What an attractive menu to choose from!

A member-driven organization, CRI has a group of volunteers staffing a Curriculum Committee that takes on this major responsibility.
By John Nadeau | Jul 19, 2012

The Creative Retirement Institute (CRI), the lifelong learning program at Edmonds Community College, has its fall term course brochure on the presses as you read this.

And what a  selection of delicious courses, more than 30 to satisfy your intellectual appetite. Intended to appeal to older adults, they deal with the sciences and humanities as well as current issues.

For example, for lovers of literature, there are courses on Dickens’ “Bleak House,” plays by Shakespeare and Eugene O’Neill, and novels by Iris Murdoch – among others.

For science aficionados, there are offerings on astronomy, geology, and evolution – among others.

For those interested in current issues, there are courses on foreign policy, the Supreme Court’s health insurance decision, and developments in Central Asia and Burma – among others.

All  have common traits: no exams, research papers, or grades. You show up just for the enjoyment of learning.

How on earth do these courses come about?

A member-driven organization, CRI has a group of volunteers staffing a Curriculum Committee that takes on this major responsibility.

Carol Crawford, who commutes from Stanwood, chairs the committee and also heads the subcommittee on science and humanities offerings.

Dorothy Jennings, Edmonds, heads the subcommittee that focuses on current issues, and she also schedules the classes.

“Our process is ongoing,” says Crawford. ”We’re constantly looking for good instructors to teach interesting classes.”

Many times, suggestions come from committee members, or instructors take the initiative and contact CRI directly.

Occasionally, students will make suggestions on the evaluation forms they submit at the end of each course.

All prospective instructors must submit a course adoption form.

The two subcommittees brainstorm, then make recommendations.

At the final meeting, when both sides come together, there are discussions and decisions.

“Our constant challenge is to achieve a good mix,” Crawford says.

Dorothy Jennings, who heads the current issues group, says recruiting faculty for her segment can be a challenge.

“We deal not only with current events and trends but also topics like health issues and life styles’” she says.

The Jackson School at the University of Washington is often helpful, and she also relies upon her committee members’ contacts.

She’s also responsible for scheduling about 30 courses each term so that classes don’t conflict and mesh with instructors’ schedules.

Eschewing computer assistance, she has a very “high tech” approach to scheduling: she uses calendar pages, a pencil, and an eraser.

“I like puzzles,” she says, “and this is my great big Sudoku.”

Frankly, my own perennial puzzle is choosing from the menu of appetizing and nourishing  delights CRI serves up each term.

Interested?  To torture the food metaphor one last time, let me recommend you phone CRI at 425-640-1830 and ask for a menu.  Okay, better ask for a course brochure.


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