The complexities of the U.S. health care system, the role of media in modern politics, music born along the Mississippi River and the joys and benefits of birdwatching are just some of the varied courses being offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt University this fall.
Other topics include: reading Shakespeare and watching its depiction on film, a primer in world religions, finding meaning at the end of life, the art of the short story, memoir writing and developing a writing practice, performing choral music and steel drum band. OLLI at Vanderbilt is open to all who are 50 and older.
“Our fall curriculum offers participants the opportunity to explore a number of rich and rewarding topics while connecting with fellow lifelong learners in a supportive and inclusive environment,” said Norma Clippard, director of OLLI at Vanderbilt. “In addition to thoughtful discussion, students will share in the unique camaraderie that is a hallmark of the OLLI program. Classes this fall will meet both in person and online.”
The fall term comprises the following courses. All classes will meet on Central Time.
OLLI Steel Drum Band–Beginner, taught by Mat Britain, director of the OLLI Steel Drum Bands. This musical journey to the Caribbean is a hands-on experience in which participants learn how to play the steel drums. Previous musical experience is helpful but not required. Students will meet for seven Sundays beginning Oct. 1, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., at Vanderbilt Blair School of Music.
OLLI Steel Drum Band–Intermediate, taught by Mat Britain. For students who have grasped the basics, this course helps to refine techniques on the steel pans. Students will work on slightly more difficult music and dive deeper into the culture of Trinidad and the steel band art form. Completion of the beginner course is a prerequisite unless the instructor grants permission through invitation or a short audition. Students will meet for seven Sundays beginning Oct. 1, from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., at the Blair School.
OLLI Steel Drum Band–Advanced, taught by Mat Britain. This group, which often performs in the Vanderbilt steel bands concert, approaches music that is more difficult with advanced playing techniques. Completion of the beginner and intermediate classes is a prerequisite unless the instructor grants permission through invitation or a short audition. Students will meet for seven Sundays beginning Oct. 1, from 1 to 2:15 p.m., at the Blair School.
Birdwatching 101, taught by Stacy Elliott, Cumberland-Harpeth Audubon Society board member. This class teaches birdwatching fundamentals using a repertoire of skills and practices, including how to use binoculars, birding guidebooks, birding apps and other tools to identify birds by sight and sound. Additionally, the course will incorporate the wellness benefits of being outdoors and practicing contemplation and mindfulness. Students will meet for six Mondays beginning Oct. 2, from 9 to 10:15 a.m., at the Warner Park Nature Center.
Healthcare Inc.: Understanding the U.S. Medical-Industrial Complex, taught by Steve Lindstrom, health care industry executive. Health care, the largest industry in the United States, consumes 18.3 percent of the American economy, and every citizen, whether actively or passively, is a health care consumer. This class will discuss the evolution of the health care system; physicians, both primary care and specialty; hospitals; pharma; health insurance; quality vs. cost; and the possible future impacts of technology and big data. Students will meet for six Mondays beginning Oct. 2, from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., at St. George’s Episcopal Church.
Consider the Birds of the Air, taught by Stacy Elliott. Designed to support learners’ exploration and application of the many facets of birdwatching, this course is best suited to those with some birding experience though it is not a pre-requisite. In addition to birdwatching using apps like eBird, Merlin and Audubon, participants will hear from local experts to examine practices that protect birds. Students will meet for six Mondays beginning Oct. 2, from 10:45 a.m. to noon, at the Warner Park Nature Center.
Media and Politics in the Modern Age, taught by Scott Stroud, news editor at the Associated Press. As the 2024 presidential campaign kicks into high gear, it’s more important than ever to grapple with what has become a complicated media landscape. This course will be an extended conversation about where we currently get our news, how to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake, and how to be an engaged, responsible citizen. Students will meet for six Mondays beginning Oct. 2, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., at St. George’s Episcopal Church.
Reading Shakespeare With Film, taught by Russ Heldman, educator and community speaker. This course will explore the plays of William Shakespeare by use of the text and scenes from films depicting the plays. Students will see how reading Shakespeare with film aids in understanding the text and in enhancing the artistic experience. Students will meet for six Tuesdays beginning Oct. 3, from 10 to 11:15 a.m., online via Zoom.
Choral Singing, taught by Mary Combs, choral director and educator. This course will instruct singers in blending tones, vocal techniques, singing in harmony and musicianship, as well as prepare the participants to perform a few songs for an audience. The goal for the overall experience is to have fun while making beautiful music together. Students will meet for seven Tuesdays beginning Oct. 3, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at The Temple.
The Art of the Short Story, taught by Edward Friedman, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus. This course will focus on short stories by an array of international authors, both familiar and lesser known. Participants will look at how the individual stories are constructed, how they can be analyzed, how form and content interact, and how best to appreciate every text. Students will meet for six Tuesdays beginning Oct. 3, from 2 to 3:15 p.m., online via Zoom.
Music and the Mississippi River, taught by Robert Fry, senior lecturer in music history and literature at the Blair School. The roots of America’s rich and diverse music can be located along the Mississippi River. Through class lectures, listening and discussions, attendees will gain a better understanding of the connection between musical sound and place and the impact of the Mississippi River on the development, transformation and dissemination of America’s soundtrack. Students will meet for six Wednesdays beginning Oct. 4, from 10 to 11:15 a.m., online via Zoom.
From Krishna to Mohammed: A World Religions Primer, taught by Tom McCollough, professor of religion, emeritus, Centre College. This exploration of the religions of the world will avoid the encyclopedic approach for a more focused engagement with two religions that arose in Southeast Asia (Hinduism and Buddhism) and two Western religions (Judaism and Islam). Participants will investigate by way of readings in their sacred texts, seeing their sacred spaces, exploring their rituals and investigating their theological and moral decrees. Students will meet for eight Wednesdays beginning Oct. 4, from 2 to 3:15 p.m., online via Zoom.
The End of Life and the Quest for Human Meaning, taught by Larry R. Churchill, Ann Geddes Stahlman Professor of Medical Ethics, Emeritus, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Humans seek meaning in all activities and dying is no exception. This course will explore the multiple dimensions of seeking a meaningful death, including current cultural norms, the role of medical assistance in dying, the place of advance planning documents, and when death could be welcomed rather than resisted. Students will meet for six Thursdays beginning Oct. 5, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., online via Zoom.
How to Write a Memoir, taught by Carole Webb Moore-Slater, educator and community speaker. This creative nonfiction writing series provides practical information designed to motivate and inspire each participant to write a personal or family memoir one story at a time. Information includes organizational guidelines when planning a story and writing tips to bring characters to life as a story unfolds. Students will meet for eight Thursdays beginning Oct. 5, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., online via Zoom.
Writing Seminar: The Writing Life, taught by Victor Judge, assistant dean for academic affairs, Vanderbilt Divinity School. Participants in this writing workshop will experience the challenges and pleasures of the “writing life” by composing assignments in prose and through sharing their work with their peers. The seminar is designed for beginner writers with no previous publication experience and is limited to participants who have not been enrolled previously in Judge’s writing seminar. Students will meet for 12 Wednesdays from Oct. 11 through April 24, 2024, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., online via Zoom.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is part of Vanderbilt’s Division of Government and Community Relations. For more information, contact Norma Clippard at 615-322-5569 or email@example.com.