Learning in Later Life

by Sep Meyer


The ZAWiW (Zentrum für Allgemeine Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung) - or, to give it its English name: Centre for General Academic Continuing Education -  at the University of Ulm in Germany, has been prominent in the field of European cooperation in Third Age education since the early 1990s. The UK has been a partner in their projects since 1994.  In December 1995 the Centre founded the European network for Learning in Later Life (LILL).

The Internet home page of LILL (http://www.uni-ulm.de/LiLL/index.html) offers a choice of four languages for information about their activities: French, German, English and Italian.  The thumbnail picture below (click on it for a larger view) shows the current distribution of associated members within the network.

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The brief which LILL had given itself at its inception was to consider how it might best serve the growing ratio of elderly people in present day society for the new roles they may be expected to fulfil.  Amongst these, in particular, is the way in which continuing academic education might give information and support in coping with life in a rapidly changing world.

In this respect it is both more limited and more expansive than the University of the Third Age for which a more limited form of academic education is only one of the activities offered to its members.  Indeed, a series of articles provided by the UK associates of LILL gives detailed information about how the U3A was set up long before LILL was considered, the progress it has made, and the services it performs.  These support the activities of LILL and in no way are offered as an alternative to them.  This series of articles may be accessed directly from http://www.uni-ulm.de/LiLL/2.0/E/2.1.frames.html.

LILL also set itself the objective of making use of "the possibilities of new technologies of communication, especially the Internet . . . in the field of continuing education for elderly people, with an easy-to-handle data information system in four languages" and to publish a printed European Bulletin, Learning in Later Life, for the particular benefit of those elderly folk who lack access to the Internet.

Among the various projects put in place by LILL are those within the areas of (1) the natural sciences, ecology and the environment; (2) medicine; (3) the arts, humanities and social sciences, and (4) new communication technologies.

There is much, much more that is now being offered by ZAWIW and LILL and a review of their many Internet pages, via the links provided in this brief survey, will certainly repay the viewer.  In this respect, too, LILL is not to be compared to U3A.  The latter is particularly a locally based organisation which can benefit greatly from its association with LILL, the latter being far more generously funded and covering a much broader area.

I would like to draw your attention also to the article I contributed to Issue 9 of Nurturing Potential that described various activities open to Third Agers, including the U3A and LILL.  This will be found at http://www.nurturingpotential.net/Issue9/Thirdage.htm.


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Sep Meyer is a graduate of the London School of Economics and, since his retirement from a commercial life, has been devoting his time to a totally non-commercial activity, writing poetry, magazine articles, book reviews and drama.