OLLI Senior Seminars for January 2022

OLLI Senior Seminars for January 2022

January is almost here, and OLLI is kicking off 2022 with a Senior Seminar schedule that features 10 new courses to get your new year of learning off to a fast start. Courses will take place online or in-person and will explore topics in film, health, history, political science and religion.

Senior Seminar courses run for four to six weeks and typically meet for two hours at a time. Courses are led by some of OU’s top professors and offer adult learners an open and welcoming learning environment, where they can engage with fun, educational and inspiring concepts with people of a similar age.

OLLI courses tend to fill up quickly, and many are known to sell out, so be sure to sign up soon to reserve your spot. For information about course availability, please contact OLLI directly at (405) 325-3488.

January 2022 Senior Seminars

China’s History and its Place in the World from Ancient Times to the 21st Century

Paul Bell

Tuesdays | Jan. 18-March 8

9:30-11:30 a.m.


The purpose of this course is to give students an introduction to China’s history as a foundation to understanding China’s place in the contemporary world. The course will provide students with an introduction to China’s history and culture, China’s historic and contemporary place in the world, and the history of U.S.-China relations.

The general division of topics will be:

  • Introduction to China and the Chinese
  • The Lessons Learned from 5,000 Years of History
  • China's Place in the World from the First Century BCE to the Present
  • The History and Current State of U.S.-China Relations


Religion and Society in the Ancient Middle East

Gershon Lewental

Thursdays | Jan. 20-Feb. 24

10 a.m.-Noon


An appreciation of the role that religion has played in the societies of the region since Antiquity is critical to understanding the modern Middle East.

In this course, we will examine the way that religion has functioned in ancient Middle Eastern societies, including ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria, the Israelite society and early Judaism, the Christian Roman Empire, and the Zoroastrian Sāsānian Empire of Iran. We will identify common features between these different societies that spanned the course of thousands of years, paying particular attention to the interplay between religion and political rule, and conclude by drawing attention to ideas that are still present in the Middle East and the religions that developed there. This is the first part of a planned three-part series that will cover the medieval and modern Middle East, as well.


The Bible and Social Reform

Jill Hicks-Keeton

Thursdays | Jan. 20-Feb. 10

2:30-4 p.m.


The seminar explores the various ways the Christian Bible has been engaged in social reforms in the United States, including such causes as abolition, women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement. Attention will also be given to how contemporary figures narrate the past when it comes to the Bible’s role in justice movements.


Ethics and Finance

Violet Victoria

Mondays | Jan. 24-Feb. 14

9-11 a.m.


This series of seminars will examine our financial system by asking the following questions: What should we prioritize in our financial system? Who should we let interact with the stock markets? How much regulation is appropriate for financial institutions and individuals? Is it better for us to democratize financial markets? We will focus on our questions by examining case studies from the 2008 financial crisis, retail trading boom during COVID, the ‘meme stock’ bubble of 2021 and the Enron scandal.


Native People in the U.S. Cultural Imagination

Kelly Tabbutt

Mondays | Jan. 24-Feb. 28

10-11:30 a.m.


This seminar is designed to introduce and analyze key stereotype tropes in dominant U.S. culture from early colonial times to the present. Students will learn about the representations of Native peoples in dominant (settler colonial) culture and their connection to the settler colonial mission’s foundation and continuation.

We will cover four main historical periods: early colonial (pre-late 1700s), 19th century, early 20th century and the modern era (late 20th century to present). Through this course, we will analyze the socio-historical context of these representations with a focus on the relationship between settler and Native peoples.

Specific focus will be given to the nature of conflicts around settler control over land and resources. The historical story arc will follow the path from the perception of Native peoples as “brutal heathen” to the more common modern stereotypes of the “noble savage” or “wise/mystic warrior.” We will analyze and discuss the ways in which these common tropes have changed over time as well as the persistent threads tying them together. Within the context of these discussions, students will also be introduced to the key social-structural aspects of settler colonialism and the colonizer-colonized power/oppression structure.


Influence: Partners in Relationships

R. Clinton Miner

Mondays | Jan. 24-March 7

Noon-1:30 p.m.


This seminar explores the power of positive influence in relationships, how to constructively use influence and not leverage for abuse or advantage. We will examine the how’s and why’s of collaborative influence strategies on relationships. The program will focus on practical application (based on theoretical constructs) and is applicable to every aspect of our lives, including family, work, short-term casual and other social relationships. Our exploration will be interactive, engaging, fun and rewarding.


Preston Sturges’ Films

Andy Horton

Wednesdays | Jan. 26-March 9*

1-3:30 p.m.


*Class will not meet Feb. 16.

Ranked as one of American cinema’s most gifted talents, writer-director Preston Sturges employed a razor-sharp wit and astringent dialogue in his emergence from the world of theater into cinema. After almost singlehandedly redefining the screwball comedy, Sturges continued to write and direct works until his death in 1959. This course will examine the works of Preston Sturges, such as The Lady Eve, The Great McGinty, Sullivan’s Travels and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.


Religion and American Politics

Samuel Perry

Wednesdays | Jan. 26-Feb. 16

1-2:30 p.m.


This four-week course will introduce students to the fascinating relationship between religion and politics in the United States. We will begin by discussing the role of religion in America’s founding, including the religion of the “founding fathers,” the religious content of America’s founding documents and the disestablishment of religion during the first 30 years. We then go on to discuss the role of religion in debates over slavery, the Civil War and the Civil Rights era. We use the last two weeks of the course to discuss the increasingly complex relationship between religious and secular identity and our highly polarized partisan political system. We discuss the advent of the Moral Majority, the Tea Party, Trump and numerous social and moral concerns that continue to divide the country. The class will draw on the research and perspectives of historians, sociologists, political scientists and even theologians.


The Social Life of World Religions

Kimberly Marshall

Thursdays | Jan. 27-March 3

2-3:30 p.m.


How do we make sense of the complexity of the world’s religions? In what ways can we learn about other religions with empathy, but without sacrificing our own convictions? And what does learning about other traditions teach us about our own? In this class, we will take a reflective approach to examining a diverse array of world religions, focusing on the role of religion in social life across the globe. Each meeting of this six-session class will use a different theoretically-informed, cross-cutting theme and vivid case-study detail (drawing especially from small-scale local religious traditions) to help us think critically about what religion is and what it does for human society. This class does not seek to promote, question or refute the validity of any religion; rather, we use ethnographic insights to understand the many roles that religion plays in the human experience.


An Intro to Health and Exercise Sciences

Brian Pribble

Fridays | Jan. 28-Feb. 18

9-10:30 a.m.


In this class, students will enjoy an introduction to health and exercise sciences with a focus on older populations and healthy aging.

Topics will include:

  • Daily exercise requirements (aerobic and resistance training)
  • Nutrition (macro and micronutrient requirements)
  • Bone and muscle health (preventative care)
  • Mental health/psychology and exercise
  • Steps to designing a workout routine
  • Introduction to different disease states (coronary artery disease, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, etc.)
  • Aging theory (what causes aging)
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Myk Mahaffey

Michael Mahaffey holds degrees in journalism and psychology. He is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience writing for print and digital publications, including award-winning coverage of the rodeo industry. In his spare time, he writes fiction, in addition to tinkering with graphic design and photography.