Setting the PACE For Lifelong Learning

2011-2012 Issue 2
Alex Megelas

Alex Megelas, Photo: Ryan Blau

McGill is nothing if not a Montreal institution. Since it was founded in 1821, hundreds of the world’s foremost scholars have passed through its gates, contributing to McGill’s reputation as an incubator of innovative ideas. And while its renown is indeed international, the University has long prided itself on giving the Montreal community access to the knowledge it generates.

With that end in mind, the School’s PACE – or Personal and Cultural Enrichment – program offers learners from all walks of Montreal life valuable educational experiences in a range of academic and artistic fields. The upcoming spring and fall sessions promise diverse offerings.

“The thing that’s really interesting about PACE, as I see it, is that it’s situated at the intersection of McGill and the community at large,” says Alex Megelas, PACE’s coordinator.

PACE’s programming consists of three parts, Megelas explains. “One is this idea of arts and culture; the second is connected to social engagement; and the third is about life transitions.

Each boasts an intriguing line-up of activities open to people of all ages and professional backgrounds. In June, fans of James Joyce and his seminal novel Ulysses will commemorate the writer during a three-day Bloomsday celebration. And featured this spring will be a series on the growing overlap between arts and
technology. “Rather than host the sessions here at McGill in a classroom, we’re going to be taking learners into art spaces around the city,” Megelas says.

Other programming speaks to broader social concerns. For instance, Empowering the Sandwich Generation, will explore the reality of a growing number of adults who are taking care of their children along with their own parents and older relatives at the same time.

These lines of programming, Megelas explains, expose the Montreal community to the research that takes place at the University. “It bridges the divide between the School and city,” he says. “We’ve worked hard to build partnerships with all sorts of different cultural stakeholders in Montreal and to use this as a
venue to showcase McGill research.”

PACE sessions take place in a relaxed atmosphere. But, Megelas notes, unlike other programming, PACE is open to suggestions of all sorts from the learners and volunteers who make it possible.

This flexibility has led to offerings that are just as well suited to the casual learner as to those seeking more structured educational environments. “These are sessions that in many ways are high-profile and that offer very, strong content,” Megelas says. “The fact that they’re part of McGill lends them academic credibility and also makes them accessible to a public that’s interested in connecting to the University and enjoying a truly fulfilling learning experience.”

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