FCLIR History

A Short History

The Learning in Retirement movement began in the 1960s at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Today the Road Scholar LLI Resources Network numbers more than 400 Lifelong Learning Institutes among its associates, including Five College Learning in Retirement.

Lifelong Learning for the Pioneer Valley (and beyond)

FCLIR began In March 1988 when retired professor Carl Swanson and Conn Nugent, the Five Colleges Incorporated Coordinator, pulled together a group to discuss “a possible education program for retirees and semi-retirees in the Five College Community.” Representatives from the Five Colleges and the Town of Amherst’s Council on Aging were part of this group.

In May, 1988 the Five College Presidents approved the pilot program operating under the assistance of The Division of Continuing Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The program got rolling in Spring of 1989 with five seminars enrolling 40 retirees.

The membership has grown both in diversity and size, while the program offerings have expanded and changed. Active learning in which members research and presentation topics remains at the heart of the program. Seminar styles have evolved with the use of discussion-focused formats. Newer offerings such as the popular “Writing to Remember” sessions and various interest groups (literature, movies, politics etc.) are now a regular feature. Workshops – water coloring, painting, photography, and knitting – have been part of the programing. A pandemic development has been the use of Zoom in offering programming and for meetings. This has allowed for the expansion of FCLIR membership to other states.

Along with seminars and workshops, FCLIR has periodically mounted special multiple day symposia on the genome, slavery, the Civil War, and aging creatively. These offerings have been complemented by special lectures on a variety of topics as well as excursions to historic sites, museums, and theatrical productions. Social activities have become a regular feature of the annual calendar of events.

In October of 1989, bylaws for guiding the unincorporated organization were adopted. The bylaws have been amended from time to time. The first office manager was employed in 1993 and the website was launched in 2000. Today FCLIR is a program of Five Colleges Inc., a 501(3)(c) not-for-profit organization.