Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (Learning in Retirement)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
By Marlin Ristenbatt

The OLLI program, formerly LIR at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has just completed a very successful program, a way for retirees to become well-informed about "nearly everything (scientific)."

The basic scheme involves a book-reading group with the addition of "expert guests" for each group session. The book we used was “A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. This book, written by a non-scientist, is exceptional in being able to retain the interest and attention of a non-scientific audience.

Each week's expert guest did not make a presentation but was the resource person for the discussion questions. Our expert guests were retired professionals in the various topics that appear in the book. It was not difficult to find and solicit the cooperation of such retirees; a retired high school science teacher was our resource for about half of the book. The "guests" would typically look over the material that was to be covered that week, but, as noted, they did not have the burden of preparing a presentation.

The "leadership" for each week rotated among the attendees, who were strongly advised to originate discussion, especially involving the expert, rather than read portions of the book.

The enthusiasm of the attendees convinces me that this simple scheme is worthy of consideration by any and all LLI organizations across the country. It really does offer an unusual opportunity to become informed about important scientific information. Any questions would be welcome.

Marlin Ristenbatt can be contacted at marlinr@eecs.umich.edu




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