Fall 2018 Lecture Series


All lectures are from 1:30 - 2:30 PM and will be held in the Spring Valley Building, 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW, either in Room A on the First Floor or Room 601 on the Sixth Floor.

Reservations Required

Due to limited seating, reservations through Eventbrite are required to attend lectures.

Member Reservations: We e-mail the registration link to current members at 8:30 AM on the Tuesday preceding the next week’s lecture.

Non-Member Reservations: We e-mail the registration link to non-members at 8:30 AM on the Thursday preceding the next week’s lecture. If there is no space still open on the Thursday, no e-mail is sent that day to non-members.

If you don't receive an e-mail and would like to register, please contact the OLLI office. Each registrant may reserve one seat. Your name must be on the list of registrants to enter the lecture and you must be in your seat five minutes before the lecture starts to guarantee your seat.


September 28, 2018—Jack Rasmussen and Carla Galfano

The Corcoran Legacy

How did 9,000 works of art from the city’s first art museum, founded four years after the end of the Civil War and housed in a marble edifice only yards from the White House, become destined for the second floor of the OLLI headquarters in Spring Valley? The answer by Rasmussen and Galfano will illuminate the history of the art world in Washington as well as reveal some of the logistics involved.

Jack Rasmussen holds degrees in painting, arts management, and anthropology. He has worked at the National Gallery of Art and the Washington Project for the Arts before he opened the Jack Rasmussen Gallery in 1978. He has been director and curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center since it opened in 2005. Carla Galfano is the Museum Registrar for the American University Museum. She is responsible for the coordination, organization, documentation, and stewardship of all art borrowed and owned by the museum. In addition to degrees in library science and art history, Carla also has a diploma in art restoration from Palazzo Spinelli in Florence, Italy.

October 5, 2018—Mbachur Mbenda and James Allen

Free Minds

The tag line for the Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop is “empowering young inmates to write new chapters in their lives.” Members of the organization go into DC Jail and hand young men dictionaries, journals, and books.  It encourages them to create poetry out of their hopes, fears, and dreams. Free Minds believes that the act of expression is empowering and successful in improving lives. Free Minds is the winner of the 2015 Aspen Ideas Award, a partner in the Workplace DC, and is described in the Catalogue for Philanthropy as one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington area.

Mbachur Mbenda is the outreach coordinator for Free Minds and a spokeswoman for the Urban Teaching Fellows in Brooklyn, New York. Mbenda has given speeches at the United Nations on Education and Equality for Women and Girls. James Allen is a songwriter and Poet Ambassador with Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop. He joined Free Minds in 2017 after returning from 5½ years in federal prison starting at age 18. James is motivated to give back to his community to prevent violence.

October 12, 2018—David Vine

Bases of War

This October, the United States will have waged war continuously for 17 years. Contrary to popular belief, there's nothing exceptional about this period. David Vine notes that the US has waged war during nearly every year of its existence. He will discuss the relationship between the US and war, and how American war-making has been enabled by the growth of a global collection of nearly 1,000 US military bases located in about 80 foreign nations.

David Vine is Professor of Anthropology at American University. He is the author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Overseas Harm America and the World, and Island of Shame: The Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego GarciaHe has also written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, Guardian, Mother Jones, and The Chronicle of Higher Educationamong others.

October 19, 2018—Michael Dobbs

One Minute to MidnightThe Cuban Missile Crisis

Fifty-six years ago this month, nuclear-tipped missiles were ready to be launched straight into the Guantanamo Naval Base, a US spy plane was accidently flying hundreds of miles off course over the Soviet Union, Soviet nuclear warheads were being moved around Cuba, and an American jet fighter crash-landed with a nuclear weapon on board. Michael Dobbs has used American, Soviet, and Cuban sources to construct an authoritative account of the Cuban missile crisis. It was a crisis whose gravity is only now becoming clear and was America’s closest brush with nuclear Armageddon. 

Michael Dobbs is a former Washington Post reporter who has reported from Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Rome, Africa, and China.  He covered the Chernobyl disaster, the Tiananmen uprising, and the breakup of the Soviet Union. He is the author of The Cold War Trilogy, Six Months in 1945, One Minute to Midnight, and Down with Big Brother

November 9, 2018—Jonathan Rauch

The Happiness Curve

The portrait is common: Older people are lonely, depressed, and poor. Does this stereotype ring true to you? If not, you are right. Economists, demographers, psychologists, public opinion researchers, and cognitive neuroscientists, among others, have studied happiness and come to a surprising conclusion. Research across the world, in discipline after discipline, shows a pattern: Happiness is a curve. Life gets better after 50.    

Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. He is the author of the following books: The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50; Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America; Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working; and Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. A recipient of the 2005 National Magazine Award, he is a contributing editor to The Atlantic and has also written for The New RepublicThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.   

November 16, 2018—Charles Lewis

Investigative Journalism: The Best and Worst of Times

Nearly every day an astonishing new piece of information is revealed about the White House or infrastructure safety or Russian perfidy. Some of it is a result of investigative journalism, which has rarely been more energetic and aggressive. At the same time, some of the storied publications that once held feet to the fire across America are in financial trouble. The value and values of journalism are daily under attack at the highest levels. The state of investigative journalism is both inspiring and depressing. Charles Lewis, professor of communications at American University investigates the investigative field.

Charles Lewis is a national investigative journalist, a former ABC News, CBS News, and 60 Minutes producer, a best -selling author or co-author of six books and the founder of two Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organizations: The Center for Public Integrity and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.  He has been a Ferris Professor at Princeton University, a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University, and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. His most recent book is 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity. 

OLLI does not endorse any of the viewpoints expressed by the speakers in its series.

We thank the Lecture Committee and all those who suggested and contacted speakers:
Paul Brown, Martha Cutts, Lesley Diaz (Staff Liaison), Chuck Edson,
Judith Havemann (Chair), Lynne Heneson, Jeanne Kent, Mary Moore, Stan Newman, Diane Renfroe,
Richard Ringell, Steve Sherman, Delbert Spurlock, and Ray Squitieri.