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UNC Religious Studies Professor to Offer Course on UFOs for OLLI at Duke University

"UFOs are a myth," David Halperin says, "and myths are real"

Nov. 27, 2018 / PRZen / DURHAM, N.C. -- David J. Halperin, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will teach a course early next year on "UFOs – Encounter, Mystery, Myth."  The course will be offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Duke University and will run from January 7 to March 25, 2019. All interested persons are welcome.

"UFOs are a myth," says Halperin, "and myths are real."  Like collective dreams, they emerge from the depths of our unconscious, bearing vital messages for us.  The question to ask of them is not "Where do UFOs come from?" or "How do they fly?" but "What do they mean?"—for us as individuals, as a culture, as a species.

Halperin was a teenage "UFOlogist" back in the 1960s. He received his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1977, and from 1976 until his retirement in 2000 he taught Judaic studies in UNC's Department of Religious Studies.  His area of special interest has been religious traditions of heavenly ascensions and otherworldly journeys. He's the author of five books on Jewish mysticism and messianism and a novel, Journal of a UFO Investigator, published in 2011 by Viking Press and translated into Spanish, Italian, and German.  His non-fiction book Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO will be published in 2020 by Stanford University Press.

The OLLI course will begin with a case study: the supposed UFO landing at Westall High School in Melbourne, Australia, in April 1966.  It will explore the myth of the "Men in Black," the experience of alien abduction, and the enigma of what happened near Roswell, New Mexico, in the summer of 1947.  The concluding session will pause to notice the remarkable new respectability UFOs have attained since the 2016 election, and ask once more: what does it mean?

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke seeks to engage the minds, elevate the spirit and foster the wellbeing of its members, who number more than 2300.  It offers more than 400 courses annually that conform to an arts and sciences curriculum, in addition to courses on fitness, cooking and hands-on arts.  OLLI classes do not have tests, grades, or educational requirements, and exemplify "learning for the love of it."

Enrollment for "UFOs – Encounter, Mystery, Myth," opens on December 4, 2018.  To enroll online, go to

For more on David Halperin, see his website,

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