‘Lifelong Learning’ comes to Island

A new program that has seen success in Seattle and other local cities, will allow adults 50 and over to continue their educations through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Washington (OLLI-UW). Former mayor Elliot Newman is spearheading efforts to introduce a branch on Mercer Island.

Courses are offered with no tests, grades or credits, but students can tailor coursework to their interests—everything from geology to comparative religion.

“For me, it's the humanities – politics and art” said Newman of the courses that most interest him as he ages. “Having a class on Shakespeare, you didn't have the ability [to take in school] because you had to take another math class or physics class. That side of the world interests me, even painting. It's fun when you're retired. You can keep busy and I think there's no excuse for any retiree.”

Newman, a former executive and environmental engineering consultant, hopes to begin coursework as soon as August of this year. Osher-MI will likely host a one-hour lecture for free at the end of the summer, to invite Islanders and Eastside residents to learn more before enrolling at the cost of $30-45 per course. There is also the additional cost of $35 for annual membership. In the past, courses have been held at the UW's Seattle campus and at Trilogy on Redmond Ridge, and other locations. Now the Island's branch campus is finally coming to fruition.

“The initial reaction we're getting from both the Island and from those who've heard about it, is very positive,” said Newman.

Students will be able to take between three and five classes, amounting to anywhere from six to ten hours of instruction.

Newman points out that students also have a great deal of control over the types of courses offered. Those enrolled in an introductory course on geology can request more in-depth courses in the future, if they choose to continue down that academic trajectory.

Fall courses will be released later this month and will include “The Geology of Water” at the Seattle UW campus, and “Comparative Religion” on Mercer Island.


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