BY SARA DYER
In the world of collegiate rivalry, athletes are not the only ones who take part in the competition. Academic leaders are just as eager to bring what they know to the playing field. This year OLLI at OU has had the pleasure of collaborating with OLLI at OSU and St. Luke’s Methodist Church of Oklahoma City in presenting the Bedlam Learning Series.
This series of lectures has featured both OU and OSU representatives who are involved with their respective OLLI programs or universities, along with their insights on politics, history, international relations, religion and weather monitoring in Oklahoma.
In September, Cal Hobson (OU), former Oklahoma State Legislator and President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, faced Dr. Bob Blackburn (OSU), Executive Director at the Oklahoma Historical Society, in presenting their own experiences and expertise in Oklahoma politics.
In October, David Wrobel (OU), professor of Western American History, and Becky Hawkes (OSU), the Education and Public Programs Manager at the Woodie Guthrie Center in Tulsa, shared their historical insight on topics regarding the American West and the legacy of Woody Guthrie.
In November, Mitchell P. Smith (OU), Professor and Chair of the Department of International and Area Studies, and Anthony Cambas (OSU), Director of the Wes Watkins Center for International Trade, discussed topics concerning international relations such as the British Exit from the European Union and border control.
In January, Ken Johnson (OU), Associate Director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), Professor Emeritus and Geologist Emeritus, discussed the fascinating geologic history of Oklahoma and how increased oil activity contributes to Oklahoma’s current geological issues.
In February, Jacob Lackner (OU), a doctoral candidate in history and OLLI instructor, and Neal McCaleb (OSU), former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, presented their expertise on topics related to early religion. Lackner discussed the relationships between Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages, and McCaleb explored the religions of the Native American tribes from the time of removal in 1830 until after the Civil War.
In March, Robert L. Griswold (OU), professor and former chair of the History Department, along with Dr. Stephen Perkins (OSU), Anthropology professor, discussed their unique knowledge of World War II. From Griswold, participants heard about the history of WWII, America’s reaction to Italian fascism and the Italian campaign during WWII. Perkins presented his experiences in helping recover the remains of U.S. Marines who died in November 1943 in Tarawa.
In April, Dr. Kevin Kloesel (OU), Dr. Chris Fiebrich (OU) and Dr. Ron Elliott (OSU) will share their insights on The Oklahoma Mesonet, a world-class network of environmental monitoring stations in Cowboy Country. The network was designed and implemented by scientists at both OU and OSU and now consists of 120 automated stations, with at least one operating in each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
Each speaker took about 90 minutes to present on their topic and invite questions and discussion from the audience. Following the session, participants were invited to have lunch and share their thoughts on the presentation with one another. This event, created to promote lifelong learning within the Oklahoma metro-area, brought in over 150 senior learners for each session.
The Bedlam Learning Series has been a wonderful opportunity for Oklahoma seniors to learn from and engage with some of the state’s greatest academic leaders and to experience the benefits of continued learning that Oklahoma’s OLLI programs provide. Both OLLI programs at OU and OSU offer seminars in Oklahoma City and are eager to include more metro-area Oklahomans in the opportunity for personal and intellectual growth through lifelong learning.