How To Take Advantage of Lifelong Learning Opportunities: Active Adults

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healthy livingMany universities, colleges, community colleges, and senior centers offer classes and programs focused on older adults pursuing learning in a creative and supportive environment. Whether you want to learn a foreign language, study history as it unfolds before you, or tap into your creative juices – opportunities abound!

The Renaissance Institute of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland – The 15 year old Renaissance Institute is the College’s Lifelong Learning program, where men and women 50 and older participate in educational, social, and personal growth activities. The program members represent the community’s diversity in gender, race, age, and religious beliefs. The youngest students are in their 50’s and the oldest learners are in their 90’s. In addition to classes, the Institute provides opportunities for travel, luncheons, and potluck dinners with new friends, as well as special activities during the winter and summer breaks.

Renaissance has fall and spring semesters, both thirteen weeks in length. Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays on the campus of the College. Classes are six, seven, or thirteen weeks in duration. Membership fees are $310 per year and include as many classes as a member wishes to take. Another benefit of the program at CND is that members can also audit one CND college course per year. There are 325 members of the Institute and each brings unique and interesting skills and experiences, which help the Institute continue to grow.

The curriculum always includes classes in writing, history, philosophy, and religion, as well as courses in the arts and fitness. The fall 2005 schedule includes the following offerings: Writer’s Workshop; The History of Science – Babylonians Through Newton; Happiness and Discontent; Baltimore Neighborhoods; Behind the Footlights; and Learn to Read Hebrew. Director Vera Abrams Newton, President Jim Hendry, and the curriculum committee assure that classes respond to members’ desires and growing interests.

Members of Renaissance, professors from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and experts from the community are instructors for the courses offered. Renaissance also has partnerships with the Baltimore Museum of Industry and The Peabody Institute of JHU, which provides staff to teach about their respective areas of expertise.

If you are interested in joining the Renaissance Institute, please call Vera Abrams Newton at 410-532-5351. To see a complete list of course offerings go to

Learning in Retirement of Towson University –The Auburn Society offers opportunities for continued learning and activities for social and cultural enrichment – all within a congenial atmosphere. There are fall and spring classes, four to eight weeks in length, and a summer program. A sample of the fall 2005 program includes: Intelligence and National Security; War of 1812; Beethoven: His Symphonies and Their Interpreters; Modern Polish Poetry. Day trips and social events are also available. Classes meet in easily accessible, modern classrooms on the Towson University campus. There are 2 sessions: September 12- October 7; October 17 – November 11. Speakers are available for presentations about the Society. Find out more by calling the Auburn office, 410-704-3437, or visit their website at

A part of The Johns Hopkins University, the Evergreen Society’s mission is to enhance the leisure time of semi-retired and retired individuals by providing stimulating learning experiences and the opportunity for new friendships. Classes are offered in North Baltimore, Columbia, and Montgomery County. The fall schedule includes Ethics; Top Hats and Striped Pants II; Great Expectations: Victoria and the Victorians; “Reading” Greek and Roman Art; and Fiction Writing. View the schedule and membership information at, or call 410-309-9531.

Peabody Institute Elderhostel- Elderhostel celebrates over 30 years of educational excellence. By joining other members you can see the world! Part of that world is celebrated at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. Offerings for fall include Dancing for the Camera, Great Comedy Classics, Backstage at the Peabody Opera, and the Peabody Experience. For more information, call 410-659-8100, ext. 3085, or check out the website at

Renaissance Institute at College of Notre Dame of Maryland – Members of this institute design and lead the non-credit courses offered at CND. Fall offerings include Orchids on the Windowsill, Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Art & Archeology of Egypt, Ballet/Jazz, Advanced Oil Painting, Italian for Travelers, and Haiku. Courses to keep you physically fit include water aerobics and T’aiChi. Contact 410-532-5351, or log on to

Many of the local Senior Centers offer classes provided through the Baltimore City Community College, the Baltimore City Commission on Aging and Retirement Education, community hospital outreach programs, and the senior centers themselves.

A sampling of what’s available:

Myerberg Senior Center in Pikesville offers fitness through aerobics, body toning, yoga classes as well as a walking group. Literary arts include conversational Hebrew and Spanish, poetry, and creative writing. Watercolor, oil painting, decoupage, sculpture, and drawing classes are among the cultural programs available. Practical learning such as computer skills round out the fall offerings. For additional information, contact the center at 410-358-6856 or surf the web at

The Senior Institute at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC)- Classes are offered at several senior centers in Baltimore County as well as at the 3 CCBC campuses. Classes cover Bible studies, history, contemporary issues, and computer literacy, as well as arts programs. Call 410-869-0296 for more information, or visit “Classes for Seniors” on the College’s Website at

McFaul Senior Center in Bel Air offers summer fine art classes in painting (all levels of experience), ceramics, or tole painting. A book discussion group meets monthly, while current event discussions are held weekly. In addition, there are fitness, yoga, and TaiChi classes for those interested in improving their fitness. For the nimble-fingered, classes in woodworking and various needlework crafts are offered. Contact the Center at 410-638-4040, or surf the web at:

Washington College in Chestertown – Academy of Lifelong Learning is marked by the characteristics of “intellectual curiosity, camaraderie of scholars and learners, and the wisdom of age and experience.” Fall class offerings include Peace Building, The Magic of Opera, Everyday Life in Middle Ages, and More Stars than There are in Heaven -MGM Golden Age-just to name a few. Check the website for details:, or call the office: 410-778-7221.

Chesapeake College Institute for Adult Learning (A.I.L.)- This Institute was established in 2001 and offers a wide variety of learning opportunities on the campus of Chesapeake College. As of this writing, the schedule of fall classes was not available. Contact 410-822-5400 for more information, or take a look at the College’s website,

Diane E. Schaefer, MA, is president of Schaefer + Associates, LLC, a Baltimore-based Geriatric Consulting and Care Management firm; a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers; and a Certified Senior Advisor.

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