Arts, Dining & Entertainment

Bethel’s pop-up university doubles course offerings in second year

Courtesy of Bethel University

Attendees listen intently, during a Bethel University pop up wine class held last year —the inaugural year for BU.

Registration now open for courses and meet-up groups through March

BETHEL—Registration is now open for Bethel’s one-of-a-kind pop-up university, which will run again this March. Members of the community are offering 36 free mini-courses throughout the month. Courses are open to anyone (not just residents of Bethel). This year, Bethel University (BU) also includes seven “meet-up groups”—a chance to get together with people who share an interest, but without the structure of a course.

Anyone from Bethel and beyond can sign up for free courses and meet-up groups at People can also register in person at the Bethel Village Sandwich Shop or get help with online registration at the Bethel Public Library.

Registration is open until courses are full.

BU courses can cover anything under the sun, organizers state. This year offerings include bread baking, auto mechanics, knot tying, Tarot, public speaking, dodgeball, photography, French, tennis, iPads, line dancing, grant writing, and wine tasting. Attend a course at Bethel University and you can learn about topics as diverse as making felted wool animals, keeping your youthful figure, writing a novel, growing a tea garden, and the Italian invasion of Bethel.

This year’s new meet-up groups will offer space and time for people to connect around common interests, such as playing Trivial Pursuit or discussing big ideas in philosophy, religion, and ethics. Meet with others interested in cartooning, medicinal herbalism, Lego™ robotics, history movies, or playgroups for toddlers.

“Bethel University was incredibly popular last year, but we were floored by this year’s response,” said Kirk White, president of the Bethel Revitalization Initiative and a BU organizer. “We’ve doubled our course offerings, added meet-up groups, and attracted ‘professors’ from seven towns (including as far away as Montpelier and Middletown Springs).”

Bethel University will officially conclude with a graduation celebration on Sunday, March 29, 2015.

BU is organized by the Bethel Revitalization Initiative (BRI) and is run completely by volunteers. The BRI seeks to encourage interaction, cooperation, and communication among Bethel’s people, groups, businesses, and town government. The group created BU to help build energy and enthusiasm about everything that Bethel has to offer.

“After living in Bethel for two years, I still didn’t know many people. Bethel University is the perfect way to meet people and become involved in the town,” said Lylee Rauch-Kacenski, a new volunteer organizer. “In a rural community, it’s so important to have common events that bring people together. BU is just that—there truly is something for everyone.”

Bethel University is funded this year by a Seed Grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. It is also supported by generous donations from area businesses.

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