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Osher Institute announces Fall 2011 course schedule

September 20, 2011

Music in Western Culture, World Religions, Adventures in Judaism, American Musical Theatre, Constitutional History of the U.S., and Portrait Drawing are among the many classes being offered this fall by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Arizona State University.

The Institute provides low-cost educational and cultural courses and programs for participants ages 50 and above.  Fall classes begin Sept. 27 and run until Jan. 25.  Courses vary in length, with most classes running an average of four to six weeks.

Courses are offered at various locations including ASU’s West campus in northwest Phoenix, Tempe Connections at the Tempe Public Library, Friendship Village Tempe, and Sun City Grand in Surprise.

This semester, the Osher program is partnering with the Arizona Science Center to offer an exploration lecture and a personalized tour of the exhibition "Pirates," and with the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) to offer a series of workshops and concerts.  Both programs are exclusive for OLLI at ASU students.

“The 50-plus generation is now known as the encore generation,” said Richard Knopf, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU. “Never has there been a greater thirst by seniors to explore, chart new destinies, expand horizons and serve others. The Osher program at ASU opens doors not only to learn, but to find meaningful pathways to ignite people’s talents in a way that gives back to their communities.”

Knopf’s sentiments were echoed by retired Valley physician Gene Severino, who has taken a number of Osher courses on ASU’s West campus with his wife, Carol.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with golf, but playing golf 24/7 is the old version of retirement,” Severino said. “The new retiree wants to explore topics and ideas he or she didn’t have the time to learn about before. The Osher Institute provides a perfect opportunity to exercise your mind. All of the courses and instructors I’ve experienced have been top-quality.”

Rabbi David Davis has been teaching Adventures in Judaism for nearly 45 years. The course is an examination of the history, literature, and religion of Ancient and Modern Judaisms. He says it’s a wonderful adventure teaching others about religious history. 

“The course traces history for 4,000 years and most students who enroll in the class are not Jewish. They enjoy learning about the connections between Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” says Davis.

Guy Whatley teaches two courses focusing on Music in Western Culture.

“About five hundred years ago a number of things, such as property rights, individual liberty, capitalism, the scientific method, were adopted in Western Culture and resulted in an entirely new way to live on this planet. With such significant social and economic changes, it is therefore not surprising that these people would create a new type of music. The fun thing about teaching this class is that we will go into great detail about the history of western music and its cultural and economic context,” says Whatley.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU programs are funded in part by the Bernard Osher Foundation, which supports university-quality educational offerings for mature students interested in learning for the love of learning. ASU is one of several colleges and universities across the United States to have been awarded a permanent Osher Foundation endowment to sustain and support its programs.

Registration procedures vary by location; details are available at or by calling (602) 543-6440.