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Registration is required to attend all Osher Institute programs. Fall 2021 presentations will be offered via the Zoom Webinar platform as a livestream event and recorded. Most of our programs will also have seating available in the Osher classroom.

Registration for the Fall 2021 semester opens on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

To register:

Fall 2021 Catalog Available Now

Thank you for accessing the online version of the Fall 2021 semester catalog!

Hard copy catalogs were mailed to members on Tuesday, July 6.

If you would like an additional copy of the Fall 2021 semester catalog, we will be happy to mail you one. Please contact the Osher Institute office at osher@boisestate.edu.

Additional Information

Visit the Registration Information page to view our policies and updates for the Fall 2021 semester.

Visit the Presenter Biographies page to learn more about our presenters.

Fall 2021 Programs

Starting in August

Access to The Great Courses Plus/Wondrium

We have extended our partnership with The Great Courses Plus/Wondrium, an online video-on-demand platform offering thousands of college-level videos and lectures. Register for this offering to receive a unique login for your own account with The Great Courses Plus/Wondrium at a significantly discounted yearly rate.
Please note: It will take two weeks to process your account information after you register.
Dates valid: August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022
Cost: $45

Valedictory: Absence and Desire in Literature (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Literature is a means to express longing and loss. This lecture will consider how innovations in literary form have attempted to connect with that which was lost. Elizabeth Bishop’s poems and modernist works—written in the wake of both a pandemic and world war—both evoke and subvert traditional poetic form in order to create in the reader a shared experience of confronting absence and facing loss.
Presenter: Dr. Cheryl Hindrichs, Associate Professor of English, Boise State University
Date and time: Tue., Aug. 17, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

An Osher Special Event: Great Lakes Storms and the Edmund Fitzgerald (Livestream/Recorded Only)

The Gales of November have ravaged shipping since man first set sail upon the Great Lakes. Intense weather systems have brought 120 mile-per-hour winds and 30-foot waves, sinking even the largest ships who dare to take on Mother Nature. In this lecture, researcher Ric Mixter will share rare interviews, including eyewitnesses to storms in 1913 and 1940, and the losses of the Daniel J. Morrell, Carl D. Bradley, and Edmund Fitzgerald. It also will feature rare film and underwater footage of what the shipwrecks look like today.
Presenter: Ric Mixter, author and PBS producer
Date and time: Thu., Aug. 19, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $20

Treaty Rights and Tribal Science in the Columbia River Basin (Livestream/Recorded Only)

For indigenous nations, natural resource management actions of the past and present have affected fundamental components of subsistence, ceremony, economy, and identity. This lecture will highlight perspectives and baselines of four treaty tribes in the Columbia River Basin with respect to treaty rights, mitigation, recovery, co-management, and the science of salmon and steelhead.
Presenter: Dr. Zach Penney, Fishery Science Department Manager, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commissions
Date and time: Thu., Aug. 19, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

An Osher Special Event: The Fire of Frederick Douglass (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Frederick Douglass was a visionary—a prophet who could see a better future that lay just beyond reach. His talents were nothing short of extraordinary, and he put his exceptional gifts to use in the service of freedom, driving American slavery into the grave. In this lecture, we will explore this many-sided man’s life, family, and career, and consider his impact upon our modern struggle to advance the cause of Black peoples’ freedom in the United States.
Presenter: Dr. Richard Bell, Professor of History, University of Maryland
Date and time: Fri., Aug. 20, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $20

The Lives and Stories of Arts Teachers in the U.S.

This lecture will share gathered teachers’ stories and explore the history and trends of education in the U.S., as well as Arts teachers’ roles within K-12 contexts. Authentic narratives of K-12 Arts teachers that include stories of persistence, struggle, and triumph will allow participants to feel like they are part of each teacher’s story. You will be able to imagine the places and spaces within which teachers find themselves in each school community. These stories provide us with a deeper knowledge of what it means to be a contemporary Arts teacher in the U.S.
Presenter: Dr. Lori Gray, Associate Professor and Director of Music Education, Boise State University
Date and time: Mon., Aug. 23, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Polly Bemis: The Life and Times of a Chinese American Pioneer (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Polly Bemis, Idaho’s most famous Chinese woman immigrant, lived in the state for over 60 years until her death in 1933. Since that time, numerous articles, books, and a film have presented fictionalized versions of her life, often stating that she was a prostitute or that her husband, Charlie Bemis, won her in a poker game. Primary sources, combined with Chinese customs at the time, provide evidence that both statements are myths. This lecture will incorporate photographs of Polly and her home, and diary entries about her by one of her neighbors. It also will include a “show and tell” of typical Chinese artifacts.
Presenter: Dr. Priscilla Wegars, historian and founder, University of Idaho’s Asian American Comparative Collection
Date and time: Mon., Aug. 23, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Why the Constitution is Personal (Livestream/Recorded Only)

This course will focus on the nature and implications of a seldom-noted aspect of the Constitution: For American citizens, it is a personal document. This understanding is rooted in the fact that the Constitution was written by the people, for the people, and ratified by the people as a function of our popular sovereignty and the right to consent to government. Its provisions, moreover, speak to us on a daily basis. This facet explains why the founders expected Americans to be “Madisonian Monitors” and defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Presenter: Dr. David Adler, President, Alturas Institute
Dates and times: Tue., Wed., Thu., and Fri., Aug. 24, 25, 26, and 27, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $45

Gray Wolf Management in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region

This lecture will discuss the entire period of wolf recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Region. We will cover the planning stages of a gray wolf reintroduction plan, the environmental impact statement phase, and the carrying out of the reintroduction of gray wolves to the NRM region.
Presenter: Carter Niemeyer, former district supervisor, USDA Wildlife Services
Date and time: Tue., Aug. 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Estate Planning Essentials: Key Documents to Have in Place

Estate planning is a gift to the people you love the most. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead, it can be your opportunity to create a meaningful legacy, protect your loved ones, communicate your values, and gain peace of mind. During this lecture, Shaila Buckley will explain estate planning in practical terms to help you understand why everyone—whether you’re married, a parent, single, young, or old—needs an estate plan, and will indicate what documents that plan should include.
Presenter: Shaila Buckley, JD, estate planning attorney
Date and time: Wed., Aug. 25, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Cybersecurity Posture and Open Source Virtualization

This lecture will explore how anyone can use open source software and Linux to have a better cybersecurity posture. We will discuss how you can—and should—use open source software without incurring the cost of an extra computer.
Presenter: Dr. Sin Ming Loo, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boise State University
Date and time: Thu., Aug. 26, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Exploration of Submarine Volcanoes (Livestream/Recording Only)

The majority of the Earth’s surficial crust was formed either at ocean islands or at large submarine volcanic systems called mid-ocean ridges, which are massive volcanic mountain chains found in nearly every ocean basin. These volcanic systems allow for a significant exchange of heat, gases, and materials from the Earth’s interior to reach the exterior and for hosting hydrothermal vent systems. This lecture will investigate the tools required to explore submarine volcanic systems in numerous locations below the surface. We will examine the formation of oceanic crust ridge systems, discuss the formation of gas-rich popping rocks, and explore seamounts around the Galapagos Islands.
Presenter: Dr. Dorsey Wanless, Associate Professor of Geosciences, Boise State University
Date and time: Mon., Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

A Look Inside the World of Allergies (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Allergies have dramatically increased over time and impact millions of people’s lives. What is an allergy? Why do people become allergic? What are common examples of allergies, and what do allergic conditions look like? Join two local, board-certified allergists as they answer these questions and share their expertise.
Presenters: Jeremy Waldram, MD, and Charles Webb, MD, board-certified allergists
Date and time: Mon., Aug. 30, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Planning for the Next Pandemic: Lessons From COVID-19 (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Scientists, physicians, and healthcare leaders have been anticipating a pandemic for decades. While many people believe pandemics come only every 100 years, COVID is the fourth pandemic of our lifetime, and we have had many close calls besides those four. There will be more pandemics—perhaps with an even more lethal virus. This lecture will explain why it would not be surprising to see another pandemic within the next decade. It also will discuss the biggest lessons to learn for the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the federal government, states, public health agencies, schools, and each of us.
Presenter: David Pate, MD, JD, and past president and CEO, St. Luke’s Health System
Date and time: Tue., Aug. 31, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

An Osher Special Event: Dallas Seavey, 2021 Iditarod Champion (Livestream/Recorded Only)

“True strength isn’t about blocking out and not feeling; it’s about feeling everything and being big enough to handle it.” The tougher the going, the harder it is to beat Dallas Seavey! Dallas is a five-time Iditarod champion. The Iditarod is a grueling, long-distance sled dog race across the state of Alaska. Traveling through some of the world’s toughest conditions, this race is also known as “The Last Great Race on Earth®.” When he’s not racing, Dallas has a passion for sharing his experiences as a professional dog musher. He is an enthusiastic and charismatic storyteller who has a natural ability to engage his audience and convey a message. His extensive background in the dog-mushing world, and the traveling and life lessons that come with it, make for an unforgettable speaking event.
Join us in this livestream to hear Dallas share his unique story and what he and his team have learned to help them master the art of winning thousand-mile races. Dallas will also reveal what he’s done to become the shell that protects his team from the storm.
Date and time: Tue., Aug. 31, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership
Sorry, guest passes cannot be used for this special event.

Starting in September

Vardis Fisher, Idaho Novelist and Curmudgeon (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Idaho novelist Vardis Fisher (1895-1968) wrote over three dozen books, including Mountain Man—which became the movie Jeremiah Johnson—and the popular Idaho guidebook for the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) in 1937. Yet Fisher is almost unheard of today, even in Idaho, where he lived almost his entire life. This course will cover Fisher’s life, his novels, and his testy relationship with the FWP. Mick McAllister will discuss Fisher’s novels, which range from personal experience to ambitious historical subjects. Alessandro Meregaglia will talk about Fisher’s FWP books and Fisher’s relationship with his longtime publisher, Caxton Printers.
Presenters: Alessandro Meregaglia, librarian and archivist, Albertsons Library, Boise State University, and Mick McAllister, Vardis Fisher scholar
Dates and times: Wed., Sep. 1 and 8, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $25

Botany of the Boise Front

This lecture will cover plants of the Boise Front—wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, rare plants, and invasive species—within a framework of plant families. By learning the botanical system of family classification, students will be able to identify plants from other parts of Idaho and across the U.S. We also will discuss Idaho flora and field guides.
Presenter: Dr. Cecilia Lynn Kinter, Lead Botanist, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Date and time: Wed., Sep. 1, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, and Their Influence on Economics - CANCELLED DUE TO MEDICAL ISSUE

Musculoskeletal Adaptation Research

Accidental falls can present a large functional and financial burden on older people. Little is known about how fall risk factors are related to musculoskeletal adaption to environmental, physical, and cognitive challenges, or how this adaption changes with aging. This lecture will share findings of a recent research study performed at Boise State University in the Center for Orthopedic and Biomechanics Research (COBR) Laboratory to explore the differences in musculoskeletal adaptation to challenging conditions between younger and older adults. Many Osher members participated in this study.
Presenter: Amy Holcomb, Graduate Research Assistant, College of Mechanical Engineering, Boise State University
Date and time: Thu., Sep. 2, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

How Bob Dylan and The Beatles Upset the Status Quo: 1957-1966 (Livestream/Recorded Only)

The Beatles and Bob Dylan transformed pop music in the 1960s, but they did not do so without a fight. Deeply entrenched forces within the status quo resisted these artists at the point where they were most creative and iconoclastic. This course will chart the rise of these artists, the opposition they encountered, and how they responded. Through the use of video, music, and archival documents, we will revisit a period of the mid-20th century that continues to influence our current world.
Presenter: Aaron J. Leonard, author and historian
Dates and times: Tue., Sep. 7, 14, and 21, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: $35

Beaver Restoration and Human Tinkering in Streams

There is growing interest in the use of “nature-based solutions” to address mounting environmental crises that threaten ecosystems, the economic systems on which we rely, and the social fabric of our communities. Beaver-related restoration has captured the attention of communities in the western United States as ways are sought to restore millions of miles of degraded, eroding, and incised channels on a tight budget. This lecture will discuss the science of beavers, their dams, and human interventions on rivers, and will explore some of the legal, financial, and philosophical hurdles to implementing these strategies at scale.
Presenter: Dr. Caroline Nash, Principal Scientist, CK Blueshift, LLC
Date and time: Wed., Sep. 8, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Incarceration vs. Treatment Courts: Why Treatment Courts Work

Approximately 65% of all people released from prison recidivate. More than 30 years ago, a Florida judge began a new experiment, and Drug Court was born. This lecture will address specialty courts and the measurable outcomes that provide an evidence base showing recidivism cuts of 30-35% for offenders who successfully complete a specialty court.
Presenter: Cheri Copsey, JD, retired Fourth District Court Judge
Date and time: Thu., Sep. 9, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Versatile Test Reactor for Clean Energy Options (Livestream/Recorded Only)

This lecture will address how the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) fits within the U.S. vision for the 21st century’s energy infrastructure to support carbon-free electricity generation and the decarbonization of other energy-intensive sectors. We will discuss VTR aspects that allow accelerated experiments on long-term performance of fuels, materials, instruments, and sensors in a reactor environment. Such data are critical for designing and licensing new types of reactors and for continuous performance improvements for operating reactors.
Presenter: Dr. Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, VTR Executive Director, Idaho National Laboratory
Date and time: Fri., Sep. 10, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Domestic Terrorism

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the lead agency responsible for investigating threats of domestic terrorism. Members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for Southern Idaho will discuss the current threat of domestic terrorism within the U.S. to include racially motivated, anti-government/anti-authority, animal rights, environmental, and abortion-rights violent extremism. Emerging threats also will be discussed to include threats related to Involuntary Celibate (INCEL) ideology and Q-Anon.
Presenters: Kathryn Miller, Supervisory Special Agent, and Sarah Carney, Intelligence Analyst, both of the FBI
Date and time: Mon., Sep. 13, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Introduction to Cellular Networks

This lecture will describe the cellular infrastructure that allows phone calls to go through. Participants will learn the history of cellular, basic cellular concepts, how phone calls get established on the network, and what happens during a call that allows it to stay connected as the user’s location changes. The evolution of the networks also will be covered. No math or science background is needed.
Presenter: Marilyn Escue, retired telecommunications software architect
Date and time: Mon., Sep. 13, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

The Quest for the Grail in Medieval Illustration (Livestream/Recorded Only)

During the 12th and 13th centuries, a new type of text emerged separate from the Biblical Latin tradition: the vernacular romance. While written texts were initially few, the courts of France and the Low Countries increasingly gained interest in acquiring illuminated manuscripts illustrating the tales of King Arthur’s court. Artists devised a new iconography appropriate to the knightly adventures, as well as to the Biblical veneer of the central story: the quest for the Holy Grail. This course will explore the medieval illustrations of King Arthur’s knights and their quest as they manifest human flaws in the universal hero story.
Presenter: Dr. Lisa Hunt, Interim Director, Keith and Catherine Stein Luminary and Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of the Arts, Boise State University
Dates and times: Wed., Sep. 15 and 22, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $25

Climate Change: Science and Response

What is the evidence that climate is changing? What does science know, and what is still uncertain? How much can be attributed to human activity? How is climate change impacting the biological species and ecosystems on which we depend? What is projected at global, national, and local levels to mitigate the effects of climate change? This course will explore new scientific information, as well as new policies and technologies, including sources of greenhouse gas emissions, policy alternatives, and new technologies to reduce emissions. Local opportunities for solar generation, storage, building electrification, and electric vehicles will be explored.
Presenters: Dr. Eric Yensen, Professor Emeritus of Biology, The College of Idaho, and Mike Heckler, Policy Director, Clean Energy Opportunities for Idaho
Dates and times: Thu., Sep. 16, 23, and 30, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $35

Homelessness in Boise: It's Complicated

This lecture will introduce the work of Interfaith Sanctuary Homeless Shelter and the guests they serve, including their innovative programs and solution-based approach to serving the homeless. We will address Boise’s housing market, the transportation system, the criminal justice system, and what happened when Medicaid Expansion became a reality. We will then share the story of Interfaith Sanctuary’s efforts to move their shelter to a new location and their quest to turn “Not In My Neighborhood” (NIMBY) to “Yes In My Neighborhood” (YIMBY). This process highlights the challenges that come when perception rules and the real story fights to be heard.
Presenter: Jodi Peterson-Stigers, Executive Director, Interfaith Sanctuary
Date and time: Thu., Sep. 16, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Editing for Writers

Are you intimidated by trying to edit your own manuscript? Do you often avoid it entirely? As a result, you might end up with big editing bills, or worse: bad reviews for no editing. These situations are avoidable, if you know what to do. This course will cover the easiest and most basic methods of correcting a manuscript. The presentations will include everything from why your brain won’t let you edit, to grammar, to stylesheets. Both fiction and nonfiction writers will benefit from this simple-to-use method of editing.
Presenter: Kathy Gaudry, writer, editor, and founder, Tamarack Books Inc. and Towanda Inc.
Dates and times: Mon., Sep. 20 and 27, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $25

Chamber Music Past and Present

This lecture will explore the origins of chamber music and how it developed over the centuries. We will learn about various ensemble configurations, how they came to be, and how musicians continue to break new ground. Attendees will leave with a new appreciation for the current relevance and vivacity of this musical art form. Video recordings of representative performances will be shared, and we will discuss how to actively engage with this music virtually and in person.
Presenter: Dr. Zach Buie, Assistant Professor of Music, Boise State University
Date and time: Mon., Sep. 20, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Prioritizing Preservation: Public Preference and Historic Places

Using the Hyde Park and Ustick neighborhoods in Boise as case studies, this lecture will juxtapose their histories and explore efforts to preserve the unique character of two Boise places. While sharing many similarities, these two communities are perceived and protected in different ways by the city and its citizens. What were the origins of these neighborhoods, how did they evolve, and what will be their future? Learn about the intriguing stories that make these neighborhoods unique and participate in a conversation about how the lessons learned from studying these two places can be applied to the city as a whole.
Presenter: Dan Everhart, Outreach Historian, Idaho State Historic Preservation Office
Date and time: Thu., Sep. 23, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Love, Fury, and Writing Wollstonecraft

How does a writer fictionalize the life of a literary and philosophical giant like Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and considered by many to be the “mother of feminism?” In this lecture by the author of Love and Fury, Samantha Silva will explore the complexities and challenges of turning Wollstonecraft (who died in 1797 after giving birth to Mary Shelley) into a fictional character and her life into a plot; how a writer finds her own voice in the voice of another across centuries; and why Wollstonecraft matters now as much as ever.
Presenter: Samantha Silva, author and screenwriter
Date and time: Fri., Sep. 24, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

How the Chinese Built American Railroads

America’s “moon shot” of the mid-1800s was the transcontinental railroad. The scale of human brains and brawn needed for this enterprise was epic, as attested to in Stephen Ambrose’s Nothing Like It in the World and Gordon Chang’s Ghosts of Gold Mountain. No one gave more to this enterprise—including their very lives—than the Chinese railroad workers. In this lecture, we will explore the unique geopolitical setting for these Chinese men, their stunning contributions to the engineering future of our young nation, the obstacles they overcame, and surprising evidence of their legacy right here in Idaho.
Presenter: Dr. Pei-Lin Yu, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Boise State University
Date and time: Sat., Sep. 25, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Community Policing in the 21st Century: A Boise Perspective

Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee is committed to promoting a community policing philosophy. In this lecture, Chief Lee will discuss how to move the police profession into the future by providing data and transparency to constituents, as well as training and education to the police force and the wider community.
Presenter: Ryan Lee, Chief, Boise Police Department
Date and time: Mon., Sep. 27, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

An Osher Special Event: Reflections of a Foreign Diplomat (Livestream/Recorded Only)

This lecture will share the thoughts and experiences of an Ambassador and twice President of the UN Security Council during times of major worldwide developments. Elbio Rosselli’s journey began with his first arrival in the U.S. as an exchange student. It continued with his graduate studies in international affairs at Fletcher School; his diplomatic postings in Washington, Geneva, Canada, and Brussels; and his two postings at the UN in New York. Throughout his career, Rosselli had to learn to understand such a diverse country as the U.S. and engage in a manner that would allow for mutually beneficial relations at personal and governmental levels.
Presenter: Elbio Rosselli, retired international ambassador and member of the UN Security Council
Date and time: Wed., Sep. 29, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $20

Monarch Butterflies in Western North America (Livestream/Recorded Only)

This lecture will share information on the biology, ecology, and conservation of monarch butterflies in western North America, with emphasis on the Pacific Northwest. Data will be presented on research conducted since 2012 on breeding populations and from tagging of monarchs in this area of the country. We also will discuss best management practices for monarch butterfly conservation.
Presenter: Dr. David James, Associate Professor of Entomology, Washington State University
Date and time: Wed., Sep. 29, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

The Inner Workings of a State Crime Laboratory

We will discuss the operations of a modern forensic science laboratory, including what each section does and their roles in the criminal justice system. We will learn about interesting cases from each discipline and how the science has been applied to investigate and solve crimes, prosecute suspects, and exonerate the innocent. Modern technology applied in the laboratory will be explored, as will some of the legal and ethical challenges in modern forensic science, and policy, legislation, and privacy rights.
Presenter: Matthew Gamette, ISP Forensic Services Lab System Director; Chair, CFSO; and former President and Board member, ASCLD
Date and time: Thu., Sep. 30, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Starting in October

Benedict Arnold and Thomas Paine (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Join us to learn about two extraordinary revolutionary men: Benedict Arnold and Thomas Paine. Benedict Arnold was a skilled officer in the Continental Army who dramatically defected to the British side. In the first session, we will reconstruct his life and times, the reasons for this treason, and the larger problems of betrayal and desertion that dogged the Continental Army throughout the war. When Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense, died in June 1809, only a dozen people came to his funeral. The second session will examine Paine’s meteoric rise to celebrity status during the American Revolution and his equally dramatic fall from grace in the decades afterwards.
Please note: This class will not meet on Friday, October 8.
Presenter: Dr. Richard Bell, Professor of History, University of Maryland
Dates and times: Fri., Oct. 1 and 15, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $25

Boosting Memory and Lowering the Risk of Dementia (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Our memory is amazing and, in many ways, it also is our most precious possession. This lecture will review solutions to preserve, protect, and boost memory. We will discuss reducing memory loss and age-related mental decline; science-based, memory-boosting tips; dietary issues that alter memory; and common hidden health issues that can significantly raise the risk of losing memory. Finally, we will consider some brain-based tips to remember day-to-day items such as people’s names, where you parked your car, and what you wanted from the refrigerator.
Presenter: Dr. Marc Milstein, author and researcher
Date and time: Mon., Oct. 4, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Beyond Bullet Holes: Trauma Surgery and Gun Violence

The U.S. gun violence death rate is 1000% higher than any country of similar socioeconomics. Kindergarten students drill for lockdowns. The military sends war surgeons to train at inner-city hospitals because they see more violent trauma there than in war, even at the peak of combat. There are significant racial disparities in gun violence deaths—but why? Trauma surgeons are tired of telling yet another parent their child has been killed by a bullet. This lecture will review the state of gun violence in the U.S. and discuss what contemporary trauma surgeons are doing to fight this epidemic by addressing upstream causes.
Presenter: Rishi Rattan, MD, trauma and critical care surgeon, Ryder Trauma Center–Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida
Date and time: Mon., Oct. 4, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Supporting Children's Literacy Development as a Grandparent

Literacy development is foundational to learning about and interacting with the world. Although the bulk of literacy education occurs in school settings, family support and activities are critical to the development of literacy knowledge, abilities, and dispositions. This lecture will explore literacy development in children and ways to support this development as a grandparent or other family member. After a brief overview of developmental processes for reading and writing, we will discuss various types of books, choosing them for individuals, reading aloud to children, and encouraging reading and writing.
Presenter: Dr. Susan Martin, Professor Emerita of Education, Boise State University
Date and time: Tue., Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Did Neanderthals Have Language? (Livestream/Recorded Only)

What makes human language unique? How did it evolve? Which of our ancestors already had it? Did Neanderthals, our closest biological “cousins,” have language? And how can we study such an intricate issue if all we have left from the Neanderthals are their bones, stone tools, burial sites, and other bits and bobs? In this course, we will explore the latest findings in biology, paleoanthropology, genetics, and linguistics that shed new light on this fascinating topic.
Presenter: Dr. Asya Pereltsvaig, linguist, author, and educator
Dates and times: Tue., Oct. 5, 12, and 19, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: $35

Political Decay in the Modern Era

Why do powerful nation-states inevitably decline and, in some cases, collapse? This course will explore some of the underlying historical, political, and socioeconomic arguments that address this question. We will examine political decline in Habsburg, Spain and Bourbon, France in the 16th and 18th centuries respectively; Britain and Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries; and the United States and China in the 20th and 21st centuries. Our focus will be on understanding how each nation’s unique political history, culture, and institutions contribute to its declining effectiveness, and how the process of political renewal can unfold.
Presenter: Ralph Bild, retired CIA Intelligence Analyst and high school economics and history teacher
Dates and times: Wed., Oct. 6, 13, 20, and 27, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $45

Historical Voices of Idaho's First Peoples

This lecture will introduce members to two events that positively affected communities, particularly those of the First Peoples. By referencing two films, The Historical Impact of the “S” Word and Idaho’s Forgotten War, participants will gain a powerful glimpse into the faces and voices of those who lived through these historical events: the removal of the word “squaw” from Idaho landmarks and the declaration of war on the U.S. government in 1974 by Amy Trice, Kootenai Chairwoman, in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
Presenter: Sonya Rosario, documentary filmmaker, story-gatherer, and storyteller
Date and time: Wed., Oct. 6, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Life and Death of the Shrub-Steppe Ecosystem

This course will focus on important ecological interactions in shrub-steppe ecosystems of the Intermountain West. Learn about the ecological roles of sagebrush, grasshoppers, ground squirrels, badgers, raptors, coyotes, and many others; how they interact to form a functional ecosystem; and how human activities are causing the collapse of this ecosystem from the arrival of the Paleo-Indians to the present day. Using examples from our local area, this course will mine the stories of the Pleistocene extinctions, fur trade, cattle boom, invasive species, and other human activities for lessons on how to successfully manage our ecological heritage.
Presenter: Dr. Eric Yensen, Professor Emeritus of Biology, The College of Idaho
Dates and times: Thu., Oct. 7, 14, 21, and 28, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $45

Space Weather, Northern Lights, and Space Technology (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Did you know that the most abundant state of matter in our universe is its “fourth state”—plasma? This course will explore the physical and chemical behavior of plasma, from the Sun to the near-space environment of the Earth. You will learn that space weather is not an oxymoron (How can there be weather in a space vacuum?) but a real danger to our technology, such as GPS satellites and radio communication networks. You also will discover that one spectacular manifestation of space weather is the northern lights, aka the Aurora Borealis.
Presenter: Dr. Victoriya Forsythe, research scientist, Astra LLC
Dates and times: Thu., Oct. 7, 14, 21, and 28, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: $45

An Osher Special Event: A Conversation With Mayor McLean

Mayor Lauren McLean will discuss guiding Boise through the COVID-19 pandemic and share stories of the community’s support and resilience. She also will highlight the city’s work to create a home for everyone and outline the robust climate action goals her administration is championing, including the launch of the city’s climate action roadmap, a new fleet of electric garbage trucks, and Boise’s unique America the Beautiful conservation goals.
Date and time: Fri., Oct. 8, 10-11:30 a.m.

Idaho's Constitution Revealed

In 2020, Idaho Public Television (IDPTV) premiered “Idaho’s Constitution Revealed” which chronicled the history of Idaho’s Constitution and a four-month restoration project by the Idaho State Historical Society that rescued the damaged document. This lecture will trace the history of the constitution from 1889 to the teachers, lawyers, and lawmakers today who study it, interpret it, and even try to amend it. We will reveal new details about two of Idaho’s founding families and how IDPTV solved a 130-year-old mystery: Who ultimately took pen to paper to scribe our state into existence?
Presenter: Bill Manny, writer/producer, Idaho Public Television
Date and time: Tue., Oct. 12, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Plastic Waste From Packaging: What's Next?

Plastic waste has become a serious problem in our oceans, disturbing both wildlife and our food chains. Much of that waste comes from the packaging of items we purchase every day. This lecture will discuss the consequences of the pollution, research, implementations underway to address the problem, and the actions we, as individuals, can take to help solve it.
Presenter: Catherine Fitch, retired, product development quality assurance, IBM and HP
Date and time: Wed., Oct. 13, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Idaho's Native Bees

Idaho’s bees range in size from the head of a pin to a quarter, with every color pattern imaginable. While you may have heard of the plight of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, these bees have a global distribution and won’t be going extinct any time soon. However, many native bees are increasingly threatened and facing extinction. Luckily, we all have the power to help. In this lecture, we will get a bee’s eye view of Idaho’s landscapes and bee conservation. We also will learn how “Murder Hornet mania” has put some native bees in peril.
Presenter: Sierra Laverty, Masters in Entomology candidate, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Date and time: Mon., Oct. 18, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Finding Your Best Self in Retirement: Your Own Version 3.0

Retirement is something that almost all of us look forward to. We hope it will be a time of relaxation, travel, family, and joy. However, it also can be a time of change and transition with issues and concerns around health, finances, family, and spare time. This lecture will discuss tips and techniques to help make retirement more enjoyable. It will be a journey into reengineering yourself into version 3.0. Additionally, Dr. Epperly will provide 10 tips on how to stay healthy and functional so you can enjoy these years.
Presenters: Ted Epperly, MD, President and CEO, Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, and Jim Trounson, former hospital and Medical Management Company CEO
Date and time: Mon., Oct. 18, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

The Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs (Livestream/Recorded Only)

Prescription drugs play an essential role in the American healthcare system. Today, adults age 65 and older take an average of 4.5 prescriptions a month. At the same time, the prices of prescription drugs widely used by older Americans have increased at an astounding and unsustainable rate. For over a decade, annual brand name drug price increases have exceeded the general inflation rate by two-fold to more than 100-fold. This lecture will highlight the history, drivers, and impacts of the rising prices of prescription drugs. We also will discuss some of the solutions being proposed to rein them in.
Presenter: James McSpadden, senior policy advisor, AARP’s Public Policy Institute
Date and time: Tue., Oct. 19, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

A Brief Introduction to Naturopathic Medicine

Chronic disease is an important topic in today’s medical field. How can natural medicine and simple lifestyle choices influence health? This lecture will explain naturopathic medicine, who naturopathic medical doctors are in Idaho, and how implementing simple daily activities can improve heart and kidney health.
Presenter: Jackie Schrempp, NMD, licensed naturopathic medical doctor and acupuncturist
Date and time: Wed., Oct. 20, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Federal Criminal Civil Rights Prosecutions

From hate crimes to police officer misconduct, this course will introduce federal criminal civil rights statutes and discuss their constitutional limitations and how prosecutors navigate intent and First Amendment protected activity. Special attention will be paid to investigations and prosecutions in Idaho, including Idaho’s first prosecution based on sexual orientation, as well as significant federal civil rights prosecutions throughout the nation.
Presenter: Wendy Olson, JD, former U.S. Attorney, District of Idaho
Dates and times: Fri., Oct. 22 and 29, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $25

Leonardo da Vinci: The Shaping of An Artistic Genius (Livestream/Recorded Only)

This course will reveal new and little-known aspects of Leonardo da Vinci’s life, his work, and his passion for interlocking knots. We will discuss Luca Pacioli, the famous Renaissance mathematician, and Isabella d’Este, patron of the arts, as both were instrumental in da Vinci’s work. Discover the intrigue of the relationships of the apprentice, the master, and the Renaissance woman and her unfinished, unpainted portrait that will intertwine their lives forever.
Presenter: Caroline Cocciardi, author and documentary filmmaker
Dates and times: Mon., Oct. 25, Nov. 1, 8, and 15, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $45

The Early American West: Pre-Contact Era to the Late 1800s

This course will explore the early origins, traditions, and interactions of the people living in the North American West. We will compare the colonial experience of different groups, including the First Nations/Indians, Spanish, Russian, English, and Americans. We also will examine how Western places became part of the United States and Canada, and explain how “the West” evolved as both a real and imagined place.
Presenter: Dr. Bob H. Reinhardt, Associate Professor of History, Boise State University
Dates and times: Tue., Oct. 26, Nov. 2, 9, and 16, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $45

Drawings by Spanish Refugee Children: 1936-1939

During the Spanish Civil War, General Franco and his allies, Germany and Italy, began the indiscriminate bombing of Republican-held towns and villages. To protect the Spanish children from this new horrific aspect of modern warfare, the Republic set up child refugee colonies on the coast of Spain and Southern France. The colonies’ organizers helped the children deal with the trauma of separation and war by having them draw pictures. Hundreds of these powerful drawings were collected, and in 1938, Aldous Huxley published a book of some of them entitled They Still Draw Pictures. In this lecture, we will study and discuss many of these drawings in depth.
Presenter: Dr. Stacey Guill, author and Ernest Hemingway scholar
Date and time: Tue., Oct. 26, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Starting in November

Armchair Traveler Visits Saint Petersburg, Russia (Livestream/Recorded Only)

For almost two-thirds of its 300-year-long history, Saint Petersburg served as Russia’s capital. From the reforms of Peter the Great to the Decemberist Revolt of 1825, and from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 900-day-long siege during World War II, the most important dramas of Russia’s history played out on the city’s stage. Saint Petersburg served as a gateway to and from Europe for Italian architects, Dutch shipbuilders, French restaurateurs, and German artisans, and has been depicted by Russian literary greats such as Pushkin and Dostoyevsky. This course will provide an exploration of a magnificent city and its historical significance.
Presenter: Dr. Asya Pereltsvaig, linguist, author, and educator
Dates and times: Tue., Nov. 2, 9, and 16, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: $35

World War II in the Pacific (Livestream/Recorded Only)

From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima, Professor Davies will explain, battle by battle, how the United States ultimately defeated the empire of Japan and ended World War II. We will explore the Allies’ island-hopping strategy and discover how it successfully cut off Japanese supply lines, enabling the U.S. to inch ever closer to Japan and finally end the war with the dropping of the atomic bomb.
Presenter: Blaine Davies, retired Professor of History, Boise State University
Dates and times: Thu., Nov. 4, 11, and 18, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $35

Fundamentals of Cancer Immunotherapy

This course will cover the biological mechanisms underpinning immunotherapies for cancer. We will discuss antibody-based therapies, engineered T cells, and cancer vaccines, and examine why toxicity may occur. Examples will be drawn from clinical trials for breast cancer, leukemia, and melanoma. The course aims to arm participants with basic scientific principles to help them make sense of available cancer immunotherapies. It does not include medical advice, diagnosis, or prognosis.
Presenter: Dr. Laura Jenski, retired Vice President for Research, University of South Dakota
Dates and times: Fri., Nov. 5 and 12, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $25

Project ECHO Idaho at WWAMI (Livestream/Recorded Only)

This lecture will discuss Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Idaho, a telehealth/telementoring program within the University of Idaho’s WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) Medical Education Program. Each week, a panel of Idaho medical experts and professionals will assemble via Zoom to discuss a given medical topic. Since its inception in 2018, ECHO Idaho has trained 1,700 medical professionals from every corner of our state to better care for their patients’ needs, including COVID-19, opioids and pain, substance use disorders, high-risk pregnancy, and behavioral health.
Presenter: Lachelle Smith, Director, Project ECHO Idaho
Date and time: Mon., Nov. 8, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

Ballet Idaho: Keeping Ballet Relevant in Today's World

This lecture will discuss the history and current activities of Ballet Idaho’s professional company and training academy. Ballet Idaho presents five productions per season ranging from classics such as “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake” to risk-taking new works from contemporary choreographers such as Alejandro Cerrudo. The company employs 21 talented, extremely dedicated dancers and three apprentices. Ballet Idaho also engages in outreach activities that provide interactive and performance-based programming to young people in the greater Boise area.
Presenter: Garrett Anderson, Artistic Director, Ballet Idaho
Date and time: Wed., Nov. 10, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

The Fourteenth Amendment: Past, Present, and Future

This lecture will trace the history of the Fourteenth Amendment from its passage through its early development in constitutional jurisprudence, highlighting landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases. We also will discuss Title VII, Title IX, and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, including possible future legal developments around equality.
Presenter: Cathy Silak, JD, attorney, former Judge, former Idaho Supreme Court Justice, and former Dean, Concordia University School of Law
Date and time: Mon., Nov. 15, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cost: Included with membership

The Ultimate History Class

This lecture will feature the history of the entire four-and-a-half billion years of Earth—condensed, of course. We will look at the entire astronomical and geological cycle of Earth, from its formation from intergalactic dust through the creation of the moon and massive asteroid bombardments. We also will cover the first indications of bacterial life, life’s progression through the ages, and mass extinctions. Participants will be amazed at the wild events of the past that have shaped our Earth and made it habitable for us.
Presenter: Paul Nelson, retired Senior Engineer, DRAM Research and Development, Micron Technology
Date and time: Wed., Nov. 17, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

NASA's Artemis Program

Artemis is the first step in the next era of human exploration. With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. This lecture will explore the Artemis program and how, with commercial and international partners, NASA will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars.
Presenter: Dr. Steve Swanson, retired NASA astronaut and Distinguished Educator in Residence, Boise State University
Date and time: Fri., Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Included with membership

Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are member-led opportunities for learning and engagement outside of the classroom.

(Mostly) Foreign Films at The Flicks

Join Osher members who enjoy films—both foreign and American—by gathering at The Flicks, Boise’s premier independent movie theater. Following each film, members will have the opportunity to meet in the theater for a short discussion. The Flicks utilizes best practices for social distancing and safety issues.
Please note: Due to robust interest in this SIG and the limited size of the theater, the film may sell out.
Facilitator: Patricia Alpine
Meetings: One Monday a month, 4 p.m.
Location: 646 W. Fulton St., Boise

Make Your Family Tree Better

Meet with other Osher members to discuss common questions and issues involved with family history research and genealogy. Discover new ways to find solutions to your research challenges, hear other members’ experiences, and share your own findings with the group.
Facilitator: Thad Webster
Meetings: First and third Tuesday of each month, 1-3 p.m.
Capacity: 25

Hiking in the Foothills

Come explore Boise’s wonderful Ridge to Rivers trail system on moderately strenuous hikes of one-and-a-half to two hours in duration. Start from a different trailhead each week to experience the beauty of the open space surrounding our city. Information with details on date, time, and location will be emailed in advance of the planned hike.
Please note: Due to parking and group size constraints, members who enroll in this group will be split into two groups that will hike different trails each week.
Facilitator: Dennis Hynes
Hikes: Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-noon

Drawing With Friends

Take part in a casual gathering with other Osher members who enjoy drawing. Members will be guided and assisted by an experienced facilitator, and each session will include a brief demonstration of a useful technique or concept that can enhance your skills. Subject matter will be varied and personalized. Previous drawing experience is recommended. Members are required to provide their own supplies.
Facilitator: Susie Fisher
Meetings: First and third Wednesday of each month, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Capacity: 25

Reading Writers Paired

Take part in a casual and exploratory book group—something different than the typical format. Each month, SIG members choose two books that have something in common such as era, location, or theme. Members can choose to read one book or the other, and both works are discussed at the next meeting.
Facilitator: Carol Delaney
Meetings: Third Thursday of each month, 2-3:30 p.m.
Capacity: 25

Walking the Greenbelt

Take part in the beauty of the Boise River Greenbelt with other Osher members who want to get exercise while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. Moderate to brisk walks that begin and end at the Yanke Building will be the core of this SIG.
Facilitators: Sharon Bixby and Diane Ronayne
Meetings: Fridays, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Location: 220 E. Parkcenter Blvd., Boise. Meet on the east side of the building.

NEW! Special Interest Series (SIS)

We are excited to announce the Osher Institute’s new Special Interest Series (SIS), a blend of a traditional SIG and a workshop-type presentation. This SIS features a five-part series of writing sessions, each facilitated by a professional presenter who will focus on a specific genre. Seating is limited, and each session will be held in person to encourage interaction and participation.
The $35 fee for the series includes one session each in different categories.
Please note: The SIS will not be recorded. Guest passes are not available for this series.

Flash Fiction

Short-short stories—sometimes called flash fiction, micro fiction, or even “smoke-long” stories—are their own genre with a unique history and enthusiastic readers. Flash stories can be as short as a few words, and no longer than 1,000 or so, but pack the emotional punch of much longer tales by tapping into timeless themes, using experimental styles, and ending with phrases so perfect they resonate for days in the reader’s mind. Come discuss some examples of the best. We’ll look at markets that publish short-short stories and discover writers who turn their tiny tales into full-length books.
Facilitator: Greg Likins
Date and time: Fri., Sep. 24, 1-3 p.m.
Capacity: 25

Introduction to the Personal Essay

What is a personal essay, and how is it different from other types of creative nonfiction, especially memoir? We will explore the personal essay’s unique appeal with its focus on using individual experience to view and comment on the larger world. Then, we’ll follow closely behind an example and begin a micro personal essay of our own.
Facilitator: Susan Rowe
Date and time: Fri., Oct. 8, 1-3 p.m.
Capacity: 25

How to Write Poetry

Some of us feel a little afraid of poetry. Fear no more! This interactive session will remove the scare from this genre and reveal its joys. The session will show you how to make music of the things you love and long for—the memories that churn in your heart, the fugitive images that float in your head. It will enable you to sing some things you always wanted to say, spin image from feeling, celebrate elements in you that will not rest till they’re given voice. You’ll take away a keen sense of what makes poetry work and help you to steep your art in a luminous spirit.
Facilitator: Diane Raptosh
Date and time: Fri., Oct. 22, 1-3 p.m.
Capacity: 25

Fantasy Writing

Learn the basics of world building: where to start, what to cover, and even how to stop. We also will look at how to connect character and theme to world building, followed by a quick look at the main subgenres of fantasy. Attendees will receive a list of resources.
Facilitator: Dr. Skip Knox
Date and time: Fri., Nov. 5, 1-3 p.m.
Capacity: 25

The Novel

Whether you have an idea for a novel, or always wanted to write one, this interactive session will kickstart your imagination with a way to think about a long-form fiction project: How do I know if my idea is right for a novel? Where does a writer begin? How is a novel structured? How do I identify the theme of my novel, and why does it matter? Leave this session with a stronger sense of whether you’re ready to tackle a novel, and what your first steps might be.
Facilitator: Samantha Silva
Date and time: Thu., Nov. 18, 1-3 p.m.
Capacity: 25

Stay Connected

Osher News: Read our monthly e-newsletter to stay up to date on events, newly added programs, important membership information, and more.

Facebook: Like us on Facebook! Discover curated articles, see sneak peeks of the next catalog, and get real-time updates on Boise State campus news and Osher Institute programs.

Social Hours: Join Osher Director Dana Thorp Patterson for monthly casual coffee. Great conversation is always supplied—we just need you to join us! Dates for each social hour are announced in Osher News.

Osher on Demand: Visit our blog, Osher on Demand, to access a wide variety of online resources including recorded lectures from Osher Institute presenters, curated TED Talks, and more!

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