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Living a LearningLife

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mondale_jacobs_original.jpgThe LearningLife Forum: Witness to History series will kick off 2011 with a true Minnesota luminary: former U.S. Vice President, Senator, and Ambassador Walter Mondale.

Mondale will be interviewed by the Humphrey Institute's Larry Jacobs. Jacobs is director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, an expert in American political history and policy, and the author of 10 books.

Many LearningLife participants will know that this will not be the first time the two have teamed up: Mondale and Jacobs have been Headliners and Great Conversations presenters, and each spring for the last several years, Mondale and Jacobs have co-taught a popular undergraduate course at the U focusing on national security issues and public policy.

Says director of LearningLife programming Margy Ligon, "When [they] spoke at a Headliners event last year, the audience gave them a spontaneous standing ovation. As one participant said, 'the Mondale/Jacobs Headliners event was simply extraordinary. I actually had tears in my eyes because of the privilege of hearing Mondale speak in such an intimate, informal setting.'"

Ever look around and realize you now know full well the meaning of phrases like "Youth is wasted on the young," and "If I only knew then what I know now," and "Hindsight is 20/20"?

If so, you're certainly not alone. As we get older, most of us discover one of the great age-acquired wisdoms of the world: that maybe we DIDN'T actually know everything when we were in college.

So maybe you majored in French lit, but secretly yearned to argue passionately about politics and foreign relations. Or perhaps you were elbow-deep in frog carcasses in biology class, and couldn't take the courses in ancient history you would have liked. Or even (shudder to think it) you may have, accidentally (but only once, of course), fallen asleep during that history of Western religion course...only to become intrigued by that very subject matter as an adult.

Whatever the reason, you can now head back into the classroom for a crash course in topics you always wished you had studied (or wished you had paid more attention to) with LearningLife's new 101 series of courses.

MinnPost on "Birth of Jazz"

MinnPost's Pamela Espeland: "I like the idea of a physicist playing 78s and talking about Louis Armstrong, Sydney Bechet and Bessie Smith." Check out her blog post about our Birth of Jazz class, taught by theoretical physicist Johan Dirks!

Galapagos.JPG"Ask a historian, a biology buff, and an avid traveler to make a "bucket list," and chances are all three will share a common destination: the Galápagos Islands.

Situated on the equator, about 620 miles west of Guayaquil, Ecuador, the islands and their unique flora and fauna gained widespread public notoriety after being described by Charles Darwin in his 1839 book, The Voyage of the Beagle.

The archipelago is young, geologically speaking; it also is distinctive in that it is one of the few places in the world without an indigenous human population. Those attributes, coupled with the multitudes of endemic species found there, have made it a wonderland of information for biologists, historians, geologists, and others.

Barco Xpedition 117.jpgThe islands are so valuable that Ecuador has set aside virtually the entire archipelago as a national park and UNESCO made the Galápagos its first World Heritage Site.

Says Randy Moore, U professor of biology and LearningLife short-course instructor for Galápagos! Walking in Darwin's Footsteps, "words cannot fully describe the richness of the place. It's hard to take it all in. Discovering new places, new things, new animals and plants, exploration...that stuff isn't ancient history--it's right there in Galápagos.

Check out our facebook page for photos from several of this summer's Curiosity Camps. Thanks to program director Lara Roy for capturing the shots! It was a great season.

WorkshopsPhoto.jpgNavigating major transitions, especially in the second half of life, can be difficult, but it can also be joyful and rewarding. If we see transition as such, our journeys become positive and purposeful, offering time for review, rediscovery, retooling, and re-emergence.

Enter LearningLife's Transition Workshop series, which kicks off on October 17.

Transition Workshops are designed to help participants prepare for the next stage of life by allowing them to take a step back, rekindle their sense of purpose, make new connections, explore options, move toward meaningful "encore" work, and embrace community engagement.

These half-day workshops feature lively interaction with a community of learners, presentations from outstanding experts, and practical strategies and tools attendees can employ in their own lives.

Freedman3.JPGThe idea of working beyond traditional retirement age is nothing new to most baby boomers.

What is new is the rapid increase of interest in, and adoption of, "encore careers." Encore careers, as defined by Civic Ventures founder and CEO, Marc Freedman, is "work that combines income and personal meaning with social impact." Civic Ventures is a think tank and program incubator whose goal is to help "society achieve the greatest return on experience."

The 2008 Encore Career Survey, conducted by the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, found that between 5.3 to 8.4 million boomers had moved from their traditional career to this new stage of work.

On Saturday, May 16, LearningLife will present the Encore Fest--a day designed to help attendees define their second act, whether that's paid work, volunteer work, or a combination of both.

AndyGilats2.jpgThis fall, LearningLife will premiere the Life Skills Workshops--half-day workshops that cover topics from financial planning, to creating a legacy, to charting your future.

This month, Living a LearningLife writer Megan Rocker sat down with LearningLife director Andy Gilats to get a sneak peek at this new series, and at LearningLife's other fall programming.