The Seminar

Yale for Life classes are entirely seminar-based.  Active learning is the order of the day; alumni do not prepare for months ahead of the program, accepting the challenge of the reading, only to sit in class mute and passive.  The active exchange of ideas with not only faculty, but informed, interesting, engaged alumni is at the heart of the program.  Everyone’s mind is switched on from the moment they arrive on campus, and because of this immersion, the discussion inevitably spills out of the classroom, to the pathways, dining rooms, and housing throughout Yale.  This kind of intellectual immersion, which increases in intensity but also in comfort and joy as the week proceeds, is the outflow of the insistence on excellence in every aspect of the program that characterizes – and is really unique to -Yale for Life.

Listen to Harry Pinson ’70 discuss the seminar format and how its ethic flows through every part of the program.

The Readings

The reading lists for Yale for Life are a treasure in their own right.  Carefully and painstakingly designed by our faculty, they challenge our students in the months preceding the course.  All Yale for Life participants receive all the books and electronic documents soon after registration; the day those books arrive recalls the trip to the bookstore following the first day of classes that we all remember fondly from our undergraduate years.  Yale for Life readings emphasize primary and contemporaneous sources, and they go far beyond the surface.  Even the order of the readings is carefully planned; this is a relentlessly interdisciplinary approach, and the interrelationships among the various subjects emerges as one proceeds ahead.  Given that we are going to be spending our time in seminar, listening to each other as well as the faculty, the interaction of these challenging readings with our life experiences assures that we will have something interesting to say when we arrive in New Haven.

The joy of arriving home from the day’s work or activity, being welcomed by an awaiting book by Cellini or a Lincoln speech, of reading with purpose and delight, “extends” the Yale for Life experience back months before it begins.  After the course, optional and supplemental reading always is available – and judging from the discussions that take place over our Google Group, they are inhaled by many.

Read about the Yale for Life 2017 Courses
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