BSU Senior College: lifelong learning for mature adults
Bridgewater State University’s Senior College will operate mostly in a virtual learning format during the Fall 2021 semester. We have 50 courses this semester offered conveniently for you in the comfort and safety of your own home via Zoom. Zoom is easy to use: once you're set-up, you only need a few clicks to start talking to your peers and instructors online.
For the affordable fee of $85, you can take as many courses as you like! If you have any questions please contact BSUseniorcollege@bridgew.edu or call 508.531.2570.
Senior College Fall 2021 courses are listed at the bottom of this page.
Keep Learning! Keep Growing!
Bridgewater State University’s new Senior College offers intellectually stimulating seminars and courses for mature learners (50+). Our four-and eight-week courses foster creativity, self-discovery and peer education. Senior College is open to everyone. There are no educational requirements and you do not need to be an alumni of our university. All are welcome!
Enroll in as many courses as you like this fall for just a single registration fee of $85.
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.
NEW! Senior College Three Step Registration Process
Complete the Continuing Studies Non-Credit Application. Click here for the application.
This application must be completed so that Bridgewater State University can give you access to all the amenities that our campus offers, such as technical support, the Maxwell Library, Thornburg Fitness Center and much more!
Once you complete the application, you will receive an email from BSU (within 1-2 business days) that includes the link to pay your $85 registration fee. Please use that link to complete your payment.
Once you pay the registration fee, you will receive another email from us (within 1-2 business days) with a link to an online form where you can select your courses. Remember you can enroll in as many courses as you like after you pay the single $85 fee!
Finally, you will receive Zoom links to the courses you registered for via email (a few days prior to the start of your course) and then you are ready to start learning with us!
Program PartnersBridgewater 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 Plymouth, Bridgewater Public Library, and the Bridgewater Senior Center.
Senior College Courses:
Dancing Round the World—International Folk Dance
Friday, 9/3, 9/10, 9/17, 9/24, 1-2 pm
The course will be held in-person outdoors, in the parking lot of the Bridgewater Senior Center, 10 Wally Krueger Way, Bridgewater.
Participants will learn a variety of dances from around the world, mostly in a circle formation. Some line, partner, and small group dances will be included, as well. No prior experience or special skills required. Beginners are welcome.
The History of Genocide in the 20th Century and thoughts on how to stop it in the future
Tuesday, 9/7, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 11am-noon
This course will introduce you to the history of genocide, the origin of the word, and the conflict over its definition today. Mass killings in history prior to the 20th century will also be part of the introduction. You will learn about genocide in the 20th century including the German killings in Southwest Africa and the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The Holocaust will be explored stressing the anti-Semitism background of the Holocaust, the progression of anti-Semitism in Germany in the 1930’s, following the actual genocide during World War II.
Wednesday, 9/8, 9/15, 9/22, 9/29, 10-11am
This course is an exploration of the world that is concealed in a cup of coffee, beginning with suggestions for brewing better coffee. We continue to the community geography of the corner café, without which the beverage itself might never have become a global favorite. We then follow coffee from its origins in Abyssinia to the $100 billion global industry it is today and examine ways to ensure that those who grow the coffee earn a fair share of that wealth. Finally, we learn how researchers are working with farmers to protect both quality and production from changing climates. Upon registration, participants will receive a guide describing some options for purchasing coffees to enjoy during the sessions.
The Rise of White Supremacy in the United States
Wednesday, 9/8, 9/15, 9/22, 9/29, 10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 1-2pm
This course is an eight-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.
Debating Political Reform in the U.S.
Wednesday, 9/8, 9/15, 9/22, 9/29, 10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 6-7pm
This course will examine some of the prominent debates over reforms to the U.S. political system that have been proposed in recent years. It will analyze multiple proposals for reform weighing several questions about the implications for changing how the system functions in fundamental ways. What problems with the system are these reforms designed to address? What are the arguments in favor and against these reforms? What reforms are supported and opposed by the U.S. public? What is the feasibility of implementing these reforms?
Exploring Leadership: A Reflective Journey
Wednesday, 9/8, 9/15, 9/22, 9/29, 7:10-8:10pm
Engage in a voyage of leadership in multiple venues such as history, business, entertainment, & day to day life. Through group learning & discussion, study leadership concepts and theory along with evaluation of societal examples. Apply course material to reflect on your leadership persona, including who you have been & an action plan for who you want to be in your personal and/or professional lives.
Path to a Healthier YOU!
Thursday, 9/9, 9/16, 9/23, 9/30, 6:30-7:30pm
Holistic Wellness is a term that we hear an awful lot, but what does that really mean? 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.
Introduction to American Sign Language
Monday, 9/13, 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 2:30-3:30pm
*This class is limited to 26 participants; register early to reserve your place
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.
Monday, 9/13, 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10:30-11:30am
This course surveys major traditions and conflicts in moral philosophy, focusing on key questions such as: Is morality objective or relative? Why be moral? What is more important, principles or consequences? How is self-interest related to ethics? What it the relationship between ethics and happiness?
The Moveable American Frontier: Part 2: Trans-Mississippi Migration
Monday, 9/13, 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 1-2pm
Often a dream, sometimes a metaphor, the American West is a place that millions of people can visualize. The Tran-Mississippi West (1848-1890) is both a physical region and a cultural landscape. Since the West’s majestically scenic landscape inspired not only artists but also entrepreneurs; we will examine the technology that truly won the West: The Pony Express, the telegraph, the rush for precious metals, minerals and oil, and the railroads. We will learn of the Indian Wars from the point of view of the chiefs who fought to survive and preserve their culture and way of life and the thoughts and feelings of the common soldiers who appreciated foes so clever, steadfast, courageous, and so dignified in defeat.
Global Issues in the 21st Century
Monday, 9/13, 9/20, 10/4, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 6-7pm
This 8-week course will address major issues in understanding the world and our global future. Each week is centered on one major topic and perspective in understanding our global community and challenges. The course will explore the role of the United States in the world and our responsibility in creating a more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable future for humankind and the planet. The weekly topics of the course include geography, history, education, immigration, government relations, race and gender, technology, and climate change. The class is introductory in nature with brief presentations by the instructor while allowing ample time for students to discuss current issues and their experiences.
Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation
Monday, 9/13, 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 7:10-8:10pm
Mindfulness, it’s a tool that can be used by everyone and everywhere. It is about being present in the here and now. Mindfulness sounds so simple, yet it takes training and practice to be present. Mindfulness has a long list of benefits which include decreased stress, enhanced ability to deal with illness, facilitation from recovery, decreased depressive symptoms, and improved general health. If you’re ready to learn more about mindfulness and take your next giant leap forward into wellness, this experiential course is for you. This 8-week course will provide vital information to the inner workings of your mental, emotional, and physical processes.
India: Ancient Civilization and Modern Wonder
Monday, 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 10-11am
The course will be held in-person (indoors) at the Bridgewater Public Library, 15 South St. Subject to all current public health protocols.
This course provides a native perspective from our visiting scholar Dr. Medha Bhattacharyya from India as an introduction to India as a magnificent civilization and modern nation. The course will highlight many aspects of history, literature, culture, dance, art, media, technology, democracy, and migration of its peoples. The instructor will provide plenty of examples and wisdom to enhance our understanding of the diversity and splendor of Indian civilization and its legacy to the world.
Shaking the Tree: An Introduction to Genealogy Research
Tuesday, 9/28, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 1:15-2:15pm
The first workshop series introduces participants to the basics of genealogical research: where and how to begin; planning and setting research goals; keeping records and staying organized; understanding accepted proof standards; and using and evaluating sources, both “analog” and digital. Sessions are presented synchronously in an informal lecture format over visual examples and other illustrative images, with a healthy quantity of general discussion.
Jenny Olin Shanahan
Tuesday, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 10/5, 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 and other discriminatory 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 served on BSU’s 2020-2021 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.
The Civil War and Reconstruction
Monday, 10/4, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 10:20-11:50am
The course will be held in-person (indoors) at the Bridgewater Public Library, 15 South St. Subject to all current public health protocols.
The Civil War also referred to as The War Between The States began on the morning of April 12, 1861 when Confederate gunners fired on Fort Sumter. Major Anderson surrendered the Fort without a single casualty. It was a bloodless opening to the bloodiest war in American history. Join us as we discuss the constitutionality of secession and who should manage the details of postwar reconstruction: Congress or the President?
Deja-Vu and Tricks of the Mind
Monday, 10/4, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11:30am-12:30pm
This course is back by extremely popular demand!
This course provides an overview of memory, how it works, and how it plays “tricks.” It begins with a description of long- and short-term memory along with tips on how to improve memory. What follows is an explanation of how the mind can deceive us through forgetting, false memories, and experiences such as deja-vu.
Whales in Your Backyard: An Introduction to Your Ocean Neighbors
Tuesday, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 10-11am
The Massachusetts coast is a seasonal home to a number of whale and dolphin species, some of which are endangered. Whale and Dolphin Conservation, based in Plymouth, is a leading global charity dedicated to the protection of whales and dolphins. During this four-part lecture series you will: learn who WDC is, what we do, and why it’s important; meet your ocean neighbors and in some cases get to know them by name; and understand some of the issues they face and ways that you can take action to help protect them.
Duck and Cover: A Brief History of the Early Cold War Years
Tuesday, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 11:15am-12:15pm
This course will provide participants with a brief overview of the early Cold War years. Topics covered include McCarthyism, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a few famous spies.
Choreographing and Performing Identity
Tuesday, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 5:30-6:30pm
Culture is rooted in the experiences of the body. Dance and the meanings associated with the performing body are difficult signifiers to discern. The senses developed or traced to any performing body are subjective. This difficulty is embedded in the nonverbal nature of dance and requires external analysis, albeit performances becoming records of short-lived events, exposing various interpretations. Employing theories from Anthropology, Sociology, and Cultural Studies, this course analyzes identity performances by emphasizing African diasporic studies in Latin America.
Debunking Myths Surrounding Senior Nutrition
Wednesday, 10/6, 10/13,10/20, 10/27, 10-11am
Aging from a physiological perspective is linked to a variety of changes in the body, including muscle loss, thinner skin, and less stomach acid. Some of these changes can make you prone to nutrient deficiencies, while others can affect your immune system and quality of life. Subsequently, consumption of a high-quality diet is critical in maintaining one’s health. However, there is a plethora of misinformation in the media that professes “the best” method to improve the quality of one’s diet. How can seniors know if the nutrition information presented in the media is valid? Each week, some of the more common myths surrounding senior nutrition will be debunked and accurate information to help support health and wellbeing will be provided.
The Salem Witch Trials of 1692
Tuesday, 10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 2:30-3:30pm
The 4-session class will be part lecture, part discussion. We will take a look at the causes of the 1692 Salem Witch Hysteria (disputes among neighbors, strict Calvinist religion, recent smallpox epidemic, new Massachusetts Bay Colony charter, Native American attacks on the Puritan villagers). We will also take a look at other witchcraft accusations in New England and why women were more vulnerable to charges of witchcraft. We will also delve into the events of the trials as well as the aftermath.
Making the Dream Work in Teamwork
Wednesday, 10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 7-8pm
Do you work on or lead a team whether it be for volunteering, a membership organization, or a small business? Come join an exploration of the fundamentals of group dynamics to help yours soar to new heights! Examine core concepts that include how a team develops, creating a shared purpose, and accountability. The course will create a supportive atmosphere where students will aid in each other’s reflection & success.
Resilience for Seniors: What Helps Us Cope and Thrive at Any Age
Thursday, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28, 11am-noon
For the past 20+ years, psychology has studied what goes right in life rather than just what goes wrong (mental illness, trauma, etc.). What helps us cope with adversity? What factors contribute to our health, our sense of well-being—and even longevity? These studies have become known as Positive Psychology (PP). This course will be interactive, promoting discussion in class. Optional readings, resources such as website links and a bibliography will be distributed.
How the Earth Works!
Thursday, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28, 2-3pm
This course will explore the historical background on how forces work and how on earth (pardon the pun) we figured out that the earth is spherical (Pythagoras) and earth’s size (Eratosthenes) long before the space program. We will examine motions in the heavens (Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler) and will look at humans in space.
Cape Cod Camino Way: Walks to explore Racial and Social Justice
Friday, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29, 9-10am
The Cape Cod Camino Way Project offers the opportunity to explore issues of social justice through the lens of walking all the towns on Cape Cod. We will examine the history and stories of historically marginalized groups such as the Wampanoags, Cape Verdeans, Blacks and other people of color past and present. The Cape Camino Way was created in 2020 as a way to walk and experience issues such as colonization, racism, the Triangle Trade, the economy, health care, the environment, and so much more. Come be challenged to raise your awareness of peoples and issues around you, and be in conversation with others to support your learning. And we will have some fun!
What Matters Most? Creating our Healthy Aging and End-of-Life Plans
Friday, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29, 1-2pm
Together, we will explore four days that will help us to discern What Matters Most. Today, Tomorrow, Last Day, and Good-Bye Day. Through a series of questions, stories, and exercises students will develop their own Healthy Aging, End-of-Life plans.
21-Day Equity Challenge
Tuesday, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 4:30-5:30pm
This course was designed with students in mind who took Dr. Jenny Shanahan’s Becoming Antiracist course and would like to continue their racial equity and justice work in the context of a class community. However, this 21-Day Equity Challenge course does not depend on the previous course content. Anyone with an interest in building more equitable relationships, institutions, and communities is welcome! The most important course requirements for the 21-Day Equity Challenge are the same as for Becoming Antiracist: curiosity, self-reflection, humility, and compassion to ourselves and each other.
The goals of the course are for each of us to become more knowledgeable, compassionate, and effective in the pursuit of racial equity and social justice. We will endeavor toward those goals by doing 10-15 minutes of “equity work” on a daily basis (or nearly so) for 21 days. Please see the downloadable course catalog for more details.
Political Discussion: Issues of the Day
Wednesday, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 11/3, 11/10, 11/17, 12/1, 12/8, 11:15am-12:15pm
Each week the group will gather to discuss important political topics in the news. All viewpoints are welcome, and discussions will be conducted in a friendly and respectful manner.
Why Does My Dog Do That?
Thursday, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, 6:30-7:30pm
Have you ever wondered why your dog does certain things? Some behaviors may be a curious habit, or perhaps an instinct ingrained into the breed history/job, maybe a behavior is something that came about because of a trauma, or maybe it is just your dog being a dog! We will look at some of the funny, strange, dangerous, and sometimes gross and embarrassing things dogs do because, well, they are dogs. While this is not a course to “cure” your dog’s behavioral problems, it may leave you with a better understanding of WHY they act the way they do!
Playful Bookbinding: Origami and the Zhen Xian Bao thread book
Monday, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 10-11am
Imagine “turning the pages” of a little book and, rather than finding a story, finding a labyrinth of beautiful boxes. This is the Zhen Xian Bao thread book. An ingenious example of origami folk art, it was originally designed to hold little pieces of thread, needles and other small things. In this class, you will learn the basic structure of the Zhen Xian Bao and the origami techniques needed to make it. This class is appropriate for both new and experienced origamists. Supplies Required: (1) Duo (color or pattern on both sides) 6-inch origami paper (kami) (2) 8 sheets of flexible (not too rigid) scrapbook paper. Color on both sides is optimal. (3) A bone folder or OLD credit card for making sharp folds. (4) Optional - double-sided tape.
Genealogy Next Steps: Climbing Higher
Tuesday, 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/23, 1:15-2:15pm
The second workshop series guides participants to expand their scope of research options—on the internet and elsewhere; offers a closer look at “ethnic” heritage sources; presents an overview of lineage and heritage societies; and addresses the “brick wall” phenomenon. These sessions are presented synchronously in an informal lecture format over visual examples and other illustrative images, with a healthy quantity of general discussion. These sessions will not be recorded. Handouts for continuing effective research and record-keeping standards will be available.
Introduction to Calligraphy
Tuesday, 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/23, 6-7pm
This four-week course will introduce students to the practice of calligraphy by reviewing the basic set-up and needed tools to begin in calligraphy practice. After learning the basic foundation strokes, students will practice and create a unique calligraphy alphabet based on his/her individually developed style. By the end of the course students will create a calligraphy project using multiple words or a saying, such as a greeting card or quote. A list of suggested supplies will be provided to you when you register for this course.
Free Speech, Banned Books and Censorship
Wednesday, 11/3, 11/10, 11/17, 12/1, 6-7pm
Recent news events have put issues of free speech in the spotlight - and in new contexts. In this course, we will explore the protections and limitations of the First Amendment, book banning, and “Cancel Culture.” Topics covered in this course include free speech, the First Amendment, and journalists, banned books, how schools and libraries respond to book challenges, internet speech, and cancel culture and academic freedom.
The Power of Film
Wednesday, 11/3, 11/10, 11/17, 12/1, 7:10-8:10pm
Do you remember the first movie you saw? What about your favorite film that you cannot help but watch when it is on? Well grab your popcorn and come enjoy a history and exploration of the impact of movie on us as individuals with other moviegoers! Beyond this exploration will be a primarily group discussion-based course format exploring impactful films across the genres!
Resilience for Seniors: Setting Goals and The Process of Change
Thursday, 11/4, 11/18, 12/2, 12/9, 11-noon
Conventional wisdom says many personal attributes and attitudes are set, static. But positive psychology studies have found that many are “learned” and subject to change with conscious effort. Optimism is one (as is a sense of gratitude). Some “stuck” multigenerational patterns have been attributed to “learned helplessness.” You will learn how attitudes can become habits and how to be optimistic. This course will also explain how we change, and how we go about it. We will review a multi-stage model of change and discuss how it applies to changes in our own lives. This course will also examine how to go about setting goals.
It Happened in Bridgewater
David R. Moore
Thursday, 11/4, 11/18, 12/2, 12/9, 3:30-4:30pm
Bridgewater Massachusetts history will be explored through the presentation and discussion of slides of Bridgewater’s past from 1600 through the present. Reference materials will be provided electronically to facilitate further self-exploration prior to and after the classes.
An Introduction to Historical Fiction
Friday, 11/5, 11/12, 11/19, 12/3, 10-11am
Historical fiction is one of the oldest forms of storytelling (think ancient works such as The Odyssey or Shakespearean dramas like Julius Caesar) but did not emerge as a recognizable literary genre until the early 19th century. We will approach fiction as a lens through which to approach the age-old challenge of interpreting the past. The class will be taught seminar-style, based not on lectures but on classroom discussions in which we share our thoughts and ideas about the historical fiction work for that week and several articles that will help to flesh out the history of the era we are discussing in the respective novels. For a four-week course, we will read a few works of historical fiction, please see the downloadable course catalog for more information.
Excavation and Interpretation of Ancient Egyptian Skeletons and Cemeteries
Friday, 11/5, 11/12, 11/19, 12/3, 11:30am-12:30pm
This course will review excavations and analyses of ancient Egyptian skeletons and cemeteries from 3200 to 1250 BCE representing the formation of the first cities through the New Kingdom and the height of Egyptian empire. The instructor will use his quarter-century of experience doing research in Egypt to illustrate the methods used to excavate and study the burials and skeletons from three sites widely separated in time. The cemeteries, graves and artifacts provide information on how the common people lived and how their societies were structured. Analysis of the skeletons provides information about what people ate, how nutritious was their diet, how hard they worked, what diseases were common, and what was their overall quality of life. The course illustrates how the development of complex societies places a great burden on the commoners, while the failure of an empire can improve the overall quality of life. Diseases discussed range from common infections to the spread of an epidemic between empires. This course will be taught over four sessions, use numerous slides, and nontechnical language.
Grandparenting for the 21st Century
Tuesday, 11/9, 11/16, 11/30, 12/7, 3-4pm
We will look at grandparenting as a personal experience and social role. Each session will include ample time for participants to discuss their experiences of and questions about being a grandparent. The focus of our sessions will vary depending on the interests of group members. Topics we’ll explore include: roles of grandparents, trends in child development research and child-rearing practice, navigating relationships with adult children and their partners, and cultivating that special relationship with your grandchild(ren).
Mindful Based Stress Reduction
Thursday, 11/18, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16, 6:30-7:30pm
Feeling stressed? Disconnected? Uneasy? You are not alone. Join me in learning how to quiet your mind and settle your senses learning to embrace techniques of mindfulness. Now is a good time to allow yourself to become more grounded and in touch with yourself and the experience of the world around you. You will learn techniques of the practice of meditation and learn to become more present in the moment as well as learning breathing techniques to quiet the mind. Practices of gratitude will also be discussed and encouraged. Give yourself the gift of self-care and inner peace. While not required, you may wish to purchase a journal if you wish to work on a gratitude journal or think that writing may be a technique that will help you work on mindfulness.