Arnow Professor Highlights Benefits of Intergenerational Exchange in Annual Lecture

Arnow Professor Highlights Benefits of Intergenerational Exchange in Annual Lecture

May 07, 2015

Chemistry Professor Kim Farah, Lasell's current Joan Weiler Arnow '49 Professor, can't remember the last time she created course curriculum that didn't have an intergenerational component.

There's a reason for that. Once Farah got a taste for the interaction that occurs in an intergenerational class setting, she found that everyone involved learned much more deeply.

This was the subject of Farah's Arnow lecture, Together We Learn: Intergenerational Exchange Unites Younger and Older Learners, given May 6th in de Witt Hall. Farah was named the Arnow professor at Commencement last year. The three-year endowed professorship is sponsored by Joan Weiler Arnow '49 and Robert Arnow.

Farah first became familiar intergenerational courses when she was named a fellow for Lasell's RoseMary B. Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Learning. In that role, she participates in aging-focused teaching and intergenerational activities. Much of that intergenerational work has involved residents at Lasell Village, the college-sponsored continuing care retirement community located on campus.

"With the rapidly aging demographics in United States, the importance of these opportunities to foster understanding between generations and strengthen communities cannot be underestimated," says Farah.

As part of her forensics course, for example, Farah held an intergenerational lecture series with two presentations at Lasell Village. In addition, also asked her students to make presentations related to a biochemistry module on "Biology in the Movies."

Those students, who presented at her recent lecture, and residents of the Village, both spoke about ways they learned from each other. Students said they were able to analyze situations with a new perspective after speaking with the Village residents; Villagers said they were able to dispel certain perceptions they had about "young people."

During her presentation, Farah said that she observed more engagement between and among students in the intergenerational classes, which improves understanding between the generations.

Farah also referred to the many learning moments she experienced with Dr. Joann Montepare, director of the Fuss Center, whose current research is around Aging and integrating aging content and intergenerational activities into higher education.

Lastly, Farah described other benefits from intergenerational course work including the appeal to the Lasell community focus, the ability to learn about aging and aging issues outside of a gerontology forum and the sustainability of life-long learners.