Local four-year colleges offer courses for adults

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Seniors around the Corridor have a multitude of options when it comes to continuing education.

Whether it’s a two-hour workshop or a multiweek class, continuing education courses offer the opportunity to learn something new, meet other adults and maybe even get a bite to eat.

Coe College, a private liberal arts institution in Cedar Rapids, has offered Thursday Forum since 1989. The program features six or seven courses each academic year. Each consists of a series of weekly lectures — and pastries, fruit and coffee.

“Our regular attendees tell us they love getting to learn about new subjects and getting fresh perspectives on familiar topics,” says Gina Hausknecht, director of Thursday Forum. “It’s also a nice social gathering; the Thursday Forum crowd is very friendly and welcoming. I think it’s very easy to come for the first time and feel at home.”

The program draws about 100 attendees each session. Topics this year range from Renaissance art to contemporary energy issues.

Five years ago, the University of Iowa Center on Aging in Iowa City began the Lifetime Enrichment Adult Program — or UI LEAP — which is dedicated to building and maintaining a broad community of adult learners.

“We develop programming for adults of all ages to explore contemporary issues, discover new interests, and enjoy intellectual stimulation and personal growth,” says Virginia Jorstad, coordinator of UI LEAP.

Some 450 participants take advantage of the more than 100 programs UI LEAP offers each year — from small classroom discussions to trips around Iowa and the Midwest. This spring’s programs include “The Villages of Van Buren County, Iowa,” “Themes in Modern and Contemporary Art,” “Is the U.S. Political System Dysfunctional?,” and more.

“I am inspired each day to develop sessions, courses and trips that will provide enjoyment, intellectual stimulation and learning for adults of all ages in the communities of southeast Iowa,” Jorstad says “I do believe that lifelong learning is a part of an engaged life. Our programs exist to enrich the lives of adults while providing fellowship and fun.”

Local adult education programs are not only affordable — at Coe one series is just $30, or $12 for any single week — they also offer continued engagement for older adults.

“I think they enjoy continuing to learn and discover in a pleasant environment,” Coe’s Hausknecht says.

The entire college campus benefits as well, she adds: “It lends a welcome intergenerational aspect to our campus. It’s great for our students to see older adults continuing to embrace the joys of learning.”


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