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February 24, 2008
Spring into learning at the Friday Center
Guest column
Tyler Ritter


What's happening this spring at the Friday Center?

With the spring semester under way and our part-time credit program students busy at work on their courses, our focus this time of the year turns to Professional Development and Enrichment Programs. Our first "Professional Development Series" course begins March 15. "Community Classroom Series" courses also start mid-March, and a new "What's the Big Idea?" series will kick off the first Thursday in April.

Can anyone take these courses?

Absolutely! We have everyone from high school students to seniors. People from all walks of life with all sorts of backgrounds and interests participate in our noncredit courses. This diversity really enhances the discussions and gives our programs a unique flavor. Of course, some topics attract more diverse groups than others, but we generally see a nice representation of the community at large in our programs.

What is the Professional Development Series?

Each spring and fall, the Friday Center offers a collection of courses covering topics related to professional development. Some of these are of general interest, with broad applications for people in all types of professions. Examples from this year's series are "Building a Professional Image," "The Purpose Powered Person" and "Strategies for Advancing Your Career." Other courses in the series address specific interests such as "Writing Toolbox for Teachers, K-5" and "How to Build a Creative Portfolio and Get a Job in Advertising." Some are one-day seminars, and others are multiple sessions; all are conducted either on Saturdays or in the evenings.

What's new with the Community Classroom Series?

This spring, we have one of the most diverse selections we've ever had, with topics covering science, the arts, history, philosophy -- there really is a broad selection to appeal to all sorts of interests. Part of the magic of these courses is in the creative freedom we give our instructors to develop new topics that relate to their research, current events, or areas of particular interest to them. There are always a few returning favorites -- like "Applied Improv" and "Exploring Film Noir" -- but most of the courses this spring are new offerings.

Also new this year, we will be awarding continuing education units (CEUs) for some of the Community Classroom and Professional Development Series courses. This is helpful to teachers and others who can receive professional credit for participating in continuing education activities.

Describe "What's the Big Idea?"

The "What's the Big Idea?" series focuses on a single topic of current interest or importance to the public. UNC-Chapel Hill scholars, researchers, and clinicians are selected to address various aspects of that topic. This is a great opportunity for the community to hear directly from people at the forefront of these issues and to learn about some of the fascinating work being done here at the university.

The topic this spring is "Genetics, Ethics and Human Health." These days, you can't turn on the news or pick up a newspaper without seeing something about genetics. People face new ethical dilemmas every day as science continues to advance in this area. Beginning April 3, the spring 2008 "What's the Big Idea?" lecture series explores this complex and fascinating topic. The first lecture in the series lays the groundwork for understanding exactly what stem cell research and genetic engineering are. Subsequent lectures examine specific types of research, and the final lecture in the series addresses the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic research. Lectures are presented on consecutive Thursday evenings throughout April. There is a small fee for each lecture, and advance registration is required.

Where are these programs held?

This spring, all of our professional development and enrichment programs will be held at the Friday Center. We are fortunate to have such a beautiful facility, designed especially for adult learners, available to share with our community in this way. People who attend our programs also enjoy the convenience of the center's large parking lot and accessible location.

How do you register or get more information?

You can visit our Web site at for a complete listing of the Friday Center's continuing education courses and services, e-mail a request for information to, or call us at 962-3000.

Tyler Ritter is a marketing specialist and instructional designer at UNC's William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education. More information about the Friday Center is available at http://frida

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