Integral to a Yale for Life experience is the fact that it takes place at Yale.  There is an emotional component to learning at Yale again, and we never lose sight of that.  The Yale for Life experience is not confined to the classroom – not even close.  You will see parts of Yale that you have never seen – they may not have existed when you were here, or you may have missed them; indeed, you may not have even known of them!  The living and eating experience is enhanced by being at Yale, but also by being there with your fellow Yale for Life participants- alumni, faculty, and the other Yale experts that you will meet as you see the delightful corners that Yale fills with treasures.. Little touches throughout the week will add to your delight.

Listen to Dale Ponikvar and Karen Pinson discuss the experience of returning to Yale.

Special Events

Yale for Life programs are always highlighted by a number of “Special Events,” wherein we are treated to an inside look at some of Yale’s treasures, usually guided by a curator or director of the resource or department in question.  The real depth of Yale’s collections, and particularly the incredible expertise of our guides, is revealed during these sessions – always to the delight of all attending.  Usually these experts join us for dinner afterwards as well, further expanding our community and deepening the experience.

Watch Curator Raymond Clemens, host of a Special Event with the Beinecke Library’s collection, introduce an incredible piece in this short video: Sir Thomas More’s personal prayerbook, and Yale for Life alumna Motria Ukrainskyj ’82 describe her reaction.  Thomas More had this with him as he awaited his fate in the Tower, and his annotations can be seen in the margins.  We had unrestricted access to this almost unreal piece, as we turned these pages of history at will.

Professors Ayesha Ramachandran and David Quint explain the intricacies of this 15th Century map from the Beinecke’s collection to participants in the Yale for Life: The Renaissance program in 2015.

Joanne Rudof, Curator of Yale’s Fortunoff Holocaust Video Archive, presents haunting, unforgettable selections from the Archive to Yale for Life: Revisiting 1914-1945 program participants.  Joanne joined us at dinner afterwards, where the depth of her expertise and generosity in sharing it made for a very memorable evening.

The faces of our participants reveal the intensity of this experience.  We all know the Holocaust, but then again, none of us do.

Suzanne Boorsch, Curator of Prints and Drawings, arranged this collection of the finest Renaissance drawings and prints for our Renaissance course – right in her office area, with untold treasures all around.  Then she personally took us through every one of them.  Fascinating!

This was another trip to the Art Gallery with Curator Boorsch – this time with the Revisiting 1914-1945 class, who were treated to a walking tour as well as another personally arranged exhibition – of posters and propaganda items relating to the World Wars.  Afterwards we had a moment for a partial group shot.  Later, Suzanne joined us for dinner and more fascinating discussion.

Michael Widener, Director of the Rare Book Collection of Yale Law School (an entirely different entity from the Beinecke Rare Book collection), hosted events for us in 2015.  Here he shows a book of original Italian statutes from the Renaissance.  Aside from being of immense legal interest, this was an example of a work during the Print Revolution, which we also studied in depth.

Here, Mike poses with Lois Montbertrand, a YLS alum and participant in our Revisiting 1914-1945 course.  During our session with Mike in that course, we saw, among other things, the collection of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic missives as well as his “apology to the Jews.”  These documents had all been donated to the collection by Lois!

Professor Ramachandran speaks about 16th century maps during our session in Sterling Library’s Map Room. You can see a variety of navigation instruments around the table as well as a variety of incredibly rare and fascinating maps.  Prof. Ramachandran is, at is happens, a leading expert on cartography, particularly during the Renaissance!

Film screenings are a popular event; usually they are held in the evening, and a professor joins us for introduction of the film as well as dinner afterwards.  On this occasion, Film Studies Professor Dudley Andrew showed us 3 bewildering surrealist films, then helped with the decoding over dinner!

Here was a very special event; a private reception at the President’s House with then-President Richard Levin, Professor Jane Levin, Dean of Yale College Mary Miller, and the Yale for Life: Directed Studies participants. It was a measure of how Yale values this program; and for us, a wonderful evening.


The 17 meals we will have together are far more than culinary adventures.  Because of the immersive nature of our program, everyone always has “something on their mind,” whether it is a subtle point from a class; a geopolitical issue raised by a discussion; perhaps curiosity and a liking for the professor or expert we just heard from; a sense of camaraderie and fellowship with a fellow student; or a Yale memory triggered and re-lived.  In many ways it is at the meals that we become a community.

To that end, we eat most breakfasts and lunches in one of the residential colleges – after all, these are the spaces built with the intent to breed closeness and intellectual discussion in the first place!  Every Yale for Life student has a moment when they pause at a lunch, they look around, and realize that they are unselfconsciously living a Yale life that week.  Without realizing it, Yale has become home again.

Dinners see us at fine restaurants around New Haven; the dining scene has dramatically improved from days gone by, and the more elevated atmosphere suits us, as well.  It isn’t all a “monastic existence,” after all.

Housing and Yale Facilities

Yale for Life participants have swipe card access around Yale.  We live, for now, in the “Swing Space,” Yale housing next to Payne Whitney Gymnasium built to house Yale undergraduates during their residential college’s renovation.  Each two-bedroom suite has its own bathroom, kitchenette, and common area.  It is air conditioned (remember, it’s June) comfortably.  Beginning in 2017 or 2018, we expect to begin to house our program in the new residential colleges, now well along in construction!

The libraries, museums, Beinecke, classroom buildings, full gymnasium access,… all around Yale you will feel welcome and at home.  You will stroll around Yale with a purpose – an experience you will find surprisingly inspirational.

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