IRPE is an independent, nonprofit lifelong learning program on the campus of Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. We foster peer learning among adults. We do this through classes, seminars and cultural activities designed and conducted by members and volunteers in an informal, non-competitive and intellectually stimulating environment. We are one of the oldest lifelong learning programs in the U.S. and continue to adhere to our basic concept which is to create, adapt and maintain an academically-oriented, campus-based lifelong learning program run by adults for adults.
In addition to our regularly scheduled courses on numerous subjects, we offer lectures, performances, art exhibitions, and trips to places of historical and cultural interest. IRPE caters to every interest and is a vital force in the lives of our members.
The Brooklyn College IRPE founded in 1977 under the leadership of Violet D. Klein, its first president, began with a membership of 150 and only a few course offerings. The Institute now has a membership of approximately 800 and offers more than 65 courses. From the beginning, Vi Klein and her group laid down certain basic principles which would guide the new organization and from which we have not deviated. Under the guidance of these principles, IRPE at Brooklyn College grew to become one of the largest organizations of its kind in the country.
- The Institute is self-governing. Brooklyn College provides much help: space, audio-visual equipment, college facilities, etc. but members make all decisions affecting the Institute. Policy is established by an elected Executive Board and carried out by the elected president and elected officers. A number of committees assist in the formulation and execution of policy.
- Membership dues are kept as low as possible. From a financial point of view, we are entirely self-sustaining, and all activities are supported by membership dues.
- All services are provided by volunteers. The Institute currently has only two paid employees, both of whom are Administrative Assistants. With this exception, no worker receives payment of any kind. Many members serve as course instructors and in other capacities - as organizers, administrators and in various clerical and support services.
- The Institute is an academically oriented, campus-based learning center run by adults for adults. Teachers and other volunteers use the skills they have acquired. All members are provided with intellectual stimulation, information and recreational activities. In addition, for many, there is the important feeling of being needed, of being able to do a job, of being able to make a contribution.
- Members are able to continue old friendships and to forge new ones centering on the commonality of intellectual and other interests. The Institute is a place where members come to revive old friendships and to make new ones. For many members, the Institute has truly proved to be “a home away from home.”
- The curriculum of the Institute emphasizes but is not restricted to academic learning. Most courses are in the humanities and sciences; many are workshops in performing arts: drama, vocal and instrumental music and art; and a few, like bridge, are frankly recreational. The Institute also conducts trips to places of historical and cultural interest, at reasonable cost.