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U of U’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Redefines Retirement with Winter Term Offerings

December 27, 2006 — This winter, lifelong learners age 50 and over at the University of Utah will come together to explore their internal resources, find new dimensions for growth, and reexamine their histories. They’ll study together in courses they chose, developed specifically for them by subject experts. Sixteen weekly classes and a variety of special events will be offered during the U’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Winter term, beginning January 15, 2007. Registration is open now in person at 1901 East South Campus Drive or by phone at (801) 581-7155.

For the first time in history, the oldest generation is growing faster than the youngest. In the United States today there are three million people over 85; in forty years there will be thirty million. These baby boomers are redefining “aging gracefully” by exploring lifelong learning opportunities at the U. Osher Institute members experience vitality, growth, productivity, and greater satisfaction by enhance their lives with learning and social interaction. People actively engaged in their lives after fifty are pushing society to redefine the second half of life and aging.

According to Cathy House, Osher Institute director, “Older learners have incredible new lenses that illuminate life experiences and lessons. Watching our Osher Institute members interact simply debunks the stereotypes of ‘aging’-our members continue to grow and thrive as they learn with each other.”

The university setting exercises our cognitive functioning through a variety of intellectually challenging opportunities. These opportunities also encourage interactions with others and promote engagement with life. Those who participate in continued learning dramatically improve their likelihood of aging well. The social benefits of lifelong learning also help to solidify and enhance the mental benefits. Osher members increase their self-esteem and self-efficacy in a highly supportive social environment where it is safe to take intellectual risks and no one is afraid to challenge themselves to learn.

This winter’s courses include a Wednesday class on “Iraq in the 20th Century”, a particularly timely look at the modern history of Iraq and its role in the region. Also newsworthy is “Today’s World in the Media,” where students will evaluate how media shapes perceptions and opinions of daily events. Other classes include “Memory and Aging,” “Wilderness, Water, and More: Conservation’s Cutting Edge,” “Motion Pictures that Inspire,” “Tai-Chi,” two levels of “Ceramic Tile Art,” “World Classics: Africa from Inside & Out,” and “Art of the Early 20th Century.” In “Dialogues on Contemporary Issues,” Osher members will “sit at the feet” (in the Socratic style) of community opinion makers J. Boyer Jarvis, Dee Rowland, Edwin Firmage, Irene Fischer, France Davis, and Emma Lou Thayne. Foreign language classes are also offered.

The Osher Institute offers three, six-week sessions annually, with most courses held during the day at historic Fort Douglas, on the University campus where parking is easy and the atmosphere conducive to learning. Classes meet once or twice a week for one and a half to two hours. Courses are specifically developed for learners age 50 and over by a curriculum committee made up of Osher members, and are taught by distinguished emeritus faculty and community experts.

Osher students have several membership options. Membership entitles Osher Institute students to benefits such as discounts at Kingsbury Hall and free entrance to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah Museum of Natural History and Red Butte Garden, and access to campus libraries. In addition, members and their guests can participate in various special events, University lectures, films and tours. Gift certificates can be purchased for membership in the program.

Funded primarily by a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University joins 93 other campuses in providing education outreach to older community members. The U’s Osher Institute is also sponsored by the University Health Sciences Center and members of the Institute. Community Partners include the Utah Museum of Natural History, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Red Butte Garden, and the U Alumni Association. The Osher Institute is part of the Academic Outreach and Continuing Education division at the University of Utah, which enriches the lives of people of all ages in the greater community and beyond by providing extraordinary learning opportunities from the University of Utah.

More information on courses, membership, special events, and the Osher Institute may be obtained by calling 801-585-5442 or by visiting