Santa Clara University

Osher Lifelong Learning

Fall 2008


  • Reexamining 1968
  • The Law of Crime and Punishment
  • Shia Islam
  • A Biblical Spirituality of Aging: Growing Young Grace-fully
  • Hinduism: The Unending Tradition
  • The Art of the Narrative
  • The High Cost of Food
  • Film Odyssey
  • History of the Crusades


  • Steinbeck's Short Stories
  • The Armchair Traveler Goes Into Orbit!
  • Finding Your Calling in This Season of Life
  • American Dreamers
  • Faith Seeking Understanding
  • Mars and Earth-- Distant Reflections
  • Behind the Scenes of Execution of Justice


Reexamining 1968--taught by Jane Curry
What happened in 1968 has a direct relevance to events today (most obviously the Children's Crusade for McCarthy and the current ardor for Obama).  In this class Curry will talk about issues such as how people organize and work for change (social mobilization) and what makes people go to the streets, why the Vietnam War drew such fury, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Prague Spring, and the upheavals in Germany. 

The Law of Crime and Punishment--taught by Mike Willemsen
The class will consider the theories of the causes of crime and proposals for reducing crime.  Following a summary of criminal procedure, we will discuss the elements of the most serious crimes--homicide, rape, kidnapping, and robbery-- and the defenses to crimes, such as insanity, consent, and self-defense.  Finally we will consider major sentencing issues, such as the death penalty, the three strike law, and the sex offenders registration law.  There should be about one class period to take up other issues that are of particular interest to the class. 

Shia Islam--taught by David Pinault
This course focuses on the Shia denomination of Islam.  Topics of discussion will include: the early history of Islam and the historical origins of Sunnism and Shiism; the evolution of "Twelver" Shiism (the predominant form of Shia Islam), with consideration of doctrines relating to the hidden Imam, the Mahdi, and the Day of Judgment; Martyrdom, the Battle of Karbala, and the role of lamentation rituals in shaping Shia communal identity; points of intersection between Shia devotional piety and Sufi mysticism, with examination of poetry that reflects the blending of Shia and Sufi motifs; Shiism and the visual arts:  posters, shrine paintings, and calligraphic talismans as a gauge of popular religious culture; and Shiism as a political force in the contemporary Islamic world, with special attention to Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.

A Biblical Spirituality of Aging: Growing Young Grace-fully--taught by Joseph & Carolyn Grassi
"Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus

A key of the "fountain of perpetual youth" is the ability to re-experience the child/youth within us.  A prime characteristic of children is their ability to play.  "Play" does not mean only games or sport.  It involves everything we engage in primarily for pleasure more than for any utilitarian motive.  The activity may also be work, study, service of others, relationships, etc.  One test is to ask, "Would I much rather do something else or be somewhere else?"  The class itself will be "play-full," using dance, song, meditation, art, etc.

Hinduism:  The Unending Tradition --  taught by David B. Gray
This course will introduce the religion of Hinduism, better known as the Santana-dharma, the "unending tradition."  We will begin with the ancient roots of the Hindu tradition, in India of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE, and then will move through time, covering the major trends of Hindu belief and practice.  We will end in the contemporary period, with a look at Gandhi's application of Hindu theology in the development of a non-violent approach of resistance to tyranny. 

The Art of the Narrative--taught by Paul McHugh
Writer Paul McHugh helps class members take personal ownership of the ancient craft of story-telling, and make it an important, entertaining and enduring part of everyday life.  The five sessions include: 1) Word Power- the launch of language, the well of writing, and the birth of story-telling; 2) A Novel Life- discovering the drama in your individual and family narratives; 3) Tale-teller's Toolkit-plot, character, scene, voice and essential elements of stories; 4) Craft of Construction-art in story assembly; 5) Spinning the Yarn-secrets of well-spoken narratives. 

High Cost of Food--taught by Bill Eisinger
Since WWII we have had a "cheap food policy" in the United States.  That is, the government has subsidized farmers for growing basic foods and encouraged fortification of flour with vitamins and minerals.  This was seen as a food safety net to keep the poor well fed and healthy.  However, "cheap food" is gone forever because of a number of complicated factors.  For example, intensive agriculture that produces our food is strongly dependent upon petroleum for powering tractors, making nitrogen fertilizer and drying grain.  Each year the cost of food becomes more closely linked to the escalating price of petroleum.  Ironically, the high price of petroleum is increasing demand for biofuels that often compete directly with food production, further driving up food prices.  In addition, as the developing world emerges from poverty and people become more "Western" in their tastes they demand milk and meat instead of their largely vegetarian diet.  This greatly increases the demand for grain because several pounds of grain are required to produce a pound of milk or meat.  Although high grain prices have revitalized the American agricultural Midwest, the impact on the world's poor could be devastating.  The question remains-how can we make food affordable once again?

Film Odyssey: The Films of the Fifties--taught by Mark Larson
Please join your host filmmaker Mark Larson for a new round of classic films from that amazing decade.  We will be seeing Some Came Running (Minnelli), 12 Angry Men (Lumet), Ruby Gentry (Vidor), I Love Melvin (Weis), and Rear Window (Hitchcock). 

History of the Crusades--taught by Thomas Turley
This course will consider the causes and consequences of a powerful religious and military movement that swept Western Europe in the late eleventh century.  The success of the First Crusade in capturing the holy city of Jerusalem profoundly altered western Christians' understanding of themselves and their society, and made the crusade of definitive aspect of European culture for the next five centuries.  The course will explore not only the crusades themselves, but their contribution to alterations in European society and thought that helped bring about the modern world.


Steinbeck's Short Stories--taught by Kevin Hearle
This short course will offer an introduction to John Steinbeck's wonderful short stories.  After brief lectures, describing both Steinbeck's early career as a writer and his short story cycle novel The Pastures of Heaven, each week we will focus discussion on three stories from The Long Valley.  On September 23rd, we will discuss Steinbeck's suite of short stories about marriage: "The Chrysanthemums," "The White Quail," and "The Harness." On September 30th, we'll discuss "The Raid," "The Vigilante" and "Johnny Bear."  These stories testify to Steinbeck's remarkable skill as a short story writer and offer interesting glimpses into themes he would develop further in his later work. 

The Armchair Traveler Goes Into Orbit!--taught by David Shortt
Enjoy a journey to the final frontier.  From Earth's orbit to the far reaches of intergalactic space, this course will survey the explosion of knowledge and understanding made possible over the last few decades through beautiful images taken by sophisticated ground-based telescopes as well as space telescopes, satellites, and planetary probes.  From space we'll explore the Earth, Moon and planets as seen by robotic spacecraft and learn how the Earth's environment has shaped its past and will affect its future.  We'll visit nearby stars, solar systems, star clusters and nebulae within the Milky Way galaxy to understand the birth, life and death of stars, including neutron stars and black holes.  Finally we'll take leave of the Milky Way and explore the vast, expanding cosmic web of galaxies, dark matter and energy which make up the larger cosmos. 

Finding Your Calling in this Season of Life-- taught by Diane Dreher
Each season of life from early adulthood though retirement offers new opportunities to discover your calling to ask, "what brings me joy?" "What is my purpose now?" This class offers insights from Renaissance lives, developmental psychology, and Ignatian spirituality to help you discover your gifts and discern new possibilities for this season if life.

American Dreamers: The 2008 Election from a Dreaming Perspective--taught by Kelly Bulkeley
This course will consider the U.S. Presidential election from an unusual angle--people's dreams, not just their metaphorical aspirations for the future, but their actual dreams from sleeping at night. Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, author of American Dreamers: What Dreams Tells Us about the Political Psychology of Conservatives, Liberals, and Everyone Else will describe the latest findings of scientific dream research and then use those findings to analyze the psychological dynamics of the 20008 election campaign. Dr. Bulkeley's non-partisan approach aims to hilling the strengths, virtues, and ideals of both conservatives and liberals  as well as illuminating their unconscious conflicts and fears, and pointing out possibilities for integration. The class will include ample time for discussion of such issues as religion, economics,the environment, the war in Iraq, and "family values," and students will be encouraged to share their insights and perspectives. Dr. Bulkeley's research  is grounded in the study of long-term dream journals from ten  volunteers who come from a variety of backgrounds (e.g., a soldier, a teacher,a rancher, a former priest), and students in the class will be give the opportunity to explore their dreams and offer their own interpretations.

Faith Seeking Understanding:Three Philosophers Argue for God--taught by James Felt, S.J..
How does Christian faith relate to reason, and what can be expected (and not expected) from purely philosophical arguments for God's existence? We shall briefly illustrate these questions in three Christian thinkers: St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz.

Mars and Earth-Distant Reflections--taught by Andy Gonzales
Mars has fascinated earthlings for many years. Questions regarding the existence of water and life on Mars have been the subject to science fiction stories and science fact investigations. Mars and Earth may be distant reflections of one another. If there was water on the surface of Mars at some time, where is it now? Living organisms require water so could there have been life on Mars at some time, or could there be life present now? If there was/is water/life on Mars, what does that say about Earth- why are these planets different or the same and where are both places headed? We'll look at how NASA and other space agencies have approached these questions over the last 30 years, discuss some interesting results, and describe what may happen next.

Behind the Scenes of Execution of Justice-- taught by Barbara Means Fraser
Execution of Justice is an award-winning ensemble play by Emily Mann chronicling the case of the People vs. Dan White. White assassinated openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone in November 1978.

In the play, the trial itself is on trial in the court of the theater and is found guilty of a miscarriage of justice paralleling the actual case which resulted in White being convicted of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, rather than two counts of first-degree murder, and sentenced to less than eight years. The play references the urban legend that White's defense strategy was primarily the so-called "Twinkie defense"-- painting his junk food consumption as a significant , or even in some versions, the soul cause of his actions. The trial polarized San Francisco as White had just resigned as a city Supervisor himself, was an Army veteran, and had been a policeman and a fireman.

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