Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke seeks to engage the minds, elevate the spirit and foster the wellbeing of our members through a wide range of educational programs and opportunities for volunteer service and social activities. We embrace Duke University’s commitment to community service and lifelong learning through our collaborative work with academic and professional groups, retirement communities, various research projects on aging, and other institutes for learning in retirement. In recent months, OLLI’s efforts to move programming online received national recognition in The New York Times and Next Avenue.

We are a learning community of more than 2,270 members. Some of our members grew up in Durham, but many have moved here from all over the country. OLLI members have a wide range of interests and passions and enjoy attending lectures and performances on campus and online

We offer more than 400 courses annually including economics and public policy, health and wellness, history and literature, and the arts and sciences.



Our courses conform to an arts and sciences curriculum and are planned by a thirty-member curriculum committee, on the basis of member requests, the expertise of instructors, variety, and balance.  OLLI instructors are a mix of peer teachers, professors from Duke and nearby universities, graduate and postdoctoral students, independent scholars, and community experts.

OLLI classes are all about the love of learning. There are no tests or grades. Participation is essential, ranging from keeping up with assigned readings, contributing to class discussion, and sharing the results of one’s own research. Currently, all OLLI classes are held online using Zoom. Classes typically meet once per week for 75 minutes; class times are usually 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:15 pm. Fall and winter terms classes generally last 10 weeks; spring or summer terms classes last 6 weeks. Please check the detailed course descriptions for exceptions.

If you have an idea for a class or know of someone who would make a great OLLI teacher, please contact the curriculum committee at curriculum@olliatduke.org.

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There are no courses open for enrollment at this time.

There are no courses open for enrollment at this time.

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Becoming a member of OLLI is easy. Annual membership dues are $45 (payable when you first sign up for courses during the school year). Memberships are good for the academic year. You must be a member of OLLI to take classes and attend social activities. If you do not have a current membership or are a brand new member, our new 2020-2021 membership is available starting March 1, 2020 and is good through June 30, 2021. Please Note: If you purchased a membership during Spring 2020 registration, your membership is good until June 30, 2021. Membership dues are nonrefundable.

All courses are priced individually. The prices are listed in the course descriptions with the specific dollar amount (e.g., "Fee: $70").

There are two ways to purchase an OLLI at Duke Membership:

  • Automatically during registration: If you have been a member, but your membership has expired, our online registration system will automatically add a new membership to your cart when you enroll in courses.
  • From this website: Click on this link to add a 2020 - 2021 Membership to your cart. Current memberships are active July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Note: if you purchased a membership between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020, your membership will remain active through June 30, 2021.
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Online Learning WinterTerm registration:

OLLI members registering for classes held on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will register on day one of Registration – Tuesday, January 26 at 9:00 am.

OLLI members registering for classes held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will register on day two of Registration – Wednesday, January 27 at 9:00 am.

Note: Most Online Learning course capacities are very large and therefore we do not anticipate many waitlists. Course capacities can be found in the course listings in the catalog. It's not critical to log on exactly at 9 am to register, unless you are interested in registering for some of the classes with limited enrollment.

Members must register for courses using the Duke Continuing Studies’ website. There are three ways to find your course.

  • Search Courses Link: The most direct way to find your course is to go to learnmore.duke.edu, click on the link “Search Courses” located on the second horizontal menu at the far right, and enter either the four-digit course number or a portion of the name. Click on the link to the course, click on the “Add to Cart” button, and follow steps to checkout. 
  • By Day of the Week or by Category: Go to learnmore.duke.edu, click on “Osher Lifelong Learning,” click the down-triangle labeled “Show” under “Courses,” and click on the tab “View by day” or “View by category.” Click on the course title to get to the course page, click on “Add to Cart,” and follow steps to checkout.
  • Search Box: You may also enter the course number or part of the title into the search box that appears on every page at the top right, under the shopping cart symbol. (Do not include section numbers when searching). This will search the entire site and may also retrieve results from the .pdf version of the course catalog. Click on the appropriate link for the course, click on “Add to Cart,” and follow steps to checkout. Please note: Since this is a Google search box refreshed by Google, it may not have the most up-to-date information.


All courses are priced individually. The prices are listed in the course descriptions with the specific dollar amount (e.g., "Fee: $70").

All members who enroll in courses must register for classes/membership and pay online via credit card. Since all OLLI staff are working remotely, we are not able to register members by phone or accept paper registration forms.

Refund Policy

Requests for refunds for dropped courses must be received WITHIN FIVE BUSINESS DAYS following the first class for that course. After that time, no refunds will be issued except in the event of an emergency, at the discretion of OLLI at Duke Staff. There will be a $20 service charge per course dropped. If a course is cancelled by OLLI at Duke, refunds will be made automatically and no charges will be incurred by members. Please note: membership dues, Special Events and Workshops are nonrefundable.

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Activities & Special Interest Groups

Activities are an integral part of the OLLI program, providing opportunities to learn and socialize outside the classroom. For questions regarding Special Events or Workshops please email olli@duke.edu.

Announcing Our Inaugural Community Read!

We invite you to read Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, MD, and then join a free online event with Dr. Tweedy on Thursday, January 21, at 1:30 PM.

Dr. Tweedy is a graduate of Duke University School of Medicine, where he is now an associate professor of psychiatry along with being a staff physician at the Durham Veteran Affairs Health System. His book is highly topical given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black Americans.

Eileen Watts Welch will interview Dr. Tweedy and moderate questions. Ms. Welch served as associate dean for External Affairs at the Duke School of Nursing for more than ten years. She is currently president of the Durham Colored Library. Her father, Charles Dewitt Watts, MD, was North Carolina’s first African American board-certified surgeon. Dr. Watts served the Durham community for many years and played a key role in founding the Lincoln Community Health Center.

The Regulator Bookshop, the Triangle's oldest independent bookstore, has 25 copies of this book available to OLLI at Duke Members. Go to the Regulator's website and complete the contact form to reserve your copy. www.regulatorbookshop.com/contact. You can purchase a copy and choose one of these easy delivery methods:1) Ship via USPS 2) Arrange for curbside pick up between 12-4, Monday -Saturday 3) Residential delivery is available in Durham, Chapel Hill & Carrboro.

Special Interest Groups

Activities and Special Interest Groups SIGs) are an added bonus to membership with OLLI at Duke. These groups and clubs provide opportunities to connect outside the classroom. If you want to find out more about any of the listed groups, please contact the designated coordinator for that activity.

Attention: Because of COVID-19, many SIGs are currently meeting via Zoom. SIGs that are inactive are listed as on hiatus.
Please see notice. Some of our SIG's are still meeting via Zoom

SIGs Meeting via Zoom:

Book Club

This informal group reads contemporary literature and meets on the 2nd Monday of each month from 3:15pm – 4:15pm. For more information, please contact Judy Grauer at judygrauer@gmail.com or Nancy Capaccio at nancycapaccio99@gmail.com.

  • Dec. 14 "The Library Book" by Olean

  • Jan. 11 "The Sentence Is Death" by Horowitz 

  • Feb. 8 "The Destiny of the Republic" by Millard

  • Mar. 8 "Alexander Hamilton" by Chernow

Justice: Faceless No More

Recent events have highlighted problems with the criminal justice system and our larger social fabric, both locally and across the country. The Justice: Faceless No More Special Interest Group (SIG) will discuss new insights and perspectives about the situation. We will meet former prisoners, activists and others who know the criminal justice system well. On occasion, expert speakers will join us to discuss the human and financial costs of our current system, the history of our laws and possible new approaches. We will look beyond the fence lines and gun towers and take a deep dive into “Prison World” in North Carolina, the United States and internationally. We will also examine our civil rights history, which is tied closely to the criminal justice system, and hear from people and organizations involved with historic and current civil rights events. This group may identify “call to action” recommendations to present to our local, state and national policymakers and legislators. This SIG builds on several recent OLLI classes on this topic that all received excellent reviews from OLLI members. Everyone is welcome. We will meet the first Friday of every month from 9-10:30 beginning February 19- April 23. Please contact Mark Hall for more information cmarkhall81@gmail.com.

Mac Computer User Group

Coordinators: Mary Jo Fickle, fickle5@aol.com, and Susan Eure, asure@bellsouth.net.

Mystery Book Club

The club is currently meeting via Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month from 2-3:00. For more information and details about the link/password please contact Madeline “Maddy” Kalstein, madkalstein@gmail.com.

OLLI Short Story Discussion Group

A well-written short story can make you feel the same thrill, experience the same attachment to the characters, as reading a full length novel, but typically takes less than an hour to read, rather than days (or weeks). We hope you will join us for our Short Story Discussion Groups on Tuesdays from 10:30am-11:30am. Contact Howard Goldberg, hgoldberg16@gmail.com for more details.

OLLI Singles

OLLI Singles supports social engagement for its members by its members. We meet on the first and third Wednesdays of the month to discuss topics of mutual interest and to share experiences, moderated by the meeting host. For more information and details about the link/password, please contact the Steering Committee at olliatdukesingles@gmail.com.

Retirement Transition Group

This informal drop-in group is for OLLI members who are going through transitions in retirement and perhaps experiencing some challenges. The group meetings will provide an opportunity to share concerns, offer ideas that have worked, share resources we are aware of, connect with other OLLI members who are going through the same experiences, and get ideas we can try on our own. People can drop in at any of the meetings. There is no charge. The group meets on the second Friday afternoon of the month at 1:00 p.m. currently by Zoom. To learn more and to be added to the email list, contact Corinne Schillin at cschillin@yahoo.com or 919-537-8450.

Science Book Club We read and discuss nonfiction science books on topics including biology, evolution, the physical sciences, medicine, the environment, economics, and biographies of famous scientists. The group is open to all regardless of background, and no registration is required. During the pandemic, the group meets the first Thursday of the month from 3:15pm to 4:45 via zoom. Contact Daniel.Oldman@gmail.com for more information.


SIGs on Hiatus:

Craft Group

For more information, please contact Judy Grauer at judygrauer@gmail.com.

Foodie Field Trips

This is a ‘virtual’ SIG, organized by email and via the SIG website foodiefieldtrip.weebly.com, is now suspended until safe conditions return.

International Folk Dance

We will resume dancing when the pandemic allows us to. For more information please contact Judy Stafford at judy.stafford.nc@gmail.com.

Spanish Language

Coordinator: Margaret Riley (mrileync@gmail.com)

French Table

Coordinators: Emily Lees (emilyjlees@gmail.com) ou à George Entenman (olli@entenman.net).

OLLI Public Policy

The OLLI Public Policy Group is one of the more recently established SIGs. We have enjoyed our frequent Friday meetings on the Duke campus and participation in relevant Sanford School discussions, but have postponed future meetings indefinitely. We occasionally share emails about OLLI, other Duke Stanford School zoom and on-line events that members can participate in. Coordinators: Larry Reed (lgreed3@gmail.com) or 919-452-3896 & Jim Hollowood (jhollowood@gmail.com).

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Winter 2020 Catalog will be posted online mid-December.

Please remember to update your membership before registration to unsure quickest possible checkout.

Please read carefully as all dates are subject to change.

When Event

January events will be announced via OLLI Newsletters


Tuesday, January 26

Registration for Winter courses begin at 9:00 a.m. 

-For classes held on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday

Wednesday, January 27

Registration for Winter courses begins at 9:00 a.m. 

-For classes held on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday

Monday, February 15 Winter Online Learning Classes Start
Friday, September 28 Winter Online Classes End
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Volunteer Opportunities

Opportunities during Covid-19:

Want to Interview OLLI members? Write Articles for Spotlight?

Some of you may find you have some extra time or discover you want to be part of OLLI’s learning community during this historic moment. The Zoom programs are very staff intensive and there are some additional opportunities to work with our fascinating instructors.

Here are some opportunities to get engaged:

  • Write articles for Spotlight (interview OLLI members, and other virtual offerings of interest to OLLI members) for posting on OLLI at Duke website.
  • Work with prospective instructors on course proposals and prepare for online learning.
  • Help OLLI members 1-on-1 with Zoom technology questions.

If interested, email VOLUNTEER@OLLIatDuke.org

For over 43 years, volunteers have built the reputation of OLLI at Duke. We rely heavily on hundreds of member volunteers to keep the program running. Members teach classes, coordinate lecture series, lead small-group discussions, organize activities and volunteer projects, serve on the Board of Advisors and committees, act as course moderators and volunteer for all the tasks that make us an exemplary organization. More volunteer opportunities can be found in the OLLI Newsletter, The Spotlight, and on the olliatduke.org website.

Board Service
We welcome both new and longtime members to become part of the leadership of OLLI at Duke. Serving on the Board of Advisors, either as an elected office or an at-large advisor, or a committee chair, offers you the opportunity to use your talents, and contribute to the success of the OLLI at Duke community.

Are you new to OLLI at Duke?
One of the best ways to meet new people is to volunteer for the Social Activities & Hospitality Committee. Consider organizing an activity or outing to learn more about a favorite North Carolina attraction; we are looking for members to coordinate trips to the Duke Lemur Center, the North Carolina Zoo, Cedar Creek Gallery, or potteries of Seagrove, museums in Raleigh, and wineries of the Yadkin Valley. Volunteers do everything from organizing outings to pouring wine. Extra hands are always needed to greet people at convocation and OLLI Socials. These activities are great ways to meet new people and learn more about OLLI at Duke and Durham. If you are interested, please contact cmabrons@gmail.com.

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Members & Leadership

Who Belongs to OLLI at Duke?

All adults with a passion for learning are welcome. Our members include those who have never completed high school and retired school teachers, native North Carolinians and newcomers, professionals and homemakers. We believe that such a rich and diverse mix of backgrounds and interests make the classroom discussion even more interesting. Our common goal is deepening our understanding of the world around us through study and discussion.

We invite you to join our learning community. OLLI at Duke is a cooperative venture that relies on the contributions and participation, both in class and out, of every member. Our members teach classes, coordinate lecture series, lead small-group discussions, serve on the Board of Advisors and committees.

OLLI at Duke, is an organization where lifelong learners can enjoy daytime courses, good conversation, and the companionship of peers.  In this relaxed and congenial atmosphere, OLLI at Duke affords an opportunity to rekindle former interests and discover new ones in classes without papers or tests, where members have in common a passion for learning and all the benefits that come from keeping mind and body healthy, active, and engaged.  In addition to the programming available exclusively to our members, being part of the Duke community provides access to a wealth of intellectual and cultural activities.

Founded in 1977 as a joint venture of Duke University Continuing Education and the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, DILR/OLLI has grown from its 42 original members to over 2,500 each year, with a curriculum of over 140 classes each term.


OLLI at Duke operates under the auspices of Duke Continuing Studies and Summer Session.  We are a member-led organization with our own Board of Advisors, bylaws and committees. OLLI at Duke is managed by a Director, an Operations/Administrative Assistant, a Technical/Communications Assistant and several part-time staff, who are employees of Duke Continuing Studies.  

The OLLI Board of Advisors consists of the President and Vice President, who serve one-year terms, six At-Large Advisors, who serve three-year terms, and committee chairs who serve one‑year terms, and the Past President. The Director is also members of the board.  

We are always looking for people to help with events and committees.  If you would like to talk to someone about volunteering at OLLI, or if you have ideas for a new activity or improvements to an existing program, please contact the Director via email at olli@duke.edu.

2020-2021 Officers (one-year term, elected at annual meeting)

Acting President: Marion Jervay
Vice President: Alan Teasley
Past President: Ginny Knight

Recording Secretary: Virginia Lee

At-Large Advisors (two-year term)

Term Ending 2022: Sue Dennison, Vacant
Term Ending 2021: Abdul Waheed, Bobbi Hendrix

Committee Chairs (one-year term, appointed by President)

Community Engagement: Virginia Lee
Curriculum: Beth Anderson
Instructor Relations: Ginny Knight
Information Technology: Howard Koslow
Legacy: Lisa Gabriel
Member Engagement: Beth Timson
Social Activities & Hospitality: Chris Abrons
Space: Peter Blaufeux


Director: Chris McLeod
Operations/Administrative:  Kathy Parrish
Technical/Communication: Betina Huntwork
Staff Representatives: Beth Bowling, Jo Ann Dubberley, Vicki McMullin, Jay Starks

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Staying in Touch

OLLI at Duke keeps members informed and connected to the program in a number of ways.

OLLI at Duke's staff, instructors, and leaders send out an OLLI Newsletter on a weekly basis to the membership to inform them of upcoming events, special workshops and course registration details. Please click here to sign up for Newsletters 


The Spotlight is an online newsletter issued monthly to members via email. If you are an OLLI member and currently do not receive the Spotlight, please click here to sign up.

Member Website

OLLI at Duke maintains a members website (olliatduke.org) designed to keep members up to date on available courses, scheduled events, activities, and items of interest. 

Online Learning Website

In response to Covid-19, OLLI at Duke has created a site to host information about Online Learning activities. This site provides Zoom how-to guides, requests for technical assistance, and information on the current Online Learning term. Please click here to vist the site.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to my class on Zoom?

1. Go to learnmore.duke.edu and click on the "Student Login" button.

2. Enter your user name and password, and then press the “Log-In” button.

3. As soon as you log in, you’ll see a screen showing “My Courses.” Just below each course, under the heading "Online Resources" will be the course link.

Click here for more detailed instructions and video on how to find your link.

How do I request a catalog?

A PDF of the OLLI catalog is posted on learnmore.duke.edu and a full listing of OLLI course can be found under the Course tab of this website. We are not publishing hard copies of the catalog at this time. Please see the member website for more information about OLLI at Duke and information on our Online Learning programming.

Update 4/28/2020: During the covid-19 hiatus, no requests for catalogs will be processed. Please see the member website for more information about OLLI at Duke and information on our Online Learning programming.

How do I add, drop, or get a refund for an OLLI class?

Please email Kathy Parrish at kathy.parrish@duke.edu to find out more about dropping, adding, and refunds. Details about refunds can be found under the Registration heading of this website.

How long does my membership last? 

Membership follows the academic calendar and runs from September through June. Those who join for the short spring term (beginning in April) will be enrolled for the entire following academic year. Please see the membership section of this website for more information on membership.

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All courses are currently being taught online via Zoom. Links to classes can be found in the student Portal by logging in at the top of this website.

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