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OLLI at Vanderbilt Mission Statement:
OLLI at Vanderbilt helps adults over 50 rediscover the joy of learning and build community through diverse social interaction.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Vanderbilt University is an inclusive group that strives to organize and present to the greater Nashville community stimulating intellectual and cultural noncredit courses, programs, and trips for adults over 50 of all educational backgrounds.  OLLI focuses on the joy of learning.  Interesting topics are explored with thought-provoking and engaging instructors, who are primarily active or retired Vanderbilt faculty, as well as other community experts.  In a relaxed atmosphere, with no homework, tests, or grades, you have the opportunity to ask questions, contribute ideas, and interact with people who share similar interests.  OLLI participants exercise their minds while making new friends, not only in the classroom but through other educational activities, special events and community engagement. 


SUMMER ONLINE REGISTRATION IS CLOSED! TO BE CONSIDERED FOR LATE REGISTRATION, CALL OUR OFFICE AT 615-343-0700.
Please call our office at 615-343-0700, or email us at oshervu@vanderbilt.edu with questions, or to join the email list! 

List of Classes - Summer 2022:

Art in Context: Looking Beyond the Brushstrokes

Using a “case study” approach, this class will examine how both transitional and static political organization and socioeconomic conditions; theology, ritual, and practice; cross-cultural connections; and periods of exceptional upheaval have informed the visual (and in some cases, more broadly cultural) production of an era or area. Among the topics to be discussed are the Protestant and Catholic/Counter Reformations of the 16th and 17th centuries; Buddhist art in Japan; the interplay of European and Japanese artistic traditions in the late 19th century; works of the Mughal Empire; and the varied responses to the rapidity of change in the late 19th and early 20th century Europe and America. This course will be recordedWatch video

China’s Modernization

China, officially the People's Republic of China, has achieved what no other nation or civilization has accomplished in the annals of recorded history. Within an approximate 30 year period, China has gone from a society mired in abject poverty as a result of Chairman Mao’s attempt to create a total egalitarian society coupled with an attack on intellectuals and anyone with a bourgeoisie background, to a modern society with the second largest economy in the world. In the process, they have taken hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to a middle and upper-class status. This class will attempt to provide an explanation on how this was accomplished based on numerous factors unique to China’s cultural and political history. I will draw upon my research as an associate professor of Chinese history and philosophy and having spent over thirty years traveling in China as a consultant on trade with China. At the conclusion of the class, we hope you will have an understanding of both what China has accomplished and how it was accomplished. It is unique to China and cannot be compared to the U.S. model nor serve as a model for Russia. This course will be recordedWatch video

How to Write a Memoir

How to Write a Memoir is an eight-week workshop designed to motivate and inspire by providing guidelines and organizational tips on how to get started writing a personal or family story to save, distribute, and/or publish. Writing techniques discussed will help participants plan and organize their personal stories. There will be writing exercises during class and each participant will be encouraged to write and share a memoir essay with the group. All classes will be interactive with ideas shared, personal manuscripts read, and group feedback provided. Limited to 20 participants. Watch video

Learning, Memory, and the Brain

Learning and memory rank at the top of the list of all the remarkable feats performed by the human brain. Without the ability to learn and to remember, we would not be able to adapt to the complex and ever-changing environment in which we live. While other animals do learn and adapt their behavior, our ability to learn and remember is unmatched in the animal kingdom. Moreover, we alone have memory, which is deeply imbued with meaning. To appreciate this, just imagine not being able to remember your loved ones or the episodes that have defined your life. In this course, we will explore how learning and memory are both similar and dissimilar across different animal species. We will also discuss a few clinical disorders that are associated with changes in memory. Lastly, we will outline various lifestyle factors that play a role in maintaining a healthy brain so that we are able to continue to learn—and to remember—as we age. Recordings will be available to all registrants in order to serve those that prefer not to meet in person. We ask that all attending class in person are vaccinated. Recordings will be available to all registrants in order to serve those that prefer not to meet in person. We ask that all attending class in person are vaccinated.

OLLI Steel Drum Band - ADVANCED

After excelling in the Beginner and Intermediate Bands, it is time to approach music that is more difficult. We will implement more advanced musical terminology and playing techniques. This group often performs in the Vanderbilt Steel Bands Concert at Blair School of Music. Recommendations for enrollment: Prerequisite of the Beginner and Intermediate levels is required unless instructor permission is granted through invitation or a short audition; reading music is very helpful but not essential as long as you learn quickly by ear; strong rhythmic comprehension is helpful; understanding the concepts of underlying pulse, syncopation, and being able to hear and repeat rhythms is helpful; willingness to practice before class recommended if needed. Watch video

OLLI Steel Drum Band - BEGINNER

This musical journey to the Caribbean is a hands-on experience where you will learn how to play the steel drums. During the seven-week term, we will approach proper playing techniques, which we will apply by learning a song. History of the art form and its birthplace will be discussed in class, along with easy “homework” assignments (short YouTube videos, articles, listening examples). Come join us for a low-stress, fun musical adventure! Recommendations for enrollment: No musical experience needed but helpful; able to stand for 60-75 minutes; reasonable mobility in fingers, wrists, and arms; willingness to practice before class recommended if needed. Watch video

OLLI Steel Drum Band - INTERMEDIATE

For those who have grasped the basics, this band will refine the basics and techniques on the steel pans. We will work on slightly more difficult music and dive deeper into the culture of Trinidad and the steel band art form. Recommendations for enrollment: Prerequisite of the beginner level is required unless instructor permission is granted through invitation or a short audition; reading music is helpful but not essential; able to stand for 60-75 minutes; reasonable mobility in fingers, wrists, and arms; willingness to practice before class recommended if needed. Watch video

The Mind of the Maker: Why ART Is Not a Noun

Although the course’s title might seem to suggest an academic or philosophical stance, in fact exactly the opposite is the case: the presentations will instead be more experiential—on the parts of both makers and partakers of ART. A subtitle for the series might be, “Searching for the internal animating energy in calligraphy, drawing, melody, and verse.” Examples will be presented from the calligraphic and graphic art of Michelangelo, Lippi, Cadmus, and Schiele, and original prints by Barton Brown, Leo Meissner, Türe Bengtz, and Bernard Buffet. One entire session will be devoted to Michelangelo’s wordplay with his name. Melodic lines by Bach, Brahms, and others will be considered, as will poems by Wyatt, Shakespeare, Housman, Milosz, and Olds. Finally, two of Smith’s own art song settings of Housman and Milosz will be studied, demonstrating how a melodic line can be “found” in verse and then a complete musical setting of it created. Recordings will be available to all registrants in order to serve those that prefer not to meet in person. We ask that all attending class in person are vaccinated. Watch video

The Television Canon of Producer Norman Lear at 100

Over the course of an extraordinary career, producer Norman Lear has done nothing less than shape—and then re-shape— the American television landscape. Beginning with All in the Family, which launched in 1971 when Lear was already 49, and continuing into the 21st century with Netflix’s One Day at a Time revival and his Emmy-winning specials Live in Front of a Studio Audience, Lear has established himself a one-man and long-serving TV force. The Television Canon of Producer Norman Lear at 100 explores the many prime-time achievements and highlights of the man who, yes, turns 100 years old in July 2022. This course will be recordedWatch video

Theater as Literature: The One-Act Play

The course will focus on the analysis of dramatic works, with the reading and discussion of one-act plays. In certain respects, the reading of a play transforms the reader into a type of director, who can imagine inflection of the lines and a staging of the work. The course will be virtual and limited in the number of participants, so that the class sessions will be open—fittingly—to dialogue. The plays will include selections by August Strindberg, Anton Chekhov, Ferenc Molnar, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Louise Bryant, Arnold Bennett, Susan Glaspell, Alice Gerstenberg, Joseph Shipley, and others. Participants will receive files with copies of the play texts and “points to consider.” The readings will average approximately 45 pages per session. Limited to 25 participants. Watch video


The Division of Government and Community Relations sponsors the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt.