Fall 2017 OLLI Study Groups
November 6–December 22, 2017; January 3–12, 2018



10:00–11:30 a.m. (4 sessions, November 6–27, 2017)

What’s New for iPad/iPhones running iOS 11
Mary Margaret Avelis

On September 19th, Apple released iOS 11. It is being marketed as a major change for iPads and iPhones. If you use any of the following device models: iPhone 5S or above, an iPad Pro, an iPad Air/Air 2, an iPad mini 2, 3, 4, a 5th generation iPad (2017), and a 6th generation iPod, this study group is for you. During the four week session, we will explore many of the new features, hidden tricks and those all-important “gottas” of this new iOS. Come prepared to learn and share your experiences. This group is for intermediate level users of iPads.

Facilitator: Mary Margaret has over 27 years of experience working with technology. This includes computer support for both Windows and Apple computers, troubleshooting network problems, teaching computer literacy, and recently consulting and training with computers and other devices for individuals. She previously has led iPad/iPhone study groups at OLLI and enjoys teaching others and learning from all the participants.


10:00–11:30 a.m. (4 sessions, November 6–27, 2017)

Tips on Enjoying Fall Foliage in the Champaign-Urbana Area (or Getting to Know Individual Trees)
Gary Stensland

Gary Stensland has been taking pictures of the same trees in the Urbana area for over 10 years. The foundation of the study group will be examples of individual trees in the Urbana area being followed and photographed for 10 or more years. This study group will also focus on these topics: scientific questions and implications of changes in color, selecting the tree species and the individual trees to be followed, camera features, managing and organizing a large quantity of photos, examples of books on trees and fall tree color. Other sessions will discuss the emerald ash borer (EAB) in detail, from both a local and a national point of view and consider the specifics of atmospheric science variables important for enjoying tree color.

The last session will be a photographic survey of fall tree color in the Urbana area. Many tree species will be considered and “graded” for fall color. Gary will also discuss locations within a two hour drive of Urbana where trees and their leaves can be visually studied, emphasizing locations where signs identify individual trees.

Facilitator: Gary Stensland has a PhD in Atmospheric Science and worked at the Illinois State Water Survey in the Atmospheric Science Division until his retirement in 2004. His whole career has involved research on air pollution issues, with a focus on acid rain related topics. He has no formal academic training in biology, botany, or forestry.


1:30–3:00 p.m.

Mahabharata: The Great Epic of India
Richard Meier

This ancient Sanskrit epic has become accessible and enjoyable through a new rendering into lively English verse. It features a great war between two families, with ethical quandaries, complex characters, and battle scenes similar to the Iliad. In addition to the text, we can also look at a 1989 version by Peter Brook, available on YouTube.

Reading materials: The Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling, by Carole Satyamurti (2016, Norton, ISBN 9780393352498).

Facilitator: Richard Meier has led previous OLLI study groups on the epics of Homer and Virgil. He has been studying Eastern philosophy and religion for the past 20 years.


1:30–4:30 p.m.

New Israeli and Palestinian Movies
Marganit Weinberger-Rotman

The Middle East conflict is not likely to be resolved any time soon. In the meantime Israelis and Palestinians continue to produce accomplished films dealing not only with the political reality but also with social, cultural, religious, gender and identity issues. Based on availability, eight of the movies described below will be shown and discussed in this study group.

Desert Storm is about Bedouin women bucking constricting tribal, patriarchal traditions. In Between shows young, modern Palestinian women in Tel Aviv seeking careers and adventures. The Idol is the true story of a kid from Gaza who dreams of winning the Arab Idol singing contest. The Writer is Arab-Israeli author Sayed Kashua’s TV series about his conflicting identities. Bethlehem exposes the dark, complex world of Israeli Intelligence agents and young Palestinians under occupation.

Israeli Jews are still haunted by the legacy of the Holocaust: old secrets disrupt the lives of second and third generations of survivors (The Flat, Sins). Amos Oz’s biography
Tale of Love and Darkness depicts the anguish of his immigrant mother. In
The Kind Words three siblings try to figure out who their parents really are. In The Kindergarten Teacher a teacher discovers a rare talent among her charges, and in The Women’s Balcony orthodox women battle rabbinical domination, while Gett shows how the rabbinical courts can crush a woman’s spirit.

Facilitator: Marganit Weinberger-Rotman worked for Israeli Television for many years and attends the International Jerusalem Film Festival every year. She has facilitated four OLLI study groups involving Israeli cinema and one on French comedies.



10:00–11:30 a.m. (4 sessions, November 7–28, 2017)

Theodicy: The Book of Job
Norman Klein

The group will read and discuss both the philosophy and literary analyses of the Book of Job relying on Rabbi Klein’s understanding of some of its salient points, with particular attention to its treatment of the issue of theodicy, the question of where God stands in regard to human tragedy.

Reading materials: Any copy of the Book of Job.

Facilitator: Rabbi Klein recently led a multi-session discussion group of this book in Florida. He has studied and taught this and other books of the Tanach in his professional life as a rabbi.


10:00–11:30 a.m.

Keeping up with the Science Joneses: Readings in Science and Nature
Claudia Reich and Dirk Mol

This study group continues the discussions started during the fall of 2015, and both new and returning participants are welcome. Every year a panel of experts selects the best science and nature writing for the general public, that incorporate the latest in science news. These are then published under the title The Best American Science and Nature Writing. The 2017 issue was edited by Hope Jahren, a distinguished Earth scientist and the author of Lab Girl, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2016. This year’s collection includes essays by Elizabeth Kolbert and Nathaniel Rich, among others. This study group will focus on selections from this volume. Participants are asked to read two pieces in advance of each session, to be discussed by the group as a whole.

Reading materials: The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 (Mariner Books, ISBN 978-1328715517). Participants need to buy or borrow a copy in order to make the most of their participation.

Facilitators: Claudia holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. At UIUC, she has been a Postdoctoral Fellow in Biochemistry, and Research Professor and Senior Scientist in Microbiology and the Institute for Genomic Research. Her research has centered on molecular biology and genomics of microorganisms. At OLLI she has facilitated several study groups and taught courses on Microbiology and Molecular Biology topics.

Dirk has been a mental health professional for over 20 years, following a career as an Episcopal priest. In both capacities he has engaged in teaching and small group facilitation. He has a lifelong interest in the natural world, especially the human brain, and what science can teach us about it. He has facilitated two OLLI study groups focusing on psychology and culture.


1:30–3:00 p.m.

Poetry Reading
Bill Breeding, Linda Coleman, Kendall Rafter, Claudia Reich, Joy Thornton-Walter & Helen Thursh

Poetry is best enjoyed among friends. Poems evoke feelings, meanings and experiences that are personal in nature; what moves you may not move me, what intrigues me may not intrigue you. And when we share our different responses to poems, we all gain a deeper understanding.

Every week we will read and discuss poems, from the classics to the modern. Selections will be chosen by consensus and we will draw on available free resources such as The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org) and other Internet sites. This Study Group is a communal endeavor, and we will share the responsibilities of proposing poems to read and facilitating discussions of them.

The naming of facilitators only reflects the necessity of providing channels of communication, but we stress that participation will require active engagement from everyone in the group.


1:30–3:00 p.m. (6 sessions, November 7–December 12, 2017)

The One-Volume World: “Sapiens”
Fred Christensen

This group will read and discuss Sapiens by Yuval Harari, a best-selling history of the entire human race. Historians who write single-volume surveys like this must select themes to emphasize, and Harari focuses on the human mind and on relations with the natural world. In his book, biology and history combine to determine what makes us human. He examines our past, from our prehistoric origins through the development of farming and cities, tyranny and democracy, myth and reality, to the technology shaping our present and our very strange future. His style is extraordinarily clear, vivid, and thought-provoking, and his vigorous and provocative comments and opinions will certainly produce lively group discussions.

Reading Materials: Sapiens by Yuval Harari (2015, Harper, ISBN 978-0062316097)

Facilitator: Fred Christensen has taught 20 OLLI courses and facilitated 26 study groups, including four previous “One-Volume World” groups. He is a former history instructor at the University of Kentucky and assistant professor of military science at the University of Illinois. He teaches noncredit classes for OLLI and other venues, in five areas of history and archaeology: Britain, Germany, early America, Israel/the Holy Land, and military history in general.

1:30–3:00 p.m. (5 sessions, November 7–December 5, 2017)

Demystifying Rooftop Solar Power: Could It Work for You?
David Tracy

Several OLLI members have installed rooftop solar electric power arrays at their homes, and others may be considering solar installations. Still others may simply be curious as to their actual practicality. This Study Group will explore the ins and outs of residential or small business rooftop solar PV (photovoltaic) power in the C-U area, including actual experiences with planning, installation and ongoing operation. No technical expertise is needed.

Facilitator: David Tracy has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin, and has worked mostly in optics and bioinstrumentation. He has taught several OLLI courses, and facilitated a Study Group on hybrid automobiles. After having had a rooftop solar PV system installed in 2016, he was curious to learn more. Accordingly, he recently completed an introductory online course in solar electric technology, “PV 101”, from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). He sees this Study Group as a chance to explore the subject further.


3:30–5:00 p.m.

Contemporary Issues and Modern Philosophy
Frank Hoss

This group will read and discuss The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments. This is a new look at philosophy as it deals with contemporary issues in science, religion, morals and society.

Reading Materials: The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments by Peter Catapano and Simon Critchley (2015, Liveright, ISBN 978-1631490712).

Facilitator: Frank Hoss has graduate degrees in Theology, Philosophy and Classical Languages. He has been an adjunct instructor in Philosophy and Religion at community colleges and has led several OLLI study groups on Philosophy.



10:00–11:30 a.m.

The New Yorker
Kathleen Holden and Marilyn Resch

The New Yorker provides a unique mix of articles and reviews on current topics, literature, and the arts. This study group is designed for readers of The New Yorker who want to get together to discuss current articles from the magazine. Members will be encouraged to choose and lead the discussion of one or more articles during this session. Participants are required to have some reliable means of obtaining the articles to be discussed.

Reading materials: The New Yorker magazine

Facilitators: Kathleen Holden is a retired UIUC administrator. She has been a member of several interesting OLLI study groups, including the New Yorker.
Marilyn Resch is a retired attorney. Since joining OLLI in late 2013, she has participated in a number of study groups on a variety of topics. The New Yorker is one of her favorites.


11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Advanced Latin
Harold Diamond

Advanced Latin is a continuation of the Advanced Latin Study Group that has been meeting through OLLI since 2013. New members are welcome, but should have prerequisite skills in the Latin language, e.g. some familiarity with grammar and vocabulary. Our meetings are lively and include discussions of historical and etymological topics. We have completed Orberg's book Lingua Latina Pars I and Ecce Romani II-B. We have recently read works of Caesar, Cicero, and Augustus, among others.

Reading materials: Ecce Romani III (3rd ed., 2004, Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0131163874) and some additional works to be chosen when we finish Ecce III. It will be useful also to have a Latin grammar book and a Latin dictionary for this study group.

Facilitator: Harold Diamond had Latin in high school, attended Kay Neal’s OLLI classes, and participates in the Advanced Latin Study Group. All members of the group share in determining the path we follow.


1:30–3:00 p.m.

Reading and Discussing The Economist
Peg Maher and Norman Miller

The Economist is known for its well-written, informative, concise and thought-provoking reporting on international news including politics, economic developments, and current social and technological issues. The Economist, an English magazine, has been in publication since 1843. The reporting is currently from 196 countries, decidedly with an international flavor. The publication describes itself as a “product of Caledonian liberalism of Adam Smith and David Hume.” The circulation includes 4.5 million print subscribers and 2.8 million digital readers making it the most widely read magazine covering politics, economics, culture and general news around the world.

Participants will discuss the selected articles, take turns commenting on the topics, and add insights and information from other resources, personal experience, and knowledge, e.g. travel in foreign countries. We aim to have active participation and lively conversations about the world today.

Reading Materials: All participants are expected to have access to The Economist in print or digitally. Student subscription rate is available for short term or annually. An inquisitive interest in world affairs is encouraged. New print subscribers should expect a 4-6 week delay in receiving the magazine. Some library members (e.g. Champaign) may have digital access so ask your library.

Facilitators: Peg Maher, Social Worker, retired after having had many casework and management positions in several organizations (family service, juvenile justice, mental health and child welfare) and in states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, and returned to Champaign in 2015. During several previous years she participated in lively discussions of The Economist at Washington University Lifelong Learning Institute in St. Louis, Mo. She has co-facilitated this OLLI The Economist study group since 2016. She is a graduate from Ohio University and University of Pittsburgh.

Norman Miller taught Mechanical Engineering subjects at University of Illinois for over 30 years. As young man he served in the Peace Corps for over two years in the Dominican Republic. He founded a technology company in early 1980s and served as its chief technology officer for many years. He has facilitated other study groups, The New Yorker and Science and Technology, as well as The Economist at OLLI.


1:30–3:00 p.m. (No class November 22)

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading
Mary Kuetemeyer and Paula Watson

The nonprofit organization TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is committed to the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and quite possibly the world. Since 1984, TED has invited exceptional thinkers, innovators and artists from around the world to present their projects and ideas at its biannual conferences. These talks are available online. They range from fascinating, beautiful, heart-wrenching, and funny to practical, profound, wondrous, and even life-altering.

In this study group, we’ll watch several TED talks each week and discuss the ideas they present. The facilitators will choose the talks but encourage suggestions and feedback from group members. Talks will be shown with English language subtitles.

Facilitators: Mary Kuetemeyer is a retired teacher. She has facilitated several OLLI study groups, including Word Play. Paula Watson has led numerous OLLI short story discussion groups. She holds a Master’s degree in English literature.


1:30–3:00 p.m.

Essential Math for Citizens - CANCELED
Doug Elrick


1:30–3:30 p.m. (5 sessions, November 8 – December 13, 2017; no class November 22)

Too many people: How to get people talking about population again?
Max Kummerow

Why did the population explosion become so controversial that it nearly disappeared from public discourse despite continued and accelerating population growth at a rate of billion every 12 years? This group will discuss population growth, demographic transitions, and issues related to population growth (climate change, migration, violence, and poverty) and how to revive public discussion of population as a fundamental cause of global problems.

Facilitator: Max Kummerow is finishing a PhD dissertation on fertility transitions in Economics, at an Australian University. He has presented papers on demographic topics at Ecological Society of America (ESA), Population Association of America (PAA), and Society for Human Ecology, National Center for Science Education and Peace and Justice Study Association meetings. His interest in population issues goes back over 50 years to a volunteer summer at a World Health Organization nutrition lab in Guatemala City.



10:00–11:30 a.m.

Time Magazine
John Moore

The group selects three articles from Time Magazine each week to discuss, with a volunteer leader for each article. Time Magazine is the world’s leading newsmagazine, featuring national and international affairs; health, business, culture and entertainment.

Facilitator: John Moore is an almost retired Allergist and Pediatrician. He is a long-time fan of Time and Newsweek.


10:00–11:30 a.m.

Best American Mystery Stories 1997
Bev Herzog and Ron Baker

This session we will be reading and discussing the twenty stories in The Best American Mystery Stories 1997, edited and introduction by Robert B. Parker, Otto Penzler, Series Editor. This is the first book of the series. This volume contains stories by such well-known mystery authors as Elmore Leonard, Elizabeth George, James Crumley, Jonathan Kellerman, and Andrew Klavan, and well-known literary writers such as Joyce Carol Oates and Michael Malone.

Group members will be expected read and be ready to discuss two to three stories each week, totaling approximately 40-60 pages. Group members will also be asked to volunteer to lead discussions of a story or two, including researching the authors of the stories, developing study questions, and leading the discussion. Many members follow the session with lunch together at a local restaurant, where they may continue to discuss the stories and develop friendships. Story leaders get to select the restaurant.

Reading materials: The Best American Mystery Stories 1997, edited and introduction by Robert B. Parker, Otto Penzler, Series Editor (Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0395835838).

Facilitators: Bev Herzog is a retired geologist who has been an avid reader of mysteries since she was introduced to Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden as a child. She has participated in mystery short stories study groups since joining OLLI in 2010 and has co-facilitated this group ten times since 2011 to excellent reviews.

Ron Baker is a retired Federal Human Resources Manager and OLLI member since 2013. He almost exclusively reads mystery stories and has been in several OLLI mystery story study groups. He has co-facilitated this group five previous sessions, four with Bev.


10:00–11:30 a.m.

Chaos, Classicism, Realism: Artists’ Reaction to the “Great War” 1914-1924
Sharon Williams

In August 1914, newspapers reported “August Madness” an initial celebration in European capitals of the outbreak of war. Soon, however, war would show its ugly face.

In this Study Group, we will look at “The Great War” through the eyes of artists. First, we will set the stage and look briefly at artists who created propaganda and pictures of the war both in Europe and the United States. Then, we will put the spotlight on Dada, a subversive and irreverent movement that would shake society’s notion of art and cultural production. It will take us to Switzerland, Germany, U.S. and France. Because many 20th century art movements after 1923 have traced their roots to Dada, a look at these artists can help us understand the post-modern art of our own time. Sample artists include Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Hannah Hoch and Max Ernst.

Next, we will consider the post-War “Return to Order.” Reacting to the chaos of War, artists thought it was necessary to turn away from recent modern art movements such as Cubism and Expressionism. Their calls for order were based on the idea that the prewar period had been defined by chaos and by a decadent sensuality that needed to be replaced by the purity of classical rationalism. Giorgio De Chirico had already been paving the way to Classicism in Italy. In Germany, a return to realism and classicism was given the name “New Objectivity” with followers such as Otto Dix, Max Beckman and George Grosz.

In France, we will look at “Purism” yet another call for a return to order, led by Amedee Ozenfant and Charles Edouard Jeanneret (Le Courbusier). Finally, we will consider Picasso, who would absorb the many influences around him and find a way to combine the modern and the classic.

Each week Sharon will post on the OLLI website paintings and readings, which will be the basis of that week’s discussion. Additional paintings, videos, with comments from art historians, and films will be used to add to the understanding of each week’s artists and topics. The history of WWI and its aftermath will be of special importance.

Facilitator: Sharon Williams is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and is a State of Illinois licensed Interior Designer who was co-owner of a furniture and design business for over 35 years. She has an interest in art and art history and hopes to share her knowledge and learn from other OLLI members. She has served on the OLLI Study Group Committee, NEH Working Group, and has participated in numerous study groups and courses. This is the 12th Art History Study Group she has facilitated.


1:30–3:00 p.m.

Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War
Frank Chadwick and Dick Helfrich

This session we will be reading and discussing the twenty short stories in Mystery Writers of America Presents Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War, edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson. These contributors include many of the best known authors of the espionage and mystery field. The stories are all original, from these members of the Mystery Writers of America and offer a panoply of stories of the era.

The Cold War was a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers of the Western Bloc (the United States, its NATO allies and others) and powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union, its allies in the Warsaw Pact and later the Peoples Republic of China). Its start was immediately after World War II until just after the fall of the Iron Wall.

Group members will be expected to read two or three of the stories each week and participate in their discussion. Members will be expected to volunteer to lead each story with some of the author’s background and offer insights and questions about the story. There will be time to share member’s memories and stories of experiences.

Reading materials: Mystery Writers of America Presents Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War, edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson (2014, Grand Central Publishing, ISBN 978-1455520718).

Facilitators: Dick Helfrich is a retired Surgeon with a long time interest in Mystery and Espionage stories. This was intensified and experienced first-hand by a tour as Commander of the Army Security Agency Hospital at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia. Kagnew Station was one of eight Intelligence Posts around the globe run by the Department of Defense. Kagnew Station had elements of all DOD Security Agencies as well as the CIA. In this activity he had a security clearance higher than Top Secret because of the need to interact with all these units and the requirement to support their activities. The hospital also supported the MAAG and Diplomatic personnel in East Africa and the Near East.

Frank Chadwick is a game designer, military writer, and novelist who has taught OLLI courses on writing the novel and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, and facilitated study groups on films, television programs, the Federalist Papers, and has lead the Writers' Café at OLLI since 2012. He has also enjoyed being a regular member of various short story study groups at OLLI for years, and thinks it's about time to give something back on that score.


1:30–4:45 p.m.

Dragonfly in Amber: Season Two of the Outlander Series
Joyce Francisco, Cindy Mann and Don Francisco

In the 1980s Diana Gabaldon, a scientific researcher living in Arizona, decided to write a fictional book about Scotland in the 1740s. The result was Outlander, published in 1990. It was the first volume of what has become, so far, an 8-book series (more on the way). The books contain an element of time travel, but are mostly history, romance, and adventure. They became a huge hit, but fans had to wait until 2015 to see them come to the screen.

In the fall of 2016, we watched Season 1, based on the novel of the same title. This time, we will watch the second season of the TV series produced by STARZ based on the second volume of the book series (Dragonfly in Amber). Please be aware that there is some adult content (language, violence, and nudity), but that is not the main focus. The group will view two approximately 1-hour episodes (12 total) of the STARZ production most weeks (two weeks may be only one episode) and one 90-minute episode (the finale) and discuss what we've seen, including the historical context. As time permits, we will watch bonus features about the making of the series and the facilitators will provide additional material.

Viewing of Season 1 is not required, but is helpful to understanding the context of Season 2. The local public libraries have DVD sets available for loan and rental. The facilitators will present a brief summary of the first season at the beginning of the first session.

Reading material:
Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (not required, 1993, Dell, ISBN 978-0440215622).

Facilitators: Cindy and Joyce have read and loved the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon. They were very happy when STARZ created this production. Cindy loves to do historical research and will provide additional understanding of the context of the story. Don, having lived for years with Joyce, has recently read the entire series and has been enjoying the TV series. He will provide his usual technical expertise.



10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Writing and Performing Poetry
John Palen

This is a poetry workshop culminating in a reading, with family, friends and other OLLI members invited to the final presentation. Participants will work from model poems to write short, free-verse poems and read them aloud to the group. This is not primarily a critique group, although brief periods will be set aside for discussion of such topics as writing process, effective oral presentation, revision, and how to seek publication. Participants will be encouraged to continue to revise work at home and bring it back to the workshop to share.

Facilitator: John Palen’s eighth collection of poetry is coming out this fall from Mayapple Press. He has published poetry in literary magazines since the late 1960s, including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Passages North, The Formalist, Bluestem, Main Street Rag and The MacGuffin, as well as in anthologies published by Wayne State University Press and Milkweed Editions. A full-length collection of new and selected poems, Open Communion, was published in 2005 by Mayapple Press. He taught poetry writing to el-hi students in Michigan public schools through the state Writers in the Schools project. A retired journalist and journalism educator, he did undergraduate work at Washington University in St. Louis and earned master’s and doctoral degrees at Michigan State University. John has led several other OLLI study groups on writing and performing poetry.


1:30–4:00 p.m.

Writers’ Café
Frank Chadwick

Each week we meet to exchange news about writing in the Champaign-Urbana area, share a craft tip or exercise, and then (the main activity) read passages we’ve written and have the group critique them and make suggestions for improvement. We write all genres and forms: children’s stories, young adult, science fiction, historical fiction, memoir, poetry, song, travel—you name it. All levels of experience welcome. We all start somewhere, and the best place is in the company of those who are working toward the same goals.

Facilitator: Frank Chadwick is a published historian and novelist and his Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list. He has facilitated several OLLI study groups and taught two OLLI courses - Writing the Novel and The 1973 Arab-Israeli War.