Undergrads, Elders Mix at 10th Annual Intergenerational Exchange

Undergrads, Elders Mix at 10th Annual Intergenerational Exchange

Mather Intergenerational exchangeUndergraduate Jasmin Colon and Ginny Dearborn talk during the annual field trip. Northwestern University undergraduates and older adults traded stories, laughs, and advice during the 10th annual intergenerational exchange field trip.

The annual event, which brings together college students in Regina Logan’s School of Education and Social Policy class Adulthood and Aging with residents from The Mather in Evanston, is designed to apply research learned in the classroom. “It also can change the students’ attitudes of what it means to be an older adult,” Logan said. “They realize everyone has a story to tell.” 

Over coffee, tea, and cookies, the students informally interviewed residents at The Mather in Evanston, a Life Plan Community, on everything from falling in love to the value of a liberal arts major and the ups and downs of the aging process.

After last year’s event, The Mather resident Beverly Grabow Rose was so inspired that she wrote a haiku called “What I Have Learned from Life.” She shared that poem with this year’s class and asked each student to read a line.Poem about aging

“We talked about the benefits of growing older, careers, love stories, finding love later in life, and the communities they build here,” said SESP’s Talia Meidin, who sat with Rose’s group. “I haven’t really thought about growing older that much yet, but I’m excited for what the future holds.”

The Mather residents gave the students an ‘A’ for the day and said they loved the students’ “goal-oriented nature,” the youthful energy, and the focus on making a difference. One said she was impressed with the amount of time the students spend outside of class, working with businesses and non-profits in the community.

“That’s a hallmark of SESP,” said Logan, assistant professor of instructor and an adviser at SESP. “Every student has to have a practicum, even within the context of different courses to see how theoretical perspectives play out in real life.”

Logan’s Adulthood and Aging class assumes that development continues throughout life and is affected by race, ethnicity, class, and gender. The students learn about the major developmental issues of adulthood, from the age of 18 through midlife, old age, and the end of life.

In addition to the final field trip to The Mather, the class included occasional expert guest lecturers, a panel of “real” parents for the parenthood unit, TEDTalks, blogs, YouTube videos, and readings from scholarly books and journals.

The final project was a case study of an elder, preferably a family member.

“I’m thrilled when students develop their own lens on adult development by seeing themselves, their parents, and their grandparents in the course materials,” Logan said.  “I want them to learn about adulthood and also see that we never stop developing and growing and that most adults continue to contribute to their communities, families, and friends well into old age.” 

Learn more about SESP's Human Development in Context concentration.







By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 12/16/19