Attend Senior College

The mission of Senior College is to provide high-quality educational opportunities for seniors. Courses cover a wide variety of topics in the humanities, sciences, and the arts and are taught by emeritus and current University of Iowa faculty members and others.
Senior College is run by a committee of volunteers. The committee works in cooperation with the Association of Emeritus Faculty and the University of Iowa Retirees Association and contracts with the Center for Advancement to host this webpage and handle registration.
Fall 2019 Courses
Twelve different courses are being offered from August through November. The fee for most courses is $30. Please review all courses before registering. Detailed information about each course and instructor can be found by clicking on the “More” arrow in the gray box and is also available in the course catalog (PDF) below.
Once you have made your selections, use the "Register Now" button below. After you register, you will receive an email within 24 hours, followed by a letter confirming your registration.
If you have questions about course registration or would like to receive email updates for future sessions of Senior College, please contact the UI Center for Advancement at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973 or via email at

Course 1
Wednesdays, August 28; September 4, 11, 18, 25; October 2

Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace at 150: An Iowa City Celebration

Time: 3:30 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.
Where: Van Allen Hall, Room 301
30 N. Dubuque St., Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Aug 21
Class Limit: 86

This year Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace celebrates the 150th anniversary of its publication in book form and will be a focus of Iowa City’s 2019 Book Festival. Originally serialized in a magazine, this epic novel considers the fates of humanity during times of turmoil. This six-week course will first offer an overview of the Napoleonic Wars, Tolstoy, and the Golden Age of the Russian novel and will then devote one week each to the novel’s four volumes and the epilogues/conclusion.

INSTRUCTOR: Anna Barker is an adjunct assistant professor of Russian and comparative literature at the UI. Her interests include Russian cultural history, 19th-century European and American literature, and modern and ancient superheroes. She has organized several literary celebrations, including public readings of Frankenstein, Don Quixote, and Crime and Punishment.

Course 1 registration is closed.

Course 2

The German-Iowan Experience, 1840s to 1940s

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
Where: Coralville Public Library, Schwab Auditorium
1401 Fifth St., Coralville
Registration Deadline: Aug 29
Class Limit: 90

This course will present an overview of the century-long interaction between German-speaking immigrants and the English-speaking inhabitants of Iowa. We will consider the trans-Atlantic process of migrating in the 19th century, cultural clashes over religion and beer, the anti-German hysteria of World War I, and social changes during the period 1920 to 1940.

INSTRUCTOR: Bill Roba retired after 44 years of college teaching in the Quad Cities. He was Fulbright Professor at Drohobych State University in Ukraine during 2008 and president of the Society for German-American Studies from 2013 to 2015. He received a PhD in American studies from the UI, has published several books and numerous essays, and has traveled extensively in Germany.

Course 2 registration is closed.

Course 3
FRIDAYS, SEPTEMBER 6, 13, 20, 27

The Life and Times of Harold Hughes

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.
Where: Unitarian Universalist Society
2355 Oakdale Rd., Coralville
Registration Deadline: Aug 30
Class Limit: 65

Iowa governor and U.S. senator Harold E. Hughes—a charismatic politician whose leadership changed government and politics—lived in tumultuous times for both the nation and the Hawkeye State. Relive this era and learn of the life of this fascinating Iowan. The instructor is currently writing a biography of Hughes and will cover Hughes’ life, as well as the conflicts over liquor by the drink, legislative reapportionment, and racial tensions in Iowa. He will also discuss the anti–Vietnam War movement in Iowa, Hughes’ efforts at uncovering illegal bombing in Indochina, and other significant issues of the 1960s and 1970s.

INSTRUCTOR: Jerry Harrington retired from a career in marketing communications. He worked at public relations agencies in Cedar Rapids; Rochester, New York; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most recently he was marketing public relations manager at DuPont Pioneer. He holds a BSS from Cornell College and a master’s degree in history from the University of Iowa.

Course 3 registration is closed.

Course 4
MONDAYS, SEPTEMBER 9, 16, 23, 30

Surgical Anatomy: A Surgeon’s-Eye View of Common Operations

Time: 1:30 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.
Where: Medical Education Research Facility, Room 2117
375 Newton Road, Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Sept 2
Class Limit: 100

Surgical anatomy provides the blueprint that surgeons follow when they operate. After an introduction to the operating room and surgical anesthesia, we will explore the surgical anatomy of common operations such as gallbladder surgery, surgery for breast cancer, splenectomy, and hernia repairs. We’ll also learn what is involved in rare but highly complex operations such as liver transplant. The course will emphasize basic principles and include some discussion of pathology (what can go wrong) and physiology (how the body works). The goal will be to show not only what happens in the operating room but also the amazing, intricate beauty of the human body as seen through the surgeon’s eyes.

INSTRUCTOR: Carol Scott-Conner, MD PhD, is professor emerita of surgery at the University of Iowa. She is the author or editor of more than 10 textbooks on surgical anatomy and technique. In 2015 she received the Honored Member award from the American Association of Clinical Anatomy.

Course 4 registration is closed.

Course 5

International Literature at the University of Iowa

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.
Where: Seamans Center, Room 2217
103 S. Capitol St., Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Sept 10
Class Limit: 75

Since its inception in 1967, the International Writing Program (IWP) at the UI has hosted more than 1,400 writers from more than 150 countries. The program aims to introduce talented poets, fiction writers, dramatists, and nonfiction writers to American culture, to facilitate their participation in American university life, and to provide them with time and a congenial setting for producing their own literary work. This course offers the opportunity to meet eight writers in residence at the UI this fall. Each week, two writers will read and discuss their works, talk about the current state of literature in their home countries, and answer your questions.

INSTRUCTORS: Two visiting writers will present their work at each session.

Course 5 registration is closed.

Course 6
MONDAYS, OCTOBER 7, 14, 21, 28


Time: 1:30 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.
Where: Pappajohn Business Building, Room C125
21 E. Market St., Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Sept 30
Class Limit: 75

What is fascism? What conditions allowed it to emerge and flourish? And why did tens of millions of people believe it served their interests better than alternative political systems? This course will examine historical fascism, focusing especially on its origins, its appeal, and its methods of instituting its vision. After an examination of definitions and origins (week 1), we’ll turn to the European case (week 2), followed in week 3 by an examination of Latin American populism with special guest Kathleen Newman (cinematic arts, Spanish and Portuguese). We’ll conclude with a discussion of the relevance of historical fascism today (week 4).

INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Heineman is professor of history and of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies. She teaches courses on German and European history as well as gender, sexuality, and human rights. She founded the podcast series New Books in Gender Studies and the crowd-sourced digital repository the New Fascism Syllabus.

Course 6 is now full.
The waiting list for this course has reached its capacity; we are no longer accepting names for the list.

Course 7

1959: The History of Jazz in the Microcosm of a Year

Time: 3:30 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.
Where: Voxman Music Building, Room 5 (Choral Rehearsal Room)
93 E. Burlington St., Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Oct 2
Class Limit: 78

Countervailing forces in jazz converged in 1959 to produce an explosion of new musical styles and the rejuvenation of old ones. Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman were still going strong; Billie Holiday and Lester Young would make their last recordings. In the same year, Miles Davis would unveil modal jazz, and John Coltrane would extend bebop. Dave Brubeck introduced new meters, and Ornette Coleman invented free jazz, while Charles Mingus returned to roots and gospel. Using film clips and listening examples, this course will consider jazz in the context of American life.

INSTRUCTOR: John Rapson was director of jazz studies at the University of Iowa from 1993 to 2019, with previous positions at Westmont College in California (1980−90) and at Wesleyan University in Connecticut (1992−93). He has written music for a variety of ensembles, has recorded 32 albums over the past 40 years, and continues to perform as a pianist.

Course 7 is now full.
The waiting list for this course has reached its capacity; we are no longer accepting names for the list.

Course 8

Cultivating Iowa and Beyond: Regionalist Art and the Great Depression

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.
Where: Seamans Center, Room 2217
103 S. Capitol St., Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Oct 8
Class Limit: 72

When Iowa’s most famous painter, Grant Wood, portrayed the American Midwest in the 1930s, regionalist art was celebrated as an authentic expression of cultural ideals that was uniquely suited to reassure and inspire audiences in hard times, but it was also vilified as unsophisticated at best or even as fascist ultra-nationalism at worst. This class will explore such contradictions through images by Wood, artists of the New Deal art programs, and others, along with historical and political events, and will consider the interplay of art, life, and attitudes towards region and identity during the Great Depression in Iowa and beyond.

INSTRUCTOR: Joni L. Kinsey has been professor of American art history at the University of Iowa since 1991. She specializes in the history of landscape art, especially that of Thomas Moran, the first artist of Yellowstone, but she writes and teaches on many other subjects, including art of the American West, prairie imagery, popular prints, Grant Wood, women artists, and regionalism.

Course 8 is now full.
The waiting list for this course has reached its capacity; we are no longer accepting names for the list.

Course 9

Hawkeye Football: An Inside Look

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. (October 17, 24, and November 7)
Where: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts
1301 Fifth St., Coralville
Registration Deadline: Oct 10
Class Limit: 175

NOTE: The October 31 class will be held at the Stew and Lenore Hansen Football Performance Center, 992 Evashevski Drive, Iowa City, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

This course is designed to enhance students’ appreciation for and enjoyment of college football. The evolution of the game will be addressed, but more time will be dedicated to how the game is organized and played. Students will learn about strategy and the weekly development of game plans. The inexact science of recruiting will be discussed, and a rare look at college football analytics will provide insight into the science of winning. Selected video from the previous week’s Iowa game will be examined, and the upcoming game will be previewed. Students will also get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the Hawkeye football team and the game-day experience.

INSTRUCTOR: Don Patterson coached Division 1 college football for 37 years. He is the only assistant coach who was at the UI for all of Hayden Fry’s 20 legendary years. Then he went on to great success as head coach at Western Illinois University, leading the Leathernecks to a pair of conference championships and the only #1 national ranking in school history.

Course 9 is now full.
If you would like to be added to a waiting list for this course, email the course number, your name, and your phone number to Senior College at or contact the UI Center for Advancement at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973.

Course 10

An Introduction to Iowa Archaeology

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.
Where: Kirkwood Regional Center, Room 118
2301 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville
Registration Deadline: Oct 18
Class Limit: 80

NOTE: No class on Friday, November 8.

This course will consider what archaeology currently tells us about the more than 13,000 years of prehistory and early history of our state. We will begin by taking a look at modern methods of archaeological research and our understanding of prehistoric technologies. We will then survey the cultural history of Iowa, beginning with the Ice Age Paleo-Indian culture and continuing to some of the recent historic discoveries in and around Iowa City. Class participants will have the opportunity to examine representative artifacts and experiment with prehistoric technologies.

INSTRUCTOR: Chérie Haury-Artz has nearly 40 years of experience doing archaeology on the Great Plains. Her research interests include faunal analysis, prehistoric environmental adaptation, and education. She works at the Office of the State Archaeologist, where she does research as well as public education and outreach. She has an MA in anthropology from the University of Kansas.

Course 10 is now full.
The waiting list for this course has reached its capacity; we are no longer accepting names for the list.

Course 11

Exploring Fake News and Alternative Facts

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Where: Johnson County Extension and Outreach Building, Johnson County Fairgrounds
3109 Old Highway 218 S., Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Oct 24
Class Limit: 68

In 1985, media theorist Neil Postman predicted that we would soon be “amusing ourselves to death” by confusing news and entertainment. The 24-hour news cycle, intentional publishing of fake news, echo chambers, satire interpreted as news, and opportunities for anyone to publish all place the burden of discernment on the information consumer. In light of Postman’s prediction, we will explore aspects of fake news—political, scientific/medical, and cultural—considered in the context of a free press and freedom of speech. While it is not required, participants are invited to bring a digital device for small-group activities—a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop.

INSTRUCTORS: Greg Cotton, director of Cole Library at Cornell College, teaches online in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. Jean Donham, retired professor in library studies at the University of Northern Iowa, publishes and presents frequently on the topic of information literacy. She was previously director of Cole Library at Cornell College and was associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the UI.

Course 11 is now full.
The waiting list for this course has reached its capacity; we are no longer accepting names for the list.

Course 12
MONDAYS, NOVEMBER 4, 11, 18, 25

The Magnificent, Transcendent Harpsichord

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
Where: Voxman Music Building, Room 3409
93 E. Burlington St., Iowa City
Registration Deadline: Oct 28
Class Limit: 33

The harpsichord can be seen as a window into the art, music, and culture of the Western world. Four class sessions will consider the history of the harpsichord, types and regional styles of harpsichords, and famous harpsichord builders of the 1500s through 1700s. Building practices, the often elaborate decoration on harpsichords, the instrument’s sound and acoustics, and the harpsichord in the modern era will also be discussed. During a fifth, optional class, participants will be able to see, hear, and play harpsichords.

INSTRUCTOR: The research interests of musicologist Ed Kottick, professor emeritus in the University of Iowa School of Music, are early keyboard instruments, particularly the harpsichord, which he also builds, designs, and repairs. He taught at the UI from 1968 to 1992. A professional trombonist and conductor in his younger years, he continues to blow the horn and wave the stick.

Course 12 is now full.
If you would like to be added to a waiting list for this course, email the course number, your name, and your phone number to Senior College at or contact the UI Center for Advancement at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the UI Center for Advancement in advance at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973.

Senior College Committee
H. Dee Hoover, Chair
George Johnson, Vice Chair
Warren Boe
Gayle Bray
Kelley Donham
Val Lembke
Frank Mitros
Mary New
Emil Rinderspacher
Buffie Tucker
Carolyn Wanat
Pam Willard
Nancy Williams
Rich Wretman