Special Interest Groups


Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are member-driven, peer-facilitated groups made up of OLLI members who share an interest in exploring a particular topic. SIGs do not replace OLLI courses; they are a different type of participatory group that allows members to delve deeper into a subject. SIGs are open to all OLLI members and foster fellowship and active learning.

There are two levels of Special Interest Groups:

Study Groups: These groups are intellectual in nature and have a clear expectation of active member participation. Generally, there will be reading or research assigned for each meeting, and all participants are encouraged to engage in the discussion and plan the topics for future meetings. Shared or rotating facilitation of the group is typical. There is a cost to participate in Study Groups; generally the same as a six-week course.

Interest Circles: Interest circles are less formal and generally do not require outside reading or research. They are based on a shared hobby or interest, and will meet as determined by the group to engage in activities or discussions related to the topic. In some cases, Interest Circles could include field trips or events. Shared or rotating organization of the meetings and activities is typical. There is no cost to participate in an Interest Circle, though there may be costs related to the activities of the group.

Check out these SIGs for fall 2017 and/or winter 2018:

Study Groups

American Labor Market
How has the structure of the American labor market changed in recent years? How does our economy create and destroy jobs? Why have wages been stagnant while stock market soars? How do factors like changing demographics, trade and trade agreements, immigration, financial and currency markets shape the job market? What about the impact of government actions and policies – taxes, labor laws, health care? Are our educational institutions providing needed knowledge and skills? Is social and geographical immobility a serious problem? Is independent contracting replacing conventional employment? How have robots, artificial intelligence and automation generally eroded jobs? What jobs will they erode in the future? These questions and others will be the focus of this Study Group. The hope is to engage 12 to 15 interested students in reading about, analyzing and discussing the issues concerning the American labor market now and in the future.

Enrollment is limited to 15 members.
Coordinator:Tom Headrick, 760-771-3405 / 619-741-0777 (summer), headrick@buffalo.edu
Meets Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-noon; November 7 – December 12

Great Decisions
Become part of a dynamic discussion group during this interactive study of U.S. and foreign policy, highlighting issues that are timely and critically important to our nation and the world. The discussions are based on the Great Decisions 2017 Briefing Book, which provides impartial, thought-provoking analyses on each topic, informative maps and detailed graphs, in addition to suggested reading and research materials. The briefing book is required and can be purchased directly from the Foreign Policy Association website at www.fpa.org. Participants shall have read "Latin America's Political Pendulum” (pp. 79-90) prior to the first meeting, at which time the group will agree upon five of the remaining seven topics to discuss at subsequent meetings. Some group members will facilitate a single session.

Enrollment is limited to 20 members.
Coordinator: Michael Hoffmann, 760-565-7787, mjhoff37@me.com
Meets Thursdays from 10 a.m.-noon; November 2 – December 14 (no meeting 11/23)

Great Music
There is so much magnificent music out there, the potential for fresh discussions is virtually limitless. This group will explore works important to each of the participants, works essential to your personal library, or simply compositions you especially enjoy. For the first session, each participant is invited to bring a favorite recording from Beethoven and provide an interesting anecdote about the composer or why that composition touches you. For future sessions, participants should be prepared to share a favorite composition for each theme.

Enrollment is limited to 15 members.
Coordinator: Michael Hoffmann, 760-565-7787, mjhoff37@me.com
Meets the first Wednesday of each month from 3-5 p.m., starting November 1

Interest Circles

Glass Club
Man has been fascinated with glass, naturally formed or man-made, for thousands of years. Whether fashioned for utilitarian, decorative or personal use, glass has been an important commodity throughout history; even more so today. This SIG will explore many facets of glass history including, but not limited to, glass objects of historical/stylistic periods, fabrication in the past and present, historical glass designers and artists, popular glass collectibles, and more. Possible visits could include nearby museums, collections and glass hot shops.

No prior knowledge is required.
Coordinator: David Novick, 760-345-8041, dtnovick@earthlink.net
Meets the first Wednesday of each month from 3-5 p.m., starting November 1

Writers Circle
This discussion group will explore topics of interest to the current or future writers among us. Some sessions might feature an author from within our OLLI ranks, or could include a workshop on a specific topic related to writing. The group will determine the direction as we go. This flexible group will adjust based on the interests of the participants. If you’re a published author, would like to hone your writing skills, or just love to read or write, come and join us.

Coordinator: Merrie Lyn Shickler, 760-770-3030, merrielynshickler@gmail.com
Meeting time and place to be determined.


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