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 Fall 2024, 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.

Fall 2024 Cockefair Chair Courses

Public Art and the Mission of the Liberal Arts at UMKC

Christopher Wolfe, Manager, UMKC Bookstore
Wednesdays, 1:00 – 2:30
September 4, 11, 18, and 25
UMKC Administrative Center, Plaza Room
$40 ($70 with parking permit)

What is the purpose of public art on a university campus? Is it merely an ornament, something nice to look at or to fill in a blank space? Or does it play a role in the education of students and the public? In 1940, the University of Kansas City installed its first public artwork, the Three Graces, three terracotta figures from Greek mythology. The purpose was to instill value and knowledge of the arts in the university’s students through the decoration of their campus. Since then, UKC/UMKC has commissioned or been gifted over 20 major public artworks, and some have become iconic symbols of the university. Each is both a potential gateway into a wider world of art appreciation and also a doorway into the university’s past. UMKC’s art is a recording of its historical development. We will explore this history by looking at the background of the artists, the meaning of their works and the legacy they have left behind. We will have three traditional classes and an optional fourth Volker Campus art walk, to examine the art firsthand.


The 2024 American Presidential Election

Beth Vonnahme, Ph. D., Professor, Department of Political Science & Philosophy
Tuesdays, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
September 24 and October 1, 8, and 15
UMKC Administrative Center, Plaza Room
$50 ($70 with parking permit)

This course will delve into the strategies, mechanics, and implications of the 2024 presidential election. Professor Vonnahme will provide an in-depth analysis of polarization or hyper-partisanship in American politics. We will also tackle the effectiveness of campaign advertisements, social media and the campaign trail in modern presidential elections. In addition, we will explore the role of money in American elections, including the restrictions on campaign financing.  Finally, the course will wrap-up with a discussion of election expectations and how we can understand the results.


Contemporary Art and the Embodied Mind

Cristina Albu, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Art History, Department of Media, Art, and Design
Thursdays, 10:30 – noon
October 17, 24, and 31
UMKC Administrative Center, Plaza Room
$40 ($55 with parking permit)

This course explores contemporary artists’ inquiries into the intricate workings of the human mind, introducing such concepts as neuroaesthetics, neuroplasticity, and mirror neurons through the lens of contemporary artworks that showcase our ability to modulate brain activity. Using works from both traditional and new media, Prof. Albu will examine how art can enhance mindfulness, promote healing, and foster powerful affective exchanges. We will also explore why we find aesthetic experiences rewarding and what factors influence which art we like. We will also look at artists’ uses of brain imagery, from anatomical drawings to MRI images and 3D models to reflect on the nature of selfhood, memory, and consciousness. Finally, we will look at artists’ integration of neurofeedback technology in performances and participatory installations that elicit meditative states of mind and empathetic connections.



The Music of J.S. Bach

Owen Belcher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UMKC Conservatory
Tuesdays, 1:00 – 2:30
November 5, 12, and 19
UMKC Administrative Center, Plaza Room
Zoom option available, but in person attendance strongly encouraged, due to considerable amount of listening to music
$40 ($55 with parking permit

In this survey of the music of J.S. Bach, participants will learn about common formal and tonal paradigms and genres, along with exploring the role of Bach’s music in Western music history, as well as Bach’s life and working conditions. Professor Belcher will focus especially on Bach’s music for keyboard instruments, such as the clavier, harpsichord, and organ, and for choir and orchestra, such as the cantatas and passions.  Through this course, participants will gain a better understanding of what to listen for in Baroque music, as well as a fuller appreciation of the myriad differences between music and musicians in the 18th century versus today.


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