Take the classes you always wanted to take, without assignments, tests or grades. Our instructors are SDSU faculty and other recognized experts in their fields. Each semester offers a new set of courses and activities, on a wide array of topics.

Courses

2018 Fall2019 Spring2019 Summer
2019 Spring
OF 0003.100 Hitchcock: The Films and the Man

Hitchcock is the master of suspense. His films continue to be popular and fascinating even in the 21st century. What ideas and major themes did he use, and how do they still connect with us today? Discover what made this legendary filmmaker tick, and view excerpts from several of his classic films to see how he expressed himself. Also learn the meaning of Hitchcock’s term, “MacGuffin.”

Format: 40% Lecture, 10% Interactive discussion, 50% Film screenings

Course Date(s)
February 21 - February 28
2019 Spring
OF 0003.101 How Does Migration Feel? A Psychology of Immigrants and Migration

Immigration is a hot topic, but the individual experience of immigrants may be lost in the political discussions. What is the psychological impact of migration on the lives of immigrants? What makes a person decide to leave their country while others in similar circumstances stay? How does it feel to migrate to another country? What is the impact of intersections of gender, race, class, ethnicity, age, education and sexual orientation on the experience of migration? We’ll explore some answers to these questions that go beyond political points of view.

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
February 26 - March 12
2019 Spring
OF 0003.102 California History Since the Gold Rush

Ever wondered about the origin and basis for the California Dream? Why has this idea persisted for more than a century? We’ll explore key moments in California’s history from the late 19th century to the present, and the state’s impact on the nation’s social, cultural, political, and economic landscape. In particular, we’ll explore efforts to re-imagine the state after the Gold Rush, the rise of Southern California, Hollywood, WWII, the turbulent ’60s, and contemporary issues like water and the environment.

Format: 80% Lecture, 20% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
March 4 - April 15
$69
Instructors
John Putman
2019 Spring
OF 0003.103 Was Alexander Great?

In this exploration of Alexander the Great’s life, we will examine critical points in his career to try to understand this celebrated yet enigmatic figure. Learn how to analyze contradictory and incomplete information, and how to approach the concept of “greatness” in a person. You will have the opportunity to construct your own view of Alexander and his accomplishments, to answer the title question.

Format: 65% Lecture, 35% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
March 11 - March 25
2019 Spring
OF 0003.104 Exploring Ethics in Psychology Research: Past, Present, and Future

If we assume ethics and research have always gone hand-in-hand, history suggests otherwise. We’ll look at the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Authority Experiment, which helped us learn more about the human psyche but had unexpected and disastrous consequences for those involved. We’ll discuss the importance of ethics in research; how research is responsibly designed, conducted, and translated to the public; and how researchers are continually trying to improve their ethical standards while still gaining a better understanding of human behavior.

Format: 65% Lecture, 35% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
March 14 - March 28
2019 Spring
OF 0003.105 Talmudic Solutions to Modern Conundrums

Apply brain-twisting Talmudic reasoning to solve real-life modern dilemmas — situations that actually happened yet seem impossible to solve. Is it ever acceptable to take the law into your own hands? If you unscrewed the winning soda cap while dining at a friend’s house, who has the right to claim the prize? Should Pokémon Go programmers be liable for damages incurred by the actions of private gamers? With these and many more examples, this course is a mental expedition of choosing between two reasonable truths.

Format: 50% Lecture, 50% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
March 19 - April 16
2019 Spring
OF 0003.106 My Architect: Film Screening and Tour of the Salk Institute

Filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn is the son of Louis Kahn, a pre-eminent 20th century American architect. My Architect is Nathaniel’s attempt to come to terms with his father’s personal and professional legacy. Examining this film and excerpts from other “father/son” films, documentary filmmaker Mark Freeman considers the architecture of filmmaking. The class offers fresh insights into the creative process and the complexity of family dynamics. See how an architect and filmmakers work to bring their visions to life. The second class session is a guided tour of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, one of Louis Kahn’s greatest achievements. It includes an opportunity to meet with a Salk scientist. Students are encouraged to consider how a sense of place informs the innovative research taking place in the laboratories designed by Kahn.

Format: 30% Lecture, 20% Interactive discussion, 50% Film viewing

Course Date(s)
March 21 - March 28
$49
Instructors
Mark Freeman
2019 Spring
OF 0003.107 Aggression and Human Nature

In the past 3,000 years, why have only about 200 been without war? The history of humanity reveals an endless stream of aggression by individuals and nations. In fact, the frequency and severity of human aggression would lead many to conclude that it’s indelibly stamped on the human genome. The controversy generated by this issue, and most other debates on human behavior, involves this single, critical question: Are people the product of their genes or their environment? Most students are shocked by what many of history’s great minds have opined on this topic.

Format: 85% Lecture, 15% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
March 20 - April 3
$40
Instructors
Bruno Leone
2019 Spring
OF 0003.108 Mid-20th Century Art in Europe and America

After World War I, the idea that art could play a central role in bringing about a better society became a collective endeavor among artists, designers, and architects. See how visual artists portrayed the realities of the era, the Depression years, and World War II, by developing a modernist language of Art Deco, Precisionism, and Social Realism. Experience an in-depth study of such artists as Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, and Georgia O’Keeffe; the Bauhaus architects and Frank Lloyd Wright; Regionalists Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton; and the symbolic paintings of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Format: 70% Lecture, 20% Interactive discussion, 10% Hands-on activity

Course Date(s)
March 22 - April 26
2019 Spring
OF 0003.109 Equality, Fairness, Liberty, and the Constitution

Equality, Fairness, Liberty, and the Constitution

Learn how the U.S. Constitution protects —and fails to protect — against discriminatory, arbitrary, or liberty-invading governmental action. With a focus on the Constitution’s Equal Protection and Due Process guarantees, we’ll look at key decisions by the Supreme Court and other government officials about the meaning of these fundamental rights. We’ll explore affirmative action, and whether such programs undermine or further equality; when governments must give notice and fair procedure before taking away drivers’ licenses and other government benefits; why only some privacy rights are strongly protected; and much more.

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
March 22 - April 26
2019 Spring
OF 0003.110 1968: A Pivotal Year as Captured on Film

The Tet offensive. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Olympic protests. Apollo 8. The year 1968 remains one of the most tumultuous in history, and we’ll explore how its major events are remembered by their respective cultures, and discuss our own memories of these events. We’ll look at some of the more important films of 1968 and analyze how they reflect their time and continue to influence our current era. In addition, we’ll discuss a variety of texts that look at these events from a socio-cultural position.

Format: 25% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion, 45% Film screenings

Course Date(s)
March 22 - April 26
2019 Spring
OF 0003.111 Carmen Live at San Diego Opera

No one got involved with Carmen without being wounded. Opera’s most famous heroine was also the sexiest and most puzzling in a world of emotional heavyweights. This course will explore Bizet’s masterpiece — the origin of the story; a performance history of famous Carmens; and the musical construction itself, bringing us closer to the dramatic power of this timeless story of seduction, murder, and betrayal. You also have the option to attend a live performance of Carmen by the San Diego Opera at Civic Theater. Please purchase your tickets (choose from four dates) at sdopera.org/francisthumm_osher. Your Osher at SDSU discount will already be applied. All are welcome to attend the optional post-show discussion.

Format: 60% Lecture, 10% Interactive discussion, 20% Hands-on activity, 10% Demonstration

Course Date(s)
March 26 - April 9
2019 Spring
OF 0003.112 Women Saints: What We Can Learn from Them

What can Joan of Arc, Rose of Lima, Theresa of Avila, and other women saints teach us regardless of our religious background? Their life stories have provided inspiration for men and women for centuries. Their strategies of resistance and accommodation to authority and normative women’s roles are still relevant today despite their different historical and cultural contexts. Their involvement in the political and socio-cultural realities of their time reveal characters very different from the trite depiction of saints as silent and submissive. We’ll look at the lives and writings of some remarkable women who can still be role models for 21st century men and women seeking answers for present-day questions.

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
April 2 - April 30
2019 Spring
OF 0003.113 Never Trust Anyone Under 40!

The rallying cry of baby boomers in the 1960s was “Never trust anyone over 30!” Have the tables turned? Is it the millennial generation (23- to 38-year-olds) that boomers must now worry about as the pressure builds for millennials to re-allocate resources away from the elderly? What are millennials like, and how different are they from prior generations? (Hint: VERY). What may occur as this next generation, already larger than the baby boom cohort (born 1946–1964), assumes economic and political command of our nation in the next couple of decades?

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
April 8 - April 15
2019 Spring
OF 0003.114 The Arts of the Middle Ages

Are you fascinated by the Middle Ages? Love great medieval cathedrals? Plan on traveling in Italy, France, England, or Germany? This course will introduce you to numerous treasures of art: Early Christian and Byzantine churches and mosaics, Celtic and Viking illuminated manuscripts and high crosses, Romanesque basilicas, and magnificent Gothic cathedrals (think Chartres!). Don’t miss this exciting journey with art historian Douglas Barker through an outstanding period in the history of art.

Format: 90% Lecture, 10% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
April 9 - May 7
2019 Spring
OF 0003.115 Bach's World

Explore the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach, one of history’s foremost musical geniuses. We’ll delve into the musical masterpieces of one of the most celebrated composers of all time, with live performances, audio, and visual examples. You’ll learn the stories behind the creation of Bach’s sacred and secular works, and the historical context in which they were created. Gain an appreciation for some of the greatest music ever written, and the lasting effect of Bach on the future of classical music.

Format: 50% Lecture, 20% Interactive discussion, 30% Demonstration (audio, video, and live performance)

Course Date(s)
April 8 - April 29
2019 Spring
OF 0003.116 18th Century America: A Bicoastal Perspective

American history in the 1700s usually focuses on events in the Thirteen Colonies, such as the Great Awakening, the Seven Years War (French and Indian War), and the Revolution. California history, however, tends to emphasize Spanish missions and presidios, and their impact on native cultures. How can we combine these contemporaneous narratives into a more complete picture of 18th century America? Using sources including film and literature, we will examine how various U.S. events are connected to larger global trends in Europe and North America.

Format: 40% Lecture, 50% Interactive discussion, 10% Film clip viewing

Course Date(s)
April 18 - May 9
2019 Spring
OF 0003.117 How the French and Indian War and Three Founding Fathers Shaped Our Nation

The British victory in the French and Indian War triggered a series of events that led to the American Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, and ultimately the birth of our nation. In the first of four lectures, we’ll explore the French and Indian War and the events leading to American independence. In the following three lectures, we’ll examines the lives of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, and the critical roles these Founding Fathers played in shaping our nation. This includes their contribution to the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, and the Constitutional Convention.

Format: 95% Lecture, 5% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
April 22 - May 13
2019 Spring
OF 0003.118 Middle East: Never-Ending Conflicts?

Expand your understanding of the history, culture, and politics of the Middle East. Topics include how the 2003 invasion of Iraq changed the geopolitics of the region for generations in ways no one predicted; the dramatic increase of Iranian influence, leading to a bitter rivalry with Saudi Arabia; catastrophic proxy wars in Syria and Yemen; the death and displacement of millions; and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s quest to remake the Middle East. Instructor Farouk Al-Nasser was born, raised, and educated in the region and has frequent contacts with family and friends in Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, and the U.A.E.

Format: 90% Lecture, 10% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
April 23 - April 30
2019 Spring
OF 0003.120 Toxic Products: From Inconvenience to Disaster

Toxicology is the study of chemicals that can cause problems for living things — from humans, pets, and livestock, to microbes living in soil or a pond. The problems can range from mild skin irritation to death. We’ll trace the history of toxic chemicals — which begins with cave dwellers who identified poison plants and animals, to today’s lucrative field of industrial chemistry. Learn how to differentiate between hazardous and toxic chemicals, and acute or chronic exposure; which common products are most toxic; how to use smartphone apps to ID toxic chemicals; and how to ID products that are safe for all living organisms.

Format: 60% Lecture, 25% Interactive discussion, 15% Demonstration

Course Date(s)
April 24 - May 1
2019 Spring
OF 0003.121 Trustee and Power of Attorney School: Duties and Responsibilities of Fiduciaries and Agents

You were named as trustee or power of attorney by a friend or relative. Now what? Those named to take care of the affairs of others after death or incapacity are often in the dark about their responsibilities when the time comes. This can lead to anxiety, confusion, and costly mistakes. Join us with your children at this one-of-a-kind school. This is serious education for those who are serious about this important topic. Graduates will learn when to act, what to do as a fiduciary or agent, and how to do it.

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
April 25 - May 2
2019 Spring
OF 0003.54 Become a National Park Insider

Did you know there are more than 400 parks in the National Park System? Have you ever wondered how a place becomes a park, what it takes to manage one, or why there are so many different types? Take a behind-the-scenes look at national parks as we reveal the laws, regulations, policies, and practices of managing these special places of American nature and history. Explore famous and lesser-known parks and prepare yourself for your next visit with a better understanding of fees, costs, lodging and camping opportunities, reservation systems, and best times to visit.

Format: 75% Lecture, 25% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)
February 19 - March 12
OF 0003.92 Politics Goes to the Movies

Politics is a favorite subject of movies, but movies, in turn, affect how we view politics. In some cases, they even drive events. In 1998, while facing impeachment, President Clinton contemplated a strike on Al Qaeda. At the time, the movie Wag the Dog — about a scandal-ridden president who starts a war to detract attention — was in theaters. As a result, his missile strikes in Afghanistan were criticized as “wag the dog.” We’ll analyze movies based on the politics of the time, and what they tell us about civic affairs and ourselves. Bring popcorn and your thinking cap!

Format: 35% Interactive discussion, 65% Film viewings

Course Date(s)

Register
Instructors
Howard Wayne
OF 0003.93 The Pictorial Radicalism of Early 20th Century Art

Explore the tremendous growth and change that characterized the early 20th century, stimulating an abundance of unorthodox reformers who challenged the conventions of western art. We’ll look at the emotional extremes of Matisse and Picasso, the varied works of the German Expressionists, the order and control of Cubism and its influence on Mondrian, and the powerful female assertiveness in the works of Kathe Kollwitz and Gabriele Münter. We’ll also look at the uproar caused by the 1913 New York Armory Show as the United States emerged into the modern era.

Format: 70% Lecture, 20% Interactive discussion, 10% Hands-on activity

Course Date(s)

Register
Instructors
Damon Hitchcock
OF 0003.94 The Supreme Court’s Landmark Decisions: Their Context and Enduring Legacy

What makes a Supreme Court decision worthy of the title “landmark”? Is it typically perceived as such at the time of its issuance? Can a landmark decision move the law backward or is the name reserved for decisions that expand rights and liberties? We’ll explore key constitutional law decisions on a variety of momentous controversies, with a focus on the few that made a lasting contribution to questions of governmental power, individual liberties, and fundamental rights. Become a better consumer of news and opinions by the media, political officials, and your fellow Americans.

Format: 75% Lecture, 25% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)

Register
Instructors
Glenn C Smith
OF 0003.95 Cross-Cultural Communication: Living in a Global Village

Just as cultures vary, behavior varies across cultures. We’ll explore the basic dimensions that differentiate cultures, how people see themselves, individualism versus collectivism, and the characteristics most often associated with Americans by people of other nations. We’ll also look at the root causes of communication breakdowns across cultures: perception, stereotyping, and ethnocentrism. Learn how to lead a more culturally advanced life, and have a more rich experience when traveling abroad.

Format: 30% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion, 20% Hands-on activity, 20% Demonstration

Course Date(s)

Register
2019 Spring
OF 0003.96 The Perennial Philosophy

Have you ever marveled at the uncanny similarities between the world’s many wisdom traditions? Borrowing the title from Aldous Huxley’s influential 1945 book, but going far beyond where Huxley left off, this course is the search for the “perennial philosophy,” that small set of timeless, universal principles found beneath the surface of the world’s many religious and philosophical traditions. We will search across cultures and through the centuries for evidence that a perennial philosophy exists, and explore the possibility that we too can access this unifying wisdom through our own direct experience.

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Note: Both sections cover the same content.

Course Date(s)
March 25 - May 6
OF 0003.98 Women, Health, and Healing

Why were so many midwives accused of witchcraft in Salem, MA in 1692? What herbal knowledge did Colonial women use to treat their families? Why did the AMA work to eradicate the effective services of ethnic midwives? How were women’s bodies (puberty, menstruation, childbirth, and menopause) pathologized by mainstream medical practitioners? We’ll explore cultural, religious, and legal beliefs about women’s bodies in specific time periods; and how social class, race, and marital status impacted those views. We’ll analyze and discuss crucial issues in Women’s Studies while reclaiming our past.

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)

Register
Instructors
Susan E Cayleff
OF 0003.99 Ethics

What makes our actions right or wrong? Why are some actions considered good and others bad? We’ll examine several important theories of ethics that attempt to answer these questions. Learn the basic Ethical Theories of Western Philosophy. Examine arguments for those theories, and consider the objections.

Format: 70% Lecture, 30% Interactive discussion

Course Date(s)

Register
Instructors
Matthew Wion