A Supreme Time for Members - OLLI at George Mason University
Star Wars and Space Travel: The Study of Science Through Popular Movies - OLLI at Duke University
Gullah Geechee History Course Illustrates Strength of OLLI's Educational Offerings - OLLI at the University of North Florida
It's Back to College with a Dash of Deja Vu - OLLI at Southern Oregon University
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Greetings from the NRC    Nov 2015 15
Perhaps the largest of the NRC's projects is the Osher Institutes National Conference held every 18 months. The first for your "NU" team was just held in Charlotte, NC last month and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many OLLI leaders. Having just come on board in March and April of this year, we needed to work quickly to plan and coordinate this event. Thankfully, there were more than 60 institute leaders who lent us a hand and provided counsel. We also used and valued the added input from 93 of 119 Osher Institute directors through conference survey responses. We were very pleased with the resulting conference.

As the field and practice of older adult education evolves, Osher Institutes continue to lead the way by innovating and sharing experiences within our vibrant network. Our respect for members and for our unique local communities is a decided strength. Opportunities to collaborate, share ideas and renew friendships help us grow individually and collectively. 
For those of you who attended the conference, our thanks for your warm and collegial spirit. We hope you will share your experiences with your OLLI colleagues back home, using the many resources provided at the conference and on the NRC website. I encourage you to look at the collection of photos from the conference posted on the NRC Facebook page.
Steve Thaxton, Executive Director
NRC for Osher Institutes 

OLLI at George Mason University
A Supreme Time for Members
OLLI Members at the Supreme Court
Let's be real. Living in Northern Virginia comes with challenges, whether it be traffic snarls, heat and humidity, or the constant grind of political bickering.  But one of the great perks of living in our nation's Capital is the phenomenal access to national treasures, federal institutions and policymakers of all stripes - all in our own backyard!  
Members of the Osher Institute at George Mason University directly benefit from this proximity.  Term after term, OLLI-Mason offers a wonderful range of classes and events that feature our historic sights and the newsmakers fueling our national debate. 
Extremely popular is the OLLI field trip to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Court docent, retired naval officer, and OLLI member Ben Gold thrills members every summer with an exciting spin around the back rooms of the court, with a lecture in the main courtroom and a short film with interviews of the current sitting justices.  Year after year, this is a "sold out" OLLI event!
For those hoping to take their juridical journey further, Ben offers a course at OLLI on the current cases before the Supreme Court, including background on the cases, lower court decisions, the filed briefs and oral arguments.  The class explores both sides of every case, the  likely position of each justice, and the social and political context.

The Supreme Court visit is just one of several unique field trips OLLI-Mason is able to offer members because of its unique location.  Want to walk in the footsteps of George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Earl Warren and other national luminaries?  You can do that and much more at OLLI-Mason.
Submitted by: Alice Slayton Clark, Communications Associate, OLLI at George Mason University

OLLI at Duke University
Star Wars and Space Travel: The Study of Science Through Popular Movies

Who says class has to be all about lectures and labs? Andrés Aragoneses, a quantum optics researcher at Duke, has created a class called "Science & Science Fiction" in conjunction with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke. The course explores hot science fiction topics through the study of famous movies - from Star Wars, to Independence Day, to The Martian.

The unconventional idea to use movies as the primary medium for the class was born during Professor Aragoneses's time teaching in Spain. Physics professors at his university had found that in order to get students to follow their classes, they had to do more than just explain Newton's law and demonstrate practice problems. So, they began to relate these complex topics to media that the students were familiar with - news, cinema, and comics.

Each week, the OLLI group watches small scenes of movies that use scientific concepts in their production, and then learns the true theories behind these concepts. Most movies are quite fantastic when it comes to their scientific aspects, and this leads to incorrect representations of cosmological, physical, and astronomical phenomena on the screen. Focusing on a single concept each class, Aragoneses debunks Hollywood myths about natural disasters, comets, solar flares, neutrinos, and magnetic fields (to name a few).

Occasionally, Aragoneses uses scientifically sound movies to study different concepts. One scene in Star Wars features Obi-Wan searching for a planet he is not able to find in existing maps. Yoda explains to him that the movement of the other stars in the sky is suspicious, and reasons that something must exist in between, although Obi-Wan cannot see it. The scene demonstrates the true manner in which astrophysicists search for new planets; since they are so tiny, they analyze movements of surrounding stars to detect their presence rather than searching for the planets themselves. Clearly the Grand Jedi Master knew a thing or two about the real universe!

Aragoneses's idea to teach the class in such a unique fashion has evidently captivated his students; they often return after the week with new questions, suggestions for future movie references, and an excitement to continue their exploration of elaborate scientific concepts.

OLLI at the University of North Florida
Gullah Geechee History Course Illustrates Strength of OLLI's Educational Offerings 
While the city of St. Augustine is celebrating its 450th anniversary this year, the Osher Institute at the University of North Florida is exploring the area's history with a course on the Gullah Geechee culture - West African descendants who have lived in coastal communities since the 1500s.
Derek Hankerson, who teaches the OLLI course, "Gullah Geechee: Florida's Southern Route to Freedom," is a longtime historian who has authored books and movies on the subject and has been a key advocate for the First Coast's inclusion in the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network, the Freedom Project and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. The Gullah track their heritage as the descendants of enslaved Africans who lived along the southeastern coastlines in America.
OLLI members have a wide array of courses available to them
"The Gullah have been in Florida for more than 500 years," Hankerson said. "This is such an important part of history in this area."
He noted that many Gullah came to St. Augustine seeking freedom from slavery. In his course, Hankerson tells the story of the nation's first underground railroad, a culture of self-emancipation and deep traditions. He provides a captivating overview of the political and religious interactions between the Gullah Geechee and European colonists, as well as their cultural heritage throughout the region.
As a Gullah descendant himself, Hankerson grew up immersed in the history of the Gullah Geechee. He is knowledgeable and animated, incorporating lectures, films, guest speakers and lively discussions into the course to keep his class engaged. He delights in the fact that he can share his lifelong passion with others through the OLLI program.
Jeannette Toohey, OLLI director, said that's what it's all about.  "We look for instructors to teach about their passions," said Toohey, who commented that just about all of them are devoted to the topics they are teaching. "It is why the classes are so engaging." 
Submitted by: Jeannette Toohey, Director, OLLI at University of North Florida
Read the full article online here.

OLLI at Southern Oregon University 
It's Back to College with a Dash of Deja Vu
It was the first day of classes as I pedaled by buildings on Ashland's Southern Oregon University campus. Arriving with plenty of time to spare, I nervously entered the classroom and sat far enough back to be anonymous.

I heard "How was your summer?" as students greeted old friends. My summer had been hectic, highlighted by a move to Ashland after living near Yosemite for 24 years. No familiar faces for me, for I was a first-year. I smiled and greeted a guy who sat next to me.

Back to School - OLLI at SOU
The instructor talked about recommended readings, but not a word about tests. No papers. No grading scale.

In some ways, it felt like 1970, when I was a UC Santa Barbara freshman. But, it was 44 years later and it was the Osher Lifelong Learning program for 50-plussers at SOU.

When I left my first OLLI class after a lecture about philosophers, including Immanuel Kant, I knew it was going to be a tough class. I studied the instructor's handout when I got home, but I did it because I wanted to, not because I had to.  That philosophy class turned out to be a challenge. Taught by a brilliant retired professor, it motivated me to think critically and do some research out of class. I managed to learn plenty, but I am afraid I did not master Kant. 

In a class about ethics, compassion and the Dalai Lama, our group of 15 students felt like a family at the end. The instructor led us through a series of discussions and activities that made me consider personal ethics like I had never done. In that class, I met a member of the OLLI council who told me, "You should teach a class." She assured me it didn't matter that I was new to town.

So, I offered a course about long-distance trekking last winter. I wondered if many would be interested. Or, if I would be confronted by students more experienced in trekking than myself.  No worries. There were some in my class with more trekking experience, but they contributed in ways that made the class better. The class was full and the students were so appreciative that I was willing to volunteer my time to lead a class.  That's OLLI.

About 1,600 students are choosing from 115 courses for the fall 2015 term. The classes are all led by volunteer instructors.  What will I take? Exotic Travel Experiences sounds interesting. Introduction to Digital Photography. Hmmm... What Everyone Should Know About Muhammad and Islam. Now, that is timely. Fishing and the Quest for Meaning. Now, what is that about? Transform Your Anxiety into Excitement. Ah, I took that class last year and it was great. I could take it again...

It is tough to narrow it down to a manageable number.

One thing I know: Next month, I will climb on my bicycle and once again head to the first day of classes. I won't be quite as nervous because I am a second-year and there will be familiar faces and greetings. Even a "How was your summer?"

You see, I am now a career student. I plan on being with OLLI for the rest of my life. 

NRC Updates

Bernard Osher Named to Influencers
in Aging List
Public media project Next Avenue has named Bernard Osher to their first annual list of "Influencers in Aging." The list honors 10 individuals in each of the five areas Next Avenue covers: Health & Well-Being; Caregiving; Money & Security; Work & Purpose; and Living & Learning - the category in which Mr. Osher is honored. This list is intended to recognize remarkable leaders who are working to address the issues relative to living longer, healthier and happier lives.
Next Avenue   is a public media national service project and digital platform offering aggregated journalism and media coverage related to the age 50+ U.S. population. It was conceived and developed by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) in St. Paul, Minnesota. TPT produces Next Avenue for the PBS system and 84 PBS stations are local affiliates of the service. Their mission is "to meet the needs and unleash the potential of older Americans through the power of media." The project reaches beyond their website and media programs to a national network of media partners and government and nonprofit allies.

  Charlotte, NC - October 2015
conferenceNational Conference Review
The 2015 Osher Institute National Conference was attended  by two institute leaders from each Osher Institute. Most often, this included one staff member and one volunteer leader from each of the 119 institutes. A total of 258 people - including outside presenters, Osher Foundation and NRC staff members - attended. Participants experienced five plenary sessions; a choice of three breakout sessions, and a choice of two table topic discussions. There were also plentiful opportunities for networking, casual conversation and collaboration during breaks and meals. Additional activities to enrich body and soul were offered, including yoga, facilitated walks, and an inspiring film screening.
Through a follow-up survey to attendees (which will remain open until November 5th), participants described their conference experiences:
  • "I left so very inspired and with so much to share with my Board and Board committees"
  • "Loved the format, the venue, and the opportunity to get together with my fellow OLLI leaders"
  • "I really like how the individual OLLIs were recognized as well as their programs. Very educational and fun at the same time"
  • "Thank you for producing such a wonderful, informative, and enlightening conference; the pace and content was excellent!  And it was such a pleasure to meet so many other OLLI staff and volunteers from across the country; I learned so much from all of my conversations with them"
Particular thanks was also repeatedly expressed to The Bernard Osher Foundation for their generous and long-standing underwriting of this 10th National Conference. 

Check out more photos from the conference on the NRC Facebook page.

The OLLI Insider

An Advice Column for Osher Institute Staff and Volunteers
dearolliDear Olli
Dear Olli,
My volunteer leader and I loved the National Conference in Charlotte, but the travel from our western town was pretty tiring. Is there a chance that the next conference will be on our side of the U.S.? 
~Grateful but Weary 

Dear Grateful,
The tradition of the Osher Institutes National Conference is to rotate the location around the continental U.S. As many folks know, the 2014 Conference was in Carlsbad, CA. Previous conferences have been held in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois. It is likely the next conference will be held in a different time zone than those of the past two. These location decisions require careful research and negotiation, so a location will not be announced in the near future. But an announcement earlier than that of the 2015 Conference is likely, now that the NRC has one conference under their belts!

Dear Olli,
As a relatively new volunteer leader, I'm wondering what the difference is between the National Resource Center and The Bernard Osher Foundation? Does the NRC report to the Foundation? And what role does Northwestern University play? 
~Learning the Ropes 

Dear Learning,
Not unlike your own Osher Institute, the NRC is a grantee of The Bernard Osher Foundation. The purpose of the NRC is distinct: to connect, consult and cheer on the 119 Osher Institutes. The NRC is hosted, supervised and resourced by Northwestern University (NU) within the School of Professional Studies on the downtown Chicago campus. While the NRC does not directly report to the Foundation, it collaborates and communicates continually with the Foundation on matters related to the Osher Lifelong Learning Network. Of course, the Foundation has a number of other philanthropic interests in addition to the Osher Institutes. The Foundation's trustees make all funding decisions and the NRC plays no part in that process. But the NRC helps the Foundation as it does each institute - in communication and connections to the overall network of locally autonomous institutes.

Have a question for Olli? Please send it in care of Stacey Hart at the NRC:Stacey.Hart@Northwestern.edu  

Educational Travel Ideas from In and Outside the OLLI Network
The OLLI Traveler
OLLI at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Panama: Crossroads of the Americas
Experience the diverse array of all that Panama has to offer. Enjoy a full day tour of Panama City, including Casco Viejo and the Miraflores Locks. Travel by ship through the legendary Panama Canal from the Corte Culebra and the Pedro Miguel Locks to the Pacific Ocean. Immerse yourself in the ancient Embera indigenous culture that has not changed since the arrival of Columbus. Explore the pristine rainforest of the Soberania National Park. Take in an agro tourism farm at the Rancho Hato Viejo and visit the palm tree trail with over 50 varieties of palm trees. The tour also includes a day of leisure at the Playa Bonita Resort.  Click here for more information.
Dates: Dec 3-10, 2015

OLLI at the University of California Irvine
Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House
After a three-year renovation project, Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles is once again open to the public. Hollyhock House (built 1919-1921), a work of extraordinary poetic force, was Frank Lloyd Wright's first LA commission and the first residence after his prairie-style period. It introduced Rudolph Schindler and Richard Nuetra to Los Angeles, and became a gateway to the development of California Modernism. The house was commissioned by Aline Barnsdall, a wealthy oil heiress. Ms. Barnsdall asked Wright to incorporate her favorite flower, the Hollyhock, into the home's design.
  Click here for more information .
Date: Nov 19, 2015

OLLI at George Mason University
Loudoun Wine Tour Redux
The Spring OLLI wine trip was so well received and the wait list so extensive that we are offering another exquisite Loudoun County wine country bus tour during the beautiful Fall season. We will begin our tasting experience in the historic pre-Civil War red barn at Willowcroft Farm Vineyards. Atop Mt. Gilead, with its panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Willowcroft is the oldest winery in Loudoun County, Virginia. After a delicious seated lunch at the Magnolias at the Mill restaurant in nearby Purcellville, the tasting experience continues at the historic Hillsborough Vineyards, with a spectacular hillside view of the surrounding countryside. Anticipate at least a dozen different tastings overall. 
Date: October 16, 2015

Interesting Facts to Know and Talk About
didyouknowDid You Know...?
  • One person in two billion will live to be 116 or older   
  • That the brain is conditioned to forget completed tasks and focus on more uncomplicated ones, so if you want to remember something that you're studying, take breaks to do unrelated things  
  • 25 minutes a day of either brisk walking or comfortable jogging could extend your life and reduce your risk of heart attack in your 50s and 60s

  Career Openings in the OLLI Network
jobboardJob Board

Classroom and Facilities Coordinator, OLLI

University of California Berkeley

Office Assistant, Osher Lifelong Learning Program

 University of Utah


Is there a staff opening at your Osher Institute? Please send it to us at  oshernrc@northwestern.edu