Summit Reflection: Learning for the 100-Year Life

By Jenny Levine

Last October, LILE hosted the inaugural Emerging Pedagogies Summit for Duke faculty and staff invested in teaching and learning. The Summit’s goal was to promote ongoing conversations about the future of education in hopes of shaping a future vision of pedagogy. In this blog series, we will revisit each session to reflect on the lessons shared by the presenters and envision how these emerging pedagogies may take root at Duke.

Susan Golden, author of “Age not Stage”, presented a powerful program on addressing a reality we haven’t always taken the time to acknowledge: The majority of people born since 2000 will live to be 100. Those of us in good health and over 65 will likely live into our 90s. This shift marks a distinct change and will have a powerful impact on everything from healthcare to housing. This aging demographic should be acknowledged, embraced, and honored as an opportunity for a new paradigm: The Longevity Economy. A positive view of aging can add 7.5 years to a person’s lifespan.

Click the image below to watch the entire session:

Click to watch the recording of Susan Golden's presentation

So why aren’t we more focused on innovations for planning for this new reality? The stereotype of older adults as frail and infirm is a stark contrast with the reality of people in their 70s and 80s who are functionally independent. Golden points out that other countries, such as Japan, are far ahead of the US in terms of supporting this reality. She emphasizes how we need new language about aging and that phrases such as ‘having a senior moment’ are harmful.

More of us are starting new careers or taking career breaks. These are becoming an important and often necessary part of our lives. As our families grow, or our parents decline, we need to make plans for these eventualities. Golden asserts that universities should be working toward a Longevity Strategy for a five-generation workforce. She shared research from Stanford’s Distinguished Career Institute on a Longevity Prescription that includes having Purpose, Community, and Wellness.

For her “Five Quarter Life Framework”, Golden emphasizes continuous learning as well as caregiving as a significant part of our lives. She spoke with animated enthusiasm about the idea that people at all stages of life can and should learn together. Her terms “Furtherhood” and “Renaissance Years” highlight this shift toward a more welcoming space for healthy longevity for older adults.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Duke has embraced lifelong learning for over 45 years. With nearly 2,000 members, we present courses in a wide array of areas—from Art and Architecture to Science & Technology, Wellness Activities, Photography, and much more. OLLI responds to members’ interests and is exploring ways to support intergenerational learning as well as courses that address shifting life phases. Our instructors are often retired themselves, and pursuing a new passion they have discovered later in life—or one they never had the opportunity to follow sooner. We are proud to engage our members, instructors, and volunteers with in person and online courses, events, and special interest groups. Building community is the cornerstone of all of our work.

To learn more about getting involved with OLLI, contact Jenny Levine at