Interesting tidbits from the latest batch of LLI newsletters.

Members of the Academy for Lifelong Learning of Cape Cod, Inc. are studying Burney, Edgeworth, and Austen: A Novel World. Burney’s Evelina, Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent, and Austen’s Persuasion, written in the beginning, middle and end, respectively, of the novelists’ careers, share one theme – finding one’s place in a changing world. The class will combine lecture and discussion. Readers will engage in mini-debates, supporting conflicting readings.

The History and Future of Cartooning and Illustration is the title of a course being given this spring at the Academy for Lifelong Learning in Saratoga Springs, NY. Participants will study cartooning as an art form, enjoy its history and make some of their own. Weekly topics will include: an overview; editorial cartoons; the Gibson Girls; Walt Disney’s animation and drama; comic books; and much more. The group will also visit the Cartoon Museum in Ticonderoga.

What Are Our Ultimate Beliefs? was the title of a course given this past fall at the Academy for Lifelong Learning at the University of S. Florida in Sarasota/Manatee. This class looked at such questions as What’s worth living for? Using a round-table discussion format, they sought to articulate their personal beliefs through sharing and spiritual practices. The participants did class exercises in mediation ritual, contemplation, nature and self-reflection. There were several guest speakers, and religious writings were examined as well.

Members of the Baylor Institute for Learning in Retirement took a course recently on The Gifts of the Sumerians. The period of the Sumerians predates the 1st Egyptian Dynasty as well as the appearance of Abraham by more than 1500 years, beginning about 4500 B.C.E. and ending about 2000 B.C.E. Theirs was the first organized civilization of modern times created by humans. A remarkably creative people, they invented the first written language using symbols rather than pictures. Among their other creations are the first formal schools, the first bicameral congress, the first written legal codes, the first written moral ideals, the first written “farmer’s almanac,” and twenty other firsts.

The Crusades: The Crescent and the Cross is the title of a course being given at the Center for Learning in Retirement at Rock Valley College in Illinois. This class follows the epic battle between two Middle Ages superpowers; the Christian Crusaders and the Muslins, a conflict which was fought over two centuries and saw the separate Muslin city-state unite to fight the Christian “invaders.”

Members of the Drury University Institute for Mature Learning in Springfield, Missouri recently took a course entitled American Literature and the Civil War. This course examined several famous authors and how this agonizing struggle affected their writings. Authors included Emerson Whitman, Dickinson, Douglass, Hawthorne, and Melville.

Members of the Encore Center for Lifelong Enrichment at North Carolina State University in Raleigh took a course recently entitled A Sicilian Sampler. Presenters discussed Sicily’s eclectic history, time-honored folklore and customs, distinctive food and wine, and flora and fauna as found in the various microcosms. Part of one session was a practicum of Italian phrases useful to travelers. This course was developed to provide background information on Sicily to those participating in a March 2008 study trip.

Members of the Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning at Hodges University, Naples, FL will be studying the Ancient Wisdom of Ayurveda this spring. The 5,000 year-old practice of Ayurveda has been passed down from one generation to the next from the ancient wisdom of the sages in India. The mind/body connection, meditation, and yoga are contemporary expressions of this ancient philosophy. This class offers a different perspective for understanding the physical and emotional identity.

Members of ILEAD at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire took a course this past winter entitled Music, Language, and Human Evolution. In the context of human evolution, this course discussed speech and language, and singing and music. It covered what is known and/or what can be reasonably deduced, from archaeological and historical evidence, Topics included the movement of the body including facial muscles, the development of dancing, and the human voice in what we hear and how we hear it. Participants discussed speaking, singing and chanting, the development of language variation, and music in its variety of styles, and eventually in instrumental accompaniment.

The Institute for Continuing Learning, Young Harris College, Georgia offered a unique course this past winter entitled Are We Now As They Were Then? Participants examined the leaders of the early Christian Church, their thoughts, culture in which they lived, how that related to early Christians, and how that relates to our culture today. Topics included Jesus of Luke’s Gospel, Christ and the Holy Spirit, Self-Emptied Christ of Paul, Christ of Gnosticism and Apostle’s Creed, Hippolytus and Christ of Baptism and Christ of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

Ireland’s Elected Leaders was the title of a course given at the Institute for Learning in Retirement at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. Since its formal recognition by the international community, Ireland has had 11 Taoiseachs (Prime Ministers) and 8 Presidents. They examined each of these leaders, their contributions to the development of an Irish Republic and their political legacy. The history of the 20th Century was viewed through the perspective of Ireland’s elected leaders.

Members of the Institute for Retirees in Pursuit of Education (IRPE) at Brooklyn College in New York recently studied Latin: Its Relationship to English. In the course they learned that English grows through coinage and adoption of Latin words and phrases that give many opportunities for colorful and precise expression.

Learning in Retirement at Iona College, New Rochelle, New York recently gave its members the chance to study The Gothic Enterprise. Starting about 1150, and over the next 400 years or so, more than 100 magnificent cathedrals and literally thousands of smaller churches were built in the Gothic style throughout Western Europe. How were these huge structures built in an age without electric power? Who designed them? Who built them? Who paid for them? Why are there so many of them? In this four-session course, using illustrations from medieval and modern sources, participants examined possible answers to these mysteries from the Middle Ages.

The Psychology of Music: Everyone Has a Musical Brain is the title of a course being given at Learning in Retirement, Inc. at the University of Georgia in Athens. This course is a lecture/discussion on how we learn and appreciate music so that it will minister to the spiritual, emotional and intellectual needs of people. Music comes back to us, even after 50 years, making a musical brain the birthright of all human beings. Learning music is a lifelong process that anyone can embrace at any age.

Members of the L.I.F.E. program at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY are studying Ansel Adams. Not only was Ansel Adams a gifted photographer, he led a very interesting life. He survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, developed into a concert pianist, was married to his best friend for 56 years, and was a friend to many famous people. He was a noted conservationist who campaigned to save our forests, but was also quite at home at a political dinner party.

Members of the Lifelong Learning Institute, Inc. at Edison College in Punta Gorda, Florida took a course entitled Making a Novel Come to Life. Participants learned how an author selects a plot and then develops it, how characters are introduced and given life and how the story is tied together and published. The course facilitator is a suspense novelist.

19th Century New York in Fiction is the title of a course given this winter at the Lyceum at Binghamton University in New York. As 19th Century New York grew from a modest town of fewer than 60,000 people to a world metropolis of 3 ½ million, the writers who live in it were challenged to make sense of its ever-changing novelty. This course looked at how some of America’s most significant writers – Irving, Poe, Melville, Whitman, Alger – interpreted the experience of living in this overwhelming new place.

Members of the McGill Institute for Learning in Retirement recently took a program entitled UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They studied the cultural, historical and natural heritage sites recognized by UNESCO as being mankind’s heritage. Locations ranged from the wildlife reserves of East Africa to the glaciers of Greenland. Also included in the program were historical towns around the world from the old town of Tallin, Estonia to the Brazilian towns of Ouro Preto, Olinda and Salvador de Bahia.

American Folk Music and the Folks Who Made it was the title of a course given recently at the Middlesex Institute for Lifelong Education in Middletown, Connecticut. The course included lectures, music examples, group discussion, and a sing-a-long.

During the winter 2008 session, members of the Montreat College Center for Adult Lifelong Learning studied Winston Churchill. Although they spent some time on his leadership through out the years of crisis, participants focused on the story behind the story, his early life and the fascinating influence that shaped him. They examined the world of Victorian England at the height of the Empire, the family of Winston, his military experiences, heroics, and at times foolhardy élan, as well as other fascinating stories that add up to one of the richest biographical stories of our age.

MSU for Seniors at Minnesota State University in Mankato offered members a chance to learn about Negro Spirituals. They studied the significance of a form of music that has been appreciated for many years.

Writing for the Sake of You is the name of a workshop being given at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. In this workshop, participants will write for the sake of writing, exploring their own inner world through writing. It will be more about journeying inward through their writing rather than writing for others or producing a finished product – although that can emerge later. They will explore journaling techniques together and writing “practice” as a Zen experience. It will be about deepening their inner connection and awareness through writing. Techniques will be shared including some from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.

Members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke University in North Carolina took an interesting course entitled How Airports Work. This course took participants behind the scenes of major airports, primarily John F. Kennedy International Airport and covered such topics as how an airport is organized and managed; what services and functions are required and provided; some history of aviation and the development of JFK; planning for the arrival of the super jumbo aircraft; and some exotic and little known functions such as emergency planning, wildlife management, aircraft recovery and snow removal.

What’s So Funny? Comedy Around the World is the title of a course given recently at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Southern Maine. Participants sampled humor, and comedy from cultures around the world so that they might begin to understand the similarities and differences that characterize each culture. What does comedy tell us about the culture - its taboos, its whimsy (if any), its type of humor, i.e satire, slapstick, puns, ethnic, religious, political, etc.? What make us laugh and what does not? What does the response to comedy tell us about ourselves and other? Requirement for this course – Laughter!

Women of the 19th Century: The Myths Exposed was the title of a course given this past winter at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. Hollywood stereotypes and male interpretation control much of what we know about history – especially women’s history. This course took a refreshingly honest look at 19th century women: their education health and work. Special emphasis was made to link national information to archival evidence concerning women in Michigan.

Members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Yavapai College in Arizona recently took a course entitled Food as Metaphor in Film. Through movies such as Babette’s Feast, Big Night, Mostly Martha, No Reservations, Tortilla Soup, and Eat Drink Man Woman, this course explored various metaphoric uses of food in cinema. Participants studied the role of food as a vehicle for affirmation of self worth, confirmation of ethnic identity, artistic expression socialization and expression of love in this series of delightful films. Students came to understand how important food can become in the psychology of human interaction and communication.

This spring, members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville are studying Sand & Imagination: The Art of Glassmaking from Mesopotamia to Contemporary Glass. This six-session course will cover Introduction: The First 2000 Years – A Golden Age of Glassmaking: The Roman Empire, Byzantium and Islam – Stained Glass, Venice and the Maturity of Glassmaking in Europe and America – Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Studio Glass – The Emergence of Glass as Art – and finally, a field trip to visit a local collection of contemporary glass.

Members of QUEST, a Community for Lifelong Learning in New York City took a course entitled Thinking-Cap Essays, this past fall. Essays reflect, distill and enlarge ideas and events. Their readings ran the gamut from critical, philosophical or humorous to pastoral, scientific or political. Mark Twain, Cynthia Ozickj,, Maya Angelou and T.S. Eliot were just a few of the well-known writers whose essays they read.

President Truman and the Beginning of the Cold War was a winter course given at the Rose Institute for Life Long Learning at the Menorah Park Center for Senior Living in Beachwood, Ohio. The Cold War was a period of conflict, tension and competition between the United States and Russia and their respective allies. Did Truman cause the Cold War? Participants learned about the momentous decisions President Truman made in the early years of the war.




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