Listen to Ron's Interview with Ed Schwartz

Lifelong Learning Takes on Another Life 

Episode description:

As people head toward their traditional retirement years, they often feel conflicting emotions: Part relief and excitement to be done with day-to-day work; and part apprehension, wondering, “What will I do with myself? Sure, I have a few hobbies and grandchildren, and I’d like to travel, but will this be enough to keep me engaged for long?”  About 10 years ago, Ed Schwartz, a retired engineer, faced these questions and discovered PEIR, Personal Enrichment in Retirement, an organization whose members are passionate about lifelong learning. This approach to learning has become a hot topic in recent years, as research studies have found that continued cognitive engagement is one of the keys to leading a longer and healthier life. And, of course, online learning and virtual workshops have exploded in response to the pandemic. But in today’s conversation, Ed, who is currently chairperson of PEIR, will talk about how PEIR has evolved over 40-plus years as a highly successful and resilient group whose members are not just the audience, but the creators and presenters of all their subject matter. Ed will explain how PEIR has adapted its administration and structure to an online environment. He will be joined by several other call-in members, who will offer examples of the group’s wide offerings. It may be an unusual model for lifelong learning—but perhaps a new model for other enterprising retirees around the country.

Guest description:

Ed Schwartz is Chairperson of the Personal Enrichment in Retirement organization (PEIR), which has been affiliated with Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York for 44 years. PEIR is a  member-centric group, where members design their own curriculum, researching and making presentations on an array of topics. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Manhattan College in 1969, Ed taught in the New York City public schools. In 1976 he embarked on a career in human resources, working for two engineering firms, before retiring at the end of 2011 as a senior vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff. Along the way, he received master’s degrees from The City College of New York and New York Institute of Technology. Realizing the importance of keeping himself mentally active after retirement, Ed joined PEIR in 2012. Ed underscores that being in a community committed to life-long learning has immensely enhanced his life, noting that the things he's learned and the friendships he’s made over the past nine years are precious gifts. An active presenter and participant, among the topics Ed has presented to fellow  members are:

  • Father Charles Coughlin, radio priest and demagogue of the Depression
  • Minor American Political Parties: Anti-Masons, Know-Nothings, Liberal Republicans, Populists
  • The Molly Maguires, Radical Coal Miners of Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Secretary of State William H. Seward
  • The G.I.  Bill of Rights
  • Benedict Arnold, Misunderstood American?
  • The Origins of Thanksgiving
  • The Northwest Ordinance


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