“When I was young I wanted to have a salon where thoughtful people gathered to discuss ideas. I came to understand that the conversation in the OLLI coffee room is just that. There is little conversation about weather or sports. We talk of books and philosophy, of science, theology, art, music, history, the whole range of human thought and discovery, all the stuff of our classes. A lot of bonding takes place in our classes and during class breaks. People find mutual interests and experience, and they form friendships that become an important part of their lives. OLLI is a place where we have a chance to look for our best selves, where we can re-think who we are among other people who are doing the same thing.”
Sara Craven, DILR/OLLI director for 20 years and current OLLI member
Our courses conform to an arts and sciences curriculum and are scheduled by a twelve-member curriculum committee, on the basis of member requests, the expertise of class leaders, variety and balance. OLLI instructors are a mix of peer teachers, Duke professors, graduate students, independent scholars, and community experts.
OLLI classes do not have tests, grades or educational requirements, and therefore exemplify “learning for the love of it.” Participation is essential, ranging from keeping up with assigned readings and contributing to class discussion, to sharing the results of one’s own research. Most classes are held in The Bishop’s House, and in the Education Building at Judea Reform Congregation on Cornwallis Road in Durham, meeting once a week for 1 ½ hours. Class times are usually 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:15 pm. Fall and winter term classes generally last 11 to 12 weeks; spring term classes last five to six weeks. Please check the detailed course descriptions for exceptions.
We want our classes to be available to all who wish to participate in them. Please contact Garry Crites at 919-684-2703 to discuss financial aid. All requests are confidential.
If you have an idea for a class or know of someone who would make a great OLLI teacher, please contact Mary Georger at 919-681-3476.