A Dublin, Ireland, college is modeling a new program for adult learners after DePaul University’s acclaimed School for New Learning (SNL), which offers individualized programs for adult learners.
Launched in September with 30 students, the All Hallows program aims to help older adults obtain a college education by allowing them to design their own curricula around their individual interests and goals. Through the program, students can earn a bachelor’s degree for personal and professional development in one of four areas of study: arts and ideas; adult learning; human development; and a professional area that includes business studies, facilitation studies, family studies, pastoral theology and community development. Additional professional concentrations will be added in the future. The courses are tailored to match adult students’ needs and interests and will meet at night and on weekends to offer scheduling flexibility.
The program is designed to provide a college education to Irish adults who may not have had a chance to go to college, according to Susanne Dumbleton, an SNL professor who helped All Hallows start the program.
“The program is based on the model of the very successful SNL bachelor of arts degree and is accredited by Dublin City University,” said the Rev. Joseph McCann, C.M., director of the Adult Learning bachelor’s degree program at All Hallows. “None of this would have been achieved without the active support of SNL.”
Dumbleton traveled to Dublin to meet with McCann and other faculty at All Hallows, and All Hallows faculty have visited DePaul’s campus in Chicago to learn about how to create an adult education program.
“Colleges in other countries are finding that SNL is an excellent model that works for them as well,” Dumbleton said.
All Hallows hopes to further strengthen links to SNL with student exchanges and faculty visits and other collaborative joint ventures, McCann added.
“This is another episode in the ongoing cooperation between the two Vincentian-led colleges, as All Hallows has been collaborating with DePaul’s School of Public Service for a number of years on the master of arts in management program,” McCann said.
Run by Vincentian priests, the same order that founded DePaul, All Hallows had served as a seminary until recently, when faced with a dwindling number of men entering the priesthood. The new program is expected to attract new students to the college because adult education is such a critical need in Ireland. The program aims to close the gap between college-educated younger adults and older adults without college degrees. Many older adults cannot attend college full-time due to work and family obligations, and most employers do not offer tuition reimbursement programs. To date, the government does not fund part-time courses unless they are specifically vocational and skills-based. The All Hallows program responds to this dilemma by providing a reasonably priced degree program that is adult-focused, flexible and professional.
Established in 1972, SNL is one of the first programs in the nation expressly designed to serve the needs of adult learners balancing work, family and school. It has earned an international reputation for its core-based approach to learning that offers innovative, adult-focused curricula and degree programs. One of SNL’s most unique features is that it allows students to receive class credit for what they have learned through prior life and work experience.