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Satisfying That Old Urge to Learn

By Jeffrey Lott

parrish_bw_lifelong_learning.jpgNo matter how long you’ve been out of school, there’s something about the first week of September that takes you back to riding the school bus for the first time, to the first day with a new teacher, or to the day you moved into your first dorm room at college. Although the experience of school has faded into the past, for many adults, the urge to learn runs deep.

Lifelong Learning at Swarthmore (LLS) was designed to satisfy that urge by offering a slate of college-level courses taught by senior members of the Swarthmore faculty—both at the College and in New York City.

As the program celebrates the end of its 10th year, Mike Picciani and Jason Shargel lead the LLS “student body” with at least 16 LLS courses each at the College. Picciani enjoys all kinds of fiction and has read Homer, Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Raymond Carver under the tutelage of “professors who cannot be legally that smart.” Shargel, who says he’s “into adult education in many locations and formats” thinks that LLS is the best he’s tried: “The quality of the professors, the subject matter, and the readings are all outstanding.”

In New York, Matthew Rosen ’73 has enrolled in 12 courses since the program was extended to Manhattan.

In all, 445 students have enrolled in more than 40 different courses in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Much of the credit for LLS goes to its founder and director, Susan Lippincott Professor Emeritus of Modern and Classical Languages Gil Rose, who has recruited faculty members such as Deborah Bergstrand, John Boccio, Michael Cothren, Carr Everbach, Ellen Magenheim, Amy Vollmer, Craig Williamson, and emeritus members of the faculty Thompson Bradley and James Kurth to teach the seminar-style courses. Rose himself has taught seven times, relishing “the intensive conversations that are the hallmark of a Swarthmore education.”

This fall, LLS will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a dinner for past participants—both students and faculty—from both the Swarthmore and New York programs. You too can “go back to school” by enrolling in one of this fall’s offerings.

For more information go to or call (610) 957-6132.

One Response to “Satisfying That Old Urge to Learn”

  1. I enjoyed and am grateful for your piece on Lifelong Learning at Swarthmore. The program's success or failure depends above all on the excellence and dedication of the participating faculty. In acknowledgment of that fact, I, and probably many students in the program, would have liked to see the names of all who have taught in it. In addition to the nine named in the piece, they are Phil Weinstein, Michael Marissen, Mark Kuperberg, Stephen Bensch, Peter Collings, Randy Exon, Scott Gilbert, Kaori Kitao, Rachel Merz, Ken Sharpe, Rick Valelly, and Bob Weinberg.