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May 2016 
OLLI's Inaugural Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award Given to Prof. Dan Kammen

Dan Kammen at award ceremony On April 4, Dan Kammen, the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at UC Berkeley and the Science Envoy for the U. S. State Department, received the inaugural  OLLI @Berkeley Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award.

The award ceremony was held in the Energy Biosciences Building. Speakers included Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Cathy Koshland and Dean of Summer Sessions, Study Abroad and Lifelong Learning Rick Russo. In addition to the award, Professor Kammen also received a proclamation from Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates honoring him for his achievements. 

This award will be given annually to a UC Berkeley faculty member who has shown dedication to the community and to lifelong learning through their ongoing teaching for OLLI @Berkeley. Particular consideration is given to faculty whose scholarship, publications, or research have advanced as a result of their exchange of ideas with OLLI students.

Director Susan Hoffman explains that "Our connection to campus gives us access to world-class faculty, and it's one of the great strengths of our program. We instituted this award as a way to formally recognize the contributions that UC Berkeley faculty make to OLLI. We chose Dan as the first recipient of the award not only because he has taught several stellar courses with us but also because of his ongoing commitment to educating our members and the broader community about issues of vital importance in our world. We were especially impressed that he is teaching for us this spring while also serving as a science envoy for the US State Department and fulfilling his other duties on campus."

April Highlights

OLLI at the Ball Yard
Mick Chantler at baseball game The Member Services committee organized an excursion to watch the Oakland A's play the Houston Astros at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, April 30. Instructor Mick Chantler provided a pre-game scouting report.

OLLI group at baseball game

Presentation at the museum Rosie the Riveter Museum
The Member Services committee also organized a visit to the Rosie the Riveter / Home Front museum in Richmond on April 29.

Stanford Learning Summit 2016
Director Susan Hoffman attended Stanford's 2016 Learning Summit, Inventing the Future of Higher Education, where she presented on lifelong learning. Susan is pictured here with  Michael Kirst, President of the California State Board of Education; John Hennessey, President of Stanford; and Brian Murphy, President of DeAnza College.
Susan Hoffman at Stanford Summit

Summer Courses Start June 7

Bring some OLLI to your summer with one of our seven courses:

John Prescott and Mark Streshinsky: Opera Sauce

You can register online or by phone at 510.642.9934. Phone hours: 9:00 - 5:00, Monday through Friday.

Faculty Profile: David Peritz
by Jennifer Monahan, OLLI Staff

David Peritz is a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College and faculty member in the Master of Arts of Liberal Studies Program at Dartmouth. He has also taught at Berkeley, Harvard, Cornell, and Deep Springs, and began teaching with OLLI @Berkeley this Spring.

David Peritz How does your background in philosophy and psychology inform your current perspectives?
My field -- political theory and political philosophy -- is inherently an eclectic and all-encompassing one. The first text to examine these questions, Plato's Republic, existed long before these divisions were put into place. And anyone who reads Machiavelli's The Prince, Hobbes' Leviathan, or Rousseau's Social Contract knows that they go beyond current disciplinary boundaries.  In order to answer certain core questions -- what constitutes a just society? can equality be reached? -- you need philosophy, economics, history and psychology. These topics go beyond the boundaries of current social sciences disciplines.

This kind of multi-disciplinarity is reflected in the classes I teach for OLLI, where we spend at most a few weeks on a given discipline.

This election cycle seems different from any in the past 30 years. Are there precedents to the populism that we're seeing? And if so, what light does this shed on the current state of American politics?
There is absolutely a precedent. Last year Steve Fraser, an economic historian, published Age of Acquiescence, in which he compares the latter half of the 19th century with the early 21st century. He draws a number of parallels in terms of inequality, dislocation, economic uncertainty, and changing demographics. The earlier  era gave rise to a number of populist changes aimed at re-establishing political control of the economy and social stability. These shifts, which culminate in the New Deal, involve the gradual regulation of capitalism through limits on working hours and working conditions, and through a more balanced process for negotiating between employers and workers. Fraser ends his book asking where the outrage is in the present era, why our era isn't seeing a similar response. I think he's getting his answer now.

If Fraser had written his book in 1860 he might have asked the same question of the earlier era; it would have taken until 1940 to get a full answer because the shifts in politics, policies and political parties were so far-reaching. What we're seeing this year may just be the opening salvo in a much longer battle to place humane controls on an increasingly global, post-industrial economy that is generating new forms of vulnerability and precariousness.

Your upcoming course this summer will look at the 2016 elections. What do you plan to highlight?
The course will focus on several major policy issues. The United States will have a number of momentous decisions to make during the next four years. We have opportunities to shape the future of the US and of the world, and the choices we make will determine whether people curse us or thank us a hundred years from now. How aggressively will we work on climate change, for instance?

These questions tend to get lost in the current media focus on the "horse race" and the candidates' personalities. So we'll spend time examining issues like inequality and economic mobility, climate change, race, the justice system, and international politics. In each case, we'll look at what's going wrong, what options there are to adapt, the likely consequences if changes were implemented, and the political viability of the various options on the table. To lend the course a little structure, I group the policy issues into four main constellations: the political process and its democratic deficits; forms of precariousness and social marginality generated or reinforced by recent economic developments and social changes; social justice issues; and issues to do with America's standing in and interconnection to the world.

In the Fall term, you'll be teaching about social mobility (or lack thereof) and inequality. Why should these topics be of concern to all of us, even if the current system works in our favor?
There has been a lot of research done on what it's like to live in societies that are more or less equal, and societies that are more or less mobile. One of the findings is known as the Gatsby Curve: more equal societies are more mobile and vice versa. This is partly because in a less equal society the rungs on the ladder are farther apart, and it becomes harder to reach the next one. In addition, those at the top of a less equal society care more about their privilege, work hard to pass them on to the next generations, and have more resources to devote to this project.

Some of the most interesting recent research finds that  inequality is damaging no matter where you are on the social ladder. In the developed world, more unequal societies have shorter lifespans, higher infant mortality rates, higher rates of alcoholism and other addictions, higher rates of obesity, lower test scores, and lower rates of overall happiness. This is true no matter where one falls in the social hierarchy: you see these same patterns whether you're looking at the bottom 20% of an unequal society or the top 20%. This is an extraordinary finding: even though the top income group in a more unequal society is often quite a bit richer than the comparable group in a more equal society, they are worse off across a broad range of measures of well-being. The conclusion is clear: on the one hand, everyone suffers from inequality, so everyone should care; on the other, once a society reaches an advanced stage of development, equality matters more than wealth for social well-being. All of this suggests that even those who are well off, and even if they are only thinking of their own narrow well-being, should care about equality and mobility. One can also hope that the well-off will also care about social justice, and this will give them additional, less self-centered grounds for caring about these issues.

What do you like best about teaching OLLI members?
I have been teaching in programs like this for a long time. Fifteen years ago, some colleagues and I submitted a grant proposal to the state of New York and got funding to teach OLLI-like programs in retirement communities in New York City. We wanted to see whether the cognitive benefits that undergraduates get from academic study would also apply later in life, so we taught classes similar to our undergraduate classes to retired adults. We found very clear benefits: not only in terms of memory and cognition, but also in terms of connectedness. It's common for people getting older to feel that the world is moving away from them; lifelong learning programs help people re-engage and reconnect.

But more than that: we found that we loved being in a classroom where the students weren't there just because they were supposed to be. They weren't taking education for granted. When your students bring a lifetime of experience into the classroom, they ask questions that are less predictable, more creative, more original, and more likely to prompt me to rethink things. So I've been teaching OLLI-like classes ever since. It's among the most rewarding forms of teaching that I do.

Volunteer Profile: Susan Driscoll

by Gale Lederer, OLLI volunteer

Susan Driscoll "I pretty much don't know how to say NO," admits Susan Driscoll, this month's featured OLLI volunteer. Perhaps this endearing trait helps explain her mind-boggling roster of activities. Currently, she volunteers for Civicorps, which runs a charter school in West Oakland for high school dropouts. "These are disenfranchised kids," Susan tells us. "Many are mothers already, and some are homeless." Additionally, she works with first and second graders in Alameda through the Reading Partners literacy program as well as with a literacy program for adults. She's also been a long-time volunteer with Meals on Wheels. On top of all that, Susan finds time to volunteer as an usher for the Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Rep, ACT, and the San Francisco Opera. She also served on the Aurora's Gala Committee and as soon as our interview was over, she rushed off to stuff envelopes for this organization.

Susan was born into a large Irish Catholic family in St. Paul, Minnesota, that was deeply involved in politics and the arts. In fact, at age seventeen she had her own public television show, "Teen View." She has worked in radio and TV as well as an event organizer and freelance tour guide -- jobs that have enabled her to travel extensively. "The biggest blessings of my life are the amount I've traveled and my good health," she tells us. Susan has lived in southern California, Hawaii, and Australia as well as the Bay Area. Since last spring, she's lived on a floating home in Alameda near Jack London Square. "You can't call it a houseboat," she explains, "since it has no means of propulsion."

Susan's neighbors told her about OLLI about three years ago. She particularly enjoys OLLI's music, theatre, and film courses, and she talks about Michael Fox, Pete Elman, and Katherine Roszak with special warmth. Susan has enriched our OLLI community with her energy and enthusiasm as well as by volunteering as class assistant and for many OLLI events.

Community Events

Bay Area Book Festival
June 4 and 5, 2016 in downtown Berkeley
Dozens of authors and thousands of books in downtown Berkeley? What's not to like? Keep an eye out for OLLI's booth.

Parking Update: Center Street Garage

As you may have heard, the parking garage next to the Freight and Salvage is slated to be rebuilt. The current structure will be demolished in late June 2016, and construction is expected to last until August 2017. The new structure will have 72 0 parking spaces -- a substantial improvement over the 420 spaces in the current structure. ( More information )

Although we all look forward to the addition of 300 parking spaces in downtown Berkeley, the short-term loss of the garage will be inconvenient for anyone trying to park downtown. Here are a few options to consider during the construction:
  • Public transit: Anyone 65 or older is eligible for a free senior Clipper Card, which allows you to pay senior fares on BART, AC Transit, and all Bay Area public transit systems. The application process is simple: just download an application, fill it out, and mail it in with a copy of your driver's license or other ID. You can also apply in person at some BART stations. Once you receive your card, you can set it up to automatically reload from a credit card.
  • Ridesharing: We encourage OLLI members to form carpools to attend class. Our member-run online group OLLIBConnect is an excellent resource for this. 
  • Paratransit: Berkeley Paratransit offers a taxi scrip program for residents over 80 and residents aged 70-79 whose incomes less than 50% of the area median. East Bay Paratransit offers transportation services to individuals who meet certain criteria under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
OLLI will hold a question-and-answer session on Monday, May 9 at 12:10 p.m. in 150 University Hall to present information about these transit alternatives. 

Lunch Bunch

Berkeley Coffee Company
61 Shattuck Square
Berkeley CA 94704

People's Café, which had to close permanently because of a fire, has now been
resurrected in a new bright and clean space directly across the street from its
original location. It is just next to Sushi Ko, and very convenient to OLLI classrooms.
The atmosphere is quiet and welcoming, tables nicely spaced, and it is a great place for hanging out. The well-priced menu features all-day breakfast things, as well as omelets, salads, sandwiches and wraps, and a variety of coffee and tea drinks. It has not yet been inundated with Berkeley High students, so it's worth a try.

Lucille Poskanzer
May 2016