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Lipscomb launches 2019-20 Lifelong Learning Program session in September

Learning doesn't end when you graduate with your college degree. The Lifelong Learning Program offers a variety of unique and fun opportunities to stretch the mind and to learn something new.

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Older gentleman painting at an easel

Students can enjoy a variety of classes and learn new skills through Lipscomb's Lifelong Learning Program.

Lipscomb University’s Lifelong Learning Program begins its 19th year as it kicks-off the 2019-20 session Sept. 3. 

Sponsored by the Office of Alumni Engagement, the Lifelong Learning Program offers people of retirement and semi-retirement age an opportunity to expand knowledge and explore new ideas in an informal, non-competitive environment.

“Learning occurs in a pleasant social atmosphere in classes with one’s peers. There are no exams and no grades or credits,” said Amy Hamar, director of Lifelong Learning and senior alumni programs at Lipscomb. “There is no previous educational requirement and students may select one or more of the courses offered, and engage in that ongoing work of learning. We always have an interesting lineup of classes and special events each year that our students really enjoy.”

The Lifelong Learning Program’s fall 2019 slate of classes will be offered in two sessions — Session I: Sept. 3 - Oct. 7 and Session 2: Oct. 21 to Nov. 22.

Session I (Sept. 3-Oct. 7) courses include:

Colossians: A Letter to a Church Dealing with Pluralism
Instructor: Earl Lavender, professor, College of Bible & Ministry
Colossae was an interesting city. While past its prime, it was still a sophisticated and noteworthy community. A city with many philosophies of life and various religions represented, the Christian community was struggling with its identity. Paul responds with a masterpiece that is highly relevant to the pluralistic culture in which we currently live. What is our responsibility in living out the Christian faith in a time when there are so many different ideas about how to live and what to believe? Come and engage in this fascinating and stirring call to live in God's story and none other.

Birding Basics
Instructor: John Lewis, professor of biology
This course will be an introduction to the world of birding. We will spend two days in the classroom and three days in the field at local parks observing birds. We will cover: selection and use of binoculars and field guides; basics of bird anatomy, behaviors, and habitats; identifying common Tennessee birds in the field; strategies for seeing birds; common birding challenges and more. Binoculars are recommended, but not required for this course – there will be “loaners.” Sturdy walking shoes required for days in the field (hiking will not be strenuous or fast – you see more birds that way). Travel required on days three to five to Radnor Lake State Natural Area and Warner Park. This course is for everyone from the beginning backyard birder to more advanced ornithologists.

Classroom setting for older students

Lipscomb's Lifelong Learning program has offered a variety of classes in the 19-year history of the program.

Tennessee’s Wild Side
Instructor: Alan Griggs, chair for the Department of Communication & Journalism 
"Tennessee's Wild Side" is an exploration of some of the most beautiful and interesting natural sites in our state along with a look at the most intriguing wildlife that live within our borders. We will travel from the mountains and hollows of upper northeast Tennessee to the swamp lands of west Tennessee and points in between. By the time you are finished you will know about the Hellbender salamander, a fish called the Alligator Gar and another fish called the Sturgeon, why their presence is important to all of us and what their future holds. We'll talk about other animals making comebacks in our state, animals you might just see in your backyard before long: the black bear, the cougar and the golden eagle among others.

By the end of the class you will understand why each animal, big and small, and their natural habitat are crucial to our to our very livelihood. Your guide for this exploration is Alan Griggs, chair of the Communication and Journalism Department and a journalist with 40 years of experience reporting on environmental issues and other important topics during his award-winning career.

National Security in the Age of Transformation
Instructor: LCDR Pat Ryan USN (Ret), founding President Tennessee World Affairs Council 
The United States is undergoing a major transformation in national security and foreign policy in response to developments at home and abroad. The current domestic political environment is driving a reassessment and realignment of America’s role in the world. The post-World War II institutions the United States built to ensure relative peace in the world, Pax Americana, and the multilateral, rules-based order that benefited America’s economic and political aims are under fire. Meanwhile rising powers, regional crises, perennial wars and existential challenges – nuclear proliferation and climate – confront our foreign policymaking establishment. Our objective discussions will put national security and foreign policy issues in context while seeking to understand the path ahead for America in the world. Our conversations will be supplemented in advance with online materials for review. We will take up these topics with latitude for late-breaking hot topics:

  • Trump Doctrine: America First or Whack-A-Mole?
  • Existential Threats – The Doomsday Clock; Rising China, How is the Global Superpower Coping?
  • the Ever Chaotic Middle East
  • Black Swans and Potluck: Cleaning Up Leftover Messes
Lifelong learning group standing in front of Eiffel Tower

The Lifelong Learning Program offers travel opportunities.

Dreaming is Hard Work – A Course in Songwriting
Instructors: Joe Beck, composer, producer, record executive, artist; Billy Sprague, dean at Songwriting University, songwriter, author and editor

A five-week course in songwriting presented by Songwriting University, led by accomplished songwriters Joe Beck and Billy Sprague.

Week One: Where do songs come from? What makes them great? Discovery vs. Invention
Week Two: the Art of CoLABORation        
Week Three: Writing is Rewriting/Going Deeper 
Week Four: Let’s begin a song together from scratch
Week Five: Showcase co-written songs and discuss

Session 2 (Oct. 21-Nov. 22) courses include:

Creators of the Volunteer State: Men and Women Who Impacted Tennessee's History
Instructor: Bob Hooper, professor emeritus of History and Political Science
Tennessee is a state known for its great citizens, men and women who played an important part in both Tennessee and national history. Even before white men and women came to what was known as North Carolina, the Cherokee Indians were present and played a major role in the settlement of the region. From the 18th Century to the 21st, we will identify and give the importance of men and women who made Tennessee what it has become today.

Believing the Unbelievable: Wrongful Convictions in America
Facilitators: Jessica Van Dyke, Criminal Defense Attorney and Executive Director of the Tennessee Innocence Project; Brad McLean, Civil Litigation Attorney and Advocate for Criminal Justice Reform, Executive Director of the Tennessee Justice Project
Blackstone’s ratio is a common refrain among jurists: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” However, as of 2019, more than 21,000 years were taken from innocent people incarcerated in prison. Many Americans have always been proud of the criminal justice system, which relies heavily on the jury system. Today, we know that this system is not infallible and wrongful convictions occur.  Some cases present factual scenarios so unique, they are unbelievable.

This course will focus on the causes of wrongful conviction, the people most vulnerable to wrongful conviction, and the difficult journey that someone faces to prove their innocence after conviction – especially in Tennessee. The course will evaluate the larger statistical picture of wrongful convictions as well as taking a detailed look at individual cases.  The course will be taught by Jessica Van Dyke, Executive Director of the Tennessee Innocence Project, and Brad MacLean, who serves on the Board of the Tennessee Innocence Project. Guest speakers will include exonerees that were convicted and spent time in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Group of senior men standing

In summer 2019 Lifelong Learning offered a travel study opportunity to Normandy, France and other sites.

Holidays and Holy Days: Exploring the Holidays of the Jewish and Christian Faiths 
Instructors: Rob McRay, adjunct Bible professor; Annette McRay, retired social studies teacher

his class will explore the major Jewish and Christian holidays celebrated in the Fall and Winter, including Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, and more. We’ll look at the origins, traditions, and observances of each holiday. We’ll consider questions like what are the most important Jewish holiday and how does it relate to Jesus? What are “the high holy days” in Judaism? Which Jewish holidays did Jesus observe? What are the pagan, political, and Christian origins of Halloween? How did Britain and America change Christmas? Why are the 12 Days of Christmas now celebrated on the wrong days? What does the Bible suggest about how we should celebrate holidays?

Idealism and Turbulence: The American '60s
Instructor: Perry Cotham, Lipscomb University/MTSU retired professor of speech, history and political science
There has never been a 10-year period in U. S. history quite like the 1960s — a polarizing decade of diversity, promises, hopes, cultural change, but also the turbulence of violence and national tragedy that shook American confidence and seemed to change everything.  And yet, how much really changed? This course will survey broad categories of our national life in this decade and invite students to “plug in” their own memories and perspectives of American life a half century ago.

Topics will include: Prelude to the Decade: the American 50s; Politics, Foreign Affairs, and Two Presidential Elections; Politics, Domestic Affairs, and Social Justice; Mass Culture and Technology; and Counterculture and Protest

Classroom of older people sitting

Students enjoy classes without the stress of tests.

Two five-week sessions are offered in both the fall and the spring, and classes typically meet for one and a half hours in the daytime once a week for five weeks.

The cost is $80 per person for each class or $120 to enroll in two or more classes in one session. Some courses may require the purchase of a textbook. All suggested and required textbooks may be purchased in the university bookstore or at registration. To register for classes or for more information click here

In addition to five-week courses and experiential travel learning, Lipscomb Lifelong Learning offers other special programs each semester. This fall those special programs include a book club, a painting class and a lunch-and-learn about Nashville’s “Pikes” featuring historian Ridley Wills. For additional information, click here