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A new twist on learning

Your Own University shapes education for Fox Run residents

Created date

April 24th, 2012

Many of the people who live at Fox Run have gone back to school. This time, though, they re able to create their own classes, discussion, and interests. And everything is presented conveniently right where they live in an engaging and entertaining way.

Getting the green light

A group of intellectually curious neighbors at the Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich., have formed a unique club called Your Own University (Y.O.U.). The 14-person committee organizes activities, events, and classes throughout the year that give their Fox Run neighbors opportunities to learn and engage in stimulating discussions. Gae McCord moved from South Carolina to Fox Run about eight years ago to be closer to her children and grandchildren. While living in South Carolina, Gae says, she was very involved with a learning-in-retirement group at a local university. When she moved to Fox Run, she wanted to continue pursuing opportunities for learning. The administration at Fox Run encourages and supports residents in forming clubs and planning events based on their own interests. So when Gae approached the staff about starting Y.O.U. to give residents unique learning experiences, they gave her the green light.

Diverse formats

To keep things interesting, the Y.O.U. committee plans programs in a variety of formats. For example, one month they arranged a short course on the U.S. Constitution taught by a local university professor. Another month, the group hosted five women from different religious backgrounds, from secular Judaism to Scientology, to talk about their experiences and answer questions. In another unique approach to learning, the Y.O.U. committee planned a backstage series. They brought in a police sheriff, an emergency room doctor, an actor, and a newspaper editor, who each talked about what goes on behind the scenes in his or her profession. I love the program, and I think it adds a lot to the community, Gae says. In addition to special courses and presentations, the group hosts regular activities, such as a book club. Instead of selecting a book every month, Y.O.U. selects one book per season, announces it to the community, and then hosts a quarterly discussion for everyone who wants to attend.

Film as fodder for discussion

Nancy Forsberg, another Fox Run community member, has been part of the Y.O.U. committee since its inception. She says she hadn t participated with similar clubs before she moved to Fox Run but decided it was something she wanted to check out. It just seemed interesting because we would bring in things to people that they wouldn t normally see, she says. Nancy says she most enjoys the group s other signature program, Movies that make you think. The committee has formed a partnership with three outside facilitators who take turns selecting thought-provoking films that air at Fox Run s theater once a month. The facilitators give a short introductory lecture before the movie showing. Afterward, attendees gather at one of Fox Run s on-site restaurants, where they have a lively discussion over lunch. Gae likens the popular monthly movie discussions, which sometimes draw a crowd of nearly 100 people, to a film appreciation course. Y.O.U. does not announce the film prior to showing, so people come with curiosity and open minds, ready to learn about a new topic. We have great discussions, Gae says. People really get into the discussions, and they are a lot of fun.

Movies that make you think

Are you tired of fluffy blockbusters with predictable endings? If so, take a cue from the Fox Run community members who get together once a month to watch and discuss thought-provoking films. For some inspiration, check out some of their past selections below. Strawberry Fields ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' North by Northwest Bonnie and Clyde ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Bicycle Thieves The Conspirator ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' The Grandfather