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What do you want from your LearningLife?

America is aging. Over the next two decades, 78 million baby boomers (including 811,000 in the Twin Cities and 1.3 million statewide) will navigate life transitions and reassessments, transforming themselves, their communities, and their planet.

At the University of Minnesota's College of Continuing Education, we asked: How about a joint venture between the U and all of us who truly believe that life keeps getting more and more interesting? As an opening to endless possibilities, LearningLife helps enliven and enhance the second half of life. As a “generation ageless� community, LearningLife helps close the space between learning and living.

LearningLife's building blocks are connection, content, community, and co-creation. Co-creation happens when the people who are served by LearningLife become partners in shaping its offerings. It’s a process whose time has come, and it’s a process that engenders trust and respect. But its success hinges on participation.

What are some of the possibilities you'd like to fulfill now that you have this opening? How would you close the space between learning and life? Post your comments on any question to help co-create LearningLife. Add your ideas, build on someone else's, ask a question, or just observe. Visit whenever you like to add more or just keep up with the process.


I want to be able to follow interests as they come up. I want a place to talk with experts in a field and explore areas that I didn't have time to explore during my college years.

I'm looking for new ideas and resources to help me figure out what's next. I feel 'stale' in my current career, and know I'd like to do something completely new.... But I have no clue what that might be. Let me hear what others are thinking about to reassure me that I'm not the only one brooding about this. Do I really have any skills or expertise that others will find useful? How can I keep from becoming stagnant, obsolete, and dated in my thinking. I want to learn new things, keep meeting new people, and have as much fun as possible in this entire process.

I want to continue to better align my values with my work--and to work with others who are interested in doing the same. I want to know how others are doing this; what opportunities and trends are out there? What is on the horizon? And; how I can plug in?

I think a Fest needs to add an element of revival, urgency, excitement, new beginnings that an expo or conference might lack. Besides having the smartest, forward thinking leaders and presenters it needs to provide an opportunity for attendees to be "first in" to a community, movement or mindset that will by participation, if nothing else, help shape a new era of purposeful,productive people using existing and new skills to work or be involved in ways that are, as never before, personally and culturally relevant.

What a wonderful idea! Learning is a life-long experience. I would love to see LearningLife's programming challenge people's perception of aging and the sterotype we sometimes buy into about "retirement." A friend of mine, Erica Whitlinger, does presentations on a concept called "ReFIREment" which is about reinvigorating ones life at the age our parents went into pure retirement (read: the porch, the rocking chair, maybe some travel). She also does a lot of multi-generational work to encourage more discussion between generations to honor and learn from the older generation in our culture and to help elevate their status to being that of revered elders as in other cultures; their advice and life experience sought after and valued.

I also love the idea of providing options to people of this generation on how they can start giving back to their communities. They have so much life and career experience to give. I would encourage you to talk with Pat Hoven and Sonia Cairns; both former community relations executives at Honeywell who now (through a company called StandOut) help companies and individuals engage more deeply in support of the communities in which they live and work. I think LearningLife should have a strong component of educating people on opportunities to "give back" by helping them focus on living and acting upon what they are passionate about in life.

I also know of a wonderful company called Experienced Resources that focuses on providing high level experienced executives to companies seeking a flexible solution to accessing executive knowledge. They even coined a term "The Flex-Generation" to define their workforce. Not only is this a service to the companies who hire from the Experienced Resources talent pool, it is a total shift in what many "experienced" people think they will be doing during the second half of their careers - - and far more rewarding.

Finally, I think that pulling some of the U of M's athletic department faculty into the program to offer sessions on life sports like golf and tennis would be very well received. Two weekends ago I attended the Brad James Golf Academy and it was fabulous!

I would be happy to continue "brainstorming" with you and truly support this unique new program!

As a student at the U decades ago, I felt like a number, a commodity to be taught by graduate students, used up and discharged into the world at the end of my useful student life. I know now that the U has many tools available to the public to help in all sorts of facets and areas of life, but it has taken me some time to move beyond my personal history to seek any sort of assistance from or otherwise participate in events at the U.

If LearningLife is to be a program run and manned by the graduate student-teachers, then it will not be something in which I participate. If it has the commitement of the qualified and adept professors, then it will pique my curiosity. And the issues that pique my curiosity as I age are centered on matters of improving the quality of life on this planet so that my kids and theirs can live in a better world than the one in which I lived. To that end, a Fest on the issue of theology, wherein your learned professors in the areas of Christianity, Judaism and Islam detail how it is appropriate that while they all claim to pray to the same God, they find it acceptable to use the written word of their respective faiths to divide us from one another and from God. Or perhaps a business Fest, wherein we discuss how it is when everyone on the planet knows of your product there are means by which you are able to increase market share. Or a Fest on the law, or on the environment, but in any case, each Fest allowing discourse between the learned faculty at the U and the participants, and enought time to have a fairly thoughtful discussion. Perhaps such Fests would generate enough interest in the issues discussed that I or others would enroll again at the U to pursue advanced degrees and a more thourough understanding of those issues.

In any case, thank you for the opportunity to provide some input.

I want a place to find people and resources for my degree where I can get direction/information or just ask questions from people already working in my field. Like a mentoring option.

To me, a Fest is different from a conference, workshop or expo as it implies a celebration. Using that assumption, a day long Fest for LearningLife would celebrate many opportunities to learn.

In my second half of life I will put behind me the working career from my first half of life. I will choose to move on and search for new experiences.
I am open to all other ideas and would enjoy a Fest that might help me explore the possibilities. I see lots of sampling and sharing of ideas on Fest day.

Like others I am searching for ways to figure out my next move. I am most interested in finding ways to make a difference by giving back to the community.

Should I retire, take my social security and sit on the porch in my rocker? What are my options and how can I accomplish them? How can I best utilize the skills I do have? I would expect the LearningLife Fest to offer some insight into these questions as well as put me in touch with others just like me - others who have not attended college or had a formal career. There is so much out there now I would appreciate help in sorting it out. A fest invokes a feeling of fun, an informal gathering of like-minded people sharing a celebration of our past in anticipation of our future. The outcome could be very exciting and stimulating. I look forward to hearing more.

What I would look forward to learning more about thru LearningLife are career ideas for those of us who are wanting to work longer, but in a part time position out of a home office. As I get older, having a work life balance becomes more important. I can't imagine completely stepping out of the work force, but it would be wonderful to scale back and work part time out of a home office.

I’ve had numerous discussions with people of all ages on the subject of “Retirement Careers�. More of us want (or need) to work past the age of traditional retirement but want to do it in a more meaningful way than the traditional career path. For many, it’s turning a non-career interest into a new venture.

I would value a program that combines issue of mind, body and spirit. How can we make meaningful contributions to our selves, our business partners and our communities? I would be most excited to hear from interesting people who have done interesting things, and not in the traditional teacher-student format. More like a camp for adults. An opportunity to learn about things I have had little or no exposure to, but also a resource for continued education in my field.

When I recently moved to the cities I left a group that had
been have lunch and discussing
international affairs for over
20 years. It was open to anyone and had no leader, no agenda. It has been a valuable learning and friendship experience for all that attended. We must express views as well as be viewed by other and the setting of lunch seems to relax everyone. I would like to see something like this at this great university.

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I prefer to live in a peaceful world; naturally, I would like to join LearningLife where conversations can lead to a community of peers learning how to live in, maintain and contribute to, a more peaceful world.

I've spent years doing what society told me I "should do". Now I'm learning how to listen to my soul and follow what IT tells me to do. I'd like a place to support me in this journey.

I want to talk with people who have created their own passion-tailored careers and learn how they designed their educational programs and the outcome of that education (did they find the career outcome as fulfilling as the education? Were they able to make a living at it? etc.) I am tired of working jobs-in-a-box. I want to create my own lifestyle and career...but am a bit fearful of the unknown. It would be great to meet others who are in a similar life place and to form a group to keep us brainstorming and motivated!

How is this going to be different from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute? OLLI is housed in the McNamara Alumni Center at the U of M. Would it not make sense for CEE to partner with this existing institution whose goals seem to be the same?

What do I want from my learning life? If you have ever experienced surprise or amazement over a discovery; if you've ever been energized and refreshed by new ideas or insights--then you know.

And I don't have to tell you.

I would like a program that stimulates both sides of the brain. A program that will give the participants a change to learn something intriguing, ingenious or just unusual.

I have a decade+ to work, yet, but can't wait to retire and forget the commute. I am preparing, but I will want to explore all avenues - finances, health, retiremnet careers, travel, learning, discussions, conversations, etc. The Fest sounds like a great start. Thanks.

As my husband and I look at retirement in a couple of years, we really want to explore ways to continue working but in areas of interest to us - not just to bring in the paycheck. We'd be really interested in meeting with a group of like-minded individuals but also with people who can help guide us along that path. We're looking for less stress and more enjoyment & fulfillment. I am a firm believer in life long learning and fully intend to take advantage of a lot more structured learning opportunities when we retire.