SAGE is a membership-supported group of 55+ people who share a passion for learning. Members meet to study, share knowledge, discuss ideas, and develop new interests.
SAGE offers educational classes that are structured, but casual and highly interactive. A volunteer curriculum committee curates topics suggested by members to establish a roster of courses offered each quarter, each year. Members may register for as many classes as they wish among the 10 to 20 offered. Each class has a pre-assigned coordinator who organizes the schedule and helps run the class. The participative learning environment in these small study groups promotes an immersive educational experience that is deeply enriching both intellectually and socially.
Learning at SAGE extends beyond the classroom to extracurricular activities, including a speaker series, special activity groups, such as our film club, Shakespeare dinners, opera club and educational/cultural field trips.
SAGE welcomes new members, who can sign up for the year or, if they wish, sign-up for an initial trial membership to get a sense of what it’s like to be part of our community where we are bonded by intellectual curiosity, varied learning experiences and fellowship.
What makes us a community? We love learning and sharing intellectually stimulating dialogue. But SAGE classes are much more than names, dates, and minutiae.
At SAGE our colleagues are our teachers, fellow students, and friends. We are keenly curious people. We are retired teachers, businesspeople, computer scientists, engineers, physicians, attorneys, audio visual professionals, entrepreneurs, archivists and many other varied occupations. There is no requirement that members are college graduates, only that they have a passion for learning.
We offer classes in U.S. and world history, visual and performing arts, science, business, and religion. If those areas don’t peak your interest, then know that all our members can and do create a wide range of topics for our volunteer curriculum committee to consider.
Beyond learning from each other we socialize together, attend outside events together, travel, and participate in programs of interest to the entire community, such as our recent SAGE Forum on California Propositions. Panel members volunteer to research the propositions and present neutral analyses to SAGE members and others in the broader community.
Study Groups: Our Approach to Classes
Our curriculum and study groups are designed to give members a variety of choices spanning many disciplines. A coordinator, most often not a subject matter expert, organizes the presentation schedule for each group and ensures that sessions run smoothly.
Members in the group each select a topic related to the overall subject matter and present and lead a discussion on their selection. 10 to 20 classes are offered every term, with four terms per year. To ensure variety, SAGE’s Curriculum Committee draws classes from among several categories, including:
- Visual Art
- Business and Economics
- Current Affairs
- Literature, Fiction and Nonfiction
- Science and Technology
The Evolution of a Class: An Example
Normally, study group topics are proposed to the Curriculum Committee by members, reviewed by the Committee, and selected if they are deemed interesting enough to attract members and fit into the need to have class topics from several different categories. Occasionally, classes emerge by popular demand as in the following example.
Class members in a study group on Southern Renaissance Art, fascinated by the topic, wondered what else was going on in the world of art and ideas during the same period. They proposed a class on the art of the Northern Renaissance. A SAGE member volunteered to lead the class as coordinator and researched the parameters of the topic.
Members who were interested in the overall topic not only registered for the class but also worked with the coordinator to choose the following subtopics for a closer look.
- Jan Van Eyck
- Limbourg brothers
- Pieter Brueghel the Elder
- Hans Holbein the Younger
- Rogier van der Weyden
- Robert Campin
- Albrecht Durer, Painter
- Hieronymus Bosch
- Quentin Massys
- Lucas Cranach the Elder
- Albrecht Durer, Engraver
- Northern Renaissance Sculpture
Note that the chosen topics cover types of artistic endeavor and individual artists, as well as craftsmen. Other subtopics considered included engraving, typography, embroidery, development of colors, Northern European economic development, the impact of religious movements at the time, and the impact of the growth of the middle class. These additional approaches may become subtopics for a part two of the class.
Reflecting their desire to learn even more, class members also arranged trips to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, both of which have notable collections of Northern Renaissance Art. And last, but not least, class members held a potluck dinner with food based on recipes from Northern European during that era.
SAGE has a governing board made up of members who establish policy and procedures that help our organization run smoothly, equitably and on a fiscally sound basis. The Board includes our President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Chairpersons of Curriculum, Coordinators, Publications, Membership, Web/Zoom Management and Training, and Liaison with CSUN.
SAGE was established in the Spring of 1987. The twelve founding members wanted to create an organization based in the San Fernando Valley where individuals age 55 and above could create and self manage learning opportunities matching their intellectual curiosity. Beyond sitting in a classroom or attending lectures, these individuals wanted to create interactive study groups on all manner of topics, pursue new learnings about culture, literature, travel, history, the Internet, and the arts and sciences. They wanted to investigate areas of interest in and around Los Angeles and even explore travel opportunities, attend operas, concerts, plays and movies and then discuss them and share ideas.
With the assistance of the Office of Continuing Education at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and a grant from the Milken Foundation, the SAGE project was launched.
SAGE quickly became a community of colleagues whose interests and passions grew into a thriving organization. In 2018 just on the cusp of the pandemic, SAGE modified its name and status to become SAGE Learning in Retirement, Inc. a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Cooperation with CSUN.