Students of all ages can benefit from liberal arts-based educational opportunities outside of a formal degree-granting program through the new Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning (WILL).
WILL classes are taken for interest, not for credit. Classes will be small with an informal atmosphere.
“Everyone in the room–students and teacher–will be engaged in their subject out of pure curiosity,” says Karl Scheibe, director of the Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty. “The learning experience is likely to be more intensive than extensive.”
Scheibe, who is overseeing the new institute, says the courses are designed to appeal to Wesleyan alumni, parents, staff and faculty, but also members of the local community. The course offerings cover the arts, social sciences, literature, science and mathematics.
“On the supply side, the WILL program provides our community of retired scholars a way of exercising their talents in a way that should be gratifying and not weighted with heavy requirements of preparation or evaluation,” Scheibe explains. “On the demand side, we think of these courses as providing an obvious way of linking Wesleyan to our surrounding community in a way that is productive and satisfying for all parties.”
The fall courses, which begin in September, include Middletown History Day, The “Home Front” in Revolutionary Connecticut, Geology and Art, The Infectious Microbe, Food, Culture, and Identity, Deciphering Gauguin, and Hamlet’s Soliloquies: Method and Madness. In the Middletown History course, for example, students will learn about the history of Middletown, from its founding in 1650 to present times. The course includes lectures, a walking tour of Middletown and a panel discussion.
Faculty include Wesleyan faculty, faculty emeriti and similarly qualified members of the community who will present a set of short, intellectually stimulating and lively courses to area residents. Fall semester faculty include Richard Buel, professor of history, emeritus; Jelle Zelinga de Boer, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, emeritus; John Finn, professor of government, William Firshein, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, emeritus; and others.
Scheibe expects WILL to offer more than seven courses per term in the future, “but our offerings will be shaped by what we see to be the preferences of our intended audience,” he says.
Enrolled students will have access to the academic resources of Wesleyan, including Olin Library. Classes, which cost between $70 and $133, are conveniently scheduled in the afternoons and early evenings. Most courses will be held in the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty on Lawn Avenue.