LearningLife catalog cover photo, artwork of girl sleeping

Cultivate your mind and approach learning on your own terms! Intellectually challenging and personally enriching, LearningLife’s innovative portfolio of short courses, seminars, and one-day immersions feature a range of topics and approaches to learning. Taught by University faculty, and scholars and professionals from the community, the program offers rich, meaningful experiences that highlight the intellectual resources of the University for those who seek knowledge, academic engagement, and personal development.

LearningLife also is home to Encore Transitions, a series of courses designed to help you imagine and prepare for a vibrant post-career life, and Headliners, a lively current event discussion series that highlights the recent work of University scholars and researchers.

Courses, Seminars, Immersions

Start Date: | One-Day Immersion
Instructor: Jim Miller

Ever wonder what a geologist sees when they look at a landscape? Interstate State Park in the St. Croix River Valley is home to an amazing collection of geological features that span more than one billion years of the Earth’s history. This one-day immersion offers the opportunity to learn, on site and firsthand, about the fascinating geology and natural history of the area through a geologist’s eyes.

Start Date: | Seminar
Instructor: Peter Calow

Technology is changing quickly, so quickly that its consequences aren’t always considered until something negative or catastrophic happens. So how do we plan for the inevitable repercussions of innovation? This seminar will examine the proposition that living with innovation depends greatly on developing policies that manage risk in an informed way—that is, to anticipate and assess risk, rather than simply think it can be avoided.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Harlen LaFontaine

What does it take to survive in the wild, and how does one adapt in order to live, permanently, in and with nature? Prior to 19th‐century treaties between the Dakota and the US government, the Minnesota homelands of the Dakota provided everything necessary to make a home in the natural world. This course will explore the relationship between the Dakota and the Minnesota land on which they survived and thrived before the onset of European contact.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Toni McNaron

This book-club-style course focuses on skin color and race and why they exert such a huge, destructive shadow on American culture. Participants will read and discuss the work of three authors who tackle the ways in which slavery expresses itself in the US, much to the detriment of all, including Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016), Toni Morrison’s Home (2012), and William Faulkner’s Absolom, Absolom! (1936).

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Maureen Reed

In 1905, peace activist Baroness Bertha von Suttner became the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It would be another 26 years before Jane Addams became the second woman to be so honored. To date, only 16 of 97 prize recipients have been women, yet four of the ten “most popular” laureates are female. This course takes an in-depth look at four laureates: Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan), Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma), Mother Teresa (India), and Shirin Ebadi (Iran).

Start Date: | One-Day Immersion
Instructor: Sharon Stiteler

Boost your birdsong knowledge! How do avid birders find so many birds? Half the battle is being able to identify birdsong—not only what type of bird is singing, but what specific calls mean. This lively immersion will have you out in gorgeous fall colors where you’ll spend the day using different tools to identify bird calls and species identification.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Anatoly Liberman

Iceland? Volcanoes, geysers, and lava fields? Yes, but its glory rests no less on its sagas, that is, tales recorded in the 13th century and translated into all the languages of the civilized world. This course will explore those tales—lively illuminations of how the early Icelandic people settled their hot-blooded disputes while living amid the icy winds of the island.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Dan Reidenberg

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the US and globally, but how do we have a conversation about such an emotionally charged topic? In this seminar, you will learn about the most current information and research on suicide and how to prevent it, as well as what life is like for those left in the wake of a suicide tragedy.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Allan Kohl

This four-session course brings together the visual splendors of the past and the vibrant, current cosmopolitan environments of Dutch and Belgian cities (Delft, Haarlem, Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, Antwerp). The focus: world-class museums and their collections of Netherlandish art.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Michel Janssen

Join scholar Dr. Michel Janssen for this course that surveys chronologically some of the most significant aspects of Albert Einstein’s life and work. We’ll start by looking at Einstein’s beginning as a student, his days as a Swiss patent clerk in Berne (1896–1909), and his development of the special theory of relativity (1895–1912).

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Anna Carlson

The 20th century was host to numerous handcraft revivals, including the introduction of the digital innovations that are now a 21st-century hallmark. From the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s and the machine age of the 1920s, to the counterculture of the 1960s and the technical developments of the 2000s, this course begins with a presentation that traces the rich history of textile transformation.

Start Date: | Seminar
Instructor: Paul Haller

The typical American consumes antibiotics once per year. These same drugs are given to our pets and livestock, yet every dose prescribed makes the drugs less effective for our friend or neighbor who may need them next week. For better and for worse, antibiotics have changed the field of medicine. But how did we move from what was once a revered drug that could successfully treat fearsome diseases to what is now a public health crisis?

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: John Watkins

For at least two-and-a-half millennia, prophets, politicians, and poets have crafted terrifying accounts of the end of the world. This course in comparative social history examines the way different cultures have imagined a final apocalypse with particular attention to the political and social consequences of their visions.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Timothy R. Johnson

The Supreme Court exerts pervasive influence over American life, handing down the decisions that set the legal standards by which we live. This course will review the histories of past justices and examine the oral arguments of famous—and infamous—court cases to examine the influence of the Supreme Court in American life.

Start Date: | Seminar
Instructor: Jo Ann Buysse

Sport is played and watched throughout the world, whether as a hobby, a career, or as part of a fitness regimen. But what are the implications of sport for society when the effects are often as far-reaching off the field as on? Who ultimately wins? Who loses? This seminar delves into the political, economic, and social impact of sport, specifically sport evangelism.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: David Matthes

It’s complicated, but grasshoppers and elephants are built from the same arrangement of just four chemical bases. How? A little (and huge) thing called genomes. In this course participants will not only learn about ancestry and genomes, they also will learn to interpret their own human genome sequence. Take the plunge and discover the amazing world residing within nearly every cell of your body.

Start Date: | Seminar
Instructor: Laura Kalambokidis

You may have seen the forecast of Minnesota’s economy and budget in the news, but do you really understand what it means for the state? This webinar will go beyond the headlines. State Economist Laura Kalambokidis will explain how Minnesota’s forecasts are developed and how they impact state budgets.

Start Date: | Short Course
Instructor: Toni McNaron

This course delves into three germinal works that explore the racial conundrum of our United States: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, and Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric. Bold, innovative, canonical—these are books by authors who refuse easy answers and trendy solutions. Rather, they shine the light of their respective talents on the essential questions as to why skin color exerts such a huge, destructive shadow on American culture.


There are four ways to register:

1. Online by selecting the course title

2. By phone if you're paying by credit card: 612-624-4000 

3. By faxing the completed form to 612-624-5359

4. Via mail by sending the completed form to:

CCE Registration Center
353 Ruttan Hall, 1994 Buford Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55108

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