UI lifetime-enrichment adult program expands


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Lynne Hungerford wasn’t about to let her brain disintegrate after she retired. Which is why the 68-year-old spent an hour-and-a-half discussing paintball, video games, and war movies Wednesday night.

Hungerford was one of six people who attended a class featuring military and popular culture. The class, Militainment: Representations of the Military in American Popular Culture, marked the beginning of the spring semester for the University of Iowa Lifetime Enrichment Adult Program.

“The program exposes you to what’s going on in the area, like the Kirkwood Hotel and a button museum,” she said.

The program through the UI Center on Aging, provides educational opportunities to individuals 50 years and older. It has experienced tremendous growth since its establishment in 2006.

“Our course list continues to grow each year,” said Virginia Jorstad, the director of the program.

In its early years, the program offered around six classes. This spring, the program delivered its largest course guide to date, consisting of 25 courses.

“We’ve had to duplicate classes because there was so much interest,” said Laura Scheetz, an assistant in the program. Many classes hit maximum capacity within two weeks of introducing the course list, Jorstad said.

The program has also added classes to meet demand, Jorstad said. Introductory Spanish, Genealogy 101, and Crafting a Memoir are just a few.

The program courses tend to be more innovative and hands-on, Jorstad said. Classes are discussion-based and involve less lecturing.

“It’s a discussion, but because it’s a discussion, it involves much more engagement and active learning,” said Scheetz, who is new to the program team.

UI Professor Emeritus Bruce Gronbeck described the program as similar to taking an undergrad class but without the reading and exams.

A retired UI communications-studies professor, Gronbeck is the instructor for the military and pop-culture course; he has been involved with the program since 2008.

Making people “better communicators and analysts of what they’re being exposed to in their environment” is what Gronbeck said he hopes to achieve from his course.

But participants said they were just curious to learn about something new.

The Militainment course runs through March 2, with a member cost of $30 and a non-member cost of $40.

“It’s more of a leisurely thing,” said Hungerford, who has attended various courses over the past six years. Exposure to interesting topics, local education trips, and meeting new people keeps her drawn to the program.

Iowa City resident Scott Strode expressed a similar reaction to the program. After taking his first course last fall, Strode, 78, said he found the discussion and commentary of unique content appealing.

“I’m retired, so rather than sitting around and watching television all day I figured I might as well learn about interesting things,” he said.

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