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BSU Senior College

BSU Senior College: lifelong learning for mature adults

BSU Senior College

Important Notice regarding Senior College:

 Bridgewater State University’s Senior College will continue to operate in a virtual learning format during the Spring 2021 semester. We have 33 courses this semester offered conveniently to you in the comfort and safety of your own home via Zoom. It's easy to use: once you're set-up, you only need a few clicks to start talking to your peers and instructors online.

Once you register and pay online for the Senior College, we will be in touch with you via email to have you select your specific courses. For the affordable fee of $65, you can take as many courses as you like! If you have any questions please contact Jennifer Reid at or call 508.531.2570.

View Courses: Find the list of courses at the bottom of this page.


Join our Email List

Keep Learning! Keep Growing! : 

Bridgewater State University’s new Senior College offers intellectually stimulating seminars and courses for mature learners (50+). Our six-week courses foster creativity, self-discovery and peer education.


Enroll in as many courses as you like this spring for just a single registration fee of $65.

Led by Experts 

Courses led by BSU emeritus faculty, full and part-time faculty, and other distinguished educators in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. Senior College is where adults can enjoy learning in a relaxed community of peers among leading scholars and experts who share their interests in exploring both current and historical topics and traditional disciplines. Our members come from all walks of life and bring diverse backgrounds to the classroom setting.

Senior College FAQ (for all questions)

Click on the button below to learn more about registering and selecting courses, specific information about accessing courses and more.



Detailed Course Information

Please click on the links below for detailed course descriptions and instructor biographies and a printable schedule-at-a-glance.

Spring 2021 Senior College Course Descriptions & Instructor biographies

Spring 2021 Senior College Schedule-at-a-Glance



Registration and Course Access

  1. Click on the Register Here button to register and pay the Senior College fee.
  2. Check your email: Within one business day, an email will arrive with a Zoom link and  instructions on access our virtual Senior College courses via Zoom. 
    Please note: It may take one business day for the email to arrive in your inbox.

Program Partners

Bridgewater State University recognizes our community partners who engage with Senior College in course development and participant recruitment. Each of the following organizations supports the university's ability to continue to offer high-quality programming to our members throughout our region and beyond: Center for Active Living PlymouthBridgewater Public Library, and the Bridgewater Senior Center.


Watch the Video: Senior College Spring 2021 Information Session


Watch our latest Senior College Spring 2021 Information Session session. You will learn about our offerings, hear from current participants, meet staff and our knowledgeable instructors, too! 

Or, you can watch a previous Senior College information Session by clicking here.


Upcoming Events:

Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body: Tips from the Latest Research
Thursday, February 11, 2021, 1 - 2:30 pm
Lifestyle choices impact the aging process. Join us for this special event to learn about the important information and research in the areas of diet and nutrition, exercise, cognitive activity and social engagement. You will learn how to use hands-on tools to develop a plan for healthy aging. Please RSVP by completing this form and we will email you the Zoom link for this event 1-2 days prior to the event. The event offered is in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Chapter.



The American City
Dr. Lisa Krisoff Boehm, Dean and Professor, College of Graduate Studies, Bridgewater State UniversityChange to: Mondays, January 25, February, 1, 8, & 22nd, 8 - 9pm
Note: no class meeting on February 15th

The United States is an urban nation. As such, it is impossible to understand American civilization without studying its cities. This course examines the ever-changing American city, including its place within and influence upon American culture. Each session will have an assigned article to read prior to the session. But if you do not get to it, remember, there are no grades!

Fake News, Alternative Facts, Frauds, and Scams
Pamela Hayes-Bohanan, Senior Research Librarian & Adjunct Instructor, Global Languages and Literature, Bridgewater State University
Wednesdays, January 27, & February 3, 10, and 17, 4:30 - 5:30 pm

Misinformation, disinformation, and other fake news is here to stay. This course will provide tools for helping you to identify what’s real and what’s not and how to respond to those who might be unwittingly sharing bad information. 

Post-Election America 
Nan Loggains, History Professor, Bristol Community College
Wednesdays, January 27, & February 3, 10, and 17, 11 am - noon

This course will provide you with an overview of the political climate in 2021. An open discussion of the issues and the policies facing the United States will be presented. 

Path to a Healthier YOU! 
Mary Ellis, Assistant Administrative Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Bridgewater State University
Thursdays, January 28, and February 4, 11, & 18, 6 - 7 pm

Have you made a New Year’s Resolution and need help staying on track? This course will explore the concept of “whole person health” while applying and supporting each other on a personal health journey. Scholars should think about a health goal that they would personally like to work on (losing weight, stop smoking, increasing fruits and vegetables, increased moderate exercise, decreasing anxiety and/or stress, are some examples) as this course will help you devise a plan to become successful in your goal.  This course will be presented in a lecture style with many discussions with the group. Scholars will develop their plans and journal their own personal progress. The goal is for Scholars to deepen their understanding of the concept of holistic wellness while applying it to their own person health goals as well as supporting and helping others on their own personal wellness journey.

Learning Basic American Sign Language*    [Course Full - please note: this course will be offered in Fall 2021, check back in late July to register]
Glenna Caliendo, Visiting Lecturer, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Bridgewater State University
Mondays, February 1, 8, 22, March 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29 12 - 1pm
*Note: this course is offered for 8 weeks instead of 4, and there is no class on February 15. 

This course is designed to develop visual, expressive, and receptive skills using American Sign Language.  Students acquire basic vocabulary, phrases, and simple sentences to communicate in common life situations at home, school or in public.  Instruction focuses on basic sign language vocabulary beginning with words and then using those words to construct ideas and concepts. 
Instruction also focuses on the necessity of eye contact, facial expressions and hand/body movement and gestures to clearly communicate using ASL.  Students participate in interactive activities to practice the ASL they are learning, develop fluency and solidify their knowledge.

Introduction to Origami*
Andrea Plate, Origami Artist, Instructor, Senior College, Bridgewater State University
Mondays, February, 1, 8, & 22, & March 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29, 6 -7 pm
*Note: this course is offered for 8 weeks instead of 4, and there is no class on February 15.

Are you looking to find a unique hobby that allows your creative side to shine through while stimulating your mind? Origami art dates back to 105 AD with the invention of paper in China and new models are constantly being invented. In these 4 eight weeks while folding two traditional models each lesson, you will learn how to read an origami diagram and the basic folds and bases that will enable you to continue developing your artistry. Origami has many benefits for everyone, from young students to seniors:  such as the ability to focus, to problem solve, and to visualize from 2D to 3D. There is also documentation of the meditative qualities of origami, and so much more. The course is great for those who want to learn a new skill. This is an introductory course offered over an eight-week period.

Genealogy Part 3: A Closer Look at Genetics & Genealogy 
Dr. Cynthia B. Ricciardi, Visiting Lecturer, English Department, Bridgewater State University
Tuesdays, February 2, 9, 16 & 23, 1:15 - 2:15 pm

In this four-part session, participants will discuss the basics of DNA testing and its use as a tool in genealogical research.  We will also examine the options and resources offered by some of the most popular testing companies, including Ancestry, My Heritage, 23andMe, Nebula, and others. Each session will offer an optional 30-minute post-session question & answer opportunity.

Note:  This session is the third in a series and will occasionally refer to topics discussed in Parts 1 & 2.

America in 2021 & Beyond: The Challenges Facing a Divided Nation 
Dr. Michael Kryzanek, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, Bridgewater State University
Weekly pre-recorded lectures will be emailed to you every Wednesday at noon from 2/3 to 4/21.

Additionally, Dr. Kryzanek will offer to “live Zoom” conversations on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 2 pm and Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 2 pm.    
The course on “America in 2021 and Beyond: The Challenges Facing a Divided Nation” will provide a comprehensive examination of how the United States under a new administration responds to a number of critical challenges political, economic, social and cultural that will shape the country for years to come. The objective of the course is to provide the seniors with a working knowledge of the problems/challenges facing the United States and the steps that will need to be taken in order to restore this country to a cohesive and functioning democracy. This course will follow a twelve-session format with ten presentations and two interactive chats with the seniors.

It’s All About Communication! 
Wednesdays, February 3, 10, 17, & 24, 7 - 8 pm

Plain & simple, communication breakdown is costly, whether it be in our personal or professional lives.  Come explore & share in a holistic view of communication including communication styles, trends of different demographics, listening, & enhancing communication. 

Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves
Rose Doherty, Instructor, Senior College, Bridgewater State University
Thursdays, February 4, 11, 18, & 25, 4 - 5 pm

Katharine Gibbs School and Gibbs College were world-famous in the Gibbs century 1911-2011. In this course, you will learn about the fascinating truth behind the legend. Katharine Gibbs created her school in 1911 and was CEO of three schools by 1918, two years before women had the vote. Gibbs was an entrepreneur who educated women for business when they were not welcome. After her death, the family and later large corporations fostered the icon of Gibbs excellence worldwide. Multiple campuses, new programs of study, the introduction of degrees, and the return of male students remade Gibbs with adaptability reminiscent of the founder. The Gibbs family motto, “Hold to your purpose,” motivated graduates from 1911 to 2011. The graduates include a bank president, college president, US ambassador, CIA operatives, lawyers, business owners, writers, graphic designers, and professionals in many fields.  Men and women who care about business, education, or women’s history will be interested in this important piece of American history.
Sleeping and Dreaming 
Dr. Caroline Stanley
Associate Professor of Psychology, Bridgewater State University
Fridays, February 5, 12, 19 & 26, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm 

This course explores a variety of issues pertaining to sleeping and dreaming. What constitutes good sleep? What happens to the mind and body when we don’t get enough sleep? Why do we dream? What causes insomnia? How are sleep problems treated?

Civics 101 
Vinny deMacedo, Director of Regional Partnerships, Bridgewater State University 
Tuesdays, February 23 & March 2, 9, & 16, 4:30 - 5:30pm

In this course, you will explore local, state, and federal government from the perspective of a politician with over 20 years’ experience as an elected official in Massachusetts. You will learn how a bill becomes a law and strategies for how to effectively lobby for legislation. You will also learn what it takes to run for office and how to stay in office! Finally, you will also have the chance to ask the questions you are always curious about but could never ask before!

Wolf to the Modern-Day Dog: How Did We Get There? Part 1
Mary Ellis, Assistant Administrative Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Bridgewater State University
Thursdays, February 25 & March 4, 11, & 18, 6 - 7 pm

In the 21st century, we mainly think of dogs as pets. However, did you ever consider that canines are one of the most diverse and adaptable species of mammals on earth?  Each breed was specifically developed by man with an explicit job in mind. This course will look at how the environment, man’s specific needs, and domestication shaped what we know as “the dog.”  This course will be presented in lecture and discussion format. Scholars will have the opportunity to ask questions that may arise while reading/watching material that explores how man shaped the modern-day dog to suit their environment. Thought-provoking reading material will be provided.

Media in Middle East and North Africa Region 
Dr. Jabbar Al-Obaidi, Professor, Communication Studies, Academic Director of Global Programs, Institute for Global Engagement, Bridgewater State University
Mondays, 3/1, 3/8, 3/15, & 3/22, 6 - 7 pm

This course is designed to expose participants to the nature and history of media in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) including the press, radio, television, film, photography, social media, blogging, and caricatures. It addresses topics ranging from weddings, cuisine, to participation culture such as arts, dance, and music. Simply, it offers everything you wanted to know about the middle east but were hesitant to ask. It tells the story of the people of MENA as they see and live it on daily bases. 

How Can Tech Help You?
Christopher F. Ferraro, Assistant Director, Office of Residential Life & Housing, Bridgewater State University
Wednesdays, March 3, 10, 17, & 24, 7 - 8 pm

Are you overwhelmed by the sea of technology available but looking for how today’s tech can help you?  Explore & share varying trends, apps, & programs that can help you be more productive in the workplace, save money, communicate & more!  

The Rise of White Supremacy in the United States    
Nan Loggains, History Professor, Bristol Community College
Wednesdays, March 3, 10, 17, & 24, 11am to Noon

This course is a four-week study analysis and overview of white supremacists and their threat to America. The course will include an examination of several major groups (i.e., Proud Boys) including their beliefs, tactics, and goals. 

Mental Health Across the Lifespan
Dr. Taylor Hall, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Bridgewater State University
Fridays, 3/5, 3/12, 3/17, & 3/26, 1 - 2 pm

This course will explore human development from a lifespan perspective, highlighting how mental health develops over time and patterns of risk and resiliency at each of four stages of the life course: (1) conception through childhood; (2) adolescence; (3) early to middle adulthood; and (4) late adulthood. Looking to developmental hallmarks in each of these four stages, we will examine and analyze mental health/illness trends and related factors.

The Moveable American Frontier 
Sandra Mondykowski Temple, Instructor, Senior College, Bridgewater State University
Mondays, March 8, 15, 22, & 29, 11am - Noon

The frontier can be defined as the place between the known (civilization) and the unknown (the wilderness). In America, as settlers moved west, that meant the frontier moved with them. On the frontier a person amounted to the sum of his or her skills and endurance. Without the established lines of wealth, ancestry, and social standing of Europe, success on the frontier, with its wealth of natural resources, was open to anyone strong or courageous enough to tackle it. We will follow the movement of the frontier, starting from the early Native American trails, through the French and Indian wars, the Pontiac Rebellion, Daniel Boone’s discovery of the Warrior’s Path through the Cumberland Gap, the Discovery Expedition of Lewis and Clark, and ending with the final completion of the National Road from Pittsburgh through to St. Louis. 

Genealogy Part 4: Sorting and Sharing the Leaves on Your Family Tree 
Dr. Cynthia B. Ricciardi, Visiting Lecturer, English Department, Bridgewater State University
Tuesdays, March 9, 16, 23 & 30, 1:15 - 2:15 pm

In this four-part session, participants will review examples from genealogical publications of family data, including materials from popular culture, scholarly materials, publicly viewable online trees, and other methods of publishing one’s family history.  We will also discuss the options of joining various groups which can help you feed your new genealogical passion. Each session will offer an optional 30-minute post-session question & answer discussion opportunity. Note: This session is the fourth in a series and will occasionally refer to topics discussed in Parts 1-3.

Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders 
Dr. Caroline Stanley
Associate Professor of Psychology, Bridgewater State University
Fridays, March 19, 26, & April 2 & 9, 11:30 am -12:30 pm 

How do psychologists “draw the line” between anxiety and anxiety disorders? Along with describing basic anxiety, this course covers generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This course will also explore the causes and treatments for anxiety disorders.

Becoming Anti-Racist 
Jenny Olin Shanahan, Associate Provost for High-Impact Practices, Bridgewater State University  
Tuesdays, March 23, 30, April 6, & 13, 4:30 - 5:30pm  

The idea of anti-racism has received a lot of attention recently, especially in conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement and other responses to racist violence. Anti-racism implies actively working against bigotry, as opposed to just passively or privately disapproving of intolerant behavior. This course is taught by a white woman who serves on BSU’s Racial Justice Task Force and is committed to collaborating with others to build more equitable relationships, institutions, and communities. The most important course requirements are curiosity, self-reflection, humility, and compassion to ourselves and each other. That’s because it’s often emotionally challenging to talk about racial issues. Many of us fear making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, and even being shamed for our ideas and experiences. We can change that dynamic—and make meaningful differences in the world—through open-minded and respectful learning and discussion, in this course and beyond. 

Wolf to the Modern-Day Dog: Shaping the Modern-Day Dog Part 2 
Mary Ellis, Assistant Administrative Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Bridgewater State University
Thursdays, March 25 & April 1, 8, & 15, 6 - 7 pm

In Part 2 of the Wolf to Modern-Day Dog course, will look at how man shaped the dog we know today into a beneficial working partner. We will continue to discuss “form follows function” as we explore the anatomy of the dog and how it impacts their jobs in our world (this includes companionship). Through videos and reading we will take an in-depth look at some of the jobs that dogs were developed to perform as well as look how this now translates into a modern-day working relationship assisting man in everyday life. This course will be presented in lecture and discussion format. Scholars will have the opportunity to ask questions that may arise while reading/watching material that explores how man shaped the modern-day dog to suit their environment. Note:  This session is the second in a series and will occasionally refer to topics discussed in Part 1.

The Social and Economic History of Early Industrial America
Charles Cox, Instructor, Senior College, Bridgewater State University 
Mondays, April 5, 12, 19, & 26, 11am - noon
We begin our journey into early American industrial history by starting where industrialization began in this country: Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It was the Slater Mill that showed this colonial population, recently liberated by the American Revolution, what a mill actually was and how it would change their lives forever. From Pawtucket, the economic changes brought on by the textile factory revolution would spread to surrounding communities. Wherever there was a river with cascading waterfalls, generating the energy necessary to propel machines, factories would be built. We can see this further north on the Blackstone River in Woonsocket, R.I. And as this river plunges into the Narraganset Bay, so also would more factories be built. We will see industrial architecture, as well as the housing and religious buildings constructed by both native workers as well as the swelling population of immigrants coming to this country to fulfill their "American Dream." We are witnessing the birth of American industrialization.

Everything You Need to Know about Fun, Quirky, and Obscure American History!
David Kindy, Instructor, Senior College, Bridgewater State University
Tuesdays, April 6, 13, 20, & 27, 2-  3 pm

Join David Kindy for an exploration of little-known American history. David is a journalist, freelance writer and book reviewer who lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He writes about history, culture and other topics for Air & Space, Military History, World War II, Vietnam, Aviation History, Providence Journal and the Smithsonian Magazine. In this course you will explore the fun side of history, from the history of the Nerf football, to the history of the hardhat, to the history of how the trampoline came to be, to the accidental invention of Play-Doh, and we’ll even discover how the Zamboni changed the game for ice rinks! 

Writing Your Life: Discovering the Story of Your Life's Journey*
Kathryn Evans, Professor, English & Director, Writing Studio, Bridgewater State University
Wednesdays, April 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19, & 26, 4 - 5 pm
*Note: this course is offered for 8 weeks instead of 4. Space is limited in this course so please sign up early.

Participants will craft a narrative describing a memory, making it come to life—with feedback from the instructor and classmates—so that it might be shared with children and grandchildren. You should feel free to write in your own unique style or to craft your piece along the lines of those submitted to Reminisce Magazine, which invites contributors “to tell your own story—of personal experiences in years gone by; memorable people in your life; family trips or anecdotes; seasonal or holiday memories . . . ; recollections of now-famous people you knew ‘back when;’ little-known historical items, etc.” To help you make your story come to life, we will discuss samples of narrative writing that illustrate key elements of creative nonfiction, including strong pacing, characterization, and use of sensory detail.

Not Just a Hobby: Birding as a Conduit for Conservation Action
Doug Lowry, Adult Learning Specialist, Mass Audubon South East Region
Wednesdays, April 7, 14, 21, & 28, 3 - 4 pm

Are you interested in birdwatching? If so, you are not alone as it is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in North America. Birding is all about making connections: community, habitats, and global links through migration. Birds are true “canaries in a coal mine” for large scale ecological issues. Learn the basics of being a birder, from meeting the different bird families to getting acquainted with the various tools and resources used by birders to enjoy, observe, and learn about birds. Learn what makes birds unique in the animal kingdom, where and how to locate birds, and get introduced to basic bird biology and behavior. We will focus on ways birding can be a path to local and global conservation efforts. Each weekly class will include some optional, self-directed outdoor observation exercises providing an opportunity for you to apply new information into practice.

The History and Cultural Influence of Chinese Folk Dance
Cindy Li, Associate Librarian, Head of Emerging Technologies & Systems, Library Services, Bridgewater State University
Thursdays, April 8, 15, 22, & 29, 4:30 - 5:30 pm

In this course, participants will learn about the influence, culture, and history of Chinese folk dance. The instructor will demonstrate some of the basic elements of Chinese Folk Dance and will analyze varied folk-dance styles, costumes and music. You will learn how to compare cultural differences among varied nationalities and will begin to understand the relationship between Chinese folk dance and other art
forms such as Chinese opera. Participants will watch videos, listen to the music, read online materials and perform themselves (if they are so inclined)!

The Family in American Drama  
John J. Winters, Consultant for Creative Services & Publications and Visiting Lecturer, English Department Bridgewater State University
Thursdays, April 8, 15, 22, & 29, 11am - Noon 

This survey course examines plays that focus on intra-family relationships. After an opening discussion about the family unit in drama through history (from the Ancient Greeks, to Shakespeare to the 20th century) and why families often make for compelling drama, we will read, write about, and discuss plays that highlight the troubles, joys, and dynamics that are integral to some famous families in American theater. The plays for the class will be Sam Shepard’s True West, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog. Prior to the course start, students will be asked to read both Antigone by Sophocles and King Lear by William Shakespeare.

Orientation to Senior Living Health Care
Mathew J. Muratore, LNHA, State Representative 1st Plymouth District
Note: No class on April 19

This course is a brief overview and introduction to the complex system of senior health care in Massachusetts today. It is intended to give provide a basic understanding of the key concepts and themes of the senior health care delivery system. The course will review the different settings in senior health care and strive to give seniors a working knowledge of useful health care terminology. Topics reviewed include senior health care finance, legal and ethical issues, the continuum of care model, and the various insurance coverages. The dominant role of physicians in the U.S. health care system and focus on specialty care will also be reviewed.