Skip to main content

ASU's Lifelong Learning courses span metropolitan Phoenix

January 21, 2011

Portrait drawing, how the brain works, American musical history, relationships across the lifespan, recognizing great art, and persuasion techniques used by marketers are just a few of the topics addressed in dozens of Spring 2011 course offerings from ASU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

The institute provides low-cost educational and cultural courses and programs for participants age 50 and above. Most programming this spring takes place in February, March and April. Non-credit courses, offered on weekdays, vary in length from a single session up to nine weekly sessions, with classes most typically running for four to six weeks.

Courses are taught by ASU professors, emeritus faculty and top community instructors. Spring titles include "Pioneering Women of Arizona;" "Hopi: Ancestors of the Ancestral Puebloan People;" "Significant Living Filmmakers: Steven Spielberg;" and "Persuasion, Propaganda and Market Mentality."

Spanning the Valley, courses are offered at ASU Osher Institute locations including ASU’s West campus in northwest Phoenix, Sun City Grand in Surprise, and Tempe Connections at the Tempe Public Library. Also, through partnerships with the Phoenix Art Museum and Desert Botanical Garden, a series of workshops at each partner’s location will examine the significance of museums in society and the desert ecosystem.

“The 50-plus generation is now known as the encore generation,” said Richard Knopf, director of the ASU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. “Never has there been a greater thirst by seniors to explore, chart new destinies, expand horizons and serve others. The Osher program at ASU opens doors not only to learn, but to find meaningful pathways to ignite people’s talents in a way that gives back to their communities.”

Knopf’s sentiments were echoed by retired Valley physician Gene Severino, who has taken a number of Osher courses on ASU’s West campus with his wife, Carol.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with golf, but playing golf 24/7 is the old version of retirement,” Severino said. “The new retiree wants to explore topics and ideas he or she didn’t have the time to learn about before. The Osher Institute provides a perfect opportunity to exercise your mind. All of the courses and instructors I’ve experienced have been top-quality.”

Spring highlights include "Portrait Drawing: The Fundamentals," to be taught at ASU’s West campus by Allen Reamer. Glendale resident Norma Lux, who says she has taken at least a half-dozen classes with Reamer, is looking forward to challenging him.

“Portraits are the one thing I can’t paint, but if anyone can help me do it, it’s Allen,” Lux said. “He’s extremely talented and knowledgeable, and his teaching methods really help reinforce the material he’s just covered with the class.”

The class "Hybrid Poetry" is being offered at the West campus. It is taught by ASU’s James Mitsui, a member of the ASU Emeritus College and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship who has had four books of poetry published. Mitsui says it’s natural for some people to be intimidated by poetry, but those fears are unfounded.

“Poetry isn’t that complicated,” Mitsui said. “I believe that trying to write poems while also reading and talking about them is a great way to understand contemporary poetry. I’ll provide non-threatening writing ideas and exercises, and students decide whether they want to write or submit their work. Along with reading works by poets they may not have heard of previously, participants will have fun, discover that their writing is improving, explore today’s world of poetry, and exercise the right side of their brains.”

While most Osher Institute offerings require a registration fee, there also are free movies and “meet the faculty” lectures in Sun City Grand and a free behind-the-scenes tour of the KAET Channel 8 studios for Institute members (with tour reservations taken on a first-come, first-served basis).

Another free event is associated with the Osher Institute’s participation in this year’s ONEBOOKAZ reading of Carolyn O’Bagy Davis’ “Hopi Summer: Letters from Ethel to Maud.” ONEBOOKAZ is a statewide program in which Arizonans share the reading and discussion of a common book addressing the Arizona experience. An April 18 session at ASU’s West campus will involve a facilitated discussion of “Hopi Summer.”

ASU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute programs are funded in part by the Bernard Osher Foundation, which supports university-quality educational offerings for mature students interested in learning for the love of learning. ASU is one of several colleges and universities across the United States to have been awarded a permanent Osher Foundation endowment to sustain and support its programs.

Registration procedures vary by location; details are available at or by calling (602) 543-6440.