University of Minnesota Advanced Careers (UMAC) aspires to: 1) enrich the development of adults in the second half of life; 2) connect experienced talent with community needs for the common good; and 3) reimagine higher education as an intergenerational enterprise.
UMAC and Research
UMAC is housed in the University of Minnesota’s Life Course Center, a university-wide center for the study of age and the life course. The Life Course Center addresses critical challenges of our times through interdisciplinary scholarship and public engagement that promote social participation, equity, health and well-being at all ages and life stages.
Through research and scholarship, UMAC furthers our understanding of encore adulthood as a new life stage, and applies research insights into practical approaches that benefit older adults, younger generations, and communities.
Today’s older adults expect to work or volunteer well into the retirement years. Many want to return to college, retool for new careers, and embrace lifelong learning. They are committed to living active, engaged lives with a sense of purpose and impact.
A growing number of adults seek opportunities to move from their career jobs to new ways of working and living in an evolving new life stage, what we call “encore adulthood.”
Despite widespread interest, few pathways to such post-career engagement exist. Those who want second acts in their lives find neither roadmaps nor blueprints. Given this mismatch between what many workers want and could offer to their communities and outdated policies and practices, older workers and retirees find little structured guidance.
This generation brings a lifetime of experience and relevant skills and talents that younger generations, local communities, and social sector organizations need. UMAC bridges the gap.
Higher education is extremely age segregated, focusing on those ages 18-22. Even “life-long learning” segregates older students into their own silos.
We envision intergenerational education as key to the development of people of all ages and life stages and to solving societies’ grand challenges. This is essential for emerging adults in their undergraduate years whose career readiness is enhanced by learning with and from what we call encore adults, those moving beyond the years of family- and career-building, but prior to the frailties associated with old age.
The University of Minnesota is on the leading edge of an expanding landscape of higher education institutions exploring ways to bring encore adults back to campus to consider what is next. Universities such as Stanford and Harvard, and now Notre Dame and UT-Austin offer fellowships for late-career professionals to share the experience of reimagining possibilities.
As a public land-grant university, Minnesota is poised to be a key leader in this movement by designing and testing a sustainable model.
UMAC is part of the Encore Network, a coalition of encore leaders and organizations providing resources, visibility, and connections, strengthening members’ work to turn longer lives into an asset.