Carnegie Mellon University

Osher Catalog

June 24, 2021

New courses, new study leaders: Help us find volunteers who would be willing to teach!

The Osher Curriculum Committee has been hard at work over the summer looking for student leaders to give courses (five- or six-week courses or 1-2 day courses) on any of these subjects:

  1. Gun-control. What are the issues? Why are people so heatedly on one side or the other? What is the history of gun-control in the United States?
  2. The Abortion Controversy. Again, why are people so vehemently on one side or the other? What is the history of abortion laws?
  3. Ransomware. What to do about these attacks on essential computer systems of government agencies, hospitals and essential private companies? Are they state-sponsored? Can payments made in bitcoin be traced?
  4. The Economic Effects of the Pandemic. What are the economic effects, long-term and short-term, of the Covid19 crisis? What is the harm done to the US economy? What is the harm done to the economy of Third World countries? Can that harm be overcome?
  5. Critical Race Theory. Why is this so controversial?
  6. CEO Salaries. Why are they so high? Is there a need that they be so high? Are they justified? Are they good for the economy? Do they really encourage better corporate performance?
  7. Right Wing Extremist Groups. The Three Presenters, the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers and militias of all sorts and other extremist groups. Why do they exist? What are the motivations of the members? What are the policing issues involved?
  8. The Philip Roth Biography. The publisher of the new Philip Roth biography has pulled the book before was distributed because of a controversy surrounding the author. Should there be a separation between the author and his/her work; even as there is some controversy about the personality of the author?
  9. Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Mandarin and other language teachers are needed in response to requests from students.
  10. Sign language. There have been requests to teach sign language.
  11. IPhones. What can they do, why are they so complicated, can we make this simpler, and what can they do that we did not know they were able to do? What is the future relationship between iPhones/Apple watches and medical devices such as hearing aids, diabetes warnings, etc.
  12. Art installations in museums in Pittsburgh and in the surrounding areas. There is, for example, a Douglas Cooper show at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg. Cooper did the large mural showing Pittsburgh in great detail on the second floor of the Cohan Center at CMU. There are also museums in West Virginia and in the Cleveland area that would warrant a day trip.
  13. January 6, 2021.  It’s cause, the social consequences and the legal issues.
  14. Courts. How did the United States District Court, the US Court of Appeals, Common Pleas courts and local district magistrate’s courts work during the pandemic? What is justice denied? Delayed
  15. Israel and Gaza. This is a “hot” topic that is now current and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
  16. Venezuela. This is a failed/failing regime led by a president who has managed to squander the oil wealth of the country. How is it that he is still in office? What are the alternatives? Is Venezuela being supported by China? Russia? Cuba?
  17. Fracking. The economic, environmental and social consequences.
  18. Zoom. The long and short-term business, political and social consequences of this new communication medium. This course could cover Zoom and similar programs from Google, Microsoft and Cisco. The course could discuss its effect on education (for Osher and other educational institutions). What will the long-term effects of the ability to speak in person, face-to-face, have on business? Travel?
  19. Zoom. What would you like to know about the program? Can the program be simpler? This course could also be a “how to” course.
  20. Covid19 and government responses. State, local and federal responses to the pandemic.
  21. The City of Pittsburgh and the County of Allegheny. The evolving relationship between the city and the county as the city loses population and the county against population.
  22. Magazine Focused Courses. Osher has had, for many years, ably led classes featuring The New Yorker magazine. Similar courses could be started for the Economist, Paris Review, the Nation, the National Review, Foreign Affairs, Harper’s or others. These would be perfect courses for in class or zoom presentations
  23. Exercise classes. No description needed.
  24. Hands-On/How We Do It Courses. Pottery, spinning, writing, weaving, printmaking, etc. would be ideal for our students.
  25. Photoshop and/or Photography.  Photography using iPhones is increasingly popular as the cameras in them become more able. Photoshop and other Adobe products have many uses.
  26. Videos and Videography. iPhones, Webcams, cell phones, and small, inexpensive video cameras make video production available to everyone.
  27. Affordable Travel. How to travel safely and economically? Are airline or credit card points really worth it? Are there ever bargains in airfares? Are there train rides that are interesting? How can those over 50 travel without having to remove clothing at the airport?
  28. Tour Travel. Road Scholar and similar companies offer reasonably priced travel. It would be interesting to hear students experiences with these companies. Students could also discuss their own trips with these tour companies.
  29. Trains. Are trains a viable alternative to the automobile? Are there interesting train rides in the US, Canada or Europe?
  30. Misinformation and Disinformation. What should the responses be? What can be done about it? Are limitations on this information and/or misinformation protected as free speech? What are the motivations of the people responsible for disseminating this material?

And… Your suggestions would be very welcome. If you would like to teach these courses, or any others, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

If you would like to teach and thought it would be difficult or if you have an idea for a course that you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Curriculum Committee by emailing

Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you in person in class or on zoom in the fall.

Stan Winikoff 
Chair, Osher Curriculum Committee