Campus & Community

Learning in Retirement introduces online courses

3 min read

The Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement (HILR) has introduced two online courses as part of its spring 2001 curriculum. The announcement supports HILR’s commitment to remain on the cutting edge in educational offerings for its members. With the increased popularity and accessibility of the Internet, distance learning has become a common feature of continuing education programs around the country. HILR joins other institutes for learning in retirement such as the New School University in New York and the Northwestern University ILR in Evanston, Ill.

Both of the courses that are offered in this pilot program are art-historical. “Themes in Art” will be led online by HILR member Peter Spellman. “Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Baroque Master” will be led online, as well as in the classroom, by HILR member Frances McCormick.

Spellman has had careers as an engineer, sculptor, and computer programmer. Since joining HILR in 1994, he has led courses on using computers, the philosophy of science, cultural views of the afterlife, “Dante’s Inferno,” “Don Quixote,” and most recently, on the techniques of art-making in history. McCormick is a graphic designer, an instructor in art history, and an art specialist in the Andover public school system. She is also an instructor and coordinator of Phillips Academy’s summer art program. At HILR she has led courses on Emily Dickinson, Edward Hopper, Bloomsbury, and on the concurrent trends in painting and poetry.

Limited to 10 members, “Themes in Art” will feature an online discussion group, which will address recurring themes in art, such as women as Venus, men as warriors, and Adam and Eve. A new theme will be presented each week. Members will compare and contrast the different interpretations of artists separated by culture, political climate, and century.

“Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Baroque Master,” will present a survey of the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini – an icon of the Baroque era – and one of its most brilliant and imaginative artists. The course will look at Bernini’s architecture and sculptural works, as well as the work of some major contemporaries such as Michelangelo, Velasquez, Rembrandt, and Vermeer.

Participation in online courses is by e-mail, with access to the Web site by assigned password. Only current members of HILR are eligible to register. All reading, visual, and reference materials are provided online, and enrolled members are expected to complete the reading assignments and to respond in writing by the stated deadline to questions posted by the study group leader or by other class members.

For further information call Leonie Gordon at (617) 495-4072 or e-mail her at