Academic Year 2021 Courses

Academic Year 2021 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.

You must be a OLLI member to sign up for Courses!

→ Courses are limited to 2021 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.  

Due to the Coronavirus there are changes to the schedule of courses.  We are planning to have one online course per month.  If you are a member of OLLI an email will be sent out prior to the course with the Zoom link for attending the online course.

Online Courses:

2027 American Prisoners of War in Vietnam: The joy of release and returning home
2028 Gravity - Apples to Black Holes
2029 Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2021

Short commentaries by Ronnie Gruhn

The OLLI Board has decided that there will be no fees for our classes during the pandemic.  

For future online courses:   We will open enrollment to all members... via email. First a message will go out informing all members of the upcoming course (title, date, time, instructor, description). 

Then, a week before the each class begins another email will remind members. Finally, on the day before or in the morning before the class begins (depends on timing), another email will go out to members with the actual Zoom link. 

There is no registration required for online courses.


2027 American Prisoners of War in Vietnam: The joy of release and the challenges of returning home, a firsthand account by the physician in charge. 

Dates:  February 16, 23       10 a.m.
Location:  Zoom online
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Hancey

Throughout the Vietnam conflict, our ground troops were usually killed, not captured. As Air Force and Navy fighters and bombers joined the combat and were shot down, the aircrews who survived were captured and held as “war criminals” in North Vietnamese prisons. As a group they were in no way like “average” POWs from any prior war. When the men were released in February 1973, most had been in captivity an average of 6 years. They had summoned remarkable coping techniques to sustain themselves through years of torture, months in solitary confinement, near-starvation food portions, tropical diseases, and other life-threatening challenges. Their first joyous hours of freedom were aboard USAF cargo planes specially configured for their comfort and staffed with flight surgeons and nurses trained by our speaker.

February 16, 2021: Dr. Hancey will describe his firsthand involvement in the emotionally charged mission of receiving the repatriated POWs in Hanoi, then accompanying them to their American home bases and (for some) reunion with their family. He has photos and videos of the mission.

February 23, 2021: This class will focus on the extraordinary circumstances endured by the wives of flyers listed as Missing In Action (MIA). In the mid-1960s the now-unaccompanied wives were often considered an inconvenience by military commanders. Politically, the wives were strongly cautioned to remain silent about their husband’s status, to not organize or contact elected representatives nor talk to the press, and to basically “not make waves.” Personally, they had to decide how to start their lives over, earn their own living, and raise their children “not knowing if I’m a wife or a widow.” They, too, had to develop remarkable coping techniques.

Richard Hancey obtained his M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 1962, then entered the USAF as a Flight Surgeon. After assignments in Nevada and Germany he was assigned to the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) in San Antonio as a resident in Aerospace Medicine. While there, he became the only Air Force officer involved in the early planning for evacuating and medically evaluating American POWs once they were released. In February 1973, he was the senior Flight Surgeon on flights bringing our men out of Hanoi. After his involvement with the returning POWs Dr. Hancey went on to become board certified in Psychiatry, retiring from the USAF in 1981 as Chief of the psychiatric service at Travis Air Force Base in California. Following his Air Force retirement, he worked for civilian organizations, for the Veteran’s Association, and, finally, for a major corporation, before retiring again in 1996. He now resides in Scotts Valley with his wife Susan.

2028 Gravity - Apples to Black Holes

Dates: Wednesdays, March 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28; 10 a.m. to Noon
Location: Zoom online
Instructor: Roger Knacke

The last five years have seen a spectacular revolution in our understanding of the force of gravity and its implications.  We’ve detected gravitational waves for the first time; seen huge black holes collide in titanic explosions; witnessed a neutron star collision with the formation of heavy elements including gold; saw many of Einstein’s ideas about general relativity corroborated; and, in 2019, imaged a colossal black hole’s shadow.  The course will begin with Isaac Newton’s first ideas of gravity, discuss major twentieth century theoretical and observational developments, describe the recent discoveries, and conclude with issues at the forefront of science.  No background in science is required for this non-mathematical course. 



  1. Newtonian Gravity
  2. The Einstein Relativity Revolution
  3. Black Holes Revealed
  4. The Mystery of Dark Matter
  5. Gravitational Waves

Dr. Roger Knacke is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Penn State Erie, where he retired as Director of the School of Science in 2010. His research interests are in interstellar matter and planetary atmospheres.

2029 Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2021

Tuesdays, March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30   10-12 a.m.
Location: Zoom (Online)
Instructor: Michael Warren

The texts for this series of five lectures will be two great and also very different plays that may be relatively unfamiliar to local audiences:  Richard II and Troilus and Cressida.

 Richard II is the first part of Shakespeare’s second tetralogy of English histories, a sharply focused political play that deals with the last years of the reign of King Richard II and his clash with Henry Bolingbroke.  Their contrasting personalities, the ambiguities in their motivations, and the complex political issues surrounding their conflict, Richard’s deposition, and Bolingbroke’s assumption of the throne produce an intense poetic drama that provides the foundation for understanding the dynastic conflicts of The Wars of the Roses.

 By contrast, Troilus and Cressida is a large expansive play, set during the Trojan War; it is unusual in that it defies the customary categories of comedy, history, and tragedy while it combines elements of all three.  It is a brilliant and profound work of disenchantment.   In the conduct of the war the nobility and heroism of the legendary warriors—Agamemnon, Achilles, Hector, and Ajax et al—are subjected, often comically, to skeptical examination.  Within the context of the war the young lovers Troilus and Cressida find their love thwarted by external circumstance; the conclusion of their tale, unlike that of Romeo and Juliet, is neither romantic nor tragic, but rather deeply painful.   

For the first class please read Richard II to the end of Act 3 Scene 2.

If you wish to purchase editions of the plays that are both responsibly annotated and inexpensive, I recommend either the Pelican or Folger series.  One can access the Folger texts online for free at <>, but they are without notes. 

Michael, a very knowledgeable and entertaining Shakespeare scholar, will discuss with us the two plays that Santa Cruz Shakespeare will be presenting next summer. We will send out a notice when the plays are announced.  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.

  • OLLI is not charging for these zoom classes, but we hope many of you will appreciate these classes so much that you will choose to make a contribution to our scholarship fund when you renew your membership. At this time, there are many UCSC re-entry students needing our help.