Winter classes at Vanderbilt Osher Lifelong Learning Institute range from military history to the art of Tai Chi

Strategic challenges in U.S. military history, gender issues in 21st-century Shakespeare productions, religion’s influence on current events and the reduction of stress through Tai Chi are among the topics offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt for winter 2021.

Other classes will focus on the impact of the 2020 election on America’s political landscape, Tennessee’s early history, the Atlantic slave trade and its legacy in the United States, and the influence of ’70s TV on that decade’s political and cultural movements.

studio headshot of Norma Clippard by Vanderbilt University
Norma Clippard (Vanderbilt University)

“We are very glad to continue to offer these academically rigorous courses taught by Vanderbilt faculty and other outstanding instructors during the COVID pandemic,” said Norma Clippard, program director. “Now is an especially important time for our older learners to stay connected and maintain friendships with those who share similar interests.”

All seven classes, open to all those who are 50 and older, will be taught online via Zoom.

The following comprise the winter term:

  • All in the Decade: 70 Things about ’70s TV That Turned 10 Years into a Revolution, taught by Jim McKairnes, former Hollywood TV executive and author of a book by the same title. Many video clips and memories will be shared during the course, which will focus on feminism, individualism, commercialism and more. Students will meet online for six Mondays starting Jan. 11, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. No class will be held on Jan. 18.
  • Strategic Challenges in American Military History, taught by Brandon Hulette, a Vanderbilt military science instructor and U.S. Army Reserve officer. Students will gain insight into the challenges faced by military and political leaders throughout American military history and reasons for their success or failure in those situations. Students will meet online for six Mondays starting Jan. 11, from 2 to 3:15 p.m. No class will be held on Jan. 18.
  • Addressing Gender Issues in 21st-Century Shakespeare, taught by Denice Hicks, executive artistic director for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and Marcia McDonald, professor of English at Belmont University. From all-male casts in the 1600s to some exclusively female casts in 2020, Shakespeare’s plays are often subject to gender bending. The class will explore what roles gender plays in the storytelling of Shakespeare’s works. Students will meet online for three Tuesdays starting Jan. 12, from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.
  • Issues in American Politics: Unpacking Election 2020, team-taught by several Vanderbilt political scientists. They include Larry Bartels, May Werthan Shayne Professor of Public Policy and Social Science; David Lewis, professor of political science and Rebecca Webb Wilson University Professor; Bruce Oppenheimer, professor of political science, emeritus; John Sides, professor of political science and William R. Kenan, Jr. Chair at the College of Arts and Science; Sharece Thrower, associate professor of political science; and Alan Wiseman, professor of political science and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair. They will examine reasons why the election turned out as it did and what impact the results might have on executive power, the Congress, the bureaucracy and more. Students will meet online for six Tuesdays starting Jan. 12, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  • The Atlantic Slave Trade and Its Legacy in the United States, taught by Angela Sutton, postdoctoral fellow in the College of Arts and Science and director of the Fort Negley Descendants Project. The class will look at the origins of the Atlantic slave trade, including how the United States became a true slave society, and the ramifications of the caustic legacy for the nation. Students will meet online for six Tuesdays starting Jan. 12, from 2 to 3:15 p.m.
  • 18 Things Every Tennessean Needs to Know About the State’s Early History, taught by Carole Bucy, professor of history at Volunteer State Community College. Bucy will offer a historical overview of Tennessee from its beginnings up to the outbreak of the Civil War and the many ways that the state was in the national spotlight during that time. Students will meet for six Wednesdays starting Jan. 13, from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Tai Chi—Introduction for Health, Balance and Relaxation, taught by Peter Hodes, instructor, Tai Chi River. Body alignment, gravity and motion are among the topics to be covered, with students learning strategies for reducing anxiety, relaxing and having fun through this ancient practice. Students will meet online for six Wednesdays starting Jan. 13, from 2 to 3:15 p.m.
  • Religion in the News, taught by Bob Smietana, national writer for Religion News Service and former religion editor for The Tennessean. Discussions will focus on the role that religion plays in current news coverage, both local and national, and recent trends and stories, such as Islamophobia and the conflict over a mosque in Murfreesboro. Students will meet for six Thursdays starting Jan. 14, from 2 to 3:15 p.m.

All classes are individually priced. Click OLLI at Vanderbilt to register.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is housed within the Division of Government and Community Relations. For more information, email the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or call 615-322-6511.