Online Learning Opportunities



November 19

Senior University Spotlights Science

Where would be be without science? This week, Senior University encourages you to consider taking a science class at one of these online universities offering free, continued learning opportunities. A few classes have been curated for your perusal below but you can click here for the complete lineup of edX science course offerings.

The Extremes of Life: Microbes and Their Diversity – Microorganisms are everywhere, and although some are notorious for their roles in human disease, many play important roles in sustaining our global environment. Among the wide variety of microorganisms, here we will explore those that thrive in the most extreme environments, the extremophiles. In this course, we will discover how diverse life is on our planet and consider the basic principles that govern evolution. We will also learn how we can classify organisms. 

Introduction to Animal Behaviour – Do you want to understand how and why animals behave the way they do, and how we test hypotheses about behaviour scientifically? This biology and life sciences course provides an introduction to the complexities of wild animal behaviour, and how it is studied.
This course is aimed at anyone looking to broaden their understanding of animal behaviour beyond nature documentaries or a typical high school education. No previous knowledge is required, only curiosity and enthusiasm for the subject. 

Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather – The weather forecasts we see every day are based on an army of meteorological sensing networks and intensive computer modeling. Before the rise of these technologies, predictions were made by methods like discerning cloud formations and wind directions.
This course will explore the science behind weather systems by teaching the observational skills needed to make a forecast without using instruments or computer models. We’ll discuss the physical processes driving weather and the global forces that shape global climate systems. Finally, we will examine the limits of prediction in both human observations and computer models. 

Astrophysics: Cosmology – This course covers cosmology, the study of our entire universe. Where did the universe come from? How will it end? What is the nature of space and time? For the first time in human history, we can give precise, reliable answers to many cosmological questions, thanks to a spectacular series of recent breakthroughs. But many of the most fundamental mysteries remain unsolved. In this course we will cover the latest advances and the unsolved mysteries. This course is designed for people who would like to get a deeper understanding of astronomy than that offered by popular science articles and shows. You will need reasonable high-school level Maths and Physics to get the most out of this course. 

PredictionX: Lost Without Longitude – Humans have been navigating for ages. As we developed the tools and techniques for determining location and planning a route, navigation grew into a practice, an art, and a science. Navigational skill has long been tied to commercial, economic, and military success. However, the ability to predict when and where one will reach a distant destination is more than just a key to empire-building — it’s often a matter of life and death. Using video, text, infographics, and Worldwide Telescope tours, we will explore the tools and techniques that navigators have used, with a particular focus on the importance (and difficulty) of measuring longitude. Grounded in the principles of position, direction, speed, and time, we will learn the challenges of navigating without a GPS signal. We’ll learn how the Age of Exploration and the economic forces of worldwide trade encouraged scientific progress in navigation; and how Jupiter’s moons, lunar eclipses, and clockmakers all played a part in orienting history’s navigators.

Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science (physics) – In this course, which investigates physical transformations in food, we will be visited by world-famous chefs who use a number of different styles and techniques in their cooking. Each chef will demonstrate how he or she prepares delicious and interesting creations, and we will explore how fundamental scientific principles make them possible.  You will also have the opportunity to become an experimental scientist in your very own laboratory — your kitchen! By following along with the recipes of the week, taking precise measurements, and making skillful observations, you will learn to think like both a chef and a scientist. This practice will prepare you for the final project, when you will design and perform an experiment to analyze a recipe of your choice from a scientific perspective. 

The Einstein Revolution – Albert Einstein has become the icon of modern science. Following his scientific, cultural, philosophical, and political trajectory, this course aims to track the changing role of physics in the 20th and 21st centuries. This history course addresses Einstein’s engagement with relativity, quantum mechanics, Nazism, nuclear weapons, philosophy, the arts, and technology, and raises basic questions about what it means to understand physics in its broader history. 

November 12

Senior University Explores Learning a New Language

There are numerous benefits to learning a new language. Here are just a few:

  • Boosts Brain Power
  • Improves Memory
  • Enhances The Ability To Multi-Task
  • Sharpens The Mind
  • Keeps The Mind Sharper For Longer
  • Enhances Decision-Making
  • The First Language Is Improved 

As if that weren’t enough, here is an article on 9 Surprising Health Benefits Of Learning A Foreign Language

Senior University has highlighted a few (free) Coursera class options for learning a new language with more options if you want to check them all out

Chinese for Beginners 

First Step Korean 

Spanish Vocabulary: Cultural Experience 

Russian for Beginners 

Japanese for Beginners

November 5

Senior University Offering You a Humorous Break From Politics

Perhaps you need a break from politics right now, even if for just a little while. Here are some humorous talks to give you a break from the buzz and you just may learn a thing or two.

A Theory of Everything – Philosopher-comedian Emily Levine talks (hilariously) about science, math, society and the way everything connects. She’s a brilliant trickster, poking holes in our fixed ideas and bringing hidden truths to light. Settle in and let her ping your brain. 

This Is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email – Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as writer and comedian James Veitch narrates a hilarious, weeks-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal. 

Nerdcore Comedy – Performer and web toymaker Ze Frank delivers a hilarious nerdcore standup routine, then tells us what he’s seriously passionate about: helping people create and interact using simple, addictive web tools. 

Drawing On Humor For Change – New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly shares a portfolio of her wise and funny cartoons about modern life — and talks about how humor can empower women to change the rules. 

Why We Laugh – Did you know that you’re 30 times more likely to laugh if you’re with somebody else than if you’re alone? Cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott shares this and other surprising facts about laughter in this fast-paced, action-packed and, yes, hilarious dash through the science of cracking up. 

A Science Award That Makes You Laugh, Then Think – As founder of the Ig Nobel awards, Marc Abrahams explores the world’s most improbable research. In this thought-provoking (and occasionally side-splitting) talk, he tells stories of truly weird science — and makes the case that silliness is critical to boosting public interest in science. 

The Benefits of Using Comedy to Explain Science – In this joke-laden talk, Kasha Patel uses the standup comedy format to make a case for combining science communication with humor in order to make the former more accessible and the latter more educational. 

October 22

Senior University Celebrates the Arts

October is Tacoma Arts Month and Senior University is joining the celebration by sending some edX class options that, we hope, will inspire you. 

European Paintings: From Leonardo to Rembrandt to Goya
Learn about the inspirational work of the leading European painters from approximately 1400 to 1800, and explore the issues expressed through the art of painting. Included in this broad time frame are the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer and

World Music: Balinese Rhythms
This course provides an introduction to Balinese music, and the role of music in Balinese culture. Students will have the opportunity to both learn about and watch Balinese performances, as well as start to learn and practice the rhythms and techniques of Balinese gamelan online, using the “Jamelan” game. Using the Jamelan, learners’ progress is tracked and measured so that they can play along, hearing their accuracy audibly, but also having that accuracy measured digitally.

The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture
Join the Smithsonian, and comic book industry legend, the late Stan Lee, in this self-paced course to explore the history of the comic book and the rise of superheroes. As you learn about how cultural myths, world events, and personal experiences shaped the first superheroes, you will apply these frameworks to create your own superhero– or you can choose to do a deeper analysis on existing comic book heroes.

Japanese Books: From Manuscript to Print
This course expands the definition of the “book” to include scrolls and albums, focusing on the reading experience of a variety of formats in Japan. You will begin by examining rare and beautifully preserved manuscripts in the Harvard Art Museums in an introduction exploring the material properties of Japanese books and scrolls, binding techniques, and important terminology. An examination of the illustrated scroll comes next, through a unit on the short story and visual storytelling in premodern Japan. The course concludes with The Tale of Genji , an overview of how this celebrated epic from the eleventh century was read and illustrated in every conceivable format, from scroll, to album, to printed book, into the modern era.

Hollywood: History, Industry, Art
In this course you will learn about Hollywood and how it came to be the global powerhouse of today. We will discuss the complex Hollywood industry and how business and politics translate into the art of film, TV, and new media.

Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101
Learn how to see and draw nature like an illustrator. Build observational and visual interpretation skills in an interactive and enjoyable way.

The Music, The Stories, The Players
Learn what’s unique about jazz (swing, improvisation, structure and expression) and get an insider’s view from celebrated jazz musicians.

October 8

Senior University Food For Thought

This week, Senior University brings you some things to consider and maybe even discuss with others. Who couldn’t use a bit more fodder for conversational topics? 

How Our Siblings Shape Who We Are

Were you the favorite child, the wild child or the middle child? Jeffrey Kluger explores the profound life-long bond between brothers and sisters, and the influence of birth order, favoritism and sibling rivalry.

Grief And Love In the Animal Kingdom

Scientists debate whether animals feel love and express grief for each other. In recent years, new evidence has come to light suggesting that animals as diverse as orcas, elephants, donkeys, and ducks may experience and express profound emotions. If this aspect of nature were better understood, how might we humans make the world a better place for other species? Biological anthropologist Barbara J. King explores this question.

How Animals and Plants are Evolving in Cities

In cities, evolution occurs constantly, as countless plants, animals and insects adapt to human-made habitats in spectacular ways. Evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen calls on peculiar beings such as fast food-loving mice and self-cooling snails to illustrate the ever-transforming wonders of urban wildlife — and explains how you can observe this phenomenon in real-time, thanks to a global network of enthusiastic citizen scientists.

How the Food You Eat Affects Your Brain

When it comes to what you bite, chew and swallow, your choices have a direct and long-lasting effect on the most powerful organ in your body: your brain. So which foods cause you to feel so tired after lunch? Or so restless at night? Mia Nacamulli takes you into the brain to find out.

Where Joy Hides and How to Find It

Cherry blossoms and rainbows, bubbles and googly eyes: Why do some things seem to create such universal joy? In this captivating talk, Ingrid Fetell Lee reveals the surprisingly tangible roots of joy and shows how we all can find — and create — more of it in the world around us.

Can Beauty Open Our Hearts to Difficult Conversations?

An artwork’s color or composition can pull you in — and put you on the path to having important and difficult conversations, says artist Titus Kaphar. In this stunning talk, he reflects on his artistic evolution and takes us on a tour of his career — from “The Jerome Project,” which draws on religious icons to examine the US criminal justice system, to “From a Tropical Space,” a haunting body of work that centers around Black mothers whose children have disappeared. Kaphar also shares the idea behind NXTHVN, an arts incubator and community for young people in his hometown.

September 17

Senior University Goes to Georgetown

Join Senior University at Georgetown University this week and take a look at the free online classes they offer. Here are just a few.

The Business of Aging in the Longevity Economy
The Business of Aging in the Longevity Economy will introduce you to the interdisciplinary field of aging, important concepts of senior living administration, and to the master of science degree at Georgetown University in Aging & Health. This three-module course is appropriate for anyone interested in learning about aging personally or professionally, including college graduates who are interested in aging social and policy issues as well as mid-career or encore-career students who seek professional advancement or a shift in career track:

How the U.S. Government Works & How to Get Involved
Feeling overwhelmed by modern-day politics? Looking to get involved but not sure where—or how—to start? Wondering what you can do to channel your energy into action and make a difference? This course is for you. Led by expert faculty from Georgetown University, How the Government Works & How to Get Involved offers a refresher on the fundamentals of American government in the context of what’s happening right now. You’ll leave the course with the tools you need to become an engaged, empowered citizen and make your voice heard:

Genomic Medicine Gets Personal
While the advances in genomics promise to usher a new era in medical practice and create a major paradigm shift in patient care, the ethical, legal and social impact of genomic medicine will be equally significant. The information and potential use of genomic discoveries are no longer issues left for scientists and medical professionals to handle, but have become ones for the public at large. Rarely a day passes without a genomics-related story reported in the media. By the end of this course, students will be able to better understand the field of genomics; be familiar with various online databases and resources; and understand and appreciate the medical, social, ethical, and legal issues associated with the availability of personal genomic information:

The Divine Comedy: Dante’s Journey to Freedom, Part 1
As a 21st century reader, you will encounter the poem in a novel online environment that integrates knowledge from the disciplines of literature, history, psychology, philosophy, and theology with modern technology. You will be guided through the poem by means of the “MyDante” Project, an online environment developed by Professor Ambrosio in collaboration with the Georgetown University Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), which will aid your own contemplative engagement with the poem. Alone and with the edX community, you will reflect on both Dante’s interpretation of freedom and how it functions in the formation of personal identity, and the problem of finding appropriate metaphors to discuss these issues in our modern life:

Quantum Mechanics for Everyone
Quantum Mechanics for Everyone is a four-week long MOOC that teaches the basic ideas of quantum mechanics with a method that requires no complicated math beyond taking square roots (and you can use a calculator for that). Quantum theory is taught without “dumbing down” any of the material, giving you the same version experts use in current research. We will cover the quantum mystery of the two-slit experiment and advanced topics that include how to see something without shining light on it (quantum seeing in the dark) and bunching effects of photons (Hong-Ou-Mandel effect):

September 10

Senior University Offers Some Financial Healthcare Resources

It is almost time for Medicare open enrollment – the next open enrollment period will run from October 15, 2020 to December 7, 2020, for coverage effective in 2021. Below are some resources to assist you with making those important decisions while taking financial considerations into account as well.

The Complete Guide to Health Insurance 

The Ultimate Guide to Medicare at Age 65 

Understanding Medicaid 

Do Medicaid and Medicare Offer Dental Insurance? 

How Much Health Insurance Do You Need? 

Who Needs Long-Term Care Insurance? 

What is Burial or Funeral Insurance & How Does it Work? 

Medicine Assistance Programs 

The Guide To Keeping Your Home Through Debilitating Disease 

September 8

Senior University Visits University of California, Berkeley 

It’s time to go back to school and this week we are checking out the offerings at Berkeley. As in previous weeks, this is just a smattering of options that are available to you online for FREE! Be sure to explore all of UC, Berkeley’s online classes.

The Science of Happiness
Students will engage with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from this science, discovering how cutting-edge research can be applied to their own lives. Created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the course will zero in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social connections and contributing to something bigger than yourself–the greater good. Students will learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.
*Just a note on this one – I’ve taken this class and it is really fun. Prepare to do some work and feel the happiness rewards.

Writing for Social Justice
Learn to harness the power of writing to bring about about personal, social, and political changes that matter. In Writing for Social Justice, you will learn the importance of word choices in writing for different genres in order to reach your audience. There will be short example readings included in the course, which will serve as models of different persuasive genres. You will also share your writing with other students in the course, getting and offering feedback on assignments.

How to Save Money: Making Smart Financial Decisions
You will learn the basics of personal finance: how to balance spending and saving, which debts to pay first, what insurance you need and don’t need, how to invest for retirement and other long-term goals. In addition to watching online lectures, you will be shown how to do practical “homework” assignments, including looking up the fees on mutual funds and requesting a free credit report.

September ZOOM classes

Wednesday, September 9 – Reflections on 9/11 at the World Trade Center

Hear a first-hand account of rescue and recovery efforts in NY after 9/11 and how it changed US policy toward emergency management and preparedness for terrorism and other hazards.
2:00 pm, Zoom Presentation

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 446 640 9145

Passcode: 5GebTV


Wednesday, Sept 9 – Medicare Basics

Presented by Laurie Casas, Only Senior Options,

Description: Whether you are new Medicare, getting ready to turn 65, or already enrolled in a Medicare health plan, you’ll need to make important decisions at enrollment time and then during AEP (Annual Enrollment period) each year.  Come learn the A,B,C, & D’s of Medicare, overview and difference between Medicare supplement insurance and Medicare advantage plans, overview of and what to look for when choosing prescription drug plans and tips for your first year on Medicare health plan.

2:00 pm, Zoom Presentation

Register in advance for this meeting: 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Tuesday, Sept 15 – Medicare Basics

Presented by Laurie Casas, Only Senior Options,

Description: Whether you are new Medicare, getting ready to turn 65, or already enrolled in a Medicare health plan, you’ll need to make important decisions at enrollment time and then during AEP (Annual Enrollment period) each year.  Come learn the A,B,C, & D’s of Medicare, overview and difference between Medicare supplement insurance and Medicare advantage plans, overview of and what to look for when choosing prescription drug plans and tips for your first year on Medicare health plan.

4:30 pm, Zoom Presentation

Register in advance for this meeting: 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Wednesdays, September 16 & September 30 – Improv Class

Come play and create with improvisation! Join Jill Heinecke, Tacoma Arts Live Education Coordinator and local performer while she uses fun games and activities to explore fundamental improv skills including accepting offers, character work, building ensemble and saying yes to yourself! No experience needed, just come and have fun!

10:00 am, Zoom Class

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 895 4925 1271

Passcode: 845170


Wednesday, September 30 – Mega Tsunamis – Are All Coastlines at Risk?

Tsunamis are a fact of life. Areas in the Atlantic and Pacific, and even South American coastlines have been impacted in the past. But how big and bad could it be?

11:00 am, Zoom Presentation

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 446 640 9145

Passcode: 5GebTV


Wednesday, September 30 – Fireside Chat with the Public Works Department Director

Join the Public Works Department Director, Kurtis Kingsolver, to learnmore about what his department does and to ask any questions that you may have.

3:00 pm, Zoom Meeting

Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 986 2990 4464

Passcode: 111333

August 21

Senior University Presents Harvard’s Free Online Classes 

Lessons from Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic
Like no other event in recent history, the 2014 Ebola outbreak has made clear the fragility of existing health systems. While responding to the current epidemic is critical, we also have an opportunity to learn lessons to prevent the next global health catastrophe, forge partnerships across borders and disciplines, and demonstrate our commitment to value all human lives. 

Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scriptures
The study of religion is the study of a rich and fascinating dimension of human experience that includes but goes well beyond beliefs and ritual practices. In this religion course, learners explore case studies about how religions are internally diverse, how they evolve and change through time, and how religions are embedded in all dimensions of human experience. We’ll explore these tenets through the lens of scripture and through themes such as gender and sexuality, art, violence and peace, science, and power and authority.

Modern Masterpieces of World Literature
Examine how great modern writers capture the intricacies of our globalized world and how their works circulate within that world to find their own audiences. This short literature course examines how writers reach beyond national and linguistic boundaries as worldly readers and travelers, and how their modern fictions rise to the status of world literature.

ChinaX Book Club: Five Authors, Five Books, Five Views of China
An exploration of the dynamics of contemporary China using the tools of close reading, discussion, and analysis. China’s historical and cultural transformations, and its imaginary and actual engagements in everyday life are vividly dramatized by five Chinese authors featured in this course. Taught by Harvard faculty member Professor David Wang, this course will employ the tools of close reading, discussion, and analysis to explore issues that concern the Chinese people, and ponder the power (and limitations) of literature in imagining China anew. 

Women Making History: Ten Objects, Many Stories
As we approach the centennial of the passage of women’s suffrage in 1920, there has been a recent burst of activism among American women. Women are running for political office in record numbers. Women are organizing and taking to the streets to demand change. Women are grappling with inclusion and intersectionality. Through the exploration of ten iconic objects from the Schlesinger collection, Professors Laurel Ulrich and Jane Kamensky, along with colleagues from across Harvard University and beyond, demonstrate how women created change by embracing education, adopting new technologies, and creating innovative works of art; pushing against discrimination and stepping into new roles in public and in private. 

Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather
This course will explore the science behind weather systems by teaching the observational skills needed to make a forecast the without using instruments or computer models. We’ll discuss the physical processes driving weather and the global forces that shape global climate systems. Finally, we will examine the limits of prediction in both human observations and computer models. 

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and the 19th Century Orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony premiered in Vienna in 1824 and continues to be one of the most popular symphonies in the repertoire. The monumental symphony’s size and complexity stretch traditional instrumental forms to the breaking point, and its famous choral finale changed our view of orchestral music forever. Harvard’s Thomas Forrest Kelly (Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music) guides learners through all four movements of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, highlighting aspects of symphonic form, describing Beethoven’s composition process, the rehearsals and premiere performance, and the work’s continued relevance today. You will learn the basics of musical form and analysis, the genres and styles used and the circumstances of this symphony’s first performance and subsequent history. Learners in this course need not have any prior musical experience. 

August 20

Senior University “Staycation” Destinations

This has not been the ideal summer for taking a vacation, let alone to an exotic locale. Follow the links below to “get away” for a bit without having to leave your home…or even your chair. You might even learn something new. Bon Voyage! (No mask required)

The Louvre in Paris – The Advent of the Artist
For its fifth exhibition, the Petite Galerie take a close look at the transition from the typically anonymous craftsman of the classical period to the artist of the Renaissance and further.
The Getty Museum in Los Angeles – Fantastic Beasts of the Middle Ages
Many of the imaginary beasts that populate the modern imagination – like unicorns, dragons, and griffins – appear in medieval manuscript illumination.

National Museum of the United States Air Force on Wright-Patterson AF Base, near Dayton OH

Tour the Vatican, Rome Italy – The Sistine Chapel

Tour the Vatican, Rome Italy – Rafael’s Rooms

Walk around Machu Picchu – 15th-century Inca citadel, located in southern Peru


Rick Steves, The Very Best of “No-Travel Tips”

Rick Steves asked for “no-travel tips” on his Facebook page. He got nearly 3,000 comments with countless clever “no-travel tips” to help bring a little Europe into our locked-down lives at home. Here are just a few…

  • Gather all the little toys and trinkets in your house. Follow your housemates around showing off each toy while shouting “One euro one euro one euro!”
  • Dig a hole in the garden, put two foot-shaped cutouts on each side, tell your family that’s the toilet from now on.
  • Walk through the room where people are watching TV and solemnly announce “No photo, no video” once every 3 minutes.
  • Use suitcases for dirty laundry instead of a hamper. Then it is just like unpacking from vacation for every single load!
  • When you do get that occasional trip out, wear your money belt. To pay for things, pull up your shirt and dig out your money.
  • Use all of the little soaps and lotions you’ve collected over the years from different hotels instead of the standard size soaps and lotions.
  • Stand around the corner from a painting. Just stand there for hours waiting to get to see it.
  • Enjoy a glass or two of wine with some cheese, fruit, and baguette at a café table set out on your front porch and people-watch for an hour or so. And take a few photos as they walk by.
  • Ask your housemates for something in a foreign language; if they look confused, just repeat it louder.
  • Place your La-Z-Boy in front of your partner’s favorite chair then recline it all the way back as if on an airplane.
  • Change your phone’s map direction voice to German. Or at least give it a British accent.
  • Put all your clothes and essentials that you’ll need for two weeks in a single carry-on-sized drawer and only use those things for the two weeks.
  • Give your partner a random flower or sprig of rosemary and then yell at them when they don’t pay for it.
  • Find a recording of glorious church bells and set it to go off at 6 a.m.
  • Sit in the front passenger seat of your car for four hours with minimal reclining. Bring your own snacks and beverages, watch a movie on your Kindle. Then, see if you can sleep.

Take tours of several of your neighbors’ backyard gardens. Take pictures of them and then force your family to watch your tour.

August 13
Senior University Visits University of Queensland This Week

We may not be able to travel safely outside of the country just now but we can still participate in free, online classes at the University of Queensland in Australia. Check out some of the selected classes below or look at their entire lineup on UQx.

The Science of Everyday Thinking
We will explore the psychology of our everyday thinking: why people believe weird things, how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions. We’ll discuss and debate topics such as placebos, the paranormal, medicine, miracles, and more.
You will use the scientific method to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence, and understand why we so often make irrational choices. You will begin to rely on slow, effortful, deliberative, analytic, and logical thinking rather than fast, automatic, instinctive, emotional, and stereotypical thinking.

Making Sense of Climate Science Denial
Climate change is real, so why the controversy and debate? Learn to make sense of the science and to respond to climate change denial. With every myth we debunk, you’ll learn the critical thinking needed to identify the fallacies associated with the myth. Finally, armed with all this knowledge, you’ll learn the psychology of misinformation. This will equip you to effectively respond to climate misinformation and debunk myths.

Learn about the most fascinating animals on Earth, their sophisticated senses and how sharks and their relatives have impacted human history and culture. In this biology course, you will learn how scientists study sharks. You will join researchers on location in labs, aquariums, and oceans across the globe to learn about the biodiversity, biology, and conservation of sharks, rays, and chimaeras.

Anthropology of Current World Issues
This course will allow you to better understand the world around you through utilising the anthropological lens. You will learn about the way in which anthropology as a discipline can shed new perspectives on current world issues, from indigeneity to migration and material culture.

Global Media, War, and Technology
Explore the intersection of information technology, violent conflict, and resistance. In this course, we map this emerging new terrain where violent conflict, information technology, and global media intersect and where the old distinctions between battlefront and home front, between soldier and civilian, between war and entertainment, and between public and private are being redrawn.


You also might be interested in:

Storyteller Debbie Dimitre has a recording of her Bertha Knight Landes (Seattle’s first woman mayor)  performance available for your listening pleasure.  Click here

The esteemed Pianist & Scholar William Chapman Nyaho joined Lakewold Gardens to kick-off the 2020 season of Music from Home (virtually). Click here to view the video on YouTube. The video is part virtual concert, part interview and part testimonial. 

Join artist Sharon Styer as she welcomes you into her home for a ten minute-long video, featuring an artist talk and tour of her collage show entitled “I had the strangest feeling.”  Click here 

Did you miss the Washington Environmental Law lecture and regret it terribly? Here is a link to view that recorded lecture

August 6
Learn to Dance with Senior University

Is dancing good for the brain? You bet it is! “In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, the researchers concluded that dancing can boost the connectivity between both cerebral hemispheres, and long-term dance practice positively affects brain activity. All these are linked to neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new neural connections to change and adapt.” That is just one of the benefits to your brain and overall health. Below you will find some fun videos that will teach you some different styles of dance from the most basic to some more complex – and furthermore, I’ve even tried to find some dances that you can practice alone. Now, dance like no one is watching!

Learn to Dance with Three Easy Steps – Ashlé Dawson of the Broadway Dance Center shows Wall Street Journal’s Elizabeth Holmes three simple steps to make you feel more comfortable on the dance floor.

3 Easy Dance Moves | Beginner Dancing

Salsa Routine | Solo Dance Lesson

How to Dance with Rhythm Tutorial (Club Dance for Beginners) I Get Dance – In this tutorial you will learn how to dance with rhythm to any mainstream song. I’ll be breaking down how to dance to the tempo of the song vs on every other beat.

5 Classic Belly-dance Moves Class

Samba Class for beginners: How to Samba Step by Step

How to Dance Blues: Blues Movement Vocabulary with Joe DeMers – Movements covered: Basic Pulse, Fishtails, Side Roll with Stomp, Figure 8’s, Hip Roll to Side, Knee Knocks, James Brown, Boogie Forward, Shimmies, Mooche, Low Down, Apple Jacks, Shorty George, Mess Around, Grinds, Camel Walks, and Boogie Drops.

Beginners Dance Tutorial: Afrobeats

Line Dancing Lessons with Country Music Minute

How to do the Hustle!

Obon Dance Lesson ‘Tanko Bushi’ Coal Miner’s Dance

How to do the Charleston!

July 23
Senior University Goes to Yale

Thanks to the open courses model, we can all now attend select classes at Yale – for free! I have curated a few classes below for your consideration, however, you may want to check out all of the classes offered here and choose one, or more, for yourself:

African American History: From Emancipation to the Present – The purpose of this course is to examine the African American experience in the United States from 1863 to the present. Prominent themes include the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction; African Americans’ urbanization experiences; the development of the modern civil rights movement and its aftermath; and the thought and leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History – This is an introductory course in Greek history tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Students read original sources in translation as well as the works of modern scholars.

Introduction to Theory of Literature – This is a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose?

Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600 – This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Fundamentals of Physics IThis course provides a thorough introduction to the principles and methods of physics for students who have good preparation in physics and mathematics. Emphasis is placed on problem solving and quantitative reasoning. This course covers Newtonian mechanics, special relativity, gravitation, thermodynamics, and waves.

Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature – This course provides a historical study of the origins of Christianity by analyzing the literature of the earliest Christian movements in historical context, concentrating on the New Testament. Although theological themes will occupy much of our attention, the course does not attempt a theological appropriation of the New Testament as scripture. Rather, the importance of the New Testament and other early Christian documents as ancient literature and as sources for historical study will be emphasized. A central organizing theme of the course will focus on the differences within early Christianity (-ies).

Senior University offers a wide array of educational programming to stir the senses and inspire the mind. Classes are offered in partnership with local universities, museums, educators, cultural organizations, and businesses. Most courses are free of charge and offered to residents and the community as a public service. Senior University is made possible, in part, by a gift from Sodexo Senior Living.

July 16
Senior University Looks To the News For Inspiration

Today we look to the news for subject inspiration. Below are some talks that address some headlines we’ve seen in the news of late and grapples with them in a thoughtful manner. 

The Difference Between Being “Not Racist” and Antiracist – There is no such thing as being “not racist,” says author and historian Ibram X. Kendi. In this vital conversation, he defines the transformative concept of antiracism to help us more clearly recognize, take responsibility for and reject prejudices in our public policies, workplaces and personal beliefs. Learn how you can actively use this awareness to uproot injustice and inequality in the world — and replace it with love.

How To Create Meaningful Connections While Apart – Author Priya Parker shares tools for creating meaningful connections with friends, family and coworkers during the coronavirus pandemic — and shows how we can take advantage of gatherings that are unique to this moment of social distancing. “We don’t necessarily need to gather more,” she says. “We need to gather better.”

When Local News Dies, So Does Democracy – Nearly 1,800 newsrooms have shuttered across the US since 2004, leaving many communities unseen, unheard and in the dark. In this passionate talk and rallying cry, journalist Chuck Plunkett explains why he rebelled against his employer to raise awareness for an industry under threat of extinction — and makes the case for local news as an essential part of any healthy democracy.

How We Can Protect Truth in the Age of Misinformation – Fake news can sway elections, tank economies and sow discord in everyday life. Data scientist Sinan Aral demystifies how and why it spreads so quickly — citing one of the largest studies on misinformation — and identifies five strategies to help us unweave the tangled web between true and false.

The Link Between Climate Change, Health and Poverty – For the poor and vulnerable, the health impacts of climate change are already here, says physician Cheryl Holder. Unseasonably hot temperatures, disease-carrying mosquitoes and climate gentrification threaten those with existing health conditions, while wealthier people move to higher ground. In an impassioned talk, Holder proposes impactful ways clinicians can protect their patients from climate-related health challenges — and calls on doctors, politicians and others to build a care system that incorporates economic and social justice.

Senior University offers a wide array of educational programming to stir the senses and inspire the mind. Classes are offered in partnership with local universities, museums, educators, cultural organizations, and businesses. Most courses are free of charge and offered to residents and the community as a public service. Senior University is made possible, in part, by a gift from Sodexo Senior Living.

July 2
Senior University Offers Up More Food For Thought 

Here are some more curated talks you may consider viewing as food for thought this week. I know that some folks are still really struggling with all that is happening in our world just now so I hope that one (or more!) of these may help you get through this time.

How Fast Can a Vaccine Be Made? When a new pathogen emerges, our bodies and healthcare systems are left vulnerable. And when this pathogen causes the outbreak of a pandemic, there’s an urgent need for a vaccine to create widespread immunity with minimal loss of life. So how quickly can we develop vaccines when we need them most? Dan Kwartler describes the three phases of vaccine development.

When Is a Pandemic Over? Consider the following scenario: a highly infectious, sometimes deadly respiratory virus infects humans for the first time. It spreads rapidly worldwide, and the WHO declares a pandemic. The death toll starts to rise and everyone is asking the same question: when will the pandemic end? Alex Rosenthal details the three main strategies governments can use to contain and end a pandemic.

3 Secrets of Resilient People – Everyone experiences loss, but how do you cope with the tough moments that follow? Resilience researcher Lucy Hone shares three hard-won strategies for developing the capacity to brave adversity, overcome struggle and face whatever may come head-on with fortitude and grace.

How to Turn Your Dissatisfaction Into Action – After the devastating rebel invasion of Freetown in 1999 and the Ebola epidemic in 2014, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of the city, refused to be paralyzed by her frustration with the status quo. Instead, she used her anger as a catalyst for action. In this inspiring talk, she shares how she transformed her city by taking the risks necessary to bring about dramatic change — and shows how you can find power in your dissatisfaction.

How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them – Our biases can be dangerous, even deadly — as we’ve seen in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, in Staten Island, New York. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward out-groups. She makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases. Then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable. In a funny, impassioned, important talk, she shows us how.

The Benefits of Expressing Your Emotions (Constructively) – Every culture assigns stigma or value to different styles and levels of emotional expression, creating an instinct to repress or reject feelings associated with discomfort. Psychotherapist Artūrs Miksons lays out the benefits of discarding unhelpful social stigma and explains why expressing our emotions constructively can help build resilience to endure trying times.

July 1
Food For Thought from Senior University

This week’s focus is on aging. We are all doing it after all. We are taught, starting from the time we are quite young, that being old is considered a negative. I’d like to hope that you don’t feel that way. Nonetheless, bias is strong when it’s what we see and hear from others throughout our lifetime and we tend to internalize it, whether we realize it or not. Here are several Ted Talks to challenge the notion that aging is unfavorable. Enjoy your age!

Let’s End Ageism

Why We Should Embrace Aging As An Adventure

How to Live Passionately – No Matter Your Age

Life’s Third Act

Older People Are Happier

June 18
Senior University Food For Thought

Here are some links to TEDEd content to give you some “food for thought” over the next week. 

Why Do We Laugh? – Laughing is a universal human behavior, one that transcends borders of language and culture. No one has to teach us to laugh, and people everywhere pretty much do it the same way. But it’s also really weird. Why do we do it? The answer has less to do with humor than you might think. It’s Okay To Be Smart investigates.

4 Reasons to Learn a New Language – English is fast becoming the world’s universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why bother learning a foreign language? Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue.

Is the 5-Second Rule True? – If we pick up dropped food quickly, is it still safe to eat? How quickly does bacteria on the floor move to the food? Some people call it the “5-Second Rule” or the “10-Second Rule,” even the “2-Second Rule.” But is there any truth to it, or is it just something we say to allow us to eat food off the ground? Vsauce investigates.

The History of the World According to Cats – In ancient times, wildcats were fierce carnivorous hunters. And unlike dogs, who have undergone centuries of selective breeding, modern cats are genetically very similar to ancient cats. How did these solitary, fierce predators become our sofa sidekicks? Eva-Maria Geigl traces the domestication of the modern house cat.

Did We Domesticate Dogs, or Did Dogs Domesticate Us? Of all the species that humans have domesticated, dogs are our oldest animal friends. But how did a group of wolves become the furry pup at the end of the bed? It’s Okay To Be Smart shows how new research is finally unlocking the paw-in-hand evolution of dogs and humans.

Why 350°F is the Magic Number for Baking – Ever notice the first step in baking is almost always to preheat the oven to 350 degrees? What’s so magical about this number and why is it that so many recipes call for it? Vox serves up the science behind baking.

What Stretching Actually Does to Your Body – Have you ever wondered what stretching actually does to your muscles and your body? What is the best way to stretch? And why are some people … stretchier than others? Physics Girl investigates.

What Really Matters at the End of Life – At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it’s simply comfort, respect and love. BJ Miller is a palliative care physician who has dedicated his career to understanding how to provide a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients. This moving Talk asks us to consider –and perhaps reconsider — how we think about death, and how we honor life.

June 17
Senior University Wants to Combat Alzheimer’s

I know that Alzheimer’s Disease is a major concern for many of you and, with it’s increased prevalence, there’s no wonder it should be. If you are looking for ways to help prevent, or even just prevent the effects of the disease (yes, this seems possible even if you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s already!), please check out the information in the attachments below.

What You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s

The Resistant Brain – Nourishing Our Bodies Against Alzheimer’s

Dementia is Preventable Through Lifestyle. Start now.

Diabetes & Alzheimer’s — Save Your Brain By Going to the Gym

Curing Alzheimer’s with Science and Song – Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Brain Young: Anti-aging games for free for a month with the code TEDVIP at

The Alzheimer’s Association has also created some educational online webinars on and some classes on Alzheimer’s related topics this month so be sure to check those out too.

June 11
Senior University Provides a Few “Rabbit Holes” to Follow This Week

Do you ever find yourself intrigued by a subject then follow that topic down the “rabbit holes” of learning that the internet can provide? I am guessing you may have since you are a Senior University enthusiast. To that end, below are some possible “rabbit holes” for you to follow on TEDEd and learn about something new or delve deeper into a topic that interests you.

Helping Others Makes Us Happier, But It Matters How – One of the best ways to increase your own happiness is to help other people. This turns out to be a cultural universal— an aspect of human nature that scientists have detected around the world. But, giving to others doesn’t always make people happier. So, what are the factors that determine whether good deeds produce good feelings? Elizabeth Dunn shares how we can make a greater impact— and boost our own happiness along the way.

Better Know: the Mona Lisa – What is it about the Mona Lisa that makes everyone stop, look and pose with her? Who was this young woman? Why are people so fascinated by this DaVinci portrait?

Early Birds vs Night Owls – Do you wake up early every day or do you stay up late every night? Waking up early would mean you are a morning person, staying up late into the night would make you a night owl. What effect might this trait have on your personality? Intelligence? Success rate?

Meet the Microscopic Life in Your Home And On Your Face – We live in homes with over 100,000 microscopic species, each with its own set of unique traits and capabilities. While a few of these species cause disease, most do not. Can humans harness these microbial capabilities to create beneficial applications and new technology? According to microbiologist Anne Madden, these microscopic alchemists aren’t gross— they’re the future.

How Soap Kills the Coronavirus – You’ve been told a thousand times, wash your hands to stop the spread of COVID-19. But why does this work so well? It has to do with the way the soap molecules are able to absolutely demolish viruses, like the coronavirus. Vox explains what makes plain old soap so effective.

Why It’s So Hard to Make Healthy Decisions -Why do we make poor decisions that we know are bad for our health? In this frank, funny talk, behavioral economist and health policy expert David Asch explains why our behavior is often irrational— in highly predictable ways— and shows how we can harness this irrationality to make better decisions and improve our healthcare system overall.

How Boredom Can Lead to Your Most Brilliant Ideas – Do you sometimes have your most creative ideas while folding laundry, washing dishes or doing nothing in particular? It’s because when your body goes on autopilot, your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems. Manoush Zomorodi explains the connection between spacing out and creativity.

May 14
Things You Can Do to Learn In Lieu of Senior University

It is that time of year for gardening (indoor and outdoor), for those who do such things, and here are some classes that you can take online (at no cost) to increase your skills…

Skillshare has a whole lineup of classes from growing houseplants, to growing microgreens and sprouts, and even beginning gardening classes if you are just getting started.

Home for the Harvest has also compiled 35 Garden Classes to Take at Home with a wonderful array that includes plant science and specialty gardens, including flower gardening classes.

Intrigued by the idea of permaculture or just want to learn what that even is? Right now you can take a free year-long class put together by the author of Food Not Lawns, H.C. Flores.

Perhaps a documentary viewing session is more your thing (or even a good break from gardening)? How-to Geek has compiled a list of The Best Websites for Watching Free Documentaries.

If you are bored, you aren’t learning enough! Take care of yourself.

May 7
What to do without Senior University?

Here are a few suggestions for those of you who may be feeling antsy about getting out and about. It’s “virtually” the same as being there. 

Visit a garden:
Portland Japanese Garden
Highgrove Gardens, UK
Kew Gardens, UK
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Garden
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

(Armchair) Travel to someplace new:
Aerial Tours Around the World
Yellowstone Tours
The Cotswolds, England
View from Empire State Building
Mount Vernon – George Washington’s home
360 View of Stonehenge

OpenLearn has some great looking classes under Geography, including  classes such as Why Maps Are Made and What is Europe? 

April 23
Even If You Can’t Participate in Senior University, You Can Still Learn Something New This Week

I hope that the past few week’s worth of emails have opened up your eyes to some continued learning tools that you may not have been aware of and that you are finding ways to keep your mind engaged. In case you are yearning for something new, here are some more things for you to try.

How about a virtual tour of a museum? Here is a link to an article with 12 museums around the world that you can visit via your computer or handheld device.

For something closer to home, check out Tacoma Art Museum’s collection online. You don’t even have to be a member!

Are you curious about what is in the Washington State Historical Society collection? You can visit their collection virtually by typing in topic of interest.

Right now, you can even help in documenting history by sharing your COVID-19 experience. 

Foss Waterway Seaport is offering daily virtual programming for all ages. From preschool Super Seastar classes to up-close and personal in a whale skeleton to live Seaport Stories with local influencers. Resources can be found here.

Perhaps what you need right now is a little air or some space…
Take a virtual tour of the Wright Patterson National Air Force Museum
Get an inside look at NASA Glenn Research Center’s facilities
Check out NASA’s 4K virtual tour of Earth’s moon

You can access over 100 Great Courses lectures for free on YouTube

In fact, YouTube is a treasure trove of learning. Here are a few more things that you can check out:
Applied Science
Hip Hop Dance Class
Yoga for Complete Beginners
If you want to learn to write fiction, you can get whole lists of videos with tips and tricks.

Have a great week and stretch your comfort level by trying something new!

April 22
Keep Your Brain Engaged and Nimble with These Online Activities

Classes and lectures are fun but games and activities are fun too – and a different way to learn! Below are some fun ways to keep that brain firing on as many cylinders as possible during the Senior University downtime. Enjoy!

Have you tried Sudoko yet? Problem solving and math (very basic counting here, so don’t shy away if you aren’t a math whiz) with logic rolled into one small puzzle. Here is an online resource that you can use for free. 

How about testing those powers of observation with a word search?

Did you know that you can do jigsaw puzzles online? For those that like a bit of mystery in their puzzles, you can even pick a “Friday Mystery Puzzle” on this site. has a daily crossword and other word related games that you can play. 

If learning a new language is on your list of entertaining pastimes, or you’d like it to be, you can check out Duolingo for 31 language choices. (This is free!)

April 9
Things You Can Do From Home to Keep Your Mind Active

Still hanging in there, I hope, as we still have a while to go yet. If you have found some ways to keep learning while Senior U is on hiatus (or, in Quarantine, more like!), please feel free to share those with me. Meanwhile, here are some more ideas to help keep your mind challenged and to keep on learning with an artful twist.

Free online music classes: (this is for the folks you want to learn to create music) and (this is for those especially interested in music theory.) 

Interested in improving your writing skills? Here is an article to steer you towards 90 free writing classes available online:

Do you miss Senior U’s art-making classes? Here are some free online classes to keep on building your skills:

Tacoma Art Museum is also offering instructions for projects that you can do at home.

Or, if Art History is more to your liking, here is a link to an article with 10 online University art classes that you can take for free:

Since we are spending so much time connecting and learning online, it is important to keep in mind that cyber-criminals are taking advantage of this too. Don’t fall for these current cyber-threats

Hang in there and keep on learning!

April 2
Things You Can Do From Home to Keep Your Mind Active

Here are some more things that you can do to keep learning during this Senior University down time.

If you’ve never tried TED Talks, you are missing out! TEDx offers lectures on numerous topics by experts in their fields.

If you are interested in something ongoing and more structured, like a real class, you can get that through Edx for free:, as well as, Coursera, to name a couple. And here is a link to an article that describes 20 sites for free online education for adults:

If you miss the Brain Training classes, check out Luminosity

Do you enjoy doing crossword puzzles? Here are up to 40,000 crossword puzzles that you can do online for free and no registration required:

I hope to see you all again at Senior University soon but, until then, keep on learning!

March 26
Things You Can Do From Home to Keep Your Mind Active

Folks have been kind enough to share some resources with me to pass along to you for helping to make this interim time at home more stimulating. 

Steve Dunkelberger from History Hour with Steve shared: I did a two hour show last Friday that can watch, here or a Facebook Live show this Friday here.

You can access Great Decisions video content on YouTube

Here is a link to live MET opera performances from their catalog.

March 23
Senior University Check-In

I hope that you are all doing well and staying safe during this Senior University downtime. I know you have received the April calendar but I want to remind you that Senior U is currently cancelled until further notice, so please check in with us before you come in for any classes. I will do my best to keep you informed. The stay-at-home notice by Governor Inslee will prevent any classes from occurring until at least April 6th but, even if normal operations go into effect elsewhere, it does not guarantee that Senior U classes will resume right away. Meanwhile, keep as active as you can within the confines of your homes.

*To register for a class or inquire about whether a class is taking place, please call 253-752-6621 or email