Odyssey USA

Lady looking over her shoulder in classroom
Odyssey USA: An Adventure in Learning – The University of South Alabama’s Institute for Learning in Retirement

About Odyssey USA

Odyssey USA is a membership organization and a community of learners who share the love of learning. Odyssey members design their own classes based on the interests and intellectual curiosity of the group. Classes are challenging and thought-provoking with mind-stretching activities on a wide variety of topics. Additional activities include quarterly luncheon lectures, and field trips.

▼   Upcoming and Current Courses

Odyssey courses are offered on a quarterly basis: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. 

Classes are offered on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 – 4:00 PM and on Fridays from 1:45 – 4:15 PM.


Wednesday Classes — USA Marx Library

Due to renovations, the first four classes will be in Room 181 instead of the auditorium.


 1:30—2:30  Just Beyond the Garden Gate: Exploring the natural and horticultural delights of the Southeast and the Gulf Coast

Instructor: Amanda  Wilkins                                                              Coordinator: Ginger Hudson

The Gulf Coast and Southeastern United States regions are some of the most biodiverse in North America.

The climate is ideal for some incredible native plants and conducive to many of our favorite garden staples. Come join Amanda Wilkins, curator of plants collections at the Mobile Botanical Gardens, on an exploration

of some of the sights she’s seen in our own backyard and discover new places you may not have thought to look. Meet some old botanical friends and hopefully make some new ones!


3:00—4:00  Aerial America—Mid West

We continue our travels Westward as we leave the South and Eastern states to explore the Midwest

Coordinator: Mary Beth Allison 

March 21         Kentucky

March 28         Indiana

April 4             Michigan

April 11           Wisconsin

April 18           Illinois

April 25           Minnesota

May 2              Iowa

May 9              Missouri


Friday Classes — Alpha Hall Extension Classrooms


1:45—2:45     Alabama Bicentennial Montage

Instructors: Various Speakers and Videos                                          Coordinator: Janet Burns

Formed as a territory on March 3, 1817, Alabama became the nation’s twenty-second state on December 14, 1819.  Odyssey is pleased to support the Alabama Bicentennial Commission (Alabama 200), by presenting a series of classes on our beautiful state. Learn about the wildlife, geography, marine life and local flora.  Hear the story of indigenous peoples of Alabama, the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee Rose.  Our first speaker, Scott Corcoran of the Mobile History Museum, will launch the series by covering early colonization. 


1:45—2:45       Germany 1 Nov. 1918-1 Sept. 1939

Instructor: Dr. David Messenger, Chair of the Department of History      Coordinator:Ken Rettig

On one level, the course introduces you to the major eras, themes and issues in German history since from the end of the First World War until the start of the Second. On another, it will also allow us to examine certain topics in greater detail, especially those concerning political and cultural life in this time period. We will see how Germany emerged from the First World War into its first democracy, and the cultural and political achievements and flaws of the Weimar era in the 1920’s. We will examine the Great Depression and the rise of Nazism, and explore Nazi culture, the creation of the dictatorial state, and the status of Jews prior to the start of the Second World War. The class concludes with the origins of the Second World War. We will draw on images, lecture and some reading material to explore this important and challenging time in history. Dr David Messenger, Chair of the Department of History, will lead the class and guest lectures by Dr. Christine Rinne in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literature and Dr. David Meola, Fanny and Bert Meisler Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies are also included.


3:15—4:15     Visit NEPAL

Speaker: Salam Singh Lama                                                            Coordinator: Jean Golden

Nepal is known as the birth place of Gautama Buddha. A small but naturally beautiful landlocked country, Nepal is also known for the tallest Mountain in the world, Mt. Everest. When you fly into Nepal, the pilots will tell you the clouds are made of rock.  Eight of the ten tallest mountains in the world are located in this beautiful, mysterious country. Mountain climbers from all over the world gather there to meet incredible challenges. The Nepal class will focus on the geography as well as the beautiful people, culture and customs. Learn about their religion and the history of Nepal.  Learn about tourism. What is the political system and is it a safe place to visit?  How does one travel around the country?  What type accommodations are available? What are the interesting places to visit?  The class may also choose to gather at The Yak one afternoon and enjoy sampling foods of Nepal and India.  Join us for an interesting and fun class. 

 Class 1- Introduction to Nepal

Class 2- Mountains & Tourism of Nepal part 1

Class 3- Mountains &Tourism of Nepal Part 2

Class 4- Festivals of Nepal part 1

Class 5- Festivals of Nepal part 2

Class 6- Cultures & Customs of Nepal

Class 7- Foods of Nepal

Class 8- Visit Nepal


3:15-4:15        Creative Writing

Instructor: Frank Ard, Manager USA Writing Center                       Coordinator: Janet Burns

Location for this class will be the Conference Room 210 on the second floor of Alpha Hall East

Have you ever dreamed of being a novelist or short story writer? Everyone has a story just waiting to be born. This class for beginning writers will focus on story structure, how to develop characters and build

a plot. There will be plenty of handouts and an opportunity for the “brave of heart” to share your writing with others. This class is limited to ten people, so registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.


3:15-4:15    Mobile Historic Districts and Historic Spring Hill: a Verbal Guide to Mobile

Instructor: Craig Roberts                                                                    Coordinator: Mary Beth Allison

March 23       Mardi Gras in Mobile. The first in the Western Hemisphere and now the 2nd largest community festival in the nation.

March 30       Mobile’s 7 Historic Districts. With 8400 buildings and homes listed on the National Register, Mobile can boast about its restoration and preservation.

April 6            The Renaissance of the downtown Mobile. Abandoned 40 years ago, it’s now the “place to be”.

April 13          Hampton Palace Flower Show, London Gardens, and New London Architecture.

April 20          Designing Dream Homes: This American dream is limited to the very few. Discover the process.

April 27          Growing up in Alabama: A 66-year perspective of a baby boomer. A forum type overview of politics, society, and economy through the eyes of one Alabama man.






▼    Upcoming Event Dates
Spring Classes                                        March 21 - May 11, 2108
Summer Classes                                    June 6 - July 13, 2018
Luncheon                                                 May 18, 2018
Luncheon & Annual Meeting                July 20, 2018
▼   Odyssey Membership

There are no formal requirements for membership to Odyssey USA other than an interest in being a continuous learner.  You also need not be retired, nor are there any academic or experience requirements. 

As a membership organization, Odyssey charges a Membership Fee rather than registration fees for the courses. Members do pay for the cost of the meal at our Quarterly Luncheon Lectures and for field trips.

Membership rates are:

Annual Membership                                  $110.00 (4 terms)

Semi-Annual Membership:                        $60 (2 terms)

To join, just call us at (251) 460-7200.

▼   Quarterly Newsletter

Odyssey’s newsletter, The Log is published and mailed to members prior to the beginning of each quarter. It includes descriptions and schedule of upcoming classes, luncheons, and other events.

▼   Executive Board

Odyssey USA is a membership organization with an Executive Board elected by members to ensure a positive and inquisitive learning environment.

The 2017-2018 Officers are:

Carolyn Casteel, President

Kitty Emery, Vice-President

Julie Hart, Secretary

Barbara McLeod, Treasurer

Ron Walker, Curriculum Co-Chair

Hal Alexander, Curriculum Co-Chair

Rose Wells, Newsletter Editor

Michael & Lady Lester, Membership & Publicity Chairs

Jane Harding, Telephone Committee Chair

Ginger Hudson, Social Chair

Ron Feuerlein, Director

Beverly Vann, Director

Jim Beach, Director