The NIU Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI), established in 2000, is a member-directed group of individuals primarily age 50+ who enjoy learning in informal, flexible, non-competitive groups and like connecting with peers who share their interests. No grades, no tests – just learning for the fun of it.

Our LLI is open to everyone, whatever your level of education or background. All you need is a sense of curiosity and a love of learning. Volunteers lead classes during each term and may be members or non-members.

  • Members enjoy learning, sharing experiences and making new friends in LLI’s wide variety of study groups. Typical topic areas including history, music, science, politics, movies, travel and more.
  • Each semester fee entitles you to attend as many study groups as you wish during the term; it’s an all-you-can-learn buffet.

Fall 2023 Classes

The fall 2023 term will run from September 12 through November 2, 2023. LLI will be offered in person for the fall 2023 term.

Courses will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and afternoons for 8 weeks. Participants will receive email communications about courses and locations each week.

All parking passes can be purchased at Parking offers a variety of options for LLI attendees:

  • NIU retirees can purchase an annual parking pass for $10. When purchasing a parking pass online, be sure to select Retiree Permits.
  • Non-NIU retirees can purchase a 3-month pass online.
  • Alternatively, visitors may purchase a daily pass for $6.00 or $12.00 for the week.

Italian Civilization of the Late Renaissance

Every Tuesday, September 12 to October 31

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This lecture series will pick up where the previous one left off, describing the contributions of · Michelangelo as a major figure of both the High and late Renaissance in Italy. It will then proceed to major developments in the art and literature of Rome, Venice and other Italian cities throughout the sixteenth century, including Giorgione, Titian, Cellini, Veronese, Ariosto, Stampa, Tasso, and the literary phenomenon of Petrarchism. The lectures conclude with certain developments of the early seventeenth century, especially the scientific revolution of Galileo whose view of the universe stands in marked contrast to the medieval notions of Dante, the subject of the first lecture series.

Convener: Christopher Nissen received his Ph. D. in Italian from the University of California at Berkeley, then taught Italian language and literature at NIU from 1988 to 2019. He is the author of numerous studies of Italian literature.

What’s New in DeKalb

Tuesdays, 1 to 3 p.m. These sessions will be introduced by an LLI member.

September 12, Willrett Flower Co.

September 19, 26, Byers Brewing Company

October 3, ID Theft and Cybersecurity

20th Century Philosophy and its Major Conflicts: Ludwig Wittgenstein and Carl Popper

Every Tuesday, October 10 to 31

1 to 3 p.m.

We will discuss the life and times as well as the conflicts between two leading philosophers of the last century. Wittgenstein developed what has come to be known as “Ordinary-Language Philosophy” while Carl Popper wrote on science and “The Open Society and its Enemies.”

Convener: Richard Dowen is Professor Emeritus in the NIU Department of Finance. He has led LLI sessions ranging from Military History to Investments.

Islam 101

Every Wednesday, September 13 to October 4

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This course covers four main topics: the history of Islam, diverse cultures of Islam, and Islam and the Western World. There will be introductions to the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the development of Islamic law and theology, and the spread of Islam across the Arabian Peninsula. We will also explore the significance of the five pillars of Islam, the diversity of Muslim practices and beliefs, and the role of Islam in different regions of the world. Finally, examination of the historical and contemporary relationships between Islam and the Western world will include issues such as immigration, terrorism, and lslamophobia.

Convener: Mohammad Labadi was born in Jerusalem, Palestine, and moved to the U.S. when he was 19. He graduated from NIU with a bachelor’s degree and earned a master’s in business management from the Keller Graduate School of Business. Mohammad is deeply committed to positively impacting his community and is passionate about volunteering and helping others whenever he can.


Every Wednesday, September 13 to November 1           

1 to 2:30 p.m.

Since its beginning, LLI has featured weekly talks by experts, primarily NIU faculty. We’ve learned about topics from ancient Rome to swarming robots. This fall’s topics include the physics of football, social media’s influence on health behaviors, understanding the disease of addiction, artificial intelligence, brewing whiskey, and more. As always, there will be time for questions of our speakers.

September 13
Understanding the Baffling Disease of Addiction
Paul Priester
NIU School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions

September 20
Distilling Whiskey in the Corn Fields
Jamie Walter
Whiskey Acres Distillery, DeKalb

September 27
The Questionable Influences of Social Media on Your Health Behaviors
Lynn Herrmann
Public Health

October 4
From Research to Practice: Chronic Disorders in Hearing & Balance
Blythe Kitner
NIU Audiology Program

October 11
Is This the Party to Whom I Am Speaking: How Automation & Artificial Intelligence Are Changing How We Communicate
Andrea Guzman
NIU Dept. of Communication

October 18
The Physics of Football
Mike Eads
NIU Dept. of Physics

October 25
Making Education Out of Jefferson in an Age of Racial Reckoning
Kerry Burch
NIU Dept. of Leadership, Educational Psychology & Foundations

November 1

International Art Treasures: Revered, Discarded, Looted, Returned

Every Thursday, September 14 to October 5

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Recently, there has been a growing international enthusiasm for the repatriation of cultural objects to their “rightful origin.” However, much of the current clamor is rooted in [objects to their ‘rightful place of origin’] ethical and patriotic concerns that may not be held in their country of origin. This right-headed, “Western concern has often led to wrong-headed, misguided initiatives. The processes involved in a “return” being surprisingly complicated. The lecturer was involved in an agonizing 20-year effort to right such a cultural wrong through the return of a rare, stolen, 11th century Burmese Buddha image. A variety of other examples will be discussed.

Convener: Richard Cooler was a professor in the School of Art (1970-2002) and the founding Director of the Center for Burmese Studies (1986-2002).

Spanish Language

Thursdays, (Part 1) September 14, 21 and (Part 2) October 19, 26, and November 2

1 to 3 p.m.

Do you have plans to travel to a Spanish speaking country, just want to learn some travel phrases in Spanish or maybe just practice Spanish? All these opportunities will be available in this five-week class emphasizing useful Spanish travel vocabulary. All levels are invited, whether you know not one word of Spanish or you have a strong background.

Convener: Jan Modloff taught high school Spanish for many years, and in the past 20 years she has presented various LLI classes [mostly about the Spanish language, literature and travel].

Illustrations of Homer, Dante and More

Thursday, September 28

1 to 3 p.m.

John Flaxman (1755-1826) was an English Nee-Classical artist who was steeped in Greek and Greek mythology. This LLI session will be both a lecture on his life and works and an exhibition of some of his illustrations of the Iliad, the Odyssey, an original drawing of Apollo and Ariadne, some of his Wedgwood pieces, and his interpretation of Dante’s Divine Comedy among other art works.

Convener: Marilyn Brusherd is a retired Federal Investigator in Civil Rights from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has always had a love for Latin, Greek art, archaeology, ancient history, and Egyptology. She is currently taking Latin classes through a group at NIU just for fun.

Interpreting Disney’s movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Thursday, October 5

1 to 3 p.m.

Just as Freudian and Jungian psychologies have enriched our understanding of the arts, the psychedelic-based psychology of Stanislav Grof adds another. This talk will show how to use Grof’s view of our minds as an additional kind of psychocriticism.

Convener: Tom Roberts has led several LLI groups over the years. Starting in 1981, he taught the world’s first university based psychedelic course, predominately in Northern’s Honors Program. Related books include those on psychedelic medicine, spirituality, policy, and education. His most recent book MindApps, presents psychedelic contributions to the humanities, including a chapter on Grof.

Deception in World War II

Thursday, October 12

1 to 3 p.m.

A review of the ghost army and Churchill’s ungentlemanly warfare, which were secret and unorthodox tactics used by the U.S. and Britain during the war in Europe.

Conveners: Dan Dillman is co-chair of the curriculum committee of LLI and has convened many LLI classes. He and Brian Fulton share a special interest in World War II.


Attendance for any or all LLI programs this season is $85.00 per person.


Contact Us

Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI)
Monat Building
148 N 3rd St.
DeKalb, IL 60115

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Fall 2023 Newsletter (PDF)

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