Exterior of Maxwell Hall on WSU Main Campus.

Senior University

Senior University at WSU is a peer-led set of short courses taught by retirees and topic experts to provide intellectual and cultural stimulation and growth.

WSU offers today’s accomplished adults with opportunities for lifelong learning and leadership, combined with the fellowship of peers sharing a common quest for continued growth.

Senior University courses are open to everyone and are meant to “encourage lifelong learning for retirees in the community.”

You're welcome to join these classes whether or not you've had college opportunities.

Each non-credit course is about four to five weeks long with no tests, papers, or homework. The classes are currently $40 each.

Registration is required and subject to space availability. Early registration is recommended.

Fall 2022 Classes

Explore the upcoming Fall 2022 courses (PDF) for Senior University below and register for classes online today!

Abolitionists, Underground Railroad, Freedmen's Bureau: The Winona Connection

Instructor: Carol Jefferson
Day: Tuesdays 

Time: 2-3:30pm

Sessions: November 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, December 6

Course Fee: 
Room: To be determined 

The course will be hybrid - Zoom & In-person 

This course uses examples of individuals in the Winona area to develop and overview of the history of Anti-Slavery and Black Rights activities in Americans before, during, and after the Civil War.

The instructor will share the motivation, methodology and findings of her research on local abolitionists and ( probable) Underground Railroad.

 Students will "meet" abolitionist Winona settlers who were antebellum activist, missionaries, politicians, soldiers in the U.S. Army Colored Troops, and people who volunteered after the war to worth with Freedmen's Bureau, Freedmen's aid societies and schools.

Through discussion and questions, students will reflect on how local history fits into, and expands, current understanding of abolitionist activity in Minnesota and American.

Print and internet resources will be recommended.

About Carol Jefferson

Carol Jefferson is a retired WSU Biology professor, a life-long history buff and the Archivist of First Congregational Church of Winona. 

To date, she has presented seven public lectures on her research written five locally published papers for the general reader, been interviewed by journalists and recorded for the Minnesota Historical Society Living History Project. 

She has read hundreds of relevant books and papers, visited Underground Railroad sites, and studied materials in archives from across the country. 

Election 2022

Instructor: Jim Bromeland
Day: Thursdays

Time: 3-4:30pm

Sessions: October 20, 27, November 3, 10

Course Fee: 
Room: To be determined 

One Third of Americans continue to believe, despite overwhelming evident to the contrary, that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential race. 

The 2022 elections will be contested against background. 

All 435 House seats and 34 senate seats will be contested along with 36 governors. 

With Decorates holding a razor thin majority in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, President Biden's agenda and his ability to get nominees confirmed will be in doubt if Democrats can't hold on to this narrow majority. 

About Jim Bromeland

Jim Bromeland taught American politics at WSU for 35 years. 

Since retiring, he has continued to follow American electoral politics, and has taught Senior University courses on the election in each election year.  

Philosophy of Religion

Instructor: David Speetzen
Day: Tuesdays 

Time: 2-4pm 

Sessions: September 20, 27, October 4, 11, 18, 25

Course Fee: 
Room: To be determined 

This course in an introduction to some of the core concepts and issues in the Philosophy of Religion. 

We will cover the relationship between philosophy and religion, the concept and nature of God, arguments for and against God's existence, theodicies and the Problem of Even, reason and faith, and death, and the afterlife. 

About David Speetzen  

David Speetzen is an associate professor in the Philosophy  Department at Winona State University and he has been teaching Philology of Religion there for years now. 

He loves the subject, in part because his first exposure to philosophy was through the lens of religion, and religious thinkers in Catholic middle school and high school.

Like a lot of people, he was preoccupied with question about whether God exists, what heaven and hell are like, and why there is so much suffering in the world is God is good.

His fascination with religion continues and he is eager to share the insights, answers and puzzles he has come across in studying Philosophy of Religion. 

Fossils of the Driftless Area

Instructor: Lee Beatty
Day: Thursdays

Time: 2-4pm 

Sessions: September 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, October 1 ( Half Day Field Trip), 6 

Course Fee: 
Room: To be determined 

The Driftless Area of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Down escaped much of the scouring and sediment deposition caused by continental glaciers during the last Ice Age, 

Consequently, the region preserves a rich fossil record that stenches from 500-million-year-old ocean floor communities to 10,000 year old mammoths and mastodons.

This course surveys the animals and environments persevered in fossil record of the Driftless Area. Classes will be mic of lectures and hands on activities. 

The course will include a half-day weekend filed trip 

About Lee Beatty 

Lee Beatty has been a member of the WSU geoscience Department faculty since 2008 and teaches several Earth history and paleontology courses.

 He received his PhD in paleontology in 2003, with a focus in invertebrate predator/prey ecological interactions in the fossil record. 

His recent work involves the fossil ecosystems of dinosaur-rich Hell Creak Formation of North Dakota. 

The Beatles and Us

Instructor: Tim Hatfield 
Day: Wednesdays 

Time: 2-4pm 

Sessions: August 17, 24, 31, September 7

Course Fee:
Room: To be determined 

This offering, facilitated by a 30-year WSU faculty member who happens also to be a life long Beatles Fan, will provide an opportunity for class members to reflect on their own relationship with the Beatles, arguably the most popular and influential band of all time. 

Whether reminiscing as a fan or seeking initial information about the group, there will be something here for all comers.

About Tim Hatfield

This course will be taught by Tim Hatfield, Counselor Education Emeritus, who for eight months during the pandemic sent out notes to family and friends about Beatles songs - daily "Beatles Uplifts" - with the express intention of helping the recipients cop with the uncertainty and anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The goal was to provide a brief uplifting respite from the relentless stress and worry so omnipresent during the pandemic. Every Beatles song from their earliest demos to Abbey Road was featured in an essay A book grew out of the 260 essays - When We Find Ourselves in Times of Trouble: The Beatles ( available through Amazon - which forms the groundwork for this course. 

The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Perhaps Some Answers

Instructor: Richard Shields
Day: Tuesdays

Time: 3-4:30 pm

Sessions: August 23, 30, September 6,13

Course Fee: 
Room: To be determined 

This course consists of four lectures based on questions about climate change.

  • How do scientists know the earth is warming and that warming is manmade?
  • Doesn't the climate change all the time, so why is this time different? 
  • What are the causes of global warming and what are its consequences? 
  • What do climate change models predict fro your future and how bad is it going to get? 

About Richard Shields 

Richard Shields is a retired physics professor

He has taught twice before Senior University. 

He has learned about climate change by reading and following the developments through his career.

Richard  is not a climate scientist but having been trained as a scientist, he understands how science is done and how mathematical modeling works. 

He plans to conduct the class but answering the questions that he has as well as questions that class will have, 

Upcoming Courses

Mark your calendars for the courses coming up this Fall.

Aug. 17, 24, 31, Sept 7: The Beatles & Us, with Tim Hatfield

Aug. 23, 30, Sept. 6, 13: The Science of Climate Change: Questions & Perhaps Some Answers, with Richard Shields

Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Oct. 6: Fossils of the Driftless Area, with Lee Beatty

Sept. 20, 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25: Philosophy of Religion, with David Speetzen

Oct. 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10: Election 2022, with Jim Bromeland

Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Dec. 6: Abolitionists, Underground Railroad, Freedmen's Bureau: The Winona Connection