Osher lectures focus on lifelong learning


DUMMERSTON >> The Brattleboro area Osher Lifelong Leaning Institute is about to start its fall program in early October.

This fall, for six consecutive Mondays, starting on Oct. 10, Jerry Levi, Marlboro College professor of sociology emeritus, will discuss Humanism and Progress in the morning session. In the afternoon, Felicity Ratte, professor of Art History and former academic dean at Marlboro, will explore the nature of Islamic Art.

You can attend a single course or take them both. Naturally, there is no obligation to attend all the sessions of either course. Light refreshments are available during a single break. The cost per session is less than a movie, and there is a discount for becoming a member and participating in all six or twelve sessions.

Lifelong learning is all the rage these days. It's another form of the use-it-or-lose-it school for successful living and aging. Keep your mind active, the experts tell us; it's never too early or too late to start. OLLI is in this spirit.

Themes from recent courses include What makes us happy? What is happiness, anyway? How can we quantify or evaluate something as vaporous as happiness? Or, why are birds so vocal as compared to, say, mammals? What is the function of bird song? How does a bird's neuroendocrine system produce the song, and how does that brain know when to make the bird sing?

Other themes include why do all societies have enormous disparities in wealth and, therefore, opportunity? Are we inherently greedy? If so, why? As a society, do we in the U.S. wish to reduce these economic disparities? Would we somehow benefit by doing so?

OLLI is an endowed, continuing educational program, with branches scattered throughout the state of Vermont and elsewhere across the country. The founders of the Brattleboro program, a tight-knit group of can-do people, organized the site's curriculum around two, six-session mini-courses run both in the fall and spring terms. One course deals with some aspect of the arts, the other involves something from the humanities or the social and natural sciences. A three-session mini-course is offered in a shorter winter term in February.

All classes occur in the Vermont Learning Collaborative building on Route five in Dummerston. The morning session is from 10 a.m. to noon; the afternoon class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Payment of full membership dues ($50) entitles members to attend all 12 lectures in the present series. Partial memberships ($30) entitle subscribers to attend six sessions in either morning or afternoon, but not both. Couples are welcome to join as full members at a discounted rate of $80 ($50 for partial membership). Lectures are also open to nonmembers for a fee of $6 per lecture.

For further information, call Julie Lavorgna at 802-365-7278 or e-mail julielavorgna@gmail.com.


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