VISTAS Makes Learning a Lifelong Activity

About 400 Senior Citizens Rely on This Nonprofit for Intellectual Stimulation

Ted Anagnoson | Credit: Paul Wellman

Even if you’ve retired from textbooks or achieved multiple graduate degrees, your ability to learn is never complete. That’s why, in 1999, a small group of Santa Barbarans formed VISTAS Lifelong Learning, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping aging brains nimble with ongoing education programs.

Ted Anagnoson, a retired political science professor who spent most of his career at Cal State Los Angeles, joined VISTAS in 2007 and rose the ranks. He just finished his term as VISTAS president and continues to teach for the program. Today, the organization includes about 400 senior citizens participating in courses that range in length from one to five weeks, about two and a half hours per week, on topics from Darwin’s sexual selection theory to Richard Wagner’s musical legacy.

“Our members were in search for something that was more intellectual,” said Anagnoson. “We all shared the same desire to continually learn new things and a thirst for knowledge. Our membership has grown to over 350 members who come from all walks of life. Some members have past careers that range from former educators, engineers, social workers, and mechanics, to name a few.”

VISTAS Lifelong Learning offers classes in a range of topics, enjoyed by these enthusiastic students in the class of 2006.

This fall, Anagnoson will teach a course called The Imperial Presidency, about American presidents’ efforts to expand their powers, and there are also clubs about nonfiction books and documentary films that meet monthly. There have been courses on climate change, the California initiative process, and even seminars on election analysis. “As you can see, most of these are current-events-type topics where we can offer a professor’s point of view and depth to a well-educated audience of adult learners,” Anagnoson said. Past popular classes include The Science and Art of Sleep-Walking and Sleeping, European Musicians and American Money: Emigre Musicians in Interwar America, and God Save this Honorable Court: An Update, presented by one of VISTAS founders, David Bisno.

All of this is offered for a $40 annual fee plus $60 per class, although there are also scholarships. You can learn more by attending VISTAS annual picnic on September 8, 2019, at Tucker’s Grove Park.

Call 805-967-6030 or see vistaslifelonglearning.org.

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