Become an Instructor

About OLLI - Where Curiosity Never Retires
Teaching for OLLI at AU
Study Group Leader Manual
Study Group Leader Benefits
Support Offered

Academic Programming
Develop Your Own Course

Propose a Course
Curriculum Committee
Contact Us


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, the Washington, DC community, or from those outside of the area who would like to share their knowledge and passion with our 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.


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 library’s electronic resources (databases and journals) are available on an as-needed basis for study group leaders to have access while physically at the library. Due to licensing agreements, remote access is only available to current AU students, staff, and faculty. The circulation desk can work with SGLs 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. For a video, that is a case-by-case decision process, and SGLs should contact [email protected] and include their information, as well as the specific video that they would like to use and the library will reply.

    Click here to view the current library hours. Learn more.

support offered for study group leaders

OLLI offers the following support to Study Group Leaders:

  • Study Group Leader Orientation 
    An orientation is given to new SGLs before they teach for the first time. It's a two-hour session offered online and led by OLLI staff and current SGLs. We ask that new SGLs make every possible effort to attend this orientation in order to be best set up for success with their course. An invite is sent to new SGLs before the academic session starts.
  • Handouts Page
    Class handouts can be posted on the handouts page of the OLLI website for your class members to access and download.
  • Photocopying/Scanning
  • A/V Equipment
    Staff assist with all the technology needs of SGLs. There is half an hour between each class period and a staff member goes to each class at this time to get SGLs set up with their technology.
  • Room arrangement (as time allows)
  • Study Group Reps
    An SGR is a member of the class who has agreed to take on extra duties to help the study group leader, the class itself, and act as a liaison with the office. View more information.
  • Virtual Room Monitors (online classes)

    VRMs are often an OLLI intern and can assist with muting/unmuting, the virtual hand raising hand feature, the chat, tech help in class, and ending the meeting, etc.

To view Zoom information for Study Group Leaders, please click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Please note that due to having a small staff, we are unable to help Study Group Leaders create their PowerPoint. PowerPoints presentations are often used, but not required.

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 (late Feb-May) - study groups meet once a week for 7-10 weeks
  • February Shorts and July Shorts - study groups meet 2-5 times over the course of one week
  • June Minis - study groups meet once a week for 4 weeks

Study groups can be in-person, online, or hybrid and meet for 90 minutes during one of three time frames: 9:45-11:15 AM, 11:45 AM-1:15 PM, or 1:45-3:15 PM. Class sizes range from 105 in lecture format to 15 in smaller language or discussion classes.

Develop your own course

Subject areas include: Politics, Law, and Government; Psychology, Sociology, and Culture; Economics and Personal Finance; STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math), Arts and Music; Language and Literature; History and Geography; and Philosophy and Religion. Explore past courses and catalogs for ideas. Talk with a Curriculum Committee member in charge of your area of interest. Try a short course. Test your idea. Contact the office at [email protected] for any support or questions in developing an offering. To connect with a committee member, please see the contact information at the bottom of this page.

propose a course

If you would like to propose a study group for OLLI at AU, please go to "Classes" in the menu 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 Director of Academic Programming, at [email protected].

    If you'd like to speak with someone before submitting a proposal or you have general questions, you can submit your interest in being a study group leader on our volunteer page and someone will reach out to you. You can also contact Lesley Diaz, OLLI's Director of Academic Programming, directly at [email protected].

Proposal submission deadlines:

  • February Shorts/Spring Semester – Sunday 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
Ed Feinberg
Economics & Personal Finance
Alan Rhinesmith
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
Albert Cheh
Visual Arts
Mary Fran Miklitsch
Larry Gondelman
Sandy Leibowitz Hanne Caraher
Larry Bachorik
History & Geography
Bob CoeMarion Connell Karen Stewart
Philosophy & Religion
Bob Croog

Contact Us

If you'd like to speak with someone before submitting a proposal or you have general questions, you can submit your interest in being a study group leader on our volunteer page and someone will reach out to you. You can also contact Lesley Diaz, OLLI's Director of Academic Programming, directly at [email protected].