Registration open for new lifelong learning classes, trips

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of people milling about in a large room with the focus on two men standing in the foreground, one of whom is talking while the other one drinks coffee and listens.

Two OLLI at WMU members discuss the new programs revealed at last year's January Thaw.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Western Michigan University will offer nearly 70 courses, trips, lectures and special programs during its ambitious winter-spring session.

To find out about these upcoming activities, those interested are invited to attend OLLI at WMU's annual January Thaw from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, in the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts building. If canceled due to inclement weather, the event will be held at the same time and place Wednesday Jan. 24.

January Thaw allows attendees to preview the winter-spring session; register for session offerings; and meet OLLI members, instructors, staff and volunteers. This year, attendees also will hear from guest speaker Dawn Fortin Mattoon, associate provost of WMU Extended University Programs. In addition, the event will include a book swap and a chance to donate items to the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.

Registrations are requested for January Thaw. To register, nonmembers should call (269) 387-4200 and members should respond via their email invitation.

Those unable to attend the event can learn about OLLI at WMU's 2018 winter-spring offerings and register for activities by visiting or calling (269) 387-4200.

Register for courses or events

Scheduled courses

OLLI at WMU courses for winter-spring 2018 begin at the end this month and will conclude in early May. Registration opens Tuesday, Jan. 9, for members and Tuesday, Jan. 23, for nonmembers. Most courses meet once a week and run for one to four weeks. They take place on varying dates at WMU and other local sites.

Among the 54 courses being offered during the new session are:

  • Mondays, Feb. 5 and 12—Gerrymander: The Creepy Dragon That's Wreaking Havoc on American Democracy.
  • Tuesdays, Feb. 6 and 13—Saving Family History: Caring for Textiles, Photos and Documents.
  • Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 20-22—Enjoy a Good Laugh!
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27—BOOM! Age Specific Exercise for Boomers.
  • Tuesdays, March 6 and 13—Michigan Medicare and Medicaid Assistance Program.
  • Thursdays, March 8 and 15—The Railroads of Kalamazoo County: Why They Came and Why They Stayed.
  • Fridays, April 6 through 27—iPhone and iPad: Getting to the Core of That Apple.
  • Thursdays, April 26 through May 10—Ecosystems of Southwest Michigan.

Scheduled trips

Photo of three women standing in front of the log cabin featured on the trip.

Several people joined the 2017 trip to Springfield, Illinois, to visit sites associated with Abraham Lincoln and the infamous Route 66.

The Osher Institute's six fall trips are all one-day excursions. Registration has opened for all scheduled trips. Tickets are limited for the April 20 trip, so registration will close Saturday, Feb. 10.

The trip dates, titles and destinations and are:

  • Wednesday, April 11—A Savory Taste and a Taste for Suspense; Chelsea.
  • Friday, April 20—The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: An OLLI at WMU Concert Experience; Chicago; includes a local pre-trip orientation Monday, April 16.
  • Friday, May 4—Opening Night at the Opera; Grand Rapids.
  • Thursday, May 10—Exploring Amish Acres: A Visit Back in Time; Nappanee, Indiana.
  • Tuesday, June 5—Ann Arbor Treasures and Surprises; Ann Arbor.
  • Tuesday, June 19—Jackson: From Art to History to Automobiles!; Jackson and Spring Arbor.

Lecture series

The Osher Institute's lecture series, The Eclectic Hour, is offering six programs on a wide range of topics. They are open to nonmembers and will be held from 11 a.m. to noon the first and third Friday of the month in the Fountains at Bronson Place. Registration is $30 for the series.

The lectures are presented by WMU faculty members. Their dates, titles and presenters are:

  • Feb. 2—"Music Therapy: The Rhythm of Recovery," Dr. Edward A. Roth, professor of music and director of the music therapy program and BRAIN Lab.
  • Feb. 16—"The Aesthetics of Exposure and the Spectacle of Black Death," Dr. Ashley Atkins, assistant professor of philosophy.
  • March 2—"Urban Dead Seas: Road Deicers, Fertilizers and the Dynamics of Urban Lakes," Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of geosciences as well as of environmental and sustainability studies.
  • March 16—"The Politics of Climate Change," Dr. Denise Keele, associate professor of political science as well as of environmental and sustainability studies.
  • April 6—"Cuba: Culture and Society," Dr. Kristina Wirtz, professor of Spanish and a linguistic and cultural anthropologist.
  • April 20—"Nomadic Forms: Sculpture Inspired from the Tibetan Plateau," Patrick Wilson, sculpture-area coordinator in the Gwen Frostic School of Art and assistant professor of art.

Healthy Living Conference

Lifelong learners can get their spring off to a healthy start by participating in the half-day OLLI Healthy Living Conference set for Wednesday, May 2, in WMU's College of Health and Human Services building.

The conference begins at 8:15 a.m. with registration, a continental breakfast and an opportunity to visit exhibits. The keynote speaker at 9 a.m. will be Dr. Hal Jenson, dean of the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, who will bring participants up-to-date on the practice of modern medicine.

Breakout sessions are slated for 11 a.m. and noon. Choose two sessions from such topics as "Adaptive Living, "Drugs, Drug Interactions and Opioid Addiction, "Food as Medicine" and "Living Healthy in the Blue Zones."

Osher Institute at WMU

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU was developed to provide intellectual and cultural learning experiences for mature adults from diverse backgrounds in an informal and stimulating environment. Programming is developed by institute members with the support of WMU's Extended University Programs staff. Membership dues are $35 per year, or $17.50 if joining midyear.

Programs are designed for passionate learners age 50 and over and offered at the lowest possible cost. None are provided for academic credit, so there are no grades, tests or papers to write. Members enjoy reduced fees for courses, and early registration advantage, travel discounts and other benefits.

For more information about the organization, visit

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