Fall 2018


Drawing and Imagining for Brain Health (55+)

The latest research on aging well confirms that exercising your imagination—for example, through drawing, no matter what your skill level—can lead to cognitive resilience and stronger social cognition.

The key driver of ongoing brain health is constant participation in novel activities. Together we’ll explore how you can put this into practice by daily exercises in affordable and portable forms of a number of the arts. We’ll engage in a parallel discussion of the whats, whys and hows of aging well, and use a variety of drawing and other arts techniques in a social context. Along the way, we’ll do exercises that focus on playful, collaborative and creative social activity, exploring the role of imagination and memory, both individually and in groups.

Note: Back by popular demand. Offered as Drawing for Brain Health in summer 2017. Involves active participation and group discussion. Drawing materials will be provided.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1

Introduction to our exploration of the latest ideas in neuroscience, gerontology, the arts and education—and the optimistic possibilities for continuous growth through the ageing process.

We combine discussion with practical, individual and collaborative drawing exercises in order to develop life strengths and resiliencies toward optimal aging. We all have experience with arts in some form and, in the participatory exercises of this course, we aim to be non-judgmental and to have a lot of fun, while developing a blueprint for enhanced and even radical ageing. How will you age in the best way possible?

Week 2

We explore the need for discussion of aging and optimal ageing. We review demographic statistics and consider the social and cultural constructs of ageing and ageism. The drawing and arts-based exercises this week are structured around ideas of ageism, and aim to stimulate memory and social communication.

Week 3

We review all the components of optimal ageing and how individual optimal ageing might be pursued through the building of life strengths and resiliencies, for the preservation and enhancement of identity, agency, meaning-making and quality of life. How do all of these fit together and interact? The arts-based exercises for this session explore the building of resilience.

Week 4

We consider what happens in the brain, and with cognition and memory, at different stages of the ageing process, and how all are impacted by age. The drawing exercises this week are directly related to memory strengthening—both working memory and all areas of long term memory.

Week 5

We explore the relationship between arts and ageing, and review recent examples of relevant arts, gerontology, education and neuroscience research, together with some successfully applied developments and their ongoing impacts and implications for healthy ageing. This week we use the arts exercises to further our understanding of the relationship between art and ageing.

Week 6

We consider the relationship between resilience, wisdom development and ageing, and how growth is not just for the young. We review the development of physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual resiliencies—how they all relate and interact, and how they can be preserved and developed through engagement in art making. Finally, through the participatory exercises, we investigate how everyone might develop their own individual, radical, optimal plan for ageing well.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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