Housed in the ASU Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, OLLI at ASU engages in research pertaining to lifelong learning, adult education, and community building. We take pride in that our work is both research-inspired and research-inspiring.



Talmage, C. A., Hansen, R. J., Knopf, R. C., & Thaxton, S. (in press). Directions for 21st Century Lifelong Learning Institutes: Elucidating Questions from Osher Lifelong Learning Institute StudiesAlberta Journal of Educational Research, 64(2), 109-125.

The literature regarding lifelong learning is robust, while the literature on lifelong learning institutions, centers, and programs remain under-researched in comparison. This article draws insights from a specific network of lifelong learning institutes with a rich history and high rapport in the United States: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) network. Sixty articles regarding OLLIs are catalogued and highlighted to elucidate twelve thematic areas and twelve questions for future research and practice. In particular, these themes are related to adult education, healthy aging, and educational gerontology. The article concludes by reflecting on trends in and needs for institutional research and practice.


Mark, R., Talmage, C. A., & Knopf, R. C. (in press). Learning Later: Responding to the evolving educational needs of older peoplePascal International Observatory (Briefing Paper).

The proportion of older people in many countries is increasing and will continue to play an important future role in policy. Policy debates focus on how to address the widespread needs of older adults, which include economic security, health, work, and leisure. We highlight the debate in the field of education and focus on the emerging approaches and locales for responding to the learning needs of older adults if they are to receive appropriate response by policy formation. We also emphasize the important role lifelong learning can serve in policies enacted across the communities and societies.


Pstross, M., Talmage, C. A., & Peterson, C. B., Knopf, R. C. (2017). In search of transformative moments: Blending community building pursuits into lifelong learning experiencesJournal of Education, Culture and Society, (1), 62-78.

This article presents an exploration of the relationship between community building and lifelong learning. Using a reflective style, the authors propose that the fusion of community building principles with lifelong learning practice can positively transform educational practice. Seven positive pursuits are highlighted regarding their potential to assist the implementation of community building into lifelong learning programs: (1) asset-based thinking; (2) critical reflection; (3) systems thinking; (4) cognitive vibrancy, (5) inclusiveness; (6) creative expression; and, (7) purpose in life. These pursuits draw upon the power of the community development field to bring about more positive transformative moments for individuals and communities participating in lifelong learning programs. The metaphor of bread making is used to illustrate how such transformative moments occur and why they are meaningful to individuals pursuing lifelong learning.


Talmage, C. A., Rob M., Maria S., & Knopf, R. C. (2016). Age Friendly Universities and engagement with older adults: moving from principles to practiceInternational Journal of Lifelong Education, 35(5), 537-554.

The global society is facing a new burgeoning element: an ageing population. Response to the educational needs and interests of older adults requires innovative pedagogies and practices of teaching, research, and community engagement. While traditionally geared towards provision for younger adults, the case is presented that universities have the potential to play a major role in innovation for later life learning for older adults. This article outlines one approach, the Age Friendly University (AFU) and highlights 10 principles that offer a possible guide for innovation and institutional change. The integration of AFU’s mission and principles into three universities is reflected in stories from three university cases in Ireland, the UK (Scotland) and the USA exploring potential merits and also major challenges. It is argued the AFU has the potential to bring social, personal and economic benefits to older adults and universities alike.


Pstross, M., Corrigan, T., Knopf, R. C., Sung, H., Talmage, C. A., Conroy, C., & Fowley, C. (2016). The Benefits of Intergenerational Learning in Higher Education: Lessons Learned from Two Age Friendly University ProgramsInnovative Higher Education, 42(2), 157-171.

This article focuses on the role of universities in the promotion of intergenerational learning and the facilitation of reciprocal sharing of expertise among learners of all ages. The principles of the Age Friendly University are used as a particular lens for interpreting two university programs, one in the United States and one in Ireland. Though different in operational implementation, core commonalities emerged within the nature of benefits to younger learners, older learners, the university, and the community. A review of these benefits illustrates how universities can provide opportunities for older and younger learners to co-create experiences and mutually enrich each other’s lives.


Talmage, C. A., Lacher, R. G., Pstross, M., Knopf, R. C., & Burkhart, K. A. (2015). Captivating lifelong learners in the third age: Lessons learned from a university-based instituteAdult Education Quarterly, 65(3), 232-249.

The prevalence of learning providers for third agers continues to expand alongside the growth of the older adult population, yet there remains little empirical evidence on what types of learning experiences are most desired by lifelong learners. This article examines the effects that different learning topics have on attendance at classes hosted by a university-based lifelong learning institute, asking, Which learning topics draw enrollment in a lifelong learning program? Registration data were collected from 7,332 attendees of 290 learning experiences held over four semesters; class topics were coded and analyzed using a multivariate regression procedure. Results indicate that lifelong learners are more interested in classes concerning global issues, religion/philosophy, and social issues focusing on particular groups and individuals. The results remain significant after accounting for structural arrangements such as class time, day of the week, number of sessions, and location. Implications for enhancing lifelong learning experiences and programs are discussed.


Conference poster presentations

Wu, T., Knopf, R. C., Talmage, C. A., Mirchandani, P., Candan, S., O’Neill, Z., Sazonov, E., Wen, J. (2018). Smart, Connected, Engaged Senior Communities. Smart Cities Conference. Kansas City, Missouri, March 26-29.

Talmage, C. A., Ross, A., Pstross, M., Searle, M., Knopf, R. C., & Wilson, K. (2017). The Social and Cognitive Empowerment of Older Adult Women: An Analysis of a University-Based Lifelong Learning Community. Community Development Society Conference. Big Sky, Montana, June 13.

Pstross, M., Peterson, C. B., Knopf, R. C, & Talmage, C. A. (2015). In search of transformative moments: Blending community building pursuits into lifelong learning experiences. Community Development Society Conference. Lexington, Kentucky, July 20.

Pstross, M., Sung, E., Mendoza, M., Talmage, C. A., & Knopf, R. C. (2014). Community Service Learning as a Path to Abundance: Lessons Learned from a Long-Term University-Community Partnership. Community Development Society Conference, Dubuque, Iowa, July 21.

Talmage, C. A., Pstross, M., & Knopf, R. C. (2013). Lifelong Learning in the Metro-City: What’s Trending in Education in the Third Age. Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities Conference, Louisville, Kentucky, Oct. 27.

Okvat, H. A., Okun, M. A., Davis, M. C., Zautra, A. J., & Knopf, R. C. (2012). A pilot study of the benefits of traditional and mindful community gardening for healthy aging among older adults. 12th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, Budapest, Hungary, Aug. 31.


Professional conferences where OLLI at ASU research has been presented

Age-Friendly Universities Conference
Arizona Summit on Volunteerism and Service-Learning
Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities Conference
Community Development Society Conference
International Association for Community Development Conference
International Congress of Behavioral Medicine
Smart Cities Conference