Osher Online - Winter 2021

Wednesday Courses

The Dead Sea (Qumran) Scrolls

Wednesdays: Jan. 13, 20, 27; Feb. 3 (4 Sessions)
9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

This four-session course will cover the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are considered the greatest archeological discovery of the Middle East. 

Jan. 13: The first session will cover the significance of the discovery location, the people who lived at Qumran and their lifestyle in the first century.  

Jan. 20: This session will compare the Essenes, who lived at Qumran, with the various other groups that existed during the life and times of Jesus; for example, the Sanhedrin, Priests, Levites, Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and rabbis of the day, as well as John the Baptist and Jesus.

Jan. 27: This session will cover the comparison between the Scrolls with scripture and the Hebrew language of the Bible. Specific parts of the Scrolls can be found in Isaiah and other portions of the Old Testament. 

Feb. 3: The final session will detail the final holdout of the Scroll community against the Roman army after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., and before the Masada downfall.

INSTRUCTOR: James R. Hillbrick grew up near Spo­kane, Wash. He graduated with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University and earned an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. He ministered in pastoral roles for 25 years. He retired from the pastorate in 2009, where he had served a rural Nazarene congregation in North Idaho for 10 years. He and his wife Kathi have lived in Columbia since 2011, and have three daughters, Julia Gaines and Janene Sun, here in Columbia, and middle daughter, Jenee O’Connor, in Wisconsin.   


Reading Moby-Dick

Wednesdays: Jan. 13, 20, 27; Feb. 3 (4 Sessions)
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Have you ever wanted to read Herman Melville's 1851 masterpiece Moby-Dick? As Ishmael, Melville's famous narrator, proclaims late in the novel, "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme," and few works of literature compare to Moby-Dick in scope and theme. The novel touches upon issues of science, religion, politics, sexuality, the environment and our interaction with the non-human world, while also being a rousing sea adventure.

In this course we will read the novel together, with instructor-led discussions and occasional lectures for context and background. We may also take time to consider some of the different artists—painters, sculptors, composers, et al.—who have been inspired by the novel.

With the right guidance and a community to share it with, reading Moby-Dick can be one of the most rewarding experiences of literature. I hope you will join me on the journey.

Instructor: Professor John Evelev teaches in the English department at the University of Missouri. He first read Moby-Dick as a sophomore in college and has gone on to publish extensively on Melville, including the book Tolerable Entertainment: Herman Melville and Professionalism in Antebellum New York (2006). Moby-Dick remains his favorite book, and though he has taught it many times, he always find something new to captivate him each time he rereads it.


Diversity in Romance Literature

Wednesdays: Jan. 13, 20, 27; Feb. 3 (4 Sessions)
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (CST)

Romance novels are built on concepts of love and optimism, but for several decades romance publishing has largely represented only white, heterosexual couples. Is there room for books about other cultures and non-heterosexual relationships to find success in this billion-dollar industry? This question is yet to be answered. In this class, we will look at the history of the romance novel, with particular attention to significant milestones. We will also examine the near demise of the Romance Writers of America, the trade organization for romance writing. What happens when a major organization fails to adequately respond to complaints of racism and other prejudices? What will it take to reform?

Instructor: Diane K. Peterson is a retired school library media specialist who promotes the romance novel industry as an analyst, speaker and reviewer. She is currently compiling an analytic history of the romance genre. She enjoys sharing her love of literature and tea, as well as her other interests with the Osher community.


Expertise and Community: 90 Minutes with Four UM System Presidential Engagement Fellows

Wednesdays: Jan. 13, 20, 27; Feb. 3 (4 Sessions)
3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The University of Missouri System is proud of the excellent teaching, breakthrough research, creative achievements and meaningful engagement of our faculty. The Presidential Engagement Fellows program was established to share these accomplishments with the citizens of Missouri in their own communities. This effort allows our faculty to make personal connections and fulfill our important mission to disseminate and apply knowledge for the benefit all Missourians.

This winter, we will host one fellow from each of the four UM campuses.

Jan. 13: COVID-19 and Physical Activity

Little is known about how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced physical activity levels for Missourians. This talk will present several studies that are under review that analyzed how active people have been during the pandemic. We will discuss individual perceptions of safe places to be active, differences in activity levels by race in the last eight months and how youth have been impacted by the closure of schools. Participants will discuss what we do about this problem and identify potential next steps. Lastly, we will talk about why improving physical activity levels for all is essential to prevent the severity of the next pandemic.

Instructor: Joey Lightner is an assistant professor and program director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He holds a Master’s of Public Health with an emphasis in physical activity and Ph.D. in kinesiology from Kansas State University. Through his research, Dr. Lightner strives to improve the lives of marginalized individuals by preventing disease before it occurs. He works to find ways of increasing physical activity, especially for youth in Kansas City.

Jan. 20: Designer Genes: Innovation and Design Thinking in the Life Sciences

In this presentation, participants will learn and discuss how the field of synthetic biology/genetic engineering is changing society. You will get a broad overview of what synthetic biology is and how it works. Participants will learn about some of the grand challenges being addressed with this emerging technology and discuss current and future industries. You will have an opportunity to brainstorm your own applications and discuss the social and ethical implications of this growing field. We also will see how synthetic biology is transforming biology education by inspiring design thinking and innovation in the life sciences in K-12 and higher education.

Instructor: Dave Westenberg is an associate professor of biological sciences at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Dr. Westenberg fell in love with the microbial world as an undergraduate student at Michigan State. It was there he first learned about the incredible diversity of microorganisms and their importance for life on Earth. His fascination with microbes and genetics led him to UCLA, where he earned his Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics. Before coming to Missouri S&T, he spent two years in Germany studying methane-producing microbes and then four years at Dartmouth College studying bacteria that benefit plants.

Jan. 27: It Takes a Village: Building a Generation of Body Positive Children

In this interactive, virtual workshop, Dr. Ramseyer Winter will briefly cover current research on body image and health, setting the stage for the importance of raising children with a positive body image. Then she will provide concrete tips on ways you can contribute to the positive body image development of the children and adolescents in your life, whether they’re family members, neighbors, etc. We will end with time for questions.

Instructor: A proud Mizzou Tiger, Ginny Ramseyer Winter is an assistant professor in MU’s School of Social Work, where she began in 2015. She also serves as director of the Center for Body Image Research & Policy (CBIRP), founded in 2018 and housed in MU’s College of Human Environmental Sciences. Ginny’s research is informed by her practice experience in human sexuality and sexual and reproductive justice. Her research examines body image in relation to health and health disparities experienced by marginalized individuals and communities.

Feb. 3: Myths vs. Reality: Re-examining Common Conceptions of Crime and the Criminal Justice System

Criminal justice policy has often been driven by misinformation and emotional decision-making, as opposed to research and data. This has contributed to the creation of policies that, while well-intended, have resulted in unintended negative consequences. This presentation will identify common conceptions about crime and the criminal justice system and present research, including work being done in St. Louis, that speaks to the validity of these beliefs. Policy solutions aimed at promoting transparency and combatting misinformation surrounding crime and criminal justice will also be discussed. Although there are no easy answers to many of the problems plaguing the U.S. criminal justice system, any solution must be built on accurate and robust data.

Instructor: Lee Slocum is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, where she has been a faculty member since 2007. She holds a Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland, College Park. Slocum studies police-citizen interactions with a focus on how these encounters shape people’s behavior and their perceptions of law enforcement. She researches how being stopped or arrested affects youth’s delinquency, willingness to report crime and views on using violence.


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