We are not accepting new applications for the Certificate on Aging at this time. If you’d like to receive information about this and other Odyssey programming, please join our mailing list to receive news and announcements about the COA and other Odyssey programs. Send your email address to: odyssey@jhu.edu.

Open to anyone who wants to learn, our personal enrichment programs offer a wide selection of courses, workshops, and lecture series delivered by the top-notch JHU faculty and community experts. Odyssey doesn’t have grades or exams—just learning for the sake of learning in a fun, creative environment. Explore our extensive course listings from science to art, writing to photography – choose course subjects across these areas:

  • Odyssey on the Go: single session programs
  • Perspectives: Keynote Lecture and Multi-Speaker Programs
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Music, Cinema, and the Performing Arts
  • Science and Nature
  • Certificate on Aging
  • Writing and Communications
  • Photography, Film, and Digital Arts

Summer 2021 Semester Course Highlights

Fall 2020 is unlike any semester we have dealt with in the past. When the pandemic hit and challenging times were on the horizon, the Odyssey community rallied together. The Instructors and student population clicked on their computers and created a wonderful learning environment with the online platform Zoom. As we start to see a “light of the end of the tunnel” with the proposed vaccine, we will continue our online offerings for the Summer 2021 semester. We wish we could determine how long it will be until we are able to come back to on-ground courses, but we appreciate your continued enrollment of the online offerings. The Instructors have worked hard to make this 2021 semester, even better than 2020.

Upcoming Summer 2021 Semester Odyssey courses are on the horizon. Sign up today!

Tues., June 1 & 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Instructor: Lynne Agress, Ph.D.

Tuition: $$50 (3 hours) 2 Sessions via Zoom


From Ovid’s Metamorphosis to George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, to the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady” and the movie “Pretty Woman,” man has tried to create the perfect woman.  Whether he carves her from stone or paints her on canvas, whether he teaches her to speak properly and to behave with dignity, this story has fascinated audiences for centuries.

In this course, we will explore these and other Pygmalion-inspired stories in literature, in film, in art, and in our own lives. Excerpts from the movie “My Fair Lady” will be shown. Recommended reading: George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

Lynne Agress, Ph.D., has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Goucher, and Smith Colleges, and the University of Maryland, and is president of BWB-Business and Legal Writing. She is the author of The Feminine Irony and Working With Words and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers.

Thurs., June 3 & 10, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Instructor: Nick Nichols

Tuition: $50 (3 hours) 2 Sessions via Zoom


This class will cover some brief history, technology, and pop culture of the motorcycle from the bicycle to the steel horse we know today. The story of the American Harley Davidson will be the focus along with a discussion of Harley’s major competitors and obstacles both foreign and domestic. The culture of the motorcycle has left a permanent mark on the world from the criminal behavior of the so-called 1% post-WWII clubs to the B-movies that shape how we feel about “bikers”.  From The Wild Ones to Easy Rider to Sons of Anarchy and other iconic biker movies, you will watch, and we will discuss their impacts on society’s fascination with the motorcycle.

Motorcycles offer freedom to every generation, but it’s not been all burnouts and leather. Today motorcycle enthusiasts dedicate their lives to travel and charity, but the image and persona of the big bad biker persist throughout our collective lifestyles, fashion, music, and even politics. Join Nick “Willy James” Nichols down the virtual winding road of biker history, cinema and culture.

Odyssey suggests that this course be for participants 18 years and over, due to some of the content of the films and some of the more adult discussion that will follow.

Nick Nichols, JHU MS ’92, is a motorcyclist, amateur historian, and well-traveled wanderer since 1996. He has watched way too many biker movies and been to every major bike week in the U.S. Nick has been a member of several riding clubs and is currently enjoying his third motorcycle (his first Harley) and loving every minute of it!

Mon., June June 7, 14, 21 and 28, 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Instructor: George L. Scheper, Ph.D.

Tuition: $140 (8 hours) 4 sessions via Zoom


Our first two sessions explore the challenges and intricacies of arctic cultures: the prehistoric Dorset and Thule, and the living cultures of the Inuit (or Eskimo) and Yupik peoples, emphasizing the lifeways of the polar ice fields and the sub-arctic tundra. We will encounter rich traditions of oral storytelling and many other forms of artistic expression, including expressive ivory carvings, masks, and other ceremonial and practical artifacts, giving focus to the theme of “inua” or spirit, and the role of shamanism, reaching across the far northern world from Siberia through Alaska and Canada, to Greenland. Our third and fourth sessions explore the “Land of the Totem Poles,” the cultures of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, including the Tlingit, the Haida, and the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl). Beginning with archaeology and prehistory, we focus on major categories of social, religious and artistic expression, such as the winter ceremonial, the potlatch or chiefly feast, masking, and shamanism, as expressed in art, storytelling, and film. 

George L. Scheper, Ph.D. (Princeton), is Senior Lecturer for the Master of Liberal Arts Program at Johns Hopkins University.

Wed., June 9 & 16, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Instructor: Rex Rehfeld

Tuition: $50 (3 hours) 2 sessions via Zoom


Racism has been a part of this country’s culture and makeup since it was introduced here by the first colonialists in the early 17th Century. While the term implies that it has to do with race, which is true, the broader definition is not limited to race but is the belief that humans are subdivided into distinct groups that are different in their social behavior and innate capacities, and that can be ranked as superior or inferior. We will talk about the definition, how it was introduced here and how it was practiced. We’ll discuss how Jefferson’s words, “All men are created equal” were interpreted. We’ll look at the Supreme Court decisions that upheld the practice, and later began to end legal segregation. And we’ll discuss the racism in the Armed Forces. Though tragic, the death of George Floyd had forced most of us to face the issue in a way that many if not most have never had to do. And we’re learning that the disease of racism is directed at all people of color; Asian and Hispanic as well as African Americans.

Rex Rehfeld, B.S., University of California; J.D., University of Maryland, has presented courses and lectures at the Towson University and JHU Osher Life Long Learning programs, at the Johns Hopkins Odyssey Program, and at CCBC, as well as lectures at retirement centers.

Tues. & Thurs., June 15 & 17, 7:00 – 8:00 PM

Instructor: Robert Baer

Tuition: $35 (2 hours) 2 Sessions via Zoom


The Great Migration is one of America’s most important untold stories. Beginning in the early 20th century, over six million African Americans moved out of the Southern United States and into the Northeast, Midwest, and West. Searching for better lives, they faced violence, family disruption, and dangerous, exhausting, cross-country journeys to begin a new life in unfamiliar environments. This movement of people would have a dramatic effect on the culture of America. 

Robert Baer, E.D., is a college administrator with over thirty years’ experience in higher education.  He has taught history at York College, CUNY, Community College of Baltimore County, Osher Institute, and Howard and Norwalk Community Colleges.

Tues. & Thurs., June 22 & 24, 7:00-8:30 PM

Instructors: Hon. Stephen J. Sfekas 

Tuition: $50 (3 hours) 2 Sessions via Zoom


Popular attitudes about the law, the justice system, and the judiciary, to a large extent, have been formed by movies and television. This program will explore popular perceptions and misperceptions of the justice system and the role of the judge. We will see excerpts from The Star Chamber, And Justice for All, My Cousin Vinny, Judgement at Nuremberg, Judge Judy and Night Court. Please feel free to bring popcorn as we will be watching some movies!

Hon. Stephen J. Sfekas is a Senior Judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. He received his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University, an M.A. in history from Yale University, and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Wed., June 23 and 30, July 7 and 14, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Instructor: Jerry Webster, Ph. D.

Tuition: $105 (6 hours) 4 sessions via Zoom


Suzuki Roshi writes, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” Join in a glide, often a dive, into a plethora of Zen Buddhist practices and teachings – sitting meditation, art, writing, and walking – a virtual playground set designed for beginners and more seasoned veterans alike. Works by lifelong Zen practitioners and teachers, Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing, and John Tarrant’s Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life, will serve as ordinary, sometimes extraordinary, conveyors on a path for anyone who wants to transform challenging states into experiences of growth. These practices incite one to expand into both a wider spiritual and secular view.

Jerry Webster, Ph. D., (Curriculum and Instruction, University of Maryland) has taught numerous courses in literature for the U. of MD, and in multiculturalism for Montgomery County Public Schools (MD). He has taught English full-time in public school systems for forty years. He served as the Shastri, or headteacher, for the Shambhala Buddhist Center in Washington, D.C. for 10 years until he retired in 2020. He teaches regularly for the Johns Hopkins Odyssey Program, as well as the D. C. Politics & Prose Bookstore, Frederick Community College, and the D.C. Shambhala Center.

Tues., June 29, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Instructor: John Hessler

Tuition: $20 (1.5 hours) 1 Session via Zoom


Ulysses is a difficult book. Reading it divides the world into two groups of people: those who adore it, and those who have not made it through. The story of its publication history is also complex, with the early editions famously riddled with errors that scholars have been battling over since. This lecture will introduce attendees to the book, give pointers on how to read it, and tell the tale of how my lifelong obsession with the book began with a conversation with the celebrated musician, David Bowie, in a New York Bookstore.

John Hessler, who has had a lifelong obsession with James Joyce’s Ulysses, lectures on mathematics and computer science in the Odyssey Program at Johns Hopkins University. He is the founder of the λ-LAB, where they combine mathematical modeling, machine learning, and geospatial data, to study difficult policy issues facing the world today, like the geometry of voting systems and Congressional redistricting.


For course registration or information, call the Odyssey Registrar at 410-516-8516 between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM and leave a voicemail, or email bhebron@jhu.edu.

Access our online registration system to search courses by category, access your student account, and get help with registration.

JHU Tuition Remission and Discounts

If you are a candidate for tuition remission, please do not register online. To receive JHU Tuition Remission Benefits, JHU Alumni Discounts, or Osher at JHU member discounts for Odyssey courses, please call 410-516-8516 and leave a message with your email address. We will return all inquiries through email.

Contact Information

Johns Hopkins Odyssey Program

3400 N. Charles Street
Wyman Park Building, Suite S-740
Baltimore, MD 21218

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