Taking on social responsibility in old age
What kind of life do I want to lead when I’m older? What role would I like to play in society? How can I learn to do academic work when I’m retired? Answers to these and other questions are provided by the course of study entitled “Personal development and social responsibility in older years”. The course is offered by the Senior Guest Programme Office at the University of Münster, and in the summer semester 2022 it will be kicking off for the second time. Anyone interested can enrol up to March 29 by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The course of study helps participants to take a good look at growing older, at being older, in connection with things to do and opportunities available in a participatory society,” says Karin Gövert, a research associate at the Senior Guest Programme Office who coordinates the courses on offer. “On the one hand it’s about taking a look at the experience and knowledge gained in life. On the other hand, older students can acquire academic knowledge,” she says. Anyone interested can attend lectures in Social Sciences, Political Science, History and Theology, in four modules, enabling them to learn how to relate this academic knowledge to growing older. Civic engagement is also part of the curriculum, and it represents one way of giving meaning to what you do in later life.
The programme is directed at older people who wish to take part in a structured course and, at the same time, want to preserve their flexibility. In other words, the Senior Guest Programme Office is responding to a development that can be seen in demographic change: as a result of having been at work for a lengthy period of time – but especially as a result of being there for the family by looking after grandchildren and caring for their own parents – the over-60s today have their time taken up to a much greater extent than ten years ago. Students who decide to enrol in the programme, and show that they have done the work required, receive a certificate upon completing their studies. These studies last between two and four semesters, depending on how much time students invest, and can be embarked on in the winter semester and the summer semester.
“The course offer is designed to challenge and benefit older people and, at the same time, harness their resources for the common good,” says Karin Gövert. “Demographic change is leading to changes in people’s lifestyles and environments. Lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important.”