Special Programs

In addition to classes and workshops, OLLI offers community programs, special events, lectures and more.

Most events are scheduled here at the Reuter Center and are free and open to everyone • Call 828.251.6140 for additional details.


Advance Care Planning

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville will hold an advance care planning (ACP) workshop on Thursday, Feb 20, 2020, 7-9 p.m.  The workshop will feature a panel whose members are experienced in addressing end-of-life issues. The discussion will include communicating your treatment wishes to loved ones and to medical personnel, ethical and legal issues, and the uses of advance directives.  Ample time will be reserved for questions. Assistance will be provided for anyone wishing to complete a legally valid advance directive, including the notarization required in North Carolina, using the NC ACP "Short Form". 

Preparation for you to do before the workshop:  Talk to your possible "power of attorney for healthcare", the person who would make health care decisions if you are unable.  Click here for a video of a sample conversation, starring OLLI member Mary Campbell.  If you have internet access and a printer, click here to access a copy of the ACP Short form.  Please print the form, study it, and bring it to the workshop along with any questions you might have for the panel. 

Here’s how to have your Advanced Directive (AD) added to the Mission Medical Record. Click here for a permission form; if you have not been a patient at Mission, fill it out. Get a copy of the notarized AD and a completed permission form (if needed) to Advance Care Planning at Mission by one of the following options: either ask a Mission representative at a workshop to do it, or, use the information at the bottom of the permission form to transmit the forms, by mail, fax, or email attachments.

The workshop will take place in the Reuter Center on the UNCA campus, at the north end of the campus map (Click Here to see map). This workshop is free and open to everyone, adults of all ages. Co-sponsored by OLLI and Mission Health Partners. For more information, call OLLI, 828.251.6140 or email  olli@unca.eduClick here to view an event flier.   

  • Thursday, February 20, 2019, 7-9 p.m.

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Appalachian Term Program Series

As part of a theme term on Appalachia, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville (OLLI) will be offering a series of evening programs this fall that are free and open to everyone. All programs will take place in the Manheimer Room of the Reuter Center on the UNC Asheville campus.


  • Wednesday, September 18, 7 p.m. Filmmaker David Weintraub will present and discuss his documentary Guardians of Our Troubled Waters.  This film is an exploration of “the ordinary people who did extraordinary things to protect southern rivers and streams.  It traces the story of  the Cherokee and their spiritual connection to rivers and streams and their belief in the essential duty to protect our waterways. While early settlers of many regions of the south also had a respect for rivers, during the Industrial Age logging, paper mills, tanneries and other manufacturing plants dumped waste directly into the waterways.  The film also tells the stories of early heroes Wilma Dykeman, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Dead Pigeon River Council. According to Director Weintraub, “So much of what we take for granted today, whitewater rafting and kayaking, fishing, drinking water and the thriving brewery community harkens back to those who refused to allow profits to come before human health and the health of river ecosystems.  These stories are vital because they remind us about who we are and why our natural resources are critical for our survival and that of our cherished wildlife.” The film is a collaboration with the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Wilma Dykeman Legacy Foundation, MountainTrue, Conserving Carolina, Friends of the Everglades and Clean Water Expected in East Tennessee. Major sponsors include the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the Community Foundation of Henderson County, the McClure Education Foundation, the Pigeon River Fund, Gaia Herbs and Prestige Subaru.


  • Wednesday, October 9, 7 p.m. Ethnobotanist David Cozzo will discuss the revitalization of traditional Cherokee artisan resources, particularly river cane. Cozzo is an ethnobotanist specializing in the relationship of the Cherokee to their botanical world. He is an Area Specialized Agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension based at the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians Extension Center and is the Project Director for the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources (RTCAR). RTCAR is a grant-making initiative of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation tasked with teaching, protecting, and promoting Cherokee traditional art, resources, and land care for present and future generations.


  • Wednesday, October 16, 7 p.m. Kentucky and Affrilachian writer Crystal Wilkinson will discuss her work. Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of The Birds of Opulence (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the Oxford American and Southern Cultures.  She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. She and her partner, poet and artist Ron Davis, own Wild Fig Books & Coffee which is located in the North Limestone neighborhood in Lexington.


  • Friday, October 25, 7 p.m. Kentucky writer and activist Silas House will discuss his work. Silas House is the nationally bestselling author of six novels, and his work frequently appears in The New York Times and Salon and has appeared in Time, Garden and Gun, and Oxford American. House serves on the fiction faculty at the Spalding MFA in Creative Writing and as the NEH Chair at Berea College. He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the recipient of three honorary doctorates, and is the winner of the Nautilus Award, an EB White Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Jesse Stuart Award, the Lee Smith Award, and many other honors. His book Southernmost (June 2018) was a longest finalist for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and appeared on several the Best of 2018 lists of The Advocate, Booklist, Paste, Southern Living, Garden and Gun, and others.  The book was also awarded the Weatherford Award as well as the Judy Gaines Young Award. In addition to being an accomplished writer, House is an activist. He has been involved in the fight against mountaintop removal mining since being invited on a tour with environmentalist, author and public intellectual Wendell Berry. He serves on the board of Appalachian Voices, the clearing house for grassroot organizations fighting mountaintop removal. He has recently focused also on bullying and fairness issues and particularly about the challenge of “small hearts in small towns.” CLICK HERE to watch the live steam.

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Astronomy Club of Asheville

The Astronomy Club of Asheville meets the first Thursday of each month, from 7- 9 p.m., (except for January and July), with an interesting lineup of speakers and topics. OLLI members may attend the club meetings and stargazes, with club members on hand to advise and assist them in the basics of astronomy and the techniques of observing celestial phenomena. Meetings are scheduled for November 7**, and December 5, 2019. 

**(Please note November 7th meeting will be held at 125 in Rhodes Robinson Hall (RRO) on UNC Asheville Campus, click here for a map).

For more information on the Astronomy Club of Asheville, visit their website at www.astroasheville.org

The Autumn Players

The Autumn Players (affiliated with Asheville Community Theatre) is a troupe of seasoned actors dedicated to taking the theatre experience into the community. Their words jump from the page with conviction and emotion, and these actors make their stories come to life. Scheduled at 2:30 p.m., in the Reuter Center Manheimer Room, tickets are $8 at the door; mark your calendar for:

  • Sunday, November 24 at 2:30 PM - The Last Night of Ballyhoo, by Alfred Uhry, Directed by Wendy Strauss.
    •  Join us for this performance of the Tony Award for Best Play by the author of Driving Miss Daisy. Nazis have just started rounding up Jews in Europe, while the elitist German Jews in 1939 Atlanta are busily focused on the social event of the season, affording marriageable daughters a golden opportunity to find proper husbands for themselves. When a decent young man of Eastern European background enters the picture, romantic plans get humorously tangled up, and personal beliefs are put to the test.
  • Sunday, December 8 at 2:30 PM - Special TAP Readers Theatre EXTRA, Chagall and Mrs. Belmont, by C. Robert Jones, Directed by Deborah Austin,(Featuring Kermit Brown as Marc Chagall and Anita Chapman as Mrs. Belmont). **Ticket price is $10 for this show
    • September 1964, New York City: Former actress and now very wealthy Mrs. Belmont hopes to persuade Marc Chagall to paint the murals for the new Metropolitan Opera House. During their conversation, Chagall reveals the struggles of having been a Jew in Russia, France and the United States during two world wars, and beyond. This beautiful play explores a love of theater and music, and what an artist feels about his or her own work.

Behind the Scenes at NC Stage

Go behind the scenes of professional theatre with NC Stage Artistic Director and co-founder Charlie Flynn-McIver.  Explore the themes of this season’s plays, talk with the actors, directors and designers about design concepts and the rehearsal process, and experience a scene or two performed live.  Join us for an insider’s view of how theatre happens!  Free and open to the public, this series is scheduled in the Manheimer Room as follows: December 6, and January 31, 1:30 p.m.  For more information on NC Stage, click here to visit their website.

  • Friday, Dec 6, 1:30 p.m. - Handle With Care: In this bilingual romantic comedy, circumstances both hilarious and tragic bring together a young Israeli woman, who has little command of English, and a young American man, who has little command of romance. Is their inevitable love an accident … or is it destiny, generations in the making?

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The Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association

The Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association (CNPA) was founded in 1992 to promote nature photography in the Carolinas, to help conserve and preserve the diverse natural ecosystems in the Carolinas and to educate others interested in nature and wildlife photography. The association is divided into regions for more close-at-hand activities. The CNPA-Asheville Region’s goal is to develop a group that will more fully experience the beauty of Western  North Carolina through photography. Activities in the Asheville Region include monthly meetings, photo outings, seminars, workshops, exhibits, photo contests, and image critiques. The monthly meetings are held at the Reuter Center on the second Sunday of each month from 5:30-8pm, November 10 and December 8, 2019.  For more information please visit: http://www.cnpa.org/regions/asheville/

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Death Cafe'

“Death Café” is an engaging gathering a storytelling experience holding as conversation. A conversation that too often alienates one in our death phobic culture. A new movement, a shift, is at play in recovering the ritual of being with death through personal storytelling of fears, loss, and death; a deepening ritual emerges and we build a culture of dying wisely. Join us at our next Death Cafe, the new holy ground or common ground and the wonders of being with dying, presented on Fridays, November 15, and December 20, 2019, 5-6:30 p.m. facilitated by Thirdmessenger’s Karen Sanders, Greg Lathrop, and Sa’id Osio. You can learn more about Death Café by visiting: deathcafe.com/thirdmessenger.com and facebook.com/deathcafeasheville

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Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society

The mission of the Elisha Mitchell chapter of the National Audubon Society is to protect birds and their habitats and to promote an awareness and appreciation of nature. EMAS schedules educational programs on the third Tuesdays of the month, November 19th, 2019, 7 p.m., at the Reuter Center. Programs are free and open to the public.  Find out more at their website, www.emasnc.org, and plan to join them for the walks and talks. 

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Fab Fridays Lunch & Learn Lectures

On  Fridays, 11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. during the term, this series of lunch and learn lectures continues to delight and inform. Held in the Manheimer Room, Fab Fridays are free and open to everyone. Purchase lunch in our Reuter Café or bring your own brown bag. End your week and start your weekend with Fab Fridays. Don’t miss these great programs.

  • January 17: Blue Horizons Energy Project, Julie Mayfield 

Asheville City Councilwoman Julie Mayfield and Blue Horizons Project Coordinator Sophie Mullinax will present the Blue Horizons Project, a community-wide effort dedicated to creating a clean energy future for Asheville and Buncombe County. The Blue Horizons Project provides information, resources, and tips that allow everyone to be a part of making that happen.  Learn specifically about programs designed to help your home or business become more energy efficient and contribute to efforts to control our area’s energy demand. The Blue Horizons Project grew out of a nationally-unique partnership between the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and Duke Energy to avoid investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure and instead invest in energy efficiency, demand management, and clean energy. Julie is also Co-director of Mountain True, a nonprofit working to preserve and protect land and water resources in WNC.

  • January 24: Colon Cancer: Prevention, Screening Choices, Genetic Factors and what to do if you have Precancerous Polyps, Dr. Richard Smith

Dr. Richard L. Smith is a graduate of Tulane Medical School, Board Certified in Internal Medicine from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and Board Certified in Gastroenterology and Hepatology from UNC, Chapel Hill.  He helped found and practiced at Asheville Gastroenterology Associates for 38 years, retiring in 2015. His talk on colon cancer and precancerous polyps will help people be knowledable consumers as they make decisions on how to prevent, treat and survive colon cancer. This lecture is part of the Health Education Series.

  • January 31:  Everyone Deserves a Place to Call Home: Habitat’s Vision for Asheville, Andy Barnett

The Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has an especially interesting history as one of the first affiliates in the US. It has lived the commitment to helping people find safe, affordable housing through a program of volunteerism and community engagement. As one of several organizations in our area envisioning the future of affordable housing, they provide more than green-built homes. Hear about the ReStore and its expansion, as well as how local organizations interact to make a safe home and community a reality. Since joining the Asheville affiliate in early 2016 Andy Barnett, Executive Director with more than 20 years of Habitat experience, has overseen an expanded advocacy role for Asheville’s Habitat affiliate, as well as increasing a home-repair program and launching an aging-in-place initiative. Come learn about their commitment and future plans for our area.

  • February 7: Acupuncture Is More Than Just Needles; How to Apply this Ancient Medical System to Your Daily Life, Ashley Kuper, L.A.c., Dipl.OM

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have deep and extensive roots dating back over 2000 years yet many are unaware of the practices and benefits behind this proven ancient science. Acupuncturist Ashley Kuper will lead us in a discussion of the foundational treatment principles of Acupuncture to unveil both its art and science, covering topics such as Tongue and Pulse diagnosis, Five Element Theory, and Chinese Dietary therapy. Mrs. Kuper will walk us through how acupuncture can successfully diagnose and discover the root cause of our imbalances.  Ashley Kuper holds a Master's degree in Chinese Medicine from Daoist Traditions of Chinese Medical Arts in Asheville, NC. Her passion and areas of expertise encompass pain management, stress relief, digestive disorders, chronic and autoimmune diseases, psycho-emotional issues, as well as overall health maintenance. This lecture is part of the Health Education Series.

  • February 14: Blanket Town: The Rise and Fall of an American Mill Town, Rebecca Williams

East of Asheville, North Carolina, in the small mountain town of Swannanoa, Beacon Manufacturing was once the largest maker of blankets in the world. Gob Martin, a woodcarver and storyteller who worked at Beacon for 45 years—and played shortstop on the company baseball team—described Beacon as the “big red thumping heart of Swannanoa.”  The mill closed its doors in 2002. When an arsonist set fire to the building shortly thereafter, the people of Swannanoa realized that the mill and the middle class lifestyle its jobs afforded, weren’t coming back. Blanket Town examines the complex history of the textile industry in the South and what happens to a community when it loses its economic engine and its heart. Filmmaker and oral historian Rebecca Williams will present excerpts from her documentary Blanket Town and discuss the mill’s legacy and the future of Swannanoa.

  • February 21: The Placebo Effect, Dr. Adrian Sandler

Placebos and placebo effects shine a fascinating spotlight on the human mind in health and illness. Dr Sandler will discuss the history of placebos in medicine, and cutting edge research regarding the mechanisms of placebo effects. Drawing upon his own research in children with ADHD, he’ll review studies of contemporary therapeutic use of placebos and the associated ethical dilemmas. He will discuss the interest and acceptability of placebo use in health care among health care providers, and some of the barriers to wider efforts to harness the power of placebos. Adrian Sandler received his medical degree from Cambridge England; he is the Medical Director of Mission Children’s Hospital, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, UNC. This lecture is part of the Health Education Series.

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Fall Member Social

Join your OLLI friends for the Fall Member Social. Take this opportunity to socialize, enjoy delicious food, drinks and a few other surprises as part of our Appalachian theme term. Get ready for photo booths, music, great food, and some surprises! 

  • Monday, October 28 at 4 p.m.

Midday Music with Pan Harmonia

Now in its 20th season, Asheville’s Pan Harmonia enjoys taking its music out of the concert hall and into unlikely spaces all around our community. Learn about the music and meet the musicians in informal conversation. Feel free to bring friends and your lunch. To learn more, visit: www.panharmonia.org

 • Friday, November 1, 2019, 2 p.m.  • Midday Music, Open rehearsal and interactive audience discussion: In celebration of its upcoming 20th season, Pan Harmonia has commissioned composer Dosia McKay to write a 13-15 minute three-movement work for voice, flute, bassoon, and guitar. This piece, composed and performed by women artists, sets to music words by women writers from North Carolina on themes of timely significance, specifically focusing on inclusivity and exclusivity regarding cultural, economic, and gender issues. This innovative work for the chamber music repertoire and for the citizens of North Carolina has been funded by an NCAC Program Support grant and private donors.

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New to Medicare Class

Are you new to Medicare? Are you confused by the many choices? Unbiased and accurate information is available from trained volunteers from the North Carolina Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program. In partnership with OLLI, a free class will be held on Friday, February 28, 2020, 2-4 p.m. in the Reuter Center. The class will provide important information to assist you in understanding how Medicare works and what you need to do to obtain benefits and save money.  Spaces are limited so reserve your space by registering online at www.coabc.org.   In addition, beginning at 12 p.m., representatives from the Social Security Administration will be available to answer questions about Social Security benefits and Medicare enrollment. They will also provide detailed instructions for accessing the Agency’s online services at www.socialsecurity.gov.

  • Friday, February 28, 2020, 2-4 p.m.

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New Member Welcome!

Are you new to OLLI at UNC Asheville and the Reuter Center? Are you returning after being gone awhile? Come to the New Member Welcome to learn about all that OLLI has to offer and about ways to get involved. Meet other members and learn what it means to “grow through life.”

Friday, January 10, 2020 - 10 a.m.

OLLI Art Market 

OLLI will hold its 7th annual Art Market on Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9, 2019 at the Reuter Center.  The event showcases the many and varied talents of OLLI members.  In past years, offerings have included painting, photography, jewelry, textiles, wood working, fiber art, paper art, soaps and lotions and much more. The show is free and open to the general public. 

  • Friday, November 8, 11 A.M. to 4 P.M.
  • Saturday, November 9, 10 A.M. to 2 P.M

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OLLI Authors

OLLI Authors is a book talk series designed to recognize the many very talented poetry and prose writers among OLLI members.  OLLI Authors features readings by two published authors. On Thursday, November 21, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.  OLLI Members will be the featured writers, reading from their works. This series is free and open to the public. Click here to view the OLLI Authors List that reflects books written by OLLI members while members of the OLLI community.

  • November 21, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.  

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Safe Driving Program

Do you know the three most dangerous driving concerns for drivers over 50? What is the # 1 cause of accidents in North Carolina? Are roundabouts safer or just a confusing mess?

The AARP Smart Driver course is the first, research based refresher course designed specifically for  drivers 50+. It addresses these and other questions and covers the basics of “What’s Changing”, which is everything from cars, roads, and traffic patterns to, of course, all of us! There is no “behind the wheel” time to worry about, no one is assessing your abilities, and there are no tests to take. This is a one day, four hour offering. Cost is $15 to AARP members, $20 non-members (It is not necessary to be an OLLI member to sign up for this course). To register for the session, contact instructor Celeste Selwyn, 828-708-7404 or email at: csel@mindspring.com

  • November 12, 12:30 pm - 5 pm

STEM Lectures

The theme for the upcoming STEM lectures is "STEM Activities on Campus."  These lectures will cover research both performed and in progress by UNC Asheville faculty and OLLI members.  In addition, it will cover faculty's research with students and outreach to the community.  Scheduled at 4:30 p.m. in the Reuter Center, this series is free and open to everyone. The theme for the 2019-20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer and Math) Lecture Series is “Science vs. Science Denial.”  This series of lectures is especially important in light of the current climate of science denial. It is more important than ever to emphasize the benefits we receive from science and technology, and to expose the detrimental effects of denying science.

• Monday, September 23, 4:30 p.m.  Howard Jaslow, OLLI, "Science vs. Science Denial"
• Monday, October 7, 4:30 p.m. Don Martin, OLLI, "Value and Importance of Science"
• Tuesday, October 22, 4:30 p.m. Michael Wang, OLLI, "Basic Science and Medicine"

Wednesday, November 6, 4:30 p.m. Hermann Gucinski, OLLI, "Climate Change vs. Climate Deniers"

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Symphony Talk

Symphony Talks are an entertaining and educational way to hear about the music to be performed at the upcoming Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) Masterworks Concerts.  The program begins with a presentation by Chip Kaufmann, who talks about the life and times of the featured composers.  ASO has just selected Darko Butorac as music director, and he will appear with the soloist for upcoming concerts to talk about how the orchestra prepares and to offer ways to listen to the performance. For more information about the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, or to find out how to purchase tickets for performances at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, visit ashevillesymphony.org

  • Friday, November 15, 3 p.m. “From Russia with Love”: Glinka’s overture from Ruslan and Lyudmila, Lalo’s Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, with cello soloist Zlatomir Fung.
  • Friday, Febuary 21, 2020, 3 p.m. 
  • Friday, March 20, 2020, 3 p.m.

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Reuter Center Singers Holiday Concert

The Reuter Center Singers, OLLI's in-house choral group directed by Chuck Taft, study and perform classical, popular and show tunes.  In this very special Holiday Concert, enjoy and sing along with traditional carols.  Light refreshments follow.  The performance is free, but donations are welcome.
• Monday, December 9, 7 p.m.

World Affairs Council

Come to the Reuter Center for these fascinating lectures and discussions that aim to advance international awareness and foster Western North Carolina's global ties. These lectures are sponsored by the WNC chapter of the World Affairs Council, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville, and the University’s Department of Political Science.

Admission to World Affairs Council presentations at UNC Asheville is $10 for the public; free to members of the World Affairs Council and UNC Asheville students. All events are scheduled in the Manheimer Room, 7:30 p.m. - doors opening at 7 p.m.

  • November 5 
    • “Policy Changes and Challenges” Dr. Cynthia Combs – UNC-C: In her presentation, “Policy Changes and Challenges,” Dr. Cynthia Combs, of the University of North Carolina - Charlotte, will address the challenges to diplomacy that recent leadership, staffing, policy shifts, and reconsiderations have generated for US foreign policy and the institutions that implement it.
  • December 3
    • India: Modi Begins his Second Term – Keya Maitra will provide a look at India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi commences his second term with his party having increased its majority in this year’s election. Maitra, department chair and professor of philosophy, and Thomas Howerton Distinguished Professor of Humanities at UNC Asheville, completed all of her early schooling and her bachelor’s degree in India, and earned one of her two doctoral degrees at India’s University of Hyderabad. She also returned to India in 2015 with a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Grant, studying ancient Buddhist texts and exchanging ideas with colleagues at the University of Delhi. Maitra is a member of the Indian Philosophical Society, the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, and the Association for Asian Studies.

WAC members and UNCA students admitted without charge.  Single admission, $10.00. Co-sponsored by WAC-WNC, OLLI, & the UNCA Political Science Department. For more details about programs, consult the WAC website.

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