Day of Learning
Older adults from the community flock to SU to indulge their hankering for lifelong learning
Commencement was recent history, summer classes were yet to
begin and an uncharacteristic quiet embraced the campus at Seattle
The morning calm quickly turned into hectic activity near the
Pigott Building as buses arrived from Seattle retirement
communities. Soon a line wound its way out the door of Pigott and
100 older adults, including a smattering of alumni, were eager to
participate in "A Day of Learning," sponsored jointly by SU,
Horizon House Retirement Community and the Northwest Center for Creative
Once equipped with name tags and lunch tickets, the crowd
gathered at Pigott Auditorium and smiled knowingly in response to
greetings from SU Associate Provost Charles Lawrence.
"I must have been 55 when I realized I was a lifelong learner,"
Lawrence conceded. "It takes awhile-even when you're in
education-to find this out."
Five SU professors offered classroom experiences for the older
learners. About 40 of them were curious about social media and came
to hear Chris Paul, associate professor of communications and
journalism, describe the dizzying ways Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
and Pinterest are changing how people communicate, share ideas and
report the news.
Paul Kidder, associate professor of philosophy, shared his
insights about what makes cities livable by examining the roles of
street planning, preservation, development, community life and
Paulette Kidder (pictured above) also an associate professor of philosophy (and
married to Paul), grabbed the attention of more than 20
participants-including several experienced medical
practitioners-interested in health-care ethics and the
unprecedented changes of the past century.
She described a few of the famous ethics cases, including a
local one that resulted in the birth of modern-day bioethics. It
took place at Seattle's Swedish Hospital in 1962 with what was
described as a "God Committee." Featured in national publications
at the time, this committee of seven at Swedish selected which
patients would receive kidney dialysis-still a new procedure
then-and which patients would not and likely die. Medical miracles
such as dialysis became moral burdens, according to Kidder.
"Then Congress passed a law where the federal government would
pay for kidney dialysis. The federal government continues to pay
for dialysis today because of this event and all the publicity.
It's a strange twist of history and the beginning of modern
bioethics," she said.
Drama lured another group of elder students to hear Professor Ki
Gottberg and Associate Professor Rosa Joshi from the Fine Arts
Department. They provided a glimpse into the world of theater with
insights about storytelling, script writing, directing, stage
management and more.
After a couple hours in classes, it was time for lunch and
animated conversation with the five SU professors in the food court
at the Student Center's Cherry Street Market.
Now in its third year, the on-campus experience for older adults
drew the largest attendance ever in 2013. The event is expected to
continue annually each June. For more information, contact the
Northwest Center for Creative Aging at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (206)