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Learning for the joy of learning proves to be lifelong activity

August 17, 2009

Baby boomers (age 50+) and retirees are exercising their brains these days in ASU’s Lifelong Learning classes throughout the Valley. Sure, they have their golf, swimming, clubs and cards, but now they also have a wide selection of university-quality lectures, workshops, and short courses specifically designed to provide mentally stimulating experiences in a learning community of peers.

Thanks to funding from the Bernard Osher Foundation, ASU’s Lifelong Learning Institute will provide again more than 100 affordable learning opportunities this fall. Registration is now under way in classes that vary in length from one 90-minute session to a series of four or five weekly workshops. Participants can choose from Doo Wop to Opera to Jazz in music topics; take an historical look at Mr. Lincoln’s War, Hellenistic Civilization, or our local Hohokam settlers; explore timely topics such as President Obama’s first year performance, Net Worth and the Stock Market Decline, America’s Destiny, and Geopolitical Updates; develop conversational language skills; and explore a multitude of topics in the arts, film, world religions, architecture, and dance.

Locations for fall 2009 classes include ASU’ West and Polytechnic campuses, Sun City Grand, and the Tempe Public Library through its Tempe Connections programming.  Membership is $35 per semester, while course fees range from $10 to $15 per course.  Additionally, a wide variety on non-credit short courses are being offered through December.  Information and class schedules are available at or by calling 602-543-6440.

Past participants rave about their classes and instructors. As one student put it, “It’s the best kept secret on the planet.” But it’s not staying a secret for long.  ASU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute reached a milestone last year, exceeding the 1,000 annual enrollment mark. Nationwide, this number is reflected in more than 70,000 Osher Institute adult learners who are pursuing a passion of discovering a new interest in college or university-sponsored programs. Within the Osher Network, ASU is proud to be one of 18 institutions awarded a permanent endowment to sustain and support its programs.

“Our adult learners participate for the joy of learning,” says Patricia Feldman, associate vice provost for ASU’s Extended Campus. “They appreciate having access to and sharing the resources of our vibrant university. And they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom. These students will learn a great deal from each other.”

Adult learners are not shy. One of the goals of the Institute’s programs is to provide an opportunity for socialization and new friendships along with shared interests and lifestyles. “We feel very strongly that through lifelong learning opportunities, we are contributing to the health of our adult population by providing the intellectual stimulation that they need, deserve, and expect from university programs in a fun and relaxed environment,” adds Feldman.

In addition to the four classroom locations, Lifelong Learning is offering “off-campus” courses through a returning partnership with the Phoenix Art Museum that includes a five-part workshop that considers the history and merits of creating art inside a studio, rather than outside, that begins in September.  Additionally, in a collaboration with ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, a half-day discussion and workshop is free to Lifelong Learning members on November 12 and features ASU Art Museum’s artist-in-residence, New York-based Canadian Jillian McDonald.

ASU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute also partners with adult communities such as Sun City Festival and Sun City Anthem Merrill Ranch. Institute membership is open to adult learners of all educational backgrounds, age 50 or older.

For more information, or to download registration forms, visit, or call the Lifelong Learning offices at ASU’s West campus, 602-543-6440.

Schedule/Course Contact:      
Karla Burkhart,
Program Coordinator

Media Contact:                       
Linda Backer,
Program Manager, ASU Online and Extended Campus