Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Cross country connection sparks OLLI at PSU learning opportunity

UNIVERSITY PARK — The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Penn State is joining forces with another OLLI program from across the country to provide a new opportunity for members during the fall semester.  

Through a course-sharing collaboration, OLLI at Penn State members can join the OLLI at Colorado State University course “Suspense, Danger and Surprise: The Best of Alfred Hitchcock” via Zoom. 

Likewise, OLLI at Colorado State University members can join OLLI at Penn State learners for the course “Presidential Doctrines 1823-2011 and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.” 

OLLI at Penn State is one of 125 OLLI programs across the country that offers community members ages 50 and older the opportunity to learn, explore and connect through educational experiences, travel, and social and volunteer opportunities. 

Collaborations between programs provide an opportunity for members to meet new people and have a new learning experience, said OLLI at Penn State Director Brynn Rousselin.  

“We often share information and collaborate on projects that provide wonderful opportunities to supplement the robust programming we offer our membership bases,” said Rousselin. “In this case, each of us is offering a course with a well-known and highly regarded instructor from whom the respective members would otherwise not be able to experience or learn. Our ability to provide such programming is truly a benefit of OLLI membership.” 

The partnership was sparked last spring when longtime OLLI at Penn State instructor Greg Ferro took a trip out west to teach a course at OLLI at Colorado State University.  

A former State College Area High School history teacher, Ferro teaches American history classes at retirement communities and resorts in North Carolina and throughout the mid-Atlantic states. He previously taught a few classes to the Colorado State University audience online, but the trip to Colorado allowed him to connect with the students face-to-face. 

“Then, I got back, and I thought, ‘You know, those people in Colorado were really nice, I would like to stay in contact with them,’ so I planted the seed for the collaboration,” Ferro said. “I have been teaching for 52 years, and I have never done a course like this, to have students in front of me at Penn State and then have an audience at Colorado State that will be with us online. It is going to be interesting because people in Colorado might have a different perspective than people in State College.” 

Ferro’s fall course begins on Oct. 18. The class will explore the presidential doctrines that have shaped how a president can respond to a threat such as nuclear war, something that he said is a growing concern since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has hinted at the use of nuclear weapons regarding Ukraine. Can President Biden respond without a declaration of war? Of course, he can. What gives President Biden and every president since 2001 the authority to throw the first punch if an attack against America is imminent? It is the Bush Doctrine of 2001,” Ferro said.  

OLLI at Colorado State University Director Meredith Naughton said the class will provide an opportunity for members to reconnect with Ferro and meet new people. 

“Our OLLI members will gain a wealth of insight from Greg Ferro on this topic of presidential doctrines and will be captivated by his knowledge and enthusiasm. It will be a special treat for our members to participate in an OLLI course through Penn State, to meet new learners and engage with a partner program,” Naughton said. 

Jay Sherwin is the instructor who will teach the course on Hitchcock through Colorado State University. Sherwin has taught for more than 30 OLLI programs nationwide and in 2022 he taught the course “Writing a Legacy Letter” for OLLI at Penn State.  

Sherwin is a writer and consultant who has been watching, studying and enjoying Hitchcock films for decades. He created a walking tour of Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco home that attracts fans worldwide.

His four-week course, which begins on Sept. 19, will consider some of Hitchcock’s best films, such as “Psycho” and “North by Northwest,” focusing on two each week. 

“It is hard to choose the best of Hitchcock, but I am starting with seven of his most interesting and provocative films. Whether you have enjoyed Hitchcock films for many years or you are just discovering them, this is a chance to go deeper into the mind of a brilliant, complicated and very strange man,” Sherwin said.  

More information about OLLI at Penn State courses can be found online or by calling (814) 867-4278. 

OLLI at Penn State is a unit of Penn State Outreach