One of the first things I did after retiring from a long and rich teaching career was to go back to school. I’m one of those who loves going to school. I longed to sit on the other side of the desk and drink it all in-again.
Adult Learning Opportunities in Raleigh and Durham–Duke University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Like many others in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, I discovered the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Durham, a special program sponsored by Duke University. I sent for a catalogue and drooled over the course offerings. Ones that come to mind are Photoshop, Journal and Memoir Writing, Finance and Stock Market Investing, Shakespeare, the Renaissance and a number of history courses. The one I finally signed up for was an introductory course in genealogy, taught by Margo Farris-Brewer.
OLLI: Enrichment Courses for Retires and Older Adults
I looked forward to my class that met once a week and met a number of people, all interested in researching their family trees. Mrs. Farris-Brewer is a superb instructor, so much so that I signed up for two more of her classes over the next year. She took us on field trips to State Archives and to the State Library in Raleigh and gave us first-hand advice on how to make best use of our hours there in doing genealogical research. Her professionalism, down-to-earth style and sheer knowledge about the field of genealogy are astounding and I look forward to the day when I can take more of her courses.
I’ve also taken courses under instructor Ben Franklin, who is an expert at genealogical research via the Internet, among other things. His passion for genealogy and research was evident in every class. One semester I took a Photoshop course and learned how to work with photographs and text to produce beautiful, lasting photo books on the computer.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Duke started off in 1977. It was first called the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement and was a combined program of Duke Continuing Education and the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, according to the Duke University Continuing Studies website.
In 2004, the program became members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Network founded by the Bernard Osher Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving adult learners, especially those appreciative of the offerings of traditional universities.
Raleigh and Durham Demographics Provide Stimulating Adult Learning Opportunities
OLLI’s selection of course offerings grows out of the demographics of the surrounding area. North Carolina has long been known for the excellence of its universities. Duke University, the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University and a number of other colleges and universities call the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area home. The area’s greatest natural resource is its people, and many members of this community are specialists, retired professors and instructors who continue to teach in areas where they have a passion. Instructors include graduate students, independent scholars and community experts in a wide range of fields.
OLLI class members are the beneficiaries of this superior knowledge pool. Classes are non-credit and have neither tests nor educational requirements. People enroll in the courses for the same reason their instructors teach them: they possess a passion for learning and sharing knowledge. They also have fun. Loads of it.
Course offerings fall into numerous categories: literature, philosophy, natural sciences, religion, history, social sciences, computers, lifestyle issues, art, architecture, economics and finance. Belly dancing and bird watching have graced the pages of OLLI’s catalog.
Location of Duke University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Classrooms
Classes are held at three locations in Durham. Most classes are held in The Bishop’s House on the Duke University East Campus and at the Judea Reform Congregation on Cornwallis Road in Durham and meet once a week for an hour and a half. Computer courses meet at the Erwin Square Mill Building, Bay C in downtown Durham, near Duke University.
A few of the course titles from the Fall, 2010 catalog are listed below:
American Classical Music
How the Computer Changed My World
Cross, Crescent & Sword (Western and Islamic traditions)
How a Symphony Works
American Photography: History & Art
Rise of Spirituality, Decline of Materialism: A Changing Paradigm
James Joyce’s Ulysses
Gentle, Joint-Freeing Exercises
Belly Dance (Raks Sharki) Fitness for Women
Alice Walker: Spirituality in African American Literature
Introduction to China
The Geopolitics of the Middle East
The Aging Brain: How to Keep It Healthy
The World through Arab Eyes: Culture, the Foundations
The Patriarch & Matriarchs in the Old Testament: Heroes and Heroines…or Dysfunctional Families?
Write Your Life Story
Sacred Architecture Design: The Design, Architecture & Imagery of Cathedrals
Essentials of Acting Successfully in Motion Pictures & Television
And the list goes on. . . .
To learn more about Duke’s OLLI program, check out their website (listed below) or call for a printed program.
Class members find themselves returning again and again for the camaraderie and fellowship as much as for the learning and mental stimulation.
Garry Crites, Director / Office – Room 104, The Bishop’s House
919-684-2703; 919-681-8235; email@example.com
Mary Edwards, Assistant
919-681-3476; 919-681-8235; firstname.lastname@example.org
Duke Continuing Studies
Durham, NC 27708
Duke University: Continuing Studies-Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)