Academic Year 2024 Courses

Academic Year 2024 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 an OLLI member to sign up for Courses!

→ Courses are limited to 2024 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 read the entire description of each class, as some have different enrollment procedures.

Online Registration is available.  Sign into your OLLI account and go to the "Course" button and select the courses and follow the instructions.  Link to sign into your OLLI account click here!

For those that would like to send in your registration for any of the courses you can download a PDF Here!  For a Zoom link please include your email address on the form.  Please note that using the USPS to mail in registration will take 2 to 3 weeks to get recorded so plan accordingly.  

All courses have a $25.00 fee for each course.  Please include your check or credit card information as payment for the course or courses. 

2401 International Affairs 2024
2406 The Amazon and Humankind
2407 Modern Molecular Biology
2409 Introducing Anthony Trollope
2410 Eye Care, Disease, and Surgery
2411 Beyond the Binary: New Ways of Thinking about Sex and Gender


2401 International Affairs 2024

 When: Every other Monday on Youtube. Members receive notice of the class. There is no charge.
 Instructor: Prof. Emerita 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. Ronnie is continuing her series of YouTube commentaries on international affairs every other Monday. Watch your inbox for an email from OLLI with a link to the commentary. This is a special privilege for all OLLI members. 

Ronnie is very interested in answering any questions you may have about material she covers in her classes and other aspects of International Affairs. E-mail your questions to her at



2406 The Amazon and Humankind

When: Fridays, April 5, 12, 19, and 26  | 1:30 to 3:30
Location: London Nelson Center
Instructor: David Sweet

The vast Amazon basin is a unique, little-known space on our planet, one whose unique history can enlighten in many ways the history of the whole human race. This course will attempt to demonstrate the truth of that claim through eight 45-minute stories, proceeding in chronological order.

The first will say nothing at all about human beings.

The second will attempt to follow our humankind as we learned to live there and thrive for some ten thousand years.

The third will introduce a variety of European actors in their “discovery” of that space and its inhabitants

The fourth will examine the chaos introduced by European (mostly Portuguese) creators there of a barely functional “society without government” in the 17th and early 18th centuries.

 The fifth story is that of an impoverished, short-lived colonial government, a bloody “caste war” against historic oppression, and the incorporation of Amazonia into the independent Empire of Brazil.

The sixth examines the slow introduction of politics, the end of monarchy, foreign investment, and industrial capitalism in the 19th century. The seventh, foreign immigration, urbanization, and neglect by the government of Brazil, culminating in a U.S. supported military dictatorship bent on exploiting the wealth of Amazonia at all costs.

The final story will explore developments both horrifying and hopeful for Amazonia and the world since the return to Brazilian democracy in 1984.

David Sweet was born & largely raised in Cincinnati. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1959, he lived, worked and studied in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America for seven years before undergoing graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. There he joined the “Comparative Tropical History” program, focusing his studies on Latin American (especially Brazilian), South East Asian, and Early Modern World History. In 1971 he joined the history faculty in UCSC, where he taught Latin American (especially Mexican) and Early Modern history for thirty years, retiring in 2001.  Always an activist, he was a co-founder of Witness for Peace in the 1980s. Since retiring, he has been active in ACLU, the Community Action Board, and a variety of activities focused on human rights.

2407 Modern Molecular Biology

When: Saturdays, May 4, 11, 18, 25  | 10:30 to noon
Location: Room 240, Physical Sciences Building, UCSC
Instructor: Barry Bowman, Professor Emeritus, Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology

The last 50 years have seen tremendous progress in our understanding of the genes, proteins and other molecules that combine to form living organisms.  In this course four UCSC Professors will talk about recent discoveries in molecular biology. Professor Barry Bowman, the course coordinator, will begin with a basic review of genes and proteins. These talks are intended for a general audience. A scientific background or knowledge of biology is not expected.  Free parking is available near the classroom.

  • May 4  Barry Bowman: An introduction to molecular biology
  • May 11  Michael Patnode: How do microbes living in the human intestine compete with one another for nutrients in the foods we eat?
  • May 18  Shaheen Sikandar: How do stem cells in normal tissue differ from stem cells in cancer tissue?
  • May 26  Valerie Cortez: What are the molecular mechanisms by which viruses infect the cells of young children?


2409 Introducing Anthony Trollope

When: Tuesdays, May 7, 14, 21, 28   |   10:30 to 12:30
London Nelson Community Center
Instructor: Bill Park

Both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James—coming from two different generations of America—believed that Anthony Trollope’s novels gave an uncannily accurate picture of Victorian England. The characters in Trollope’s novels face such romantic turmoil, pecuniary difficulties, and moral decisions that they give us a feeling not just of Victorian life, but of the human condition.  I know of no novelist of any period who better offers such a range of three-dimensional characters, and no novelist is a more gifted storyteller. Imagine! Trollope wrote no fewer than forty-seven novels--all of them worth reading--while managing the Postal System of the British Empire. Trollope invented the mailbox. The course will focus on one novel (as yet to be determined) but will examine his art and vision.

A happy bonus: Audible Books offers a lively enhancement of the assigned novel read by the incomparable Timothy West. "In this course we will read Can You Forgive Her?, the first of The Palliser novels. Please acquire the Penquin Classics edition ( offers many). I strongly suggest that you also acquire the Audible edition of the book read by Timothy West. West's reading enhances the pleasures of the novel and enables you to listen while driving or doing chores ~ or just plain relaxing.

Try to read or listen to the first ten chapters before the first class."

Bill Park Professor Emeritus of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College, where he taught for many years. He received his PhD in Eighteenth Century English Literature from Columbia University and 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 have attended his classes were impressed by his encyclopedic knowledge of film and literature.

2410 Eye Care, Disease, and Surgery

When: Wednesday June 5, 12, 26 | 10:30-12:00
Location: London Nelson Center  (Also on Zoom)
Instructor: Michael Lahey MD, ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon

Have you ever wished you had more time to discuss your visual problem and its treatment options with your ophthalmologist? Mike Lahey, retinal surgeon and ophthalmologist, will cover multiple facets of eye care, including common visual diseases of the aging eye, such as cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma, vascular retinal disease, and dry eye. He will get into the how and why of modern ophthalmic treatment often not afforded by typical office visits. Ophthalmic testing, laser types, kinds of surgery, and treatment of common diseases will be discussed along with the embryology, anatomy, and physiology of the eye. The eye is a fascinating organ; participating in this course shall help you understand its beauty and function in health and disease.

Dr Lahey is a semi-retired retinal surgeon who graduated from University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and trained in ophthalmology at UCSF followed by a UCLA fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery. Thereafter he was one of the busiest retinal surgeons in the bay area at Hayward Kaiser Permanente. Currently he works with veterans at the VA Hospital in Livermore.

2411 Beyond the Binary: New Ways of Thinking about Sex and Gender

When: Wednesdays, April 3, 10, 17, 24    10:30 to 12:30 a.m.
Where:  London Nelson Community Center
Instructor:  Mary Crawford

What's up with gender?  It used to be so simple.  Men were manly and women were womanly, and everyone was (assumed to be) heterosexual.  But Facebook now has more than fifty categories for gender identity; more and more people are claiming a spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations.   However, intersex, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and nonbinary individuals have existed throughout history and across cultures.  In this course, we will explore the biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors that influence the formation of physical sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  We will address questions about the psychological effects of differences in sexual development (intersex) conditions on sexual development.  We will explore sexual identity: transitioning, living in a new gender, and why the number of transgender people seems to be increasing rapidly.    We will look at the nonbinary world, looking at societies other than our own that allow for the existence of not two but three sexes: female, male and .......another, and nonbinary people in our own society.  We will discuss the relationship between gender identity and sexual orientation. is there a difference between gay behavior and gay identity?  is there a gay gene?  Throughout this updated course, I will critically analyze the latest research.  There will be time for questions and discussion.

If you are curious about why some individuals want to be referred to as "they," unsure about the meaning of terms like cisgender, genderqueer, and nonbinary, or weary of political battles over medical care for trans youth, this course will add to your understanding of current sex and gender issues.  It is an exploration of the complex factors that contribute to making each of us a gendered and sexually oriented human being.

Mary Crawford, PhD is Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Connecticut. Her research has focused on women and gender, particularly in contexts of health, sexuality, and communication. A Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, she has authored more than 120 journal articles and chapters and written/edited 10 books including a widely adopted text for students, Transformations: Women, Gender, and Psychology. (4th Ed, 2018)