OLLI Senior Seminars for March 2020

OLLI Senior Seminars for March 2020

Spring is just around the corner, and OLLI can help you start the season of renewal and warmth with four new Senior Seminars starting in March that focus on topics in history, health and politics.

Adult learners who participate in OLLI's Senior Seminars experience an open and welcoming environment comprised of people of a similar age with whom they will explore new topics and concepts in a fun, educational and inspiring way. Led by some of OU's top professors, most OLLI courses meet for two hours at a time and run four to six weeks in length.

Many OLLI courses are known to sell out, so be sure to sign up and save your seat before classes fill up. For information about course availability, please contact OLLI directly at (405) 325-3488.


March Senior Seminars

Medieval ChristianityMedieval Western Christianity: Its History and Practices

Jacob Lackner

Fridays | March 13 to April 10*

1 to 2:30 p.m.

*Class will not meet March 20.

This course examines the birth of Christianity and the various practices that developed in medieval Europe. Topics addressed include the worship of saints, sacraments, pilgrimage, and art and architecture.


The News - Fake, Real or in BetweenThe News: Fake, Real, Unreal or Something In Between

Cal Hobson

Mondays | March 23 to April 20*

1 to 3:30 p.m.
Sam Noble Museum | Kerr Auditorium

*Class will not meet April 6.

As New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan liked to say, ”everybody has a right to their own opinions; just not their own facts.” However, in an increasingly contentious, dangerous and divided world, the lines between opinions and facts are easily blurred and thus fraught with confusion and misunderstanding. That’s why many of us prefer to live in H. L. Mencken’s world, where he confidently observed that “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” Answers like: Yes or no. Go or stop. You are with us or against us. CNN versus FOX, CSPAN be damned. Those appear to be our options.

The opposite circumstances, however, are found in the real world and are described with such words or phrases as: Maybe, yellow caution light, can we negotiate. Those are words of moderation, middle of the road, compromise and therefore are out of style or popularity. Get to the left or to the right but, for sure, get the hell out of the middle! That’s where skunks and politicians get run over and news outlets rating points are few and far between there.

Things are complicated these days. Nine brilliant lawyers sit on our Supreme Court and often they split 5-4 on the critical issues of the day. The Congress is almost devoid of middle men, and women, the type who previously were counted on to patch together workable solutions. Henry Clay comes to mind. The term “my way or the highway” is not just a clever, directional dictum; rather, it has become a mandate, enforced with vigor by the party in power. But what results when both parties have power, as is the situation right now? Stalemate, stagnation, finger pointing, endless campaigning and fundraising all take center stage.

The media, the news itself, is no longer just three middle-aged white men, uttering almost the exact language to us and at the same time. Thirty years ago it was the 6 p.m. segment of ABC, CBS or NBC conveying solemnly what happened earlier in the day. No, now there are thousands of outlets, sharing the truth as they see it and each attracting only followers who mostly agree with them. These days where do we get our news? Who do we trust? How much of it do we want, in what format, through which media? Is it still used car dealers and political hacks at the bottom of the trust meter with the clergy at the top? Maybe not, especially if you are Catholic.

Let’s get together this coming spring to talk, listen and look. We’ll hear from wise men, and of course wise women, word smiths and TV talking heads, spin doctors, voices perfect only for radio and faces best displayed on internet videos. Do we know anymore the difference between babble and brilliance; propaganda versus piety? Thomas Jefferson did. He wrote in 1787, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Nothing fake about that.


Exploring Contemplative PracticesExploring Contemplative Practices

Anita Mann

Tuesdays | March 24 to April 14
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Discover how a contemplative practice might enrich your life. This class will explore contemplative practices represented in The Tree of Contemplative Practices, created from research findings of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. The tree’s principles are grounded in awareness, communication and connection, and the categories of practice include stillness, movement, creative, generative, active, relational and ritual. The class will study aspects of yoga, meditation, walking and council circles, as well as loving-kindness meditation, inspirational reading, writing and storytelling.


American Civil WarAmerican Civil War We Ought to Remember

Lance Janda

Fridays | March 27 to May 8

9 to 10:30 a.m.

*Class will not meet April 10.

At a time when our country continues to struggle with racism and the legacy of slavery, with the notion of states’ rights and federalism, and with the question of what ought to be celebrated in public spaces, the American Civil War remains as relevant as ever. What does it mean to be an American? Where is the line between state and federal powers? How do we determine which historical facts are immortalized in textbooks and government buildings, and who makes those decisions? All of these questions and more will be considered in this short course on the Civil War. We’ll concentrate on the historical background to the conflict, the causes of the war, the enormous changes the war wrought in social, economic and governmental affairs, and the experiences of soldiers and civilians caught in the maelstrom. We’ll conclude with a discussion of the consequences of the war, and the ways in which they loom large in our country even today.

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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.