Lifelong Learning Collaborative (LLC, formerly BCLIR) was established in 1983 as the Brown Community of Learning in Retirement (BCLIR) and has been an active educational model for lifelong learning for four decades. In August of 2008, we incorporated in Rhode Island as an independent organization, an umbrella for continuing lifelong learning education. Read our full history below.
To provide a diverse population of mature adults with varied opportunities for lifelong learning – seminars, lectures, cultural events and social activities – in a pleasant, accessible environment at a reasonable cost.
What is LLC?
An independent, not-for-profit, peer-run, adult continuing education organization in Providence, Rhode Island. Our model is collaborative learning. Peer coordinators develop the syllabus and facilitate class sessions. Class participation fosters a sense of community, with discussion often continuing over lunch or coffee. There are opportunities for members to attend cultural and social events, museums, theater, concerts, lectures.
Who are our members?
Active, intellectually curious adults from many career paths. A flexible schedule and a love of learning are the only prerequisites. Members plan and participate in peer-led classes and a variety of activities that offer academic challenges. Join us.
Where do we meet?
Daytime classes meet once a week usually for ten weeks for two hours. We have developed partnerships with multiple sites: Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, and Temple Beth-El. Courses include a wide-range of topics and interests: art, theater, music, literature, history, science, current events, economics.
In 1983, a Brown University Dean of Summer and Continuing Studies launched a new program with an ad in the Providence Journal. The ad invited retired adults to sign up for a new series of classes which were to grow out of informal meetings among some retired Brown professors. Fifty people signed up for the first classes, and over the years, that Brown University Dean’s office planned for and administered courses with more of a traditional “student and teacher” dynamic than the collaborative “learner and coordinator” one we use today. Brown University named those classes “Brown Community Learning in Retirement” – rendered in print as BCLIR and pronounced “be clear.”
By 2008, BCLIR had grown into a much larger community of several hundred learners who wanted more courses at a more affordable cost. In short, BCLIR members had grown beyond their Brown campus roots. An amicable split occurred. BCLIR left all of its Brown connections and became an independent organization with its own governing Board, newsletter, course offerings, and organizational committees. In 2009, we received our IRS status as a non-profit organization.
For a while, we kept the name as BCLIR and changed it to “Building a Community of Learners in Retirement.” That was a clever re-work, but in 2013, we renamed ourselves to reflect more clearly who we really are: lifelong learners participating in classes, learning new skills, discovering new information, gaining new knowledge – all of it being done together, in a collaborative style. We launched our new Lifelong Learning Collaborative name as part of an ambitious yearlong series of programs about Health and Aging.
Today we are about 500 members strong!