Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)

1973

Weekend College Program at Wayne State University allows working adults to pursue interdisciplinary studies

This year, Otto Feinstein, who escaped the Nazis shortly after the Anschluss and became a professor at Wayne State University (Detroit), establishes the Weekend College Program. This program allowed thousands of working adults to pursue interdisciplinary studies on campus.

Indeed, Feinstein created the program with two purposes in mind. First, to make university degrees more accessible to adults who have family, work and other responsibilities, and whose schedules did not allow them to attend regular courses. Second, to offer a relevant curriculum addressing major issues and problems of the time through an interdisciplinary approach.

As Otto put it at the time: "The University must learn to understand that not only are there a variety of ways to learn, but there are also a variety of people to reach." Later on, reflecting on the model, he also said that "we replaced the discipline-oriented department with the student-oriented module.Ē

This creative approach challenged the traditional university model prevailing at that time, and for that reason in 1977 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), recognized this program as the most innovative adult education program in the world.

The Weekend College Program continued operating at Wayne State University, although it changed its name to Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and moved to the College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs.

Otto Feinstein also founded the university's Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, the Center for Chicano Boricua Studies, the College of Lifelong Learning and the Distance Learning Television Program, the Youth/Urban Agenda and the International School-to-School Project. He passed away Dec. 30, 2003, at his apartment on the Wayne State campus in Detroit. He was 73 years old, and at the time of his death he was working on his latest project: "The Intercontinental Master's Program in Civic and Adult Literacy."

Sources:

Linda Lora Hulbert ISPís Early History: 1973-1979. The Period of Formation and Change http://www.is.wayne.edu/isp_history%2073-79.htm 

Eric Bockstael (2004). Honoring Otto Feinstein. Words at the Memorial of Otto Feinstein. January 26, 2004. Personal communication.

DS

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