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Registration under way for Lifelong Learning classes

Feb. 24, 2011

KALAMAZOO--Registration has begun for the inaugural classes being offered by Western Michigan University's new Lifelong Learning Academy.

Photo of WMU Lifelong Learning Academy.The academy offers low-cost educational programs to older Kalamazoo-area residents, although individuals of any age are welcome to participate. It aims to provide an informal and lively atmosphere that is intellectually and culturally stimulating, promotes personal growth, and fosters social engagement.

The first class session begins this spring and runs from Monday, March 14, through Friday, April 8. The session features 15 non-credit classes that meet once every two, three or four weeks. All of the courses will be held between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and last two hours.

"We've had phenomenal interest so far. Over 200 people showed up for our open house Feb. 9, and about 110 people have already signed up for spring classes," says Ruth Heinig, co-chair of the WMU Lifelong Learning Academy Advisory Board. "We're tapping into an unmet community need. I hear people saying, 'Just because I'm getting older doesn't mean I've stopped learning. Life's too short and too exciting not to keep exploring and finding new passions.'"

The academy is a membership organization, but the only membership requirement is to pay a nominal annual fee, which is being waived for the 2011 spring session. Tuition is modest and based on how many times per week a class meets. The rates are $20 (two times), $30 (three times) and $40 (four times). Fees also may be charged to offset the cost of class materials, books or travel.

As time goes on, the academy will be offering more and more courses each session. It also will continue to develop a rich array of interest groups and broaden its programming to include lectures, travel-related activities and other special presentations and events.

Academy courses are provided just for the joy of learning--there are no tests or grading. They fall into one of seven categories: arts and humanities, current events, enrichment, international themes, health, history, and science and technology.

Instructors are being drawn from current and former faculty members at area higher education institutions as well as community members who are experts in particular fields or have strong interests in selected areas.

The upcoming session includes classes taught by:

  • Sara Rivara, a Pushcart Prize nominee, who will focus on Midwestern poets and how to write poetry.
  • Tom Beech, retired president and CEO of the Fetzer Institute, who will lead a participatory exploration of what Socrates meant when he said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
  • Judith Halseth, WMU professor emerita of social work, who will help participants trace their ancestry and learn about local genealogical resources.
  • John Wickstrom, Kalamazoo College professor emeritus of history, who will discuss theories popularized in the book "The Da Vinci Code" in light of recently discovered ancient documents.
  • Manuel Brenes, Kalamazoo Public Schools director of bilingual education, who will use film clips, books and other media to help class members improve their Spanish speaking fluency.
  • Guy Johnson, the principle of Johnson Nutrition Solutions, who will use proposed dietary salt restrictions to illustrate how government can play politics with food.
  • Bryon Glock, a WMU information technology director, who will explain tips and tricks for how Windows-based computer users can navigate the Web.

The academy is being led by a volunteer advisory board that operates under the auspices of WMU's Extended University Programs division, and in concert with numerous other educational and community organizations.

To register for a Lifelong Learning Academy class, download the spring session brochure by visiting wmich.edu/offcampus/lifelong/programs and following the directions on the brochure's registration form. The brochure also may be picked up from area senior centers, one of Kalamazoo's public libraries, or WMU's Extended University Programs, located in Room 3202 Ellsworth Hall on WMU's main campus next to the Bernhard Center.

To request a brochure or obtain more information about the academy, visit wmich.edu/offcampus/lifelong or call Extended University Programs at (269) 387-4200.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400