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Lifelong Learning

29 Mar Posted by in Academics, Observations | 2 comments
Lifelong Learning

One of the really interesting, and quietly rewarding, aspects of American higher education over the past two decades has been the emergence of active lifelong learning communities. At Mason, we are fortunate in having the Osher Lifelong Learning Center (OLLI), which operates extensively on our Fairfax and Loudoun sites, and also a vigorous group in Arlington.

Many of us, as Mason faculty and administrators, have taken advantage of the opportunities to teach classes in the lifelong learning context. It is really a rewarding experience. The “students” come from all sorts of interesting backgrounds, and contribute actively and informatively to the class sessions. One of my recent book projects was heavily shaped by discussions in a four sessions OLLI course, for what that’s worth. And there’s no grading.

It’s really a pure learning experience, voluntary for all parties involved. This past year, I’m pleased to note, 85 Mason faculty taught courses or spoke at the OLLI sessions, from various units around the University. It’s a really generous outreach contribution that strengthens all parties involved. For their part, OLLI participants help us greatly with their advice and support, particularly around the arts but also with projects like the Visions lecture series.

The constituency, of course, will only grow over time, but thanks to mutual interest there’s already an extremely solid base for joint activities. Mason is not of course unique in participating in this extension of education, but we are unusually responsive and our relationships seem particularly healthy. Again, a quiet movement, but one of which we can be genuinely proud.