Who We Are
The Lifelong Peer Learning Program (LP2) at the CUNY Graduate Center is a vibrant organization of adult learners based in New York City. A pioneer in the Lifelong Learning Movement, LP2 has been the model for adult-learning groups on more than 500 campuses around the country. Since it began in 1962, as the Institute for Retired Professionals (IRP), thousands of retired and semi-retired adults of varied ages, education and careers have been leading and taking study groups based on the principles of peer learning. As participants join class discussions and engage with the committees that make LP2 work, these members not only find intellectual stimulation and a sense of community, but also new friendships.
LP2 has been a program of the Office of Academic Initiatives and Strategic Innovation at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York since 2020. LP2 operates under the leadership of Dean Brian A. Peterson, our Director, Mariel Villeré, and the member-elected Advisory Board, Executive Committee, and LP² committees.
LP2 is dedicated to the pursuit of lifelong learning and fellowship and seeks to expand diversity, which includes gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, politics, culture, socio-economic status and disability. Our members make a Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The LP2 Peer Learning model is based on study groups (not courses) that are conceived and developed by our members, who then coordinate (not teach) the study groups in a classroom setting. This structure recognizes that all participants are on equal footing as a topic is explored. Study groups address a wide variety of topics – history, literature, philosophy, science, film, art, music, drama, political science, and many more that allow participants to share a zeal for learning. While the LP2 curriculum is academically rigorous, study groups are noncredit, and there are no exams or grades.
LP2 study groups meet once a week and typically run for 12 weeks in the fall and spring sessions and 6 weeks in the summer session. The program is committed to small study groups and to the unique sense of participation and community that distinguishes this program from other adult education programs. Learning in LP2 is an intellectual and social experience. All members of our peer learning community take their responsibilities seriously, and enthusiastic engagement is an integral element of the program. LP2 remains an exemplary affirmation of the fact that we all have something to contribute and learn at any age.
Study groups may be co-coordinated by two or more members, allowing for shared responsibility in both planning and leading the weekly sessions. Guest speakers often bring special expertise to the study groups. In addition, the backgrounds and life experiences of members bring first-hand personal knowledge of a topic to discussions. The nature of peer learning builds a special camaraderie among LP2 study group members and the coordinators who prepare and guide stimulating, engaging sessions.
Most people join LP2 because they love learning and look forward to the intellectually stimulating study groups. As they begin to participate in the organization, they soon discover that LP2 is very much a community in which friendships develop beyond the classroom. Members find new friends and collaborators by co-coordinating, by joining and working on committees, and by taking part in “extra-curricular” activities. Members participate in Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in art, music, theatre, men’s and women’s discussion groups, and science seminars. Participants also contribute to Voices, our online periodical of members’ art and literary work. In addition, groups sponsor a variety of “outside of the classroom” activities such as the Tuesday with Friends, which sponsors small group gatherings in members’ homes.
Service to the community is an important part of the LP2 mission. The Fridays@3 and Diversity lecture series feature well-known speakers on topics of current interest and these presentations are open to the public. Among our multi-generational activities are a voter registration project for college students and conversation partners with students for whom English is a second language. A virtual learning program serves a group of homebound seniors. The Our Stage of Life Committee sponsors annual workshops, open to the public, on topics related to aging.
LP2 at The Graduate Center
As a program of The Graduate Center, CUNY, LP2 actively develops relationships with other CUNY programs and CUNY faculty. The science seminars feature CUNY science faculty speaking to members on their research topics. In cooperation with the non-profit Institute for Education and Retirement, LP2 has awarded fellowships to CUNY graduate students working on dissertations related to social justice. Two of our members are active participants in the Graduate Center’s Reactivation Committee on campus planning related to the COVID-19 pandemic.