One Day University scheduled in Modesto in October

The Modesto Bee and One Day University will present a One Day University at the Gallo Center in downtown Modesto.
The Modesto Bee and One Day University will present a One Day University at the Gallo Center in downtown Modesto. Modesto Bee file

Here’s a great opportunity to do some good and learn something new at the same time.

The Modesto Bee and One Day University will present a One Day University in Modesto on Oct. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear talks from three award-winning professors on a variety of topics. The event is a fundraiser for The Bee’s Newspapers in Education program, which provides digital news and curriculum to area students.

According to the website, Steven Schragis founded One Day University in 2006. The idea came to him after he dropped off his daughter to start her freshman year at college in upstate New York.

“The school had about a dozen professors spread around campus giving short talks about a variety of subjects,” the website says. “All the parents had a great time and had the same reaction: ‘I wish I were the one going to college!’ 

Since then, the program has expanded to include more than 200 professors, who among them take part in 80 to 100 events each year.

Reviews on the program’s Facebook page are positive. Said attendee Geri Beattie: “I have attended two ODU events and was very pleased with both. Evocative, educational, and entertaining!”

In Modesto, the professors will discuss happiness, history and entertainment.

The three speakers are:

▪ Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the University of California, Berkeley, who will discuss “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness.”

Simon-Thomas is the science director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, according to the One Day University website. Her work focuses on the potential for – and the benefits of – living a more meaningful life. Her session will “discuss strategies for tapping into and nurturing your own happiness,” and offer a few activities “that have been shown to foster social and emotional well-being,” the website says. “Finally, the course will guide students to reflect on factors that figure into the personal fit and potential impact of various happiness boosting activities.”

▪ Edward O’Donnell of Holy Cross University, who will discuss “Five Turning Points That Changed American History.”

O’Donnell is a professor of history at Holy Cross who has written several books and led more than 1,200 walking tours through New York City. He will talk about “turning points and landmark movements that irrevocably altered the direction of the nation and signaled the dramatic start of a new historical reality,” according to the website. “Some took the form of groundbreaking political and philosophical concepts; some were dramatic military victories and defeats. Still others were nationwide social and religious movements, or technological and scientific innovations.”

▪ Marc Lapadula, a senior lecturer in the Film Studies Program at Yale University, who will discuss “Four Films that Changed America.”

In addition to his work at Yale, Lapadula is a playwright, screenwriter and award-winning film producer. He will discuss films that “have had a profound influence on our culture,” the website says. “Whether intentionally or not, some movies have brought social issues to light, changed laws, forwarded ideologies both good and bad, and altered the course of American history through their resounding impact on society.”

The event will take place at the Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto. Admission is $149. For more information or to register, go to or call 800-300-3438.