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Marilyn Halter’s History Curriculum for Senior Citizens to Be Taught Nationally

CAS Prof Marilyn Halter brings higher education outside the walls of academia and into the lives of senior citizens.

Marilyn Halter, a professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences, taught students of a range of ages — kindergartners through high school — before she began teaching at the university level 20 years ago. Now a recent project is aimed at keeping education in the lives of senior citizens.

The OASIS Institute, a foundation for lifelong learning, asked Halter, who is the director of the American and New England Studies Program and a research associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs, to help design a curriculum geared toward senior citizens, to be implemented at OASIS centers across the country in 2008.

“I’m someone who’s very committed to bridging the gap between the university and the real world,” Halter says. “Any opportunities to reach nontraditional students are very important to me.”

Halter worked with other scholars for almost three years to create Immigrant Experience: A Journey to Becoming American, a curriculum of five core courses, two of them designed by Halter. The four-week multidisciplinary courses discuss history, literature, film, food, and marketing as the topics relate to immigration.

Halter presented the curriculum to the OASIS board of directors at a one-day workshop in St. Louis in early May. Next year local scholars at each of the organization’s 26 centers across the United States will teach the curriculum, reaching many of its 350,000 members.

Rebecca McNamara can be reached at ramc@bu.edu.