Interesting tidbits from the latest batch of LLI newsletters.

The Academy for Lifelong Learning of Cape Cod, Inc. at Cape Cod Community College in Massachusetts offered a wide range of stimulating courses this past fall. Among them was History of the USMC. Events in the history of the Marine Corps were reviewed and five major battles were explored in detail. The impact of aviation on the Corps and the combat actions that made four marines famous were also discussed. There were guest speakers and films were shown too.

The Academy for Lifelong Learning at Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, New York offered members the chance to study American Popular Music and the Times: 1900-1939, this past fall. The cultural history of this era was detailed with handouts featuring relevant facts and statistics, as well as photos of architecture, fashion and important persons. Background information on the popular music of the time was related to events of the period. Further discussion about composers, styles of music and Tin Pan Alley songs that captured the mood of the times, then took place. Finally, out came the song sheets and members raised their voices in song, love songs, songs of desperation from the Great Depression, songs of the Dust Bowl period, dance music from the Big Band Era, and even some silly songs.

The Academy for Lifelong Learning at Kingwood College in New Caney, Texas recently offered members as part of its Documentary Film Series, the movie Louisiana Story: This Oscar-nominated, Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece was the last film made by Robert J. Flaherty who is considered the "father of the documentary.” It is a poetic and visually stunning work. Filmed in the Bayou country of Louisiana, it follows the advent of an oil rig from the perspective of a young Cajun boy. Originally released in 1948, the black and white film has been beautifully restored. There was a short introduction before and discussion afterwards about several aspects of the film.

The Department of Aging-Services to Seniors came to the Adult Learning Program at Columbia-Green Community College in New York this past fall to discuss important senior issues and programs with the members. Topics covered included transportation, senior centers, case management, home care services, health insurance counseling, home delivered meals, and congregate meals. Other services included information and assistance, caregiver services and legal services.

The Adult Learning Program at the University of Connecticut in Hartford offered members a session entitled From Wagon Wheels to Stainless Steel: The Architecture of American Diners. The presenter talked about the history of diners, their architecture, and their food. Participants then joined him on a luncheon expedition to a local diner.

The Center for Continuing Adult Learning at Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta in New York offered members some interesting courses this fall. Among them was Revisiting Walden (1854). Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is famed for his nature writing and social commentary. Are his observations outdated or does he have something significant to say to us today? Members explored this question in depth.

Members of the Chemeketa Center for Learning in Retirement in Oregon explored Brazil this past fall. They discussed the history and geography of the country and enjoyed personal observations from some members who traveled to the country and/or hosted exchange students from Brazil.

Members of the Community Academy for Lifelong Learning in State College, PA offered a nice mix of fall classes. Among them was Energy: Its Nature and History. This seven-week course addressed the following questions: What is energy? How many kinds are there? Why do we need so much? How have we learned to use it? What are the limits and dangers?

Members of the Institute for Continuing Learning at Young Harris College in Georgia were treated to a special visitor in the Introduction to Islam course. A practicing Muslim who sits on the board of directors of the largest mosque on Georgia, the gentleman brought to the class his beliefs and insights from the standpoint of an American citizen who just happens to be one of approximately seven million people in this country who practice Islam.

Last fall, members of the Institute for Learning in Retirement at Bluffton University in Ohio took a course entitled From the New Frontier to the Great Society: The Presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson. This course focused on the transition from the Kennedy administration to the Johnson presidency. The first two weeks focused on JFK. The remaining six weeks focused on one of the most complex presidents in American history –a man who led the nation through one of its most trying, emotional times ever, through a grieving period that still might not have ended. Johnson had the highest approval rating of any 20th century U.S. president yet, a decade later, was rated one of the worst.

Members of the Institute for Retirees in Pursuit of Education at Brooklyn College in New York were challenged this past fall to study some stimulating topics. Among them was The Statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln. This course dealt with the statesmanship of Lincoln, covering his early life, his ascent to power, his mastering of military, political and constitutional problems during the Civil War, his foreign policy, his emancipation policies and his ideas of reconstruction.

The Acadian Experience was the title of a course given at Lagniappe Studies Unlimited/Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Louisiana State University this past fall. In 1604 a group of Frenchmen left their mother country to establish a colony in North America in present day Nova Scotia. Over a period of some 180 years a large portion of their descendants found their way to Louisiana. This is the story of their lives through the discovery of their ‘Acadie” to them a virtual paradise on earth, their devastating expulsion from their lands at the hands of a few Englishmen, of the terrible toll these years took on themselves and their descendant families, of their suffering as a result of their Diaspora and their final home in Louisiana. Participants examined the effects of their nearly two centuries of wandering on their lives, customs, occupations, language, music, architecture, food and much more. The course concluded with a look at where Cajunism is today and what it bodes for the future of their culture.

Members of the Learning Club in Winona, Minnesota studied the War of 1812 this past fall. The discussion provided a general overview of the causes, nature, and consequences of the War in North America.

Members of the Learning Institute at New England College (LINEC) in Henniker, New Hampshire took part in a stimulating course this past fall; Are We Critical Thinkers/Careful Observers? Elementary mathematics and a little curiosity were what was needed for members to gain a fresh perspective on life. Through discussions, examples, applications, and even mathematical magic, they found that joy, beauty, creativity, inspiration and fun can result from exploring patterns, making decisions, predicting and challenging what they read and hear every day. Some video presentations were used in conjunction with explanations.

This past fall, members of the Learning in Retirement program at Furman University in South Carolina took part in Team Trivia on Tuesdays. Based on the popular board game, Trivial Pursuit, it was placed by oral participation rather than on the board. They followed the traditional categories and the atmosphere was competitive.

This fall, members of the Learning in Retirement Program at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut took some interesting courses. Corporate America: Health, Safety & the Environment was one of those courses. A retired Corporate Executive and Professor told the class how companies deal with these issues, the battles that occur and how these issues impact on competitiveness and responsibility. Global issues were discussed, both in fact and fiction, and current crises such as global warming and auto emissions were also looked at in depth.

Members of the Learning in Retirement program at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut took some interesting courses this past fall. Among them was this one, Was Alexander All That Great? Participants spent time developing the history of the world into which Alexander was born, exploring how he came to power and his conquests of the Persian Empire. They tried to answer such questions as: What was Alexander’s motivation? Did Alexander have any kind of vision of a new world or was he just another in an unending line of power-hungry conquerors? They also tried to discover some of Alexander’s lasting contributions, if any.

Finding Media Balance in the Age of Spin was the title of a forum given at the Lifetime Learning Institute at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. With 24/7 new coverage, 700 channels to choose from, and worldwide access to information at our fingertips, how do we begin to make sense of it all? Attendees discussed ways media outlets report the news and the impact this reporting has on consumers of the information. They viewed examples and engaged in a lively discussion about the “spin” that is put on the news we receive and its impact on how we look at the world. They also discussed some strategies for how to be better media consumers.

Members of the Lyceum at Binghamton University in New York took a course last fall entitled Scottish Enlightenment. They studied Edinburgh in the mid-18th century. The Scottish capital saw the flowering of some of the finest minds of the day, including economist Adam Smith, philosopher David Hume, biographer James Boswell and poet Robert Burns. Three Lyceum members also gave brief histories of the area of Scotland to which they had ties.

Members of the McGill Institute for Learning in Retirement took some stimulating courses this past spring. Among them was the Evolution of Cooperation: From Woodrow Wilson to Win/Win to WalMart. What was promoted, at the time of the formation of the League of Nations, as a way to prevent World War II, then developed as Game Theory and the Marshall Plan, has led to new ways of doing business and to resolving deep-rooted ethnic, community and interpersonal conflicts in a “Flat World.” We now reward rather than shoot collaborators. Upon registering, participants will be given a study group outline and a reading list.

The Middlesex Institute for Lifelong Education in Connecticut took part in an interesting session this past fall led by a former Secret Service Agent, now a State of Connecticut Representative. On Assignment was all about his personal observations while assigned to the White House during the Watergate era as well as his reflections on the American political scene thereafter.

Members of the Montreat College Center for Adult Lifelong Learning in North Carolina recently studied Sir Walter Scott. This course highlighted the historical dimension of Scott’s 27 novels, eight long narrative poems, his histories, critical editions, researches into folklore, magic and ancient ballads. Emphasis was placed on the rise and fall of the House of Stuart, including Mary Queen of Scotts and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

MSU for Seniors at Minnesota State University in Mankato offered some interesting courses over this last year. Among them was Embracing Laughter for Wellness. Authors of A Mirthful Spirit talked about the benefits of laughter for wellness with tips for maintaining mirthfulness within oneself at home, on the job, and during times of distress. The focus of their message was how to intentionally seek out laughter while minimizing negative humor in everyday life.

Members of the OLLI program at Duke University in North Carolina were treated to some stimulating courses this past year. Among them was Western Mystical Masters: Blavatsky & Steiner. This seminar focused on the works of two great western mystics, Helena P. Blavatsky and Rudolph Steiner.

Members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Granite State College in New Hampshire were offered some stimulating lectures this past fall. Among them was The Bee Mystery. They heard the fascinating story of the world and background of honey bees. They looked at several different questions including, What purpose do bees serve? How do bees operate as a family unit in their hives? What’s the overall importance of pollination? Participants then speculated on the causes and potential impact of the current decline in numbers – and discussed the potentially serious consequences of losing bees.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of N. Florida in Jacksonville offered some stimulating courses this past fall. In the field of Politics and Religion members studied Great Decisions in Foreign Policy, 2007; the Journey of Christianity; Current Events Discussion Group; Islam, It’s Faith, People & Politics; and the Origin of Good and Evil.

This past fall, members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor took part in a course entitled Haiti and Tierra Del Fuego: Poetization of History. Participants had an opportunity to look into the history of marginalized people. They studied the works of Alejo Carpentier ad Sylvia Iparraguirre to better understand the subject.

Members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Oklahoma State University recently studied Cross-Cultural Understandings of “The After-Life.” They explored the values and understandings people bring into their dialogue with the human and natural environment. With a basic tenet that we are all creatures who spend a lifetime creating social meaning for self and other, participants discussed ways to navigate through their understandings of “The After Life.”

Literature of the Renaissance was the title of a fall course given at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Yavapai College in Arizona. Members studied the major works and authors of this period in European history and also used video, lecture notes and discussion to undertake a thorough exploration of the topic.

Last fall, the Rose Institute for Life Long Learning in Ohio offered their members a chance to study the History of Language. They studied the origins of the English language with emphasis on the different types of writing and phonetic notation, and the precursors of our current form of English.




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