The Cockefair Chair and members of the talented faculty at UMKC deliver short, engaging courses on national issues, Kansas City history and current events and literature and the arts. Join in to experience thoughtful analysis on a variety of subjects.

In Spring 2023, the Cockefair Chair presents three fascinating courses. The courses and the method of presentation for each (in-person, synchronous zoom or hybrid) are described below.

Spring 2023 Cockefair Chair Courses

Please note: In consideration of the health and safety of our guests, event and course accommodations will be in accordance with the latest local and CDC guidelines. Please check the UMKC health and safety website for current information-

Dialogue Across Difference

Jess Gantt-Schafer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Department of Communication and Journalism
3 Sessions
Thursdays, 10:30 – noon
March 9, 16, and 23
UMKC Administrative Center, Brookside Room
$40 ($55 with parking permit)

In this course Prof. Gantt-Shafer will examine dialogue, debate, deliberation, and mediation communication values and practices—all of which play a part in interpersonal relationships and in democratic societies. The course will explore practices of facilitating dialogue, including difficult conversations, and engaging in deliberation, such as collaborative decision-making or community problem-solving.  Incorporating real-world examples from dialogue and deliberation organizations, we will explore what it means to participate in and facilitate meaningful interaction within the contexts of polarization, power, bias, prejudice, and inequity.


“American Scripture”: The Making and Meaning of the Declaration of Independence

Bryan LeBeau, Ph.D.
4 sessions, in person with zoom option
Wednesday, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
April 5, 12, 19, and 26
UMKC Administrative Center, Brookside Room
$40 ($55 with parking permit)

The Declaration of Independence is the defining statement of America’s national identity. Indeed, Pauline Maier has described it as “American Scripture.” Nevertheless, as often as it is quoted in our public life, the reasons for its creation and its meaning are seldom understood and often the source of heated debate. This is understandable because it was created by a diverse group of individuals with differing points of view, and because how we interpret the Declaration is subject to time and place. In this four-part course, we will explore how and why the Declaration of Independence was written, what sources it drew upon, what it meant at the time, and how its meaning has changed over time


Art and Magic:  A Study of Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Laurie Ellinghausen, Ph.D., Professor
Department of English Languages and Literature
3 Sessions
Tuesdays, 1:00 – 2:30
April 25 and May 2 and 9
UMKC Administrative Center, Brookside Room
$40 ($55 with parking permit)

o prepare for the Summer 2023 Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production, this course will give opportunity to read, study, and discuss The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.  Our investigation into the play will cover historical context, characterization, language, and key themes, as well as scenes from director Julie Taymor’s 2010 film adaptation.  The course will include lecture as well as group discussion, and all levels of Shakespeare experience, including beginners, are welcome.


Register Here


PLEASE NOTE: If in the future you decide to purchase additional classes, you must use the edit button in your confirmation email to return to your form.

For questions, please contact Kim Rudolph at