Santa Clara University

Osher Lifelong Learning

Fall 2009


  • Western Civilization I: Experiment in Democracy
  • Joy For All Ages:  Luke’s Gospel in Our Lives
  • Film Odyssey: Films of the Fifties
  • Democratization and How Countries Change
  • Social Networking
  • Western Civilization II: Is a Clash of Cultures Between East and West Inevitable?
  • Sex & the Law
  • Living Narratives: The Art of the Short Memoir
  • “What Do You Know?” A First Exploration of Sensing and Knowing


  • Finding Your Calling in This Season of Life
  • The Tenors of Gilbert & Sullivan
  • Behind the Scenes of “The Saint Play”
  • Gaza, History of Defiance and Survival
  • Creating Audio Christmas Greetings


Western Civilization for Adults: Do you believe that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it?”  Western Civilization for Adults is a new series of classes designed for those who want to revisit the foundations of Western Civilization to see what political, military, philosophical, and religious lessons we can learn from the past. Over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year OLLI@SCU will offer a survey of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and Medieval Europe. Each class is designed to stand alone—no prerequisites are necessary.  Sign up for the classes that interest you and that fit into your schedule.  This fall Dr. Dorothea French will be teaching the classes on Ancient Greece.

Western Civilization I: Experiment in Democracy —taught by Dorothea French
In this class we’ll study the Athenian experiment in democracy that resulted in the great political, economic, artistic, and philosophical accomplishments of the Golden Age of Athens that have had a profound impact on the values and ideas that make up Western Civilization.   However, democratic Athens had a dark side that gave democracy a bad reputation among political theorists for over a thousand years.  We’ll examine the establishment of the Athenian Empire that acted as a tyranny by forcibly collecting tribute, by initiating regime changes in other city states and replacing them with democracies, and by killing and enslaving rebellious subjects.  Her growing power and arrogance made her feared by Sparta and her allies, and resulted in a disastrous war that ultimately resulted in the loss of Greek freedom to the Macedonians. What lessons can we learn about the strengths and weaknesses of democracy by examining the Athenian experiment in democracy?


Joy For All Ages:  Luke’s Gospel in Our Lives —taught by Joseph and Carolyn Grassi
Luke's central theme is "good news of great joy for all the people" (1:10). We will read and reflect on Luke's emphasizing Christ's joy, peace, hospitality and compassionate love for each of us, as well as for the most vulnerable in our society, as the elders, the little ones, the sick, those who are disadvantaged and marginalized.  Through song, dance, meditation, shared stories and the arts, we will learn new ways and rediscover old ways of celebrating the joyful biblical message.  A welcoming ecumenical approach is offered to all in our class.   Bibliography:  “God Makes Me Laugh – A New Approach to Luke” by Joseph Grassi, published by Wipf & Stock, 2009 (reprint) and “Peace on Earth: Roots and Practices from Luke’s Gospel” by Joseph Grassi, published by Liturgical Press, 2004.


Film Odyssey—taught by Mark Larson
Join filmmaker Mark Larson in our continuing exploration of the fantastic American films of the 1950's. In this special session, the group will see and discuss The Big Heat, Imitation of Life, The Pajama Game, The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Man in Gray Flannel Suit.


Democratization and How Countries Change — taught by Jane Curry
The world has changed since 1989.  The Communist world dissolved.  Many of those countries became democracies, some more troubled than others.  In Africa and Asia, popular movements and dedicated leaders have brought more democracy.  The United States government committed to make Iraq and Afghanistan democratic models.  And, in what was the former Soviet Union, there have been two People’s Revolutions where masses demonstrated until their authoritarian leaders gave up and the opposition took over to build democracies.  Nowhere has this change been simple.  Everywhere the process and the costs have affected the rest of the world.  This class will look at the people, the process, and the issues of trying to make democracy in key countries like Poland, Ukraine, and South Africa, and its failures in Russia, Georgia, and Iraq.  This course will consider both the Bush Doctrine on democracy promotion and the new broader Obama approach.


Social Networking—taught by Mike Ballen
Keep your web browser open and your mouse ready, as Technology Specialist Mike Ballen shows you new and innovative ways to connect with family and friends in the digital age! In this "social networking" course, OSHER students will have an opportunity to create personal profiles, upload pictures and video, exchange messages, and audio and video conference using popular websites Facebook, Twitter, FlickR, YouTube, Skype, Geni, and more. This course will meet for five consecutive weeks, each class session lasting two hours. The course will be held in the state-of-the-art Multimedia Lab in the Harrington Learning Commons.  
Enrollment limited to the fist 30 sign ups.


Western Civilization II: Is a Clash of Cultures between East and West Inevitable? —taught by Dorothea French

The perceived clash of cultures between East and West is not unique to the modern world. In this class we’ll continue to explore the lessons of the past by examining the tension between the rival eastern and western cultures that goes back in Greek history to the Trojan War. The Greeks, who lived in independent city-states called poleis, saw themselves as superior to the Persians, who lived under a king.  We’ll look at both the hot and cold wars between the Greeks and Persians. We’ll examine the legacy of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian who united the Greeks under his leadership, conquered the Persian Empire, and laid the foundation for the marriage of the two cultures. We’ll end with a look at the vibrant Hellenistic civilization that emerged with the blending of Greek and Persian cultures. It was this Hellenistic culture that so captivated the Romans when the Hellenistic kingdoms fell under Roman control.

Sex & the Law—taught by Mike Willemsen
The class will consider the regulation of the sex business (pornography and prostitution), the causes of non-consensual sex crimes, and the extended confinement, and registration of sex offenders.  We will analyze both domestic partnerships and gay marriage cases, and other issues involving homosexuality, and will also discuss sex discrimination and harassment.  The final session will be focused on topics suggested by the class or new developments of interest to class members.


Living Narratives: The Art of the Short Memoir —taught by Paul McHugh
Story-telling is entirely natural for human beings. We have always organized and interpreted human experience that way. Stories are woven deeply into our minds, and into lives, and indeed into those of our ancestors, as well. When shared, stories build a legacy for generations to come. Seeds of story-telling lie latent in many individuals. This class is designed to awaken everyone’s inner narrator, and help to bring personal and family stories to light, and to life. The class will progressively reveal how to share these tales through the written and spoken word. Those who took Art of the Narrative in fall of 2008 will find new material and exercises; those eager to start will be brought gradually up to speed. For all, benefits will include: the ability to craft your own stories; better appreciation of the structure of stories you encounter through books and films; plus, a gateway into understanding how to write short and long fiction, or structure non-fiction with story-telling skills.


“What Do You Know?”  A First Exploration of Sensing and Knowing —taught by James Felt, S.J.
A philosophical exploration of what is going on as we encounter the world through our bodily senses and our mind.  What is it that we sense, and how do we sense it?  What is involved in our knowing–-that is, our understanding what we are sensing?  What is the relation of knowing to brain processes, and how does ordinary knowing relate to scientific and philosophic knowing?  Discussion material will be taken from the instructor’s book Human Knowing: A Prelude to Metaphysics (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2005), which grew out of his classroom experiences and is readily available in our campus store.



Finding Your Calling in This Season of Life —taught by Diane Dreher

Each season of life from early adulthood through 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 of life.

The Tenors of Gilbert & Sullivan —taught by Frank Farris

When most people think of Gilbert and Sullivan, they think of funny shows with patter  songs.  Indeed, the parodies of Victorian society in shows like The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance are wickedly funny, but these are also romantic love stories, written in an age when “sentimental” was a good thing.  In this course, we view this repertoire from the point of view of the tenor, the “guy who gets the girl.”  Overcoming numerous obstacles, though frequently not quite as bright as others on stage, the tenor may be a figure of fun, but he's also someone with whom you can sympathize and sigh.  Taken together all these tenors offer a window into another time.  We will view recorded excerpts and hear some live performances of this challenging and enjoyable repertoire.


Behind the Scenes of “The Saint Play”—taught by Kristin Kusanovich
The Saint Plays:  An Insider View
In this series of short, challenging works by experimental playwright Erik Ehn, the  performers and audience encounter the “exploded biography” of Catholic saints – human icons that clear a space for contemplation, that reveal what happens when human beings are “overmastered by acts of the imagination, by acts of faith.”   Learn about the process of creating this multi-disciplinary ensemble-driven theatre work that springs from Ehn’s marvelous and challenging collection of plays on saints.  Co-Director Kristin Kusanovich, Theatre and Dance, will share the insights with participants about the play selection process, the fusion of music, movement and text, integrating process-oriented theatre with design elements and moments to look for in experiencing the play.


Gaza, History of Defiance and Survival —taught by Fayeq Oweis
Gaza is one of the oldest cities in the world and it has been inhabited for over 5000 years. In this short course, we will explore the history of the Gaza Strip in the context of the complex history of the region. We will start by looking at Gaza as being at the crossroads of ancient civilizations and its importance through history: commercial, religious, and military. Then we will look at the current conflict that made Gaza the most populated area in the world, with 75% of its residents as refugees, and with a recent unemployment rate as high as 45%. Other issues that will be discussed include: the Palestinian refugee issue, the peace process, and the current Palestinian leadership.


Creating Audio Christmas Greetings —taught by Gloria Hofer
Give the gift of voice for Christmas or the holidays:  Create an audio Christmas card for your family and friends.  Share a family story, read a favorite poem, or create an audio Christmas or holiday letter with music that you can send to friends and family. Learn how to record your voice, add music, produce an audio file, and burn it to a CD that you can send to your family and friends in two sessions, two hours each, using Garageband.  Enrollment limited to the first 25 sign ups.

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