Typical FGCU Academy participants may be retired from their careers, but they’re far from “retiring” – in the sense of being reticent in class. Just ask Jeffrey Steinberg, who lectures on topics like national security, geopolitics, law and history for Florida Gulf Coast University’s lifelong-learning program.
FGCU Academy audiences have fascinating career backgrounds and life experiences, and they don’t shy away from sharing with their peers and course presenters, Steinberg has noticed.
“There’s a certain added degree of motivation to attend a class on a topic you’re interested in when you’re not getting credit or other benefit – other than the pure joy of learning,” Steinberg says. “They’re a very motivated group, and they tend to ask very good questions. They bring a lot of experience to the table and have their own observations to throw back and forth. It makes for lively discussion.”
“That keeps the juices flowing,” adds the 40-year veteran of private-sector research, analysis and education in national security. It’s a sentiment that works both ways for FGCU Academy presenters and participants.
The academy’s season, featuring hundreds of affordable, noncredit courses, is well underway. Audiences can connect in person and online, with nine locations in Naples, two in Bonita Springs, two in Marco Island and two in Fort Myers. All sites are up and running despite the widespread devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian.
“The academy has been severely hurt financially by the pandemic and now Ian,” said director John Guerra. “We are self-supporting and receive no funding from the university. Our course fees only cover a fraction of our operating costs, and we rely on memberships and donations in order to survive – and those have never been more important than now.”
To learn more about the programs – including 2023 travel adventures to Japan, Alaska, Sicily, Spain, Israel and more – consult the program guide on the academy’s website. Participants can register and pay securely online using a credit card.
Steinberg, whose consulting firm reports on developments in Asia and the Middle East, has lectured for the FGCU Academy since 2019. Still being active in his field makes it easy for him to speak on current affairs to his highly engaged, highly educated audiences. Edward Grace, who lectures on technology and space exploration, retired in 2004 after a lengthy career in engineering and the founding of several technology companies. But he is no less up to date than Steinberg on developments in his field.
“We’re at the beginning of a new space race,” Grace says. “China has become very active, putting up its own space station. We’re seeing the commercial industry really push where we’re going in space. People like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are moving forward and moving much faster than the old government space companies such as Boeing and Martin Marietta. It’s creating a tremendous amount of interest.”
While employed as an engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Grace worked on NASA’s Apollo 13 mission in 1970. As part of the team that guided the space crew safely back to Earth after it had to abort a planned lunar landing, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The caliber of FGCU Academy presenters like Grace is matched by the diversity of course offerings. Upcoming topics include great art heists in history, the French revolution, the Italian Renaissance and Ellis Island. Participants can learn how to make the most of their phone apps, take a crash course in Spanish or improve their short game in golf.
“Whether you are a year-round resident or snowbird, you can enjoy FGCU Academy offerings online from wherever you may be,” Guerra says. “We also selectively record our programs so we can make them available on demand for you to enjoy at your convenience.”
Consult the academy website for upcoming webinars, or sign up for weekly email blasts of the latest news and updates. Call 239-434-4737 for more information about the academy.