Study groups and the peer learning experience at OLLI.

At the heart of Northwestern's OLLI is a shared learning experience called peer learning. Peer learning is a uniquely energetic experience. We call our classes study groups because members share knowledge with other members while learning from them at the same time. Small, engaging, interactive study groups, with an always-evolving curriculum offering a rich and diverse array of topics proposed by the members themselves, attract members who live in the spirit of learning and personal growth.

Click here for an inspiring story about Newton Minow and daughter Mary Minow’s personal OLLI experience.


Spring 2024 Registration is Closed.
OLLI’s Summer 2024 Catalog will be available June 2.



Proposing a Study Group

Call for proposal announcements and instructions to submit a proposal are made through the weekly email newsletter. Call for proposal dates for all sessions are posted on the OLLI calendar. Please note, you must be a current OLLI member to propose a study group.

If you are considering proposing a study group, we recommend the following:

  • Look through past OLLI catalogs (below) to get a sense of what has been offered in prior years.
  • Discuss your proposed study group with your peers to gather feedback and to potentially recruit a co-coordinator.
  • Attend a Study Group Committee planning session on Chicago campus, or an OLLI Connect meeting on the Evanston campus, in the fall or the spring. Meeting dates are posted on the OLLI calendar.
  • Check your email for the Call for Proposals and proposal submission deadlines. Call for Proposal dates are posted on OLLI's calendar.
  • Read the proposal instruction, draft your proposal and submit it on the official online proposal form. (Available only during Call for Proposals)
  • Contact the Study Group Committee directly with comments and questions:


Past Study Group Offerings

Study Group Roles

Study Group Members

Members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute pursue the pleasures of study and the exchange of ideas through active participation in peer-led groups.

Weekly Discussion Leaders

Weekly study group discussion leaders stimulate lively and orderly discussion based on the assigned material and the goals of the discussion. The discussion leader must know the assigned material very well in order to be prepared for the discussion session.

Being a weekly discussion leader is not required for new members, but it is strongly recommended for all others at least once a semester. Virtually all members report that they learned the most about their subject the week(s) they led the discussion. Discussion leaders should not take sides but rather draw out various points of view, not trying for total agreement but rather an expression of all sides of an issue. They must remember that different types of study groups may have different discussion elements.


We doubt you'll find more enthusiastic, vibrant individuals than our volunteer coordinators. Their journey through life has taken them to virtually every corner of the earth and their curiosity influences many in OLLI who have participated in the study groups they conceive and facilitate.

Our coordinators are members of OLLI like you, who enjoy the program and are willing to do more. They conceive study group topics, select the material to be used and provide the syllabus. When a text is used, the coordinators have researched its selection and are thoroughly familiar with its content. Although discussion leaders change from week to week, coordinators keep the course focused on the objectives stated in the catalog. Click here for more information.



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