Sunday, November 22, 2015

OneDayU: Back to College for a Day

Last Sunday I went back to college. I attended Columbia University, Amherst College, American University, and Yale University. And I did it all by traveling to the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. How did I do that you ask? I went to a session of OneDayU.

OneDayU is college for life-long learners all neatly packaged into a one-day event. It is held throughout the year in 23 cities across the U.S., with slightly different programs held in each city. There are 191 professors who have taken part in various OneDayU sessions.

Diverse topics range from The Genius of Michaelangelo to a session on The Middle East, Freedom of Speech, and Criminal Justice, to a lecture on Are We Alone: The Search for Other Life in the Universe.

Instruction is by esteemed professors such as Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, Tina Rivers Ryan of Columbia University, and Jeremi Suri of the University of Texas.

Each lecture lasts an hour and ten minutes, which includes time for questions. Professors are used to teaching to overworked, weary (sometimes hungover) teens, so are extremely motivated and energized by the active-listening audiences attending OneDayU. The lectures are packed full, and provide many keys for students to do follow on research of their own.

And guess what? Unlike your days in college, there are no quizzes, no exams, and no grades. You pass your courses by being an attentive audience member and absorbing a wide range of interesting and useful information.

In Washington, D.C. there were four lectures: The Genius of Michaelangelo by Professor Tina Rivers Ryan of Columbia University, 4 Trials That Changed the World by Professor Austin Sarat of Amherst College, Men, Women, And Politics (A World of Difference) by Professor Jennifer Lawless of American University, and What is Emotional Intelligence? by Professor Marc Brackett of Yale University.

What did I learn? I learned that (to paraphrase Hamlet…and Shakespeare), there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies. Or to put it another way, knowledge gained through these lectures is expansive, provocative, and motivating.

In The Genius of Michaelangelo, I learned that Michaelangelo was a jerk who wore dog skin boots that he wore so long, when he did take them off, a layer of skin would sometimes come off with them. Also, he happened to be a great artist. One of his first creations was, arguably one of his most memorable, The Pieta, commissioned by a French Cardinal.

In Men, Women, And Politics (A World of Difference), Professor Lawless reviewed her 15 year study of why so many more men are in political positions, from local races all the way to the U.S. Senate. The primary driver is that women are more conservative in judging the skills that would make them viable candidates, while men usually believe they can do a better job than the bozo already in the role. When women do run, they succeed at every level as often as men.

How does OneDayU work? OneDayU seeks a newspaper partner in the city where it wants to run an event. The paper advertises the event and offers a discount code to use when applying. For this event, the Washington Post was the sponsor, and admission was discounted from $169 down to $129. The hotel offered discounted valet parking and box lunches for purchase for those who didn’t want to run out to one of the local restaurants.

Included in the handouts at this event was an application to enroll for the April 10, 2016 event to be held at the Sheraton Pentagon City in Arlington, VA. People signing up last Sunday received discounted admission from $179 down to $99.

The Topics in April will be The Art of Aging, Rhapsody in Blue: Gershwin’s Remarkable Masterpiece, The Rise and Decline of the American Presidency, and German Resistance in WWII: What We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then. It promises to be an interesting and fulfilling day.

If you want to see if there’s a OneDayU event coming near you, check out their website at If you go, I think you’ll find that it was an event worthy of your time.

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