Santa Clara University

Osher Lifelong Learning

Spring 2008   


  • The American Revolution
  • Climate Change
  • Film Odyssey: The Return of Films from the Fifties
  • Islam
  • Living the iLife
  • Pirates of the Carribean
  • Ethical Issues in Medicine
  • T.S. Elliot's Four Quartets


  • Special Screening
  • Hike at Henry Cowell Redwood State Park
  • Stories from the Other Side of the World: Malawi
  • Wildflower Mondays: Russian Ridge Hike
  • Wildflower Mondays: Monte Bello Hike
  • Contemporary American Short Stories
  • Understanding Sudan and Darfur
  • Mindfulness Embodied
  • Eco-Art
  • Behind the Scenes of Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers
  • A Brief History of Sicily
  • John Muir: Naturalist and Environmentalist
  • Behind the Scenes of Hair: The Musical


The American Revolution--taught by Robert Senkewicz
Over the past decade, there has been an outpouring of biographies on the "Founding Fathers [and Mothers]".  But, in the fast-changing revolutionary world of the 21st century, can we really learn anything from the 18th century American Revolution? The answer is a resounding "yes." The colonial and revolutionary eras of our country witnessed the dynamic inter-play of a host of issues that are still very much with us: religion and politics, economics and justice, tradition and innovation, "Euro centrism" and localism, representation and democracy, and a host of others.  In this course, we will examine the Revolution, and the Colonial Era which led up to it, with an eye towards seeing what the 18th century has to tell us about our contemporary world. Students who are interested in optional reading should obtain a copy of The American Revolution  by Gordon Wood.

Climate Change -- taught by David Pinault
Climate change is on everyone’s mind.  Everywhere on earth scientists are finding evidence of global warming.  Polar ice caps are receding, oceans are rising, and cities are experiencing record high temperatures.  Many people believe that widespread burning of fossil fuels has increased atmospheric CO2 levels and is responsible for global warming. If we develop a program to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, what will it cost and will it make a real difference?  This class will explore evidence for past climate change in geological time and evidence of current global warming.  In addition, the class will explore the likely impact of climate change on agriculture, species diversity and human health as predicted by computer models.  Finally, we will consider practical ways to limit burning of fossil fuels including the use of biofuels, wind and solar power.

Film Odyssey – taught by Mark Larson
Big game hunters and crooked commies, crusading cops and homicidal preachers, and a woman finding love in Italy will be our companions in this powerhouse session of Film in the Fifties. Please join filmmaker Mark Larson in watching and discussing the films Bad Day at Black Rock (Sturges), Night of the Hunter (Laughton), Mogambo (Ford), Pick Up on South Street (Fuller), and Summertime (Lean).
Due to popular demand, this class will be offered in two separate sessions with a special event on March 27th.  Please register for one session only.  The same films will be screened and discussed in both sessions.

Islam – taught by David Pinault
This course provides the religious, historical, and literary background necessary for an understanding of developments in Islamic societies today.  Lectures will address: the life of the prophet Muhammad and the 7th century context in which he preached his Islamic message; Koranic scripture and the role of Koran and hadith in providing a model of societal structure and personal behavior for Muslims; the origin of the Sunni and Shia denominations in Islam; the role of ritual in fostering both personal piety and group identity, and the influence of sectarianism in 21st century political Islam; the dialectic between shari’ah (Islamic law) and Sufism (Islamic mysticism) in Islamic history; and Islamic responses to modernity:  tensions between fundamentalist and feminist movements.

Living the iLife --  taught by Michael Ballen
Apple's iLife software is a collection of multimedia applications that allow you to take your communications to new levels by creating movies, photo albums, DVD's, your own music, podcasts, websites, and more! The five applications include iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, Garageband, and iWeb. This workshop will introduce you to the iLife suite of applications and provide you with hands-on experience creating a variety of multimedia products. The course will be taught in Santa Clara University's state-of-the-art Mac Lab in the new Learning Commons, Technology Center, and Library (LCTCL). Subsequent courses will concentrate on each iLife application in greater depth. You do not have to own a Mac to enroll in this class.  Students will have complete access to the Mac Lab in the LCTCL.(Omit these two sentences.)
This class is strictly limited to the first 20 people who sign up.  No exceptions!

Pirates of the Caribbean – taught by Fabio Lobez-Lazario
Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, and other notorious pirates have captured the imagination of people for centuries.  This class is an introduction to the history of buccaneering and piracy in its heyday from the seventeenth into the eighteenth centuries.  The focus is on understanding eyewitness pirate accounts in their historical context, and in figuring out what motivated pirates, how they contributed to the creation of the first working-class world democracies, and why they have been romanticized in novels and movies.  Readings will include the most recent scholarship on pirate history as well as contemporary sources concerning the notorious careers of such captains as Morgan and Kidd.
Students who are interested should get copies of  C.R. Pennell, Bandits at Sea: A Pirates Reader (New York and London: New York University Press, 2001) and David Cordingly's Under the Black Flag. Used and inexpensive copies of  Cordingly as well as Daniel Defoe, A General History of the Pyrates (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 1972, 1999) and Alexander O. Exquemelin, The Buccaneers of America (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 1969) are readily available in libraries or on-line. Copies will also be on reserve at the Orradre Library.

Ethical Issues in Medicine – taught by Rob Lovering
This class is a formal inquiry into normative ethics. Special attention will be paid to general ethical principles and the application of these principles to current moral issues in medicine and the health sciences. Topics may include stem-cell research, abortion, human cloning, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia,  prolongation of life, and experimentation on human and nonhuman animals. There is no required text for the class, however most of the lectures will be based on articles found in Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer's Bioethics: An Anthology (2nd. edition, Blackwell Publishing).

T.S Elliot's Four Quartets – taught by James Felt, SJ
This short set of four interconnected poems is a kind of meditation on the intersection of time and eternity in a Christian’s life.  As with most profound poems, their meaning cannot be put into other words but has to be experienced in the reading of Eliot’s words.  (It’s worth the trouble.) In the first of the five, two-hours sessions the instructor will lay out how the poems arose out of Eliot’s personal experiences and how they illustrate a novel way of writing poetry.  The following four sessions will be devoted to mutual discussion of each of the four poems taken in turn.
Required for the course is a copy of the poems (available in the campus store or online for about $9.00).  A recommended help to understanding the poems is Helen Gardner’s The Art of T. S. Eliot, four copies of which will be on Orradre reserve (PS 3509 L43 Z675, either 1979 or 1959).


Special Screening -- taught by Mark Larson
For those of you who would enjoy viewing an old-fashioned MGM musical with introductory comments and post screening discussion led by Mark Larson, sign up for the March 27th  screening of  The Band Wagon, directed by Vincent  Minnelli. Come and watch Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse discover just what “That's Entertainment” means in this classic 1953 MGM musical. The cost is just $5 and the memories are priceless!

Hike at Henry Cowell Redwood State Park -- taught by Tracey Kahan
Sequoia Sempervirens (coast redwoods) are the tallest trees in the world and among the oldest. Once found across the entire Northern Hemisphere, they now occupy a 400-mile range from just south of Big Sur to just above California's border with Oregon. Join SCU Psychology Department professor (and California Redwood State Park docent) Tracey Kahan for an inspiring 3-hr guided walk through the old-growth redwoods of Felton's Henry Cowell Redwood State  Park. A modest pace and flat trails make this an ideal walk for those wishing to learn about our ever-living coast redwoods, the riparian corridor along the San  Lorenzo River, and the cultural history of the park. We will have time to commune with the trees, keep watch for banana slugs and fungi, and enjoy conversation with like-minded folks. Bring a bag lunch and water; dress for varied temperatures.

Stories from the Other Side of the World: Malawi -- taught by Ed Schaefer
Back by popular demand, Ed Schaefer of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at SCU recounts his experiences as a Fulbright Scholar living and teaching in Malawi, a small country in southeastern Africa in 2005-2006. Having been exposed to cultures from several continents, he went to Malawi so that he could learn from Africans.  Teaching computer security courses to graduate students at Mzuzu University and doing AIDS volunteering, Ed came to appreciate the complexities as well as rewards of living and working in a country radically different from the U.S.  In this course he will describe the lives of Malwaians, and discuss how their culture affects poverty, AIDS, religion, education, marriage, gender, the elderly, witchcraft and the arts.  You won’t want to miss the opportunity to learn more about this small but fascinating country.

Wildflower Mondays:  – taught by Keith Johnsgard
These natural history hikes will take place along beautiful Skyline Boulevard high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains.  While the focus of these hikes is broad, they will take place at the height of wildflower season in preserves that are famous for spring blossoms.  Each hike will last about four hours including leisurely lunches atop mountains with breathtaking views.  Each hike is three to three to four miles in length with total elevation gains of 300-400 feet.  While moderately difficult, the pace will be very easy with many stops to talk about the plants, animal signs, and interesting geological landscape features we encounter. Students enrolled in this course will be give instructions with specific directions to the meeting place.

Contemporary American Short Stories – taught by Marilyn  Edelstein
In this course, we will read and discuss a select group of wonderfully crafted and engaging short stories by contemporary American writers. For session 1, we'll read and discuss two thought-provoking stories that explore the nature of human connection and responsibility: Ursula LeGuin's " The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and Raymond Carver's "Cathedral." For session 2, we'll read two very funny stories that explore the nature of literature itself: Lorrie Moore's "How to Become a Writer" and Woody Allen's "The Kugelmass Episode." These texts will give us the opportunity to explore the short story as a genre and to consider the diversity of styles and themes in recent American writing. The Osher office will send out copies of the stories to those who pre-register for it.

Understanding Sudan and Darfur– taught by Michael Kevane
Would you like to know more about the complex economic, political, and military problems Sudan and Darfur are facing today? This class gives you a rare opportunity to learn about the region from Prof. Michael Kevane, an outstanding professor in SCU’s Economics Department and a leading authority on Sudan and Darfur.  Michael is the past president of the Sudan Studies Association, and author of numerous articles and books on Sudan and Africa more generally. He is co-director of Friends of African Village Libraries (, a non-profit he co-founded in 2001, that has established nine village libraries in rural Africa.  In this class he will discuss current events in Sudan and Darfur (with a look at their historical background), focusing on the nature of the genocide in Darfur and the prospects for peace between the north and south of Sudan.

Mindfulness Embodied -- taught by Shauna Shapiro and Donna Simmons
This workshop is an intensive introduction to mindfulness. Mindfulness originated as a Buddhist practice, however it is offered as a universal approach to coping with stress, which transcends culture and religion.  Mindfulness practices train our mind to pay attention in an open, calm and accepting way to our experience moment by moment.  Mindfulness teaches us to attend to our cognitive, affective and sensory experience in a rich and deep way.  Bringing mindfulness to the body refines our perceptions, and allows us to track the changes of our physical organization to bring about greater ease, strength and peace.  This workshop will include a brief theoretical overview of mindfulness and highlight research demonstrating its potential efficacy across a wide range of clinical populations. The focus, however, will be on facilitating an experiential understanding of mindfulness through various mindfulness practices and exercises. The intention of this course is to explore ways of bringing mindfulness into one’s daily life to bring greater joy, health and balance.

Eco-Art-  taught by Deborah Kennedy
This class provides an introduction to eco-art, an emerging discipline in contemporary art that combines creative expression, environmental activism, and scientific thought.  Taught by a practicing eco-artist and art-educator, the class focuses on the many ways artists are responding to our environmental challenges.  These eco-artists seek to enhance our understanding of the earth’s natural systems and how human activities impact those systems.  Eco-artists often work with scientists and community members to help draw attention to environmental issues and foster a thriving natural world.  This is a great class for anyone interested in contemporary art and environmental issues.

Behind the Scenes of Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers – taught by Fred Tollini
The play was published in 1991 and gained critical and popular acclaim, winning Simon a Pulitzer Prize. Many critics consider the play to be Simon's best work and the pinnacle of his career. . The play dramatizes a period in the youth of the playwright.  Set in in 1930s  Yonkers, New York, the play describes how two brothers were sent to live with grandma after their mother died. With a characteristically Jewish blend of comedy and tragedy, the main character struggles to find who he is in a  family burdened with memories of sufferings in Europe and problems facing the next generation in America.
The play was very timely. Although it is set during World War II—a setting that plays an important part in the narrative—Simon published the play as America was entering the Gulf War in the Middle East. As a result, the play's main themes—including survival, the importance of one's family, and acceptance—also seem timely, since these themes inevitably arise during any war or other military conflict, when death and other tragedies are likely. Although the play is technically labeled a comedy, it is in fact a hybrid. Critics note both the deep levels of pain that Simon explores in his characters and the humorous dialogue from certain characters, which ultimately helps the play to strike a balance between tragedy and comedy

A Brief History of Sicily- taught by Douglas Kenning
Sicily was the most magical, mistreated, and monster-plagued place in the ancient world. We’ll begin the class by looking at how Sicily became the glory of the ancient Greek world, then examine some of the reasons why Sicily was trampled by Romans and Byzantines, revived by Muslims, Normans, Germans; then left to rot by the French and Spanish.  We’ll conclude with the arrival of Garibaldi, Patton, and Francis Ford Coppola (not all at the same time).  Sicily is an unexpectedly subtle, fascinating, and wounded place that is central to Western history.

John Muir- taught by Fred White
John Muir (1838-1914), one of one of America's best loved nature writers and environmental activists, was at least several persons in one: inventor, wanderer, Alaskan adventurer, nature scribe, poet-in-prose, geologist, and planet steward whose efforts to preserve the Yosemite Valley led to its becoming a national park.  In this short, two-part course, we will read and discuss some of Muir's most lyrical essays, set in the Sierras, and some of his most influential environmental essays.  We'll even take a look, via some of his letters, at Muir's more whimsical side.
Required text: Essential Muir: A Selection of Muir's Best Writings, ed. Fred White (Heyday Books / California Legacy, 2006)

Behind the Scenes of Hair- The Musical – taught by Barbara Murray
When the rock musical Hair opened, John O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “No matter the reaction to the content…I suspect the form will be important to the history of the American musical.”    He was certainly correct.  Hair paved the way for the non-linear musical theatre innovations of the 1970s--shows such as Company, Follies, A Chorus Line and Working.  It also introduced the now popular “Rock Musical” format. This class will take a look at the musical Hair, its impact upon the American musical theatre, and its reflection of American popular culture/ politics of the 1960s. Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and music by Galt MacDermot. The musical was a product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, and several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. At the time, the musical's depiction of the use of illegal drugs, sexuality, profanity, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy, as did its in your face dealing with racism and a government and war that made no sense. Will it today?  Does this show have any relevance in today’s world, or is it just a museum piece to be done for nostalgia?


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