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.

View Class List

▼   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



1:30p - 2:30p                             Earth Science - Various Topics

Instructors: Earth Science Department                                             Coordinator: Janet Burns

Explore the earth through science. Learn the art and science of measuring rainfall. Go on an expedition to Iceland and discover the science behind volcanoes and glaciers. Learn about the development of the Himalaya Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau and what happens when two continents collide. Water is a precious and overlooked natural resource. Why? View our commonality with Havana (our sister city), through the eyes of a scientist. Our planet is an amazing place. Join us for another adventure in learning. 


2:45p - 3:45p                            Aerial America - Midwest Continued

Coordinator: Mary Beth Allison

We will continue our journey Westward through the United States. Remember: if you have lived, worked or traveled through any of these states, we would love to have you provide added commentary!

 June 6:    Arkansas

June 13:   North and South Dakota

June 20:   Nebraska

June 27:   Kansas

July 4:     Happy Independence Day!  No Class Scheduled 

July 11:    Oklahoma


Summer Film Series - Southern Comfort

Wednesdays in August at 1:30 pm 

USA Marx Library Auditorium


August 1                                  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

This film is one of the top-ten hits of 1958 and is based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same name.  The story takes place on a Mississippi plantation and stars Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives.

August 8                                  My Cousin Vinny

An inexperienced lawyer from New York comes to Alabama to defend his cousin and his friend in a murder case. The clash of big city New York manners vs. Southern manners makes for a four star comedy. American Comedy Award, Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role), Joe Pesci; Nominee American Comedy Award, Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, Fred Gwynne; and Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture, Marisa Tomei.

August 15                                Cold Mountain

This work of fiction is based on a bestselling novel by Charles Frazier about a volunteer Confederate soldier and his sweetheart. Based on a real person, W. P. Inman, as the main character.  He experiences the worst of war and eventually leaves his unit to head home. The film portrays the impact of the war on soldiers and those left behind. It stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger in leading roles. Four-star rating with four nominations at the Academy Awards.  This film contains nudity and violence.  Viewer discretion is advised.  

August 22                               Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

The film is based on Rebecca Wells’ novel of the same name and its prequel collection of short stories, Little Altars Everywhere. The setting is the Deep South. Cast includes Sandra Bullock, James Garner, Maggie Smith, and Ashley Judd.

 August 29                              Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Three prisoners escape a prison farm in Mississippi to look for treasure. A relentless lawman pursues them. This crime comedy film is full of good music, adventure, and fun. The cast includes George Clooney and Holly Hunter.


Friday Classes - Alpha Hall Extension Classrooms


1:45—2:45                                    Art

Instructor: Laura Roberts                                                                 Coordinator: Janet Burns

Join us on a journey through Northern Europe 15th and 16th centuries to explore the art and architecture in mercantile centers of Flanders and Holland. The Renaissance in the north has a distinctively different character than that of Italy and the southern countries. We'll explore stunning Jan van Eyck oil paintings, amazing altarpiece triptychs, intricate Brueghel narrative art, colorful manuscripts, and fabulous works created outside of Italy as the Renaissance unfolded.


1:45—2:45                                  Speaking of Mobile

Instructor: Tommy Perez Coordinator: Mary Beth Allison

"Speaking of Mobile, Don't Ya Know?!" Back by popular demand, Mobile author and playwright Tommy Perez will share outrageous tales of life in the Port City, past and present. As a Mobile native, he will lead the class in creating a list for newcomers to the Azalea City on how to adjust to Gulf Coast life once they move South of the Salt Line. And don't be surprised if an occasional local celebrity shows up to co-host a class on his/her expertise.


3:15—4:15                                   Alabama: Life During the Civil War

Instructor: Mr. Mike Bunn Coordinator: Mary Beth Allison

During Winter Quarter, Mr. Mike Bunn took us through the Western Theater of the Civil War. In this session we will discover Alabama's role in the Civil War. History will be discussed from the eyes of the soldier as well as the citizens of Alabama.


3:15—4:15                                    Barbershop

Teacher: Mr. Jerry Pugh Coordinator: Ginger Hudson

Enjoy hearing and learning about Barbershop Quartet. The "barbershop" style of music is first associated with black southern quartets of the 1870s, such as The American Four and The Hamtown Students. The African influence is particularly notable in the improvisational nature of the harmonization, and the flexing of melody to produce harmonies in "swipes" and "snakes." Black historian James Weldon Johnson writes, "every barbershop seemed to have its own quartet." The first written use of the word "barbershop" when referring to harmonizing came in 1910, with the publication of the song, "Play That Barbershop Chord": evidence that the term was in common parlance by that time." (source acappellafoundation.org)


▼    Upcoming Event Dates

Summer Classes                                    June 6 - July 13, 2018

Fall Classes                    September 26 - November 16, 2018

Winter Classes                                January 9 - March 1, 2019


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