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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

A pile of broken watches

Welcome to the Winter 2022 Course Guide! The new lineup of offerings touches on topics from all over the world: Greek philosophy, French literature, politics in the Middle East, human rights in Central America, even a glimpse into North Korea. Winter's no reason not to let your mind wander freely!

If you're new to OLLI at the UMN, this is where you can learn about the benefits of membership, including the popular Special Interest Groups and group tours. It's time to join a community of friendly, dedicated lifelong learners!

Dynamic, Engaged, Ever-Growing

OLLI at the University of Minnesota (OLLI at the UMN) is part of the University’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies and belongs to a national network of 125 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes established by the Bernard Osher Foundation. 

OLLI’s mission is to provide its membership of dedicated lifelong learners with a year-round curriculum of high-quality noncredit courses, as well as intellectually stimulating social, cultural, and volunteer opportunities. The Institute's many volunteers are integral to the OLLI experience of community, camaraderie, active learning, and civic and cultural engagement.

Founded in 1995, OLLI is honored to have been recognized as an “exemplary lifelong learning program” by the Osher Foundation. The University helped to underscore this commitment in 2020, when it became the first institution of higher-education in Minnesota to become part of the Global Network of Age-Friendly Universities.

Interested in joining OLLI? Learn about becoming a member and view new courses in the Winter 2022 Course Guide.


Elderly adults collaborating in a community garden, smiling

As a membership organization, OLLI at the University of Minnesota functions and thrives because of volunteer support. When volunteers infuse OLLI with their professional skills, budding talents, and endless enthusiasm and creativity, they not only help to keep the Institute running, they also ensure OLLI lives up to its promise to be a community dedicated to volunteerism, social engagement, and purposeful aging. And what better incentive to help OLLI thrive than by actively participating in an activity that is sure to boost your health, vitality, and well-being!

The following is a list of some of the many roles members play in service to OLLI.

  • Course Leaders are the key to OLLI’s vibrant roster of courses each term, as the majority of classes are led by members who have professional knowledge of, or a scholarly interest in, a subject. Still other courses are taught by professors from the University of Minnesota and other Metro-area colleges and universities, as well as community and civic leaders, and independent scholars.
  • Course Assistants are truly frontline ambassadors for OLLI—assisting course leaders, answering new member questions, and helping both during class sessions, be they taught face-to-face or remotely. Course Assistants often supplement the educational exchange and camaraderie by coordinating post-class gatherings to share in a cup of coffee, glass of wine, or meal.
  • Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are created and run by OLLI members in conjunction with the SIG coordinator. SIGs meet regularly, year-round, and provide members with social, cultural, and educational opportunities beyond the OLLI classroom.
  • Advisory Board members advance OLLI's mission, vision, and values and work to promote the institute’s sustainability and success by providing advice, active involvement, advocacy, and support to the OLLI Director. Advisory Board members also serve as Chairs for the following committees: Curriculum; Development; Events; Membership, Outreach, and Volunteers; Advisory Board Nominations; and Planning.

Interested in becoming a volunteer? Simply email the OLLI office.

OLLI Scholars

A graduate tosses her mortarboard into the air.

The OLLI Scholar Program invites University of Minnesota graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to teach for the institute and earn a stipend.

An annual application period takes place each spring, during which the candidates’ submitted proposals are reviewed. Those who are selected become OLLI Scholars and receive a $1,000 stipend to prepare and present a single seven-week course. OLLI Scholars must be enrolled students during the term in which their course is delivered and are required to obtain a written endorsement from their advisor.

You may learn more about the program by reading Inspiring Lifelong Learners and the Emerging Scholars Who Teach Them.

The next application period will take place in spring 2022.

Culture Corps

Red flags tacked into a tabletop map.

OLLI is proud to partner with the University of Minnesota’s office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in their initiative to help international students become active in the University community.

Created in 1998 by Dr. Mohammed Bari, Culture Corps provides international students with the opportunity to share self-initiated projects related to their unique cultural experiences, perspectives, and insights. An annual ISSS scholarship allows OLLI to host several graduate student scholars, giving them valuable teaching experience and helping to fulfill both programs’ visions of an inclusive and engaged international learning community.

Support OLLI

Your gift—whether monthly, annual, planned, or matching—will help OLLI to continue to feed curiosity and foster learning and a lifetime of engagement for active older adults. Every gift is an investment in OLLI’s present and future communities, be it via the Miriam B. Seltzer Scholarship Fund for members, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Fund and OLLI Annual Fund for general support, or the OLLI Scholars Program Fund to support intergenerational learning and our up-and-coming researchers and scholars. Learn more about the OLLI Scholars Program.

Contact Us

OLLI at the UMN

Lifelong Learning and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
College of Continuing & Professional Studies | University of Minnesota
353 Ruttan Hall | 1994 Buford Avenue | Saint Paul, MN 55108-6041