April 18, 2001: From the Editor

My predecessor often said that Class Notes are the soul of PAW, and of course he was right. Keeping classmates in touch with each other is PAW’s most important role, and like many of you, I’m sure, I not only read PAW back to front but read every class year (and not just because I have to).

When I was reading the Notes in PAW’s April 4 issue, I noticed that a number of secretaries encouraged their classmates to look into a spring Alumni Studies course called Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and the Tasks of the Russian Novel, taught by Caryl Emerson, Slavic languages and literatures professor. Continuing education for alumni was already on my mind, because the cover story in this issue (page 20) focuses on the new Educational Technologies Center, whose staff is — among many other projects — working with faculty to create online alumni courses. In addition, Bob Hoffman *58, a member of the Committee on Academic Programs for Alumni, recently sent me some information on the abundant opportunities for continuing education available to Princeton alumni.

No doubt many of us not yet flush with leisure time or money have dreamed of someday taking part in one of those enticing Alumni Colleges — a Mediterranean cruise to Greece, perhaps, with lively lectures accompanied by sumptuous souvlaki dinners, starry skies, and white-sand beaches, or a tramp through Ireland with heartfelt discussions over pints at the local pub.

Less familiar are Princeton’s other alumni education courses, many of which don’t require the student to leave his or her couch (or keyboard). The Russian literature course being touted in Class Notes, for example, is a part of the relatively young — it’s been evolving since 1993 — Alumni Studies program, a series of courses based on study guides and reading packets, audiotaped lectures, e-mail discussion groups, and optional seminars on campus.

Then there are the alumni online courses being developed at ETC, multimedia courses available either online or on CD-ROM that feature not only a professor’s lectures but animated maps, illustrations, and art that bring the subject to life. One of the biggest advantages of the work going on at ETC, its directors stress, is its circular nature: Faculty find that creating online courses influences how they teach in the classroom, and vice versa.

Alumni education, as PAW’s class scribes obviously recognize, works much the same way, as a continuous cycle of learning — whether through formal courses (with or without white-sand beaches) or simply through keeping up correspondence with old friends.