Become A Study Group Leader

About OLLI - Where Curiosity Never Retires
Teaching for OLLI at AU
Study Group Leader Manual
Study Group Leader Benefits
Academic Programming
Propose a Study Group
Curriculum Committee


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at American University (OLLI at AU) is dedicated to the proposition that learning is a lifelong process and that curiosity never retires. Classes at OLLI are called “study groups,” and instructors, “study group leaders.” This is because what makes OLLI unique is the basic concept of peer learning and teaching. Members come from varied backgrounds, and what they have in common is genuine interest in continuing their learning experiences and intellectual stimulation in an organization of like-minded people. Members participate fully in study groups, either by leading them or attending them. 


OLLI always welcomes new study group leaders from within the OLLI membership and from the Washington, DC community who would like to share their knowledge and passion with members. There are no tests and no grades; members participate purely for the joy of learning. The goal is a high-quality learning experience accessible to all.

Before each fall and spring semester, new study group leaders are required to attend a study group leader orientation. The topics covered include general logistics, information about the unique OLLI demographic, helpful tips for planning and classroom management, and using audio/visual equipment in the classrooms. Participants also have the opportunity to see their classroom, try out the equipment, and take a tour of OLLI.


Please click here to download the OLLI at AU Study Group Leader Manual.

study group leader benefits

As OLLI is primarily a volunteer led organization, study group leaders teach on a volunteer basis. We provide several benefits for teaching:

  • Free classes during either the session in which study group leaders teach or the following comparable session
  • Parking stipend
  • Special recognition at OLLI’s study group leader luncheon
  • Access to AU’s Bender Library: The library is located on the main campus at the west end of the university quadrangle. The library requires a valid, government issued photo ID for account creation and for borrowing. The library is sent a list of study group leaders before each academic session. They will issue a borrowing card to be used along with the ID. AU Library books may be borrowed with an account (up to 25 at a time). The checkout period is 4 weeks and renewal is available (all items are subject to recall and may need to be returned sooner). Most of the electronic resources can be accessed on-site while at the library. The circulation desk can work with study group leaders to call for books or articles from other consortium members (institutions) but the materials are for use in the AU Library and not available to check out. Click here to view the current library hours. Learn more
Academic programming

OLLI has three types of academic programming from which study group leaders can choose to teach:

  • Fall Semester (Sept-Dec) and Spring Semester (Mar-May) - study groups meet once a week for 8-10 weeks
  • February Shorts and July Shorts - study groups meet 3-5 times over the course of one week
  • June Minis - study groups meet once a week for 4 weeks

Study groups meet for 90 minutes during one of three time frames: 9:45-11:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m., or 1:45-3:15 p.m. Class sizes range from 105 in lecture format to 15 in smaller language or discussion classes.

propose a study group

If you would like to propose a study group for OLLI at AU, please go to "Study Groups" or "Shorts" in the bar across the top of the page. Then click on the study group proposal form. You will need to create a user name and password if you’re not already an OLLI member. This enables you to complete the online form, which is then sent to the OLLI office. Both the Curriculum Committee and Board of Directors review the proposals and approve the study groups to be offered. 

If you don't see the proposal form available at this time:

  • For the fall /spring semester or February Shorts - please contact the individual from the curriculum committee (listed below) for the academic area in which your study group would belong.
  • For the June Minis or July Shorts - please contact Lesley Diaz, OLLI's Academic Programs Coordinator, at


Proposal submission deadlines:

  • February Shorts/Spring Semester – Monday after Thanksgiving
  • June Minis/July Shorts – Middle of April
  • Fall semester – Middle of May

Proposal process:

  • An online proposal form is submitted via the OLLI website. All potential study group leaders, whether previous or new, are asked to submit a proposal so that we have all their pertinent course information.
  • A copy of the proposal is sent to the OLLI office and the person who submitted it.
  • A member of the Curriculum Committee who over sees that particular area of the curriculum reaches out to the person to speak with them about their course, offer support if needed, and explain the next part of the process.
  • The Curriculum Committee meets after the proposal submission deadline to approve the final list of courses to be recommended to the Board.
  • The Board votes and gives the final approval on courses.
  • The OLLI office notifies Study Group Leaders about their course status for that session.

curriculum committee

Chair:  Marianne Soponis
Politics, Law & Government
Susan Rolnick
Psychology, Sociology, & Culture
Lois Neuman
Economics & Personal Finance
Alan Rhinesmith
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
Albert Cheh
Visual Arts
Margery Gordon
Alan Frey & Stanley Newman
Jeanette Rivera & Cindy Lisec
Sandy Leibowitz & Hanne Caraher
History & Geography
Bob Coe & Marion Connell
Philosophy & Religion
Al Taran