revolutionary socialism.


Decline of Literacy in American Schools and Colleges: 1965 to  Present--taught by Allison Rottman
Following a surge in national school achievement in the late 1950s and early 1960s, scores on standardized tests like the SAT-Verbal plummeted.  By the mid-1970s, works like Newsweek’s Why Johnny Can’t Write, Paul Copperman’s Literacy Hoax, and Frank Armbruster’s Our Children’s Crippled Future announced a school crisis highlighting the dangers of a sharp decline in Americans’ reading and writing abilities.  A Nation at Risk (1983) applied such findings to our loss in economic competitiveness, in the early 2000s.  This course will investigate the causes of the decline in literacy, explore why reforms have generally made little dent, and push bravely on to consider what reforms now stand the best chance of improving students’ reading and writing abilities significantly.



Film Odyssey/The Son of Films from the Fifties--taught by Allison Rottman
It’s back!  Just when you thought it was safe to go to the movies—The Films of the Fifties class is back—showing the best of the most incredible decade in world filmmaking.  Join filmmaker and historian Mark Larson for five great films and a lively discussion.  Films will include—Monkey Business (Hawks), Artists and Models (Tashlin), The Bigamist (Lupino), China Doll (Borzage) and Curse of the Demon (Tourneur).


Gospel of John--taught by janet Giddings
This course will be a rigorous exegesis of this exciting and troublesome document.  Our methodology will include literary, theological, historical and other social-scientific critical analyses of this gospel.  We will have spirited discussions on the distinctive features of John’s community, the angry ‘act’ of Jesus in the ‘Cleansing of the Temple’ scene, and especially the anti-Judaism that has made this text both troublesome and controversial throughout history.  The teaching style will be interactive lectures and visuals through the use of technology.


Alternative Energy--taught by Allison Rottman
“World demand for energy is projected to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by the end of the century...finding sufficient supplies of clean energy for the future is one of society’s most daunting challenges.”  Basic Research Needs for Solar Energy Utilization, Report on the Basic Energy Sciences Workshop on Solar Energy Utilization

And so, alternative energy, especially in sustainable renewable forms, is a topic of considerable interest in today’s world.  This class will provide an introduction to such alternative energy systems including those utilizing solar technologies.  The discussion will focus on how the technologies work to provide electrical power today and the participants will get a glimpse of the capabilities foreseen for the future and a few of the basic research needs.


History of Electricity and Magnetism: From Greek Amber to Edison's Light Bulbght--taught by Bill Pezzaglia
An exploration of the underlying philosophy of electromagnetic phenomena from a historical perspective specific topics include: 1) Benjamin Franklin and the nature of electric charge; 2) Magnets and Sturgeon’s Electromagnet; 3) Michael Faraday’s electric motor and generator;  4) James Maxwell’s unification of electricity and magnetism; 5) Nikola Tesla and radio waves.

The Emergence of a World Power: The United States from 1900-1945--taught by Brigitte Charaus
This is the first of a two part American History survey which will explore topics in 20th century United States History.  This course will introduce students to the emergence of the United States as an imperial power in the early 20th century, the growth of the United States as an industrial power, the Roaring 20s and the impact of the Great Depression on American society, and finally the involvement of America in two world wars and their impact on American society.


Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the United States after 9/11--taught by Margaret Russell
Since the attacks of 9/11, civil liberties and civil rights in the United States have been viewed through the lens of national security.  Some have argued that individual liberties must be subordinate to national security; others contend that the constitution demands that freedom and safety must be balanced as part of a broader social justice framework.  This course provides an overview of the major issues addressed in constitutional law and public policy since 9/11, as well as an invitation to open dialogue and critique from a diverse range of perspectives.  Topics to be covered include: the USA Patriot Act; anti-terrorism prosecutions; treatment of certain racial, religious, ethnic, and political minorities as part of anti-terrorism measures; freedom of political and religious expression.





Spirituality and Neuroscience: New Potentials--taught by Kelly Bulkeley
In recent years there has been an explosion of new research into the relationship between human spirituality and the evolved brain-mind system.  This course will explore the latest developments in this exciting and controversial field, seeking new ways of understanding both traditional religious beliefs and cutting-edge scientific discoveries.  Although some scholars see a battle here between religion and science, the approach in this course will avoid either-or conflicts and look instead for areas of possible agreement and integration.  Topics to be discussed include meditation, prayer, mysticism, ritual, creativity, dreams and visions, the “placebo effect,” neuroplasticity, mental illness, rationality, and religious pluralism.


Growing Up and Growing Old in Contemporary American Short Stories--taught by Marilyn Edelstein
We will read and discuss a quartet of wonderful short stories by contemporary American writers, focusing on the ways in which they explore the journeys from adolescence to young adulthood and from adulthood to old age.  The stories we will read are John Updike’s classic coming-of-age story A&P, Tillie Olsen’s Tell Me a Riddle (a moving story of an old woman reflecting on her life and family), Helena Maria Viramontes’ The Moths (an affecting and magical story of a girl and her grandmother), and one other story TBD.  Readings will be distributed to students in advance of the first class.


Compassion in Action: Skills and Strategies for the Helping Journey--taught by Dale Larson
Our helping journeys both reflect and shape who we are and who we become.  This course, designed for professionals, volunteers, and family caregivers who assist clients and loved ones, looks at the challenges and rewards of the helping journey and presents effective strategies for managing stress and enhancing personal growth while caring for others.  We will explore many key issues at the heart of this journey: the altruism-empathy-helping connection; how empathy and helping motivations are both virtues and points of vulnerability; the challenge of putting empathy to work without burning out; how to avoid the Helper’s Pit and other hazards of helping; the role of unrealistic self-expectations as internal stressors and helper secrets; the rewards of helping and care-giving; resilience and renewal on the helping journey.  This course brings together recent research and theory addressing these issues and offers a unique opportunity for reflection, skill development, and rejuvenation on your helping journey.


Fuente Ovejuna (or the Sheep's Well)--taught by Fred Tollini
The Theatre Department will offer the play Fuente Ovejuna November 2-10.  Written by Lope de Vega during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, this story romance revolves around the actions of a woman who stirred a whole sleepy town to revolt against an abusive overlord.  The director, Fr. Fred Tollini, who has wanted to do this play for years, will discuss the play and its staging with OLLI members on the Saturday before a performance the Sunday matinee—the time set for bull fights!

Economic Policy for Social Well-Being--taught by Fred Foldvary
The three criteria that most people seek in an economy are efficiency, equity, and sustainability.  Efficiency implies maximum prosperity, with a minimum of economic waste.  Equity means a just distribution of wealth and income.  Sustainability means that we do not create worse conditions for future generations.  This class will study the economic principles that create maximum prosperity, looking at how government and markets interact, and what policies would minimize social problems such as poverty, crime, and traffic congestion.  We will also analyze the relationship between ethics and economics to understand how we can have equity without sacrificing prosperity.  The class will examine environmental policy to understand what policies will enable us to have a sustainable economy that minimizes pollution and other environmental damage.  Finally, we will investigate how we can apply economics to our own personal lives and in our participation in social and political life.

Introduction to Crossword Solving 2.0--taught by Bryon Walden
Back by popular demand, this class will continue the discussion of how crosswords are constructed and what to look for as you begin to fill in the squares.  We’ll discuss how to identify themes and how to figure out tricky clues.  We’ll also learn the conventions that puzzle editors use that can help you become a better solver.  Whether you’re a newcomer to crossword puzzles or an aficionado, you’re cordially invited to a class for people who find wordplay engrossing and entertaining.  The class will include a screening of Wordplay (a short documentary about those who make crossword puzzles and those who do them) in which Professor Walden has a cameo appearance.  Come and enjoy a delightful afternoon playing with words.



I am Charlotte Simmons and the College Generation Today—taught by Megan Williams
Tom Wolfe’s novel I am Charlotte Simmons is the primary text for the class.  Wolfe’s work is an attempt to capture the dominant culture of college life through several representative fictional characters.  A writer in his seventies, Wolfe lived at several American universities across the country to research the college experience today.  He depicts campus life as a singularly unintellectual environment where individuals dedicate themselves to “hooking up,” getting wasted, and preparing for the NBA.  Wolfe paints quite a different picture from Neil Howe and William Strauss’ conception in Millennials Rising of “the next great generation” that will emerge as civic leaders to address the mistakes made by previous generations.  As we examine I am Charlotte Simmons critically, we shall pay particular attention to the concept of generational identity—discussing what it means for Wolfe, a member of the “silent generation,” to describe the reality of the millennial college experience.
Date: Monday, Nov. 26 & Dec. 3
4:00 pm-6:00 pm
O’Connor, room 105
Cost: $20

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