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The Renaissance Society

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FAQs and History

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Renaissance Society?

The Renaissance Society is a participatory Center for Lifelong Learning. Members choose to study topics proposed by their peers who lead the seminars. These subjects constantly evolve from the interests of the members. The goals of the Society are to provide opportunities for continued learning for older adults and to foster creative expression for members.

Who may join?

Membership is open to all older adults who wish to engage in participatory learning. No college degree is required for membership, just the wisdom that comes with experience and the curiosity that sustains interest in learning. The annual membership fee covers the courses offered during the year.

What is the membership fee?

The membership fee is $100 per member for an academic year, from July 1 to June 30. You can also pay $60 for spring semester-only membership. You can sign up to become a member either online, using a credit card, or with a paper form and a check.

Where and when do we meet?

We have two kinds of seminars and programs. Those on Zoom are offered mainly Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays also offer a selection of in-person programs on campus, some in classroom only and others for members in the classroom and also on Zoom. The Forum is also both in a campus classroom and on Zoom.

What about parking?

Sac State offers parking passes that are virtual permits (no placard in your windshield required). Instead, your car license will be used and scanned by parking officials when you are on campus. You cannot pay for parking in our registration system, but pay through UTAPS (University Transportation And Parking Services). You can find informantion here.

What about wifi access on campus?

You can connect your phone, laptop or tablet to the Sac State system. Here is the basic wifi info.

You can learn how to use a guest wifi account here.

What about the Library?

Sac State library cards are available this year, for $10 for the full year. As of July 27, they are part of the online registration system. If you joined or renewed before then, you can get them from the Renaissance office. Details are here.

How do I join Renaissance?

There are two ways to join: online, paying with a credit card, or with a paper form and a check. Visit the Membership page to link to online membership signup and also a paper form that you can download, print out and mail to the Renaissance Office with your check.

How do I register for a seminar?

There are two ways to sign up for seminars: Online (preferred) or by contacting the seminar leader once the new semester schedule is released on Aug. 7. Online signups for Programs begin Aug. 14. You can also signup at the Orientation and Open House on campus on Friday, Aug. 18 in the University Union.

Virtual Parking Permits

Sac State UTAPS (University Transportation And Parking Services) converted to a virtual parking permit system in 2021. There will no longer be a decal on your vehicle windshield. Instead, UTAPS uses your license plate as your Sac State campus parking permit on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Renaissance Society (RS) Board of Directors endorses this much more efficient and effective state-of-the-art technological innovation. The new process significantly reduces RS mailing and admin costs involved with the distribution of over 1,600 annual parking permit decals and fronting $50,000 in General Fund monies to purchase decals.

You can find UTAPS information here.

Please view the Guest Parking Permit instructions to help you with the registration process. You can find a UTAPS Virtual Permits FAQ (frequently asked questions)list at

Please use the Guest Login link to register for your account. This process should take less than five minutes and will make annual renewals much faster and more convenient. Remember, you can register up to two vehicles but only one can be on campus at any one time or risk a citation.

Problems registering: Call (916) 278-7275 or Email or by the UTAPS office in the new Welcome Center at 6000 J Street on the north end of campus.

The annual parking fee is $40.00 and a real bargain! Checkout the UTAPS Permit Pricing Table and you will see Renaissance Society has received a significant and valuable volume discount. The RS Board of Directors is proud to announce that our 2021-2026, five-year Sac State MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) has limited the annual parking permit fee increase to 2%.

A Brief History of the Renaissance Society

The Idea

Just as the 14th Century Renaissance period represented an exciting time for new learning and individual expression, so does the Renaissance Society in today's world.

The lifelong learning program at Sacramento State was first proposed by the late Robert Heilman, professor of social work. In the 1970s, he began a Gerontology Center on campus and learned of other universities learning-in-retirement centers.

In 1984 he attended a conference put on by Plato Society of University of California, Los Angeles. He felt a center for learning should be established on this campus and proceeded to find someone to get it started. Volunteers from the Sixty Plus program (a now-defunct program that allowed those over 60 to attend Sac State classes for a small fee) picked up his enthusiasm.

The next year, Dr. Margaret McKoane (former Director of the Program for Adult Students Admission and Reentry) returned from a trip to University of New Hampshire, which had an Active Retired Association. She brought back a copy of their Constitution and a letter of encouragement. She and Dr. Heilman began the development of what was to become The Renaissance Society. President Donald Gerth and Dean Robert Arellanes agreed to give $2,500 in seed money to get it started. This money was repaid two years later from membership dues

The Beginning

The first semester was the fall of 1986. The first Forum speakers were Dean Arellanes, President Francis Meyers of the Association for Learning in Retirement Organizations (ALIROW) and Dr. Dan Crowley, an anthropologist from University of California at Davis (speaking on Personal Freedom in Today's World Civilizations). Four seminars were offered that first semester: Art and Literature; Science and Technology, Politics, Government and Economic Systems; History and Philosophy. Cracker Barrel discussions and Forum speakers were held on alternate Fridays. A Constitution was adopted and officers were elected at that time. Seminar coordinators are volunteers from the membership who coordinate the individual Programs.

The Evolution

From the beginning in 1986 there have been summer sessions exploring topics of interest to members. Since 1987, ongoing activities have included Lunch and Dinner groups, Music for Fun, Excursions and Writing groups.

In 1991, the Renaissance Society teamed with various professors at the University to offer Volunteer Opportunities to the members. In 2002, volunteers were added in the Library Gallery and at Drama and Music Department Performances. Members also mentor students in Gerontology.

In 1993, The Renaissance Society began offering annual scholarships for students in fields related to gerontology and now includes students from other fields of study. In 2019, seven $3,000 scholarships were given.

In 1995, the very popular Friday morning seminar, Travel and Adventure, began. In 1996 the Walkabout Group (now Walkabouts) began, which offers two- to four-mile weekly walks throughout the Sacramento region.

The Society continues to grow and to be a presence on campus. The Renaissance Society especially values the University's continued support and commitment to learning in the later years.

1987 Meeting to Create Seminars
1987 Meeting to Create Seminars