Lifelong Learning Message from the Director
The LLS Story
Lippincott Professor Emeritus of Modern and Classical Languages
Some years back it struck me that Swarthmore College was missing a great opportunity to extend its educational reach. More and more educated Americans were living longer, healthier lives and were seeking ways to resume their education. Swarthmore, with its reputation for pre-eminence in the liberal arts, its first-rate faculty, and its convenient location, was ideally positioned, I thought, to fill this need for its Philadelphia-area alumni and for local residents.
I began meeting with other senior Swarthmore faculty to give clear, specific shape to a rough-hewn idea, an experiment in adult liberal arts learning that would strive for the highest quality possible - a Swarthmore for educated adults. We received encouragement from then-President Al Bloom, then-Provost Jennie Keith, and many others.
The program that my colleagues and I devised, Lifelong Learning at Swarthmore, began in 2002. Using only our own most experienced professors, we offer seriously ambitious, limited-enrollment courses. Our students are adults of all ages and about half of them are Swarthmore College alumni. Once a week they have come from as far away as Lancaster PA and NYC. What characterizes them above all is an enormous eagerness to learn in the liberal arts, to do the weekly readings, and to discuss issues of importance. They are guided in this by a teacher who has both expertise and long experience in teaching.
LLS has had courses in biology, mathematics, physics, political science, history, economics, music, practical wisdom, art history, studio art, and the literatures of Russia, France, Germany, Ireland, England, America, ancient Rome, and ancient Greece. We are now at the point where early registration is becoming important for securing one's place, since one of our principles is to keep classes small enough for discussion. More than once we have regrettably had to turn people away.
So successful has LLS become that we now bring it to Swarthmoreans in the New York metropolitan area. The founding principles remain: small classes, Swarthmore professors, no grades or degrees, just learning for its own sake.
Lifelong Learning at Swarthmore has struck a deep vein of desire for intellectual challenge, giving proof of the enduring need for high-quality liberal arts education and of Swarthmore's ability to provide it.
Fall 2011 marked the end of our first ten years, which we celebrated with a gala dinner on the beautiful Swarthmore campus.