Academic Year 2019 Courses

Academic Year 2019 Courses

Our courses provide opportunities for our members to delve more deeply into fascinating subjects, hear from outstanding teachers, and have fun as well: no exams, no grades, but ample opportunities to participate in discussions.

The courses vary a great deal in length, but the donation we ask for each course is the same — $20/person/course. Because the lecturers are not compensated (except for the pleasure of having truly interested and interesting students), your contributions are used for scholarships for re-entry and transfer students.

For all course registrations, you will receive an email acknowledging your acceptance in the course. For on-line registrations, it will be automatically generated and sent shortly after you register. For mail-in registration, we manually send you an email confirmation. In either case, later you will receive a letter from the university acknowledging your donation.

You will not be charged if you can't enroll (because the course is full), and if you sent a check it will be returned.

You must be a OLLI member to sign up for Courses!
→ Courses are limited to 2019 members of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCSC. If you wish to join, go to our home page and use the section titled Join OLLI at UCSC or Renew Your Membership.  Please wait an hour to register after you have renewed.  There might be a delay after renewal before your OLLI status is changed.  If you have not had your status changed you will get a blank set of courses when you go to the signup page.

On Line Registration is available!


  1. Course 1911 was cancelled - See Lois Widom for details.
  2. Courses 1910, 1908, 1913, and 1914 are completed and no longer offered.
  3. All courses are available online for registration!  

Spring 2018 Courses are shown below.  More courses are expected to be added soon.  Please check back and check your newsletter for additional courses.

If instead of registering for courses on-line, you want to print, fill-out, and mail a paper registration form, then click here to print the registration form. Download the form to your computer, print it, fill it out, and mail it as directed on the form.


Courses Table of Contents

Click on links, below, for details:
1908 – Espressivo - Spring 2019  - Completed
1910 – The Beauty of Mathematics    - Completed
1911 - Vital Supporting Roles In Opera  - Cancelled!!!
1912 - Old Problems, New Issues In International Affairs
1913 - Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2019 - Completed
1914 - "No More Mammies” - an overview of African American playwrights - Completed
1915 - John Ford's West
1916 - Spotlight Returns
1917 - Food and Biochemistry
1918 - Mazel by Rebbeca Goldstein

1908 – Espressivo (Note: If you registered for this course in the Fall you do not need to register again)  - Closed

March 14, 21   10-12 in the morning 
Location: Music Room, Peace United Church 900 High Street
Instructor: Michel Singher

OLLI’s special relationship with Maestro Michel Singher and his ensemble — Espressivo — A Small Intense Orchestra — will continue this Fall. Our members have been thrilled with hearing Maestro Singher's brilliant explications of the works before attending his concerts.

                       March 14, 21:    Heart and Brain---Romantics and Reaction

      Michel Singher is Artistic Director of  Espressivo—a small, intense orchestra. He had retired as Coordinator of Opera at SJSU, but soon decided he could use some more learning as his life became long. Previous academic positions included being the music director of orchestras and opera and teaching conducting, first at the University of Washington, then at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

     Off campus, Michel has been an opera conductor in Hamburg, Antwerp, Buffalo, Denver and Phoenix, among many other pits, and has surfaced on the symphonic podiums of the Berlin Radio Symphony, Hamburg Symphony and Seattle Symphony,.  He and his abstract painter wife Elizabeth Kaminski moved from New York to Felton ten years ago, and haven’t regretted it a single day.

1910 – The Beauty of Mathematics:  Non-Euclidian Geometries and Other Wondrous Geometric Objects  - Closed

        January 14, 21, 28, and Feb 4   10-noon.
        Location:  Museum of Art and History 705 Front Street
        Instructor:  Peter Farkas
     In this class we take a historical view of Euclid's Elements, and discuss the geometries that come up in this context, namely the Euclidian geometry, and the two common non-Euclidian geometries (hyperbolic and elliptic).  My aim is to provide some insight that clears up the mystery often associated with these fancy names.  We will take frequent detours to present and admire various geometric objects or spaces. These lectures will be mostly descriptive, with fewer proofs than in my previous classes.  Like before, I will have asides and historical notes. The only prerequisite for this class is curiosity about these topics.  No special knowledge beyond middle school mathematics will be assumed.

I started out as a mathematician with a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Bucharest, Romania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.  I started an academic career as a mathematician but swerved at some point and became a software engineer.  Throughout my software engineering career, my love and awe for mathematics persisted, and now, in retirement, I am returning to it.

1911 - Vital Supporting Roles In Opera ---  Cancelled!!


1912 - Old Problems, New Issues In International Affairs

         February 5, March 5, APRIL 9       10-12 in the morning
         Location:  Fellowship Hall, Peace United Church of Christ     900 High Street
         Instructor; Ronnie Gruhn

         We are again fortunate to have Ronnie Gruhn, Professor Emerita of Politics at UCSC, as one of our teachers.  She has a passionate and undiminished interest in reading, writing, and talking about world affairs.  Her courses offer powerful insights into what is happening today.  Ronnie has been very generous in sharing her knowledge with OLLI members, and her courses have been exceedingly well attended.

1913 - Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2019 - Closed

          March 12, 19, 26, April 2    10-12 in the morning
          Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front Street
          Instructor:  Michael Warren

The four lectures will be devoted to the plays of the 2019 Santa Cruz Shakespeare season:  The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale.  These plays were written about seventeen years apart and display characteristics of Shakespeare’s early and late works.  The Comedy of Errors is a lively and popular situation comedy from early in his career that concerns two sets of twins and mistaken identity.  The Winter’s Tale, one of his last plays, is a profound imaginative work that begins as intense psychological drama set in a court, moves into festive comedy in a rustic setting, and concludes harmoniously (like Errors) with a wonderful restoration; it also features the unusual stage direction “Exit pursued by a bear.” 

Members of the course should read the first four acts of The Comedy of Errors for the first class.

Michael, a very knowledgable and entertaining Shakespeare scholar, will discuss with us the two plays that Santa Cruz Shakespeare will be presenting next summer.   Over the years our members have found that taking this class greatly enhances their understanding and enjoyment of the plays.

     Professor Warren is emeritus professor of literature at UCSC and Textual Consultant and Dramaturg to Santa Cruz Shakespeare since its inception, earlier as Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

1914 - "No More Mammies” - an overview of African American playwrights - Closed

 February 6, 13, 20, 27   10-noon

Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front Street

Instructor:  Aimee Zygmonski

This course is designed to engage students in a sampling of dramatic literature from mainly female African American playwrights. Through close readings of various plays, lively discussion, and supplemental materials, we will discuss how race, gender, and stereotype operate within the texts as well as interrogate the intersections of race and performance in the everyday. 

Aimee Zygmonski has led a dual life as an arts administrator and theater educator, both in the performing arts and academia. She holds at PhD from UC San Diego in theater history and criticism with a focus on contemporary African American women playwrights. She taught at UC San Diego, Univ of Nevada Las Vegas, and UC Santa Cruz and worked at The Public Theater, Roundabout Theater Company, La Jolla Playhouse, and currently, Santa Cruz Shakespeare.

1915 - John Ford's West   

  April 1,8, 15, 22     9:30am to 12:30pm
  Location:  Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
  Instructor:  Bill Park

 John Ford, Hollywood’s most honored director, worked in many genres--as varied as The Informer, Grapes of Wrath, The Quiet Man. But Ford is best known for his more than five decades of work in the western. Although the western is the original Hollywood genre—the one that attempts to explain the myth of America--many sophisticated critics look down upon it. Westerns invariably deal, however superficially, in the very basic issue of law and order. In his post World War II westerns, Ford so deeply explores this issue that the films become a commentary on civilization and its discontents. These consist of the problems of inclusion, racism, and the relationship of society to violence. This course will examine four of these films: My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), The Searchers (1956)–thought to be the best Western and among the best films ever made–and finally The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Bill Park is an Emeritus Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College, where he taught for many years. He received his PhD in Eighteenth Century English Literature from Columbia University. He has written extensively about literature and film. We are fortunate that he has moved to Santa Cruz and is eager to share his knowledge with us.  Our members who attended his class on Film Noir were impressed by his encyclopedic knowledge of film.

1916 - Spotlight Returns

 May 1, 8. 15, 22, 29 and June 5    10am-12pm
 Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
 Instructor: Margot Hoffman

Come join us for this series of workshops; explore the technical, performance, and literary aspects of theater. A little theater history & literature, theater practice & performance and of course theater games. This class is designed with the students' interests and input in mind with the overall goal to understand theatrical theories, tools and applications. Break out of your shell, try something new, find your voice on the stage and have fun with new friends.

This season professional guest artists will be joining us for mini workshops on things such as but not limited to: auditions, character technical theater, play analysis, Chicano theater. Additionally, I intend to delve more into alternative theater movements and techniques (that is outside of realism). 

Margot Hoffman is a teacher and professional music artist from Santa Cruz, California. She has taught theater, art, and poetry in both schools and jails, as well as being fortunate enough to work with Osher's Life Long Learner's for the past two years. Today, she works with adults at the Career Advancement Charter School in Watsonville, as well as being a board member of the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County. 

1917 - Food and Biochemistry

Mar 9, 16, 23, 30  10:30am -12:00pm
Location: Physical Sciences Building, Room 240, UCSC campus
Instructor:  Barry Bowman

The food we eat is a complex mix of thousands of different kinds of chemicals.  However, most of these chemicals can be put into a few simple categories, e.g. fats, carbohydrates and proteins.  In this course we will see how the human body uses these chemicals and converts them into living tissue or into energy.  We will explore questions like “Why does fat have more calories than sugar, and what is a calorie”?  What are vitamins and what do they do in our bodies?  What is difference between LDL and HDL carriers of cholesterol? 

Participants are not expected to have a background in science.  The content of the course will be largely the same as in previous years, but those who wish to participate again are welcome.

Barry Bowman is Professor Emeritus of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCSC

1918 – Mazel by Rebbeca Goldstein

June 11, 13, 18 and 20      10am-12pm
Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
Instructor: Murray Baumgarten and Peter Kenez

          Rebecca Goldstein's novel, Mazel, is her great work; it is a philosophical novel, which covers more than a century of Jewish/Western culture, by telling the stories of four generations. It moves from the mid-nineteenth century Shtetl, to Emancipation, and the new opportunities it provided, including the migration to European cities, and immigration to the new world and how that provided a new arena for Jewish action. The role of the theatre is central throughout, and we know that Rebecca Goldstein worked with the Yiddish translations/performances of Shakespeare -- especially King Lear and Hamlet.  Her novel works through the different genres of modern Jewish writing,

           it is a prizewinning novel and helped her receive a MacArthur Award

           Murray will be talking about narrative strategies, feminism, and character in Mazel as well as the literary history of Jewish writing.  Peter will inform us on the background--the Shtetl, the Haskalah, Urbanization, and Immigration.

            You may want to start reading Mazel before the class begins.