OLLI Student in Classroom

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)

Experience the joy of learning from those who find joy in teaching. 

Upcoming Events

Ways to Engage with OLLI

OLLI Students Laughing in Classroom

Sign-Up to Attend OLLI Courses Online this Summer

The summer 2021 session runs from June 1 to July 2, 2021. Please consult the course descriptions for specific scheduling information. 

Complete Your Online Registration

The Fowls of Heaven: Birds in the History and Traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

  • Instructor: Rob Fergus 
  • 3 Sessions | $30 
  • June 7, 14, 21 
  • 9:00am – 10:10am 

Birds have captured the attention of religion devotees for thousands of years. This course explores the role birds have played in the literature and traditions of Abrahamic religions and from Ancient Israel to the contemporary United States and beyond.

Hosting and Enjoying Birds in Your Yard

  • Instructors: Barb Elliot and Edie Parnum
  • 1 session | $10
  • June 7 
  • 10:30am – 12:00pm

Join Barb Elliot and Edie Parnum, co-directors of Backyards for Nature, a program of the Valley Forge Audubon Society, inspiring and teaching people how to create healthy habitats in their yards by planting native plants and providing the essentials for wildlife to thrive. Discover the essential ingredients of a yard that attracts and helps birds throughout the seasons. Emphasis is placed on choosing and growing locally native plants that meet the habitat needs of both resident and migrating birds. 

The Milton Hershey School: Home to the Richest Orphans in America

  • Instructor: John Furmanak
  • 3 sessions | $30
  • June 14, 21, 28
  • 10:30am – 11:40am

Milton Hershey built the industry and town that is often called the sweetest place on Earth, noted for its rich history in chocolate and entertainment. However, his real dream was to create a home and school for orphaned boys. In 1909, he and his wife, Catherine, founded the Milton Hershey School for boys. Milton Hershey deeded his entire fortune in 1913, then worth $60 million, to children he would never meet. The trust is worth over $13 billion today and is home to more than 2,220 boys and girls who are considered the richest orphans in America. This course covers the chronological events from then until now.  

Owl Pellet Dissection

  • Instructor: The Center for Aquatic Sciences
  • 1 session | $20 (includes owl pellet dissection kit)
  • June 21 
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Owls are amazing birds of prey, but they have weird habits around the dinner table. In the first part of this program, students meet an Eastern Screech Owl and learn about general owl and bird anatomy. Next, they follow along with the instructor to dissect an owl pellet and discuss why owls make them, how owl pellets are used in research and conservation, and finally, what's inside?! Students will receive an owl pellet dissection kit before the class. Class size is limited to 15 students. 

Olympia – A Conversation and Q & A with Director Harry Mavromichalis

  • Moderator:  Tom Benedetti
  • 1 session | $10
  • June 28 
  • 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Join OLLI at Widener University for a private screening and conversation with Harry Mavromichalis, director of Olympia, a documentary about Academy Award winning actress Olympia Dukakis. Those registering for this special event will receive a link to privately view the movie, which will begin airing on Friday, June 25. The experience will culminate on Monday, June 28, with a conversation and Q & A with Harry Mavromichalis, led by Widener University faculty member Tom Benedetti. View the movie trailer

The 5 Love Languages: Are You Fluent in the Language of Love? 

  • Instructor: Rachael English
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29  
  • 9:00am – 10:10am

Is saying “I love you” enough? Not always! Now more than ever with the ongoing pandemic, our relationships have been put to the test both personally and professionally. Using the concepts from Dr. Gary Chapman's award-winning book The 5 Love Languages, students embark on a journey exploring five unique styles of communicating love. Learn ways to give and receive love to enhance your relationships. The course also explores the concept as it relates to the workplace. Walk away from this course inspired and ready to explore love in new ways. 


  • Instructor: Judy Leahy
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 
  • 9:00am – 10:10am

ZUMBA GOLD® is a fitness program that brings Latin and global dance rhythms from the original ZUMBA®program to active older adults, beginners, and adults who need modifications. It is a safe and effective total body workout for anyone wanting a modified ZUMBA® class at a lower intensity level. Each class includes a warm-up, cool down, and flexibility components. Those with limited mobility or exercise tolerance can perform movements while seated. A sturdy chair without wheels or arms is preferred. The class can be done on a carpeted floor. 

T’ai Chi Chih

  • Instructor: April Leffner
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 
  • 10:15am – 11:25am

Learn the centering beauty of T’ai Chi Chih, a soft, flowing, moving meditation practiced by thousands of people worldwide. It’s easy to learn and brings many benefits, including peace of mind, improved health, and joy. It requires no particular level of fitness, no special equipment or clothing, and may be done while seated. New participants are welcome. 

Understanding the Brain

  • Instructor: Theodore J. O’Tanyi Jr. 
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 
  • 10:30am – 11:40am

The human brain is organized into many visibly distinct parts that have specific functions, much like the external and internal anatomy of the human body. This course includes an elementary exploration of the major parts of the brain and their functions. The basis of disabling conditions like bipolar disorder, clinical depression, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease are discussed. 

Memoir Writing

  • Instructor: Jayne Thompson
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 
  • 1:00pm – 2:10pm

Memoirs sometimes chronicle an entire life; other times they focus on a particular moment in a person’s experience. The memoir pieces written during this workshop are short pieces that focus on a particular personal moment that reaches beyond the personal to discuss some deeper, universal meaning. Participants practice the craft of memoir writing, sharing their writing with others when comfortable and keeping pieces private if not. The in-class exercises focus on how to engage the senses, and students discuss the importance of concrete, significant details to create images that stay with the reader. Class size is limited to 15 students.

The Great Mughals – Part I: 1526–1601

  • Instructor: Jeff Heim
  • 4 sessions | $40
  • June 1, 8, 15, 22
  • 2:30pm – 3:40pm

This course traces the history of the Indian Mughal Empire (1526–1601) from its founder Babur through his son Humayan and grandson Akbar. The emphasis is on their paradoxical interest in Persian-influenced culture and the abject cruelty of their internal struggles for power, both inspired by their Mongol and Turkish background. Students also explore Humayan’s battle to maintain and regain his authority, climaxed with the exceptional rule of his highly talented, illiterate son’s political genius.

Gentle Yoga for Nature Lovers

  • Instructor: Ann Grace MacMullan
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • 9:00am – 10:10am

Tune into the flow of nature with breath-infused classes designed to align participants with nature. This practice keeps students connected with the textures and rhythms of the outdoors using nature-centered language and classic yoga poses that draw inspiration from birds, animals, and plants. Balance the energy of the season with appropriate and accessible movement, breath exercises, and meditation. Students need a yoga mat, cushion or towel, and water. All levels welcome. No experience necessary. 

Listen to the Music

  • Instructor: Ahmet S. Erispaha
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • 10:30am – 11:40am

What do you hear when you listen to music? The beat? The lyrics? This course is designed for those wanting to be a more knowledgeable and satisfied listener. Expand your musical vocabulary and sophistication by distinguishing musical elements such as rhythm, melody, and harmony. Learn to appreciate music from a big-picture perspective by understanding musical forms. Grow an appreciation for music by learning new skills and listening to a wide variety of musical styles from Mozart and Beethoven, to Gregorian chant, to the blues, and more. 

Drawing Faces for Beginners

  • Instructor: Veronica Batter
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 2, 9, 16, 30
  • 10:30am – 11:40am

Learn to draw the proportions of the face and facial features in a realistic style using pencil and paper. Students learn pencil drawing techniques, including shading, blending, and creating textures, while focusing on accurate proportions and placement. Each class includes step-by-step directions with detailed instructions, and students are welcome to share their work and receive feedback. The course commences with a portrait drawing. Class size is limited to 20 students.

The Joy of Acting

  • Instructor: Loretta Wehbe
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • 1:00pm – 2:10pm

Escape into the world of fantasy by acting out the characters created by award-winning playwrights. Experience the joy that is generated when mastering the skills of acting. Scenes and monologues are customized to each student’s interests. No line memorization is necessary. 

Presidential Families

  • Instructor: David Hudiak
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • 2:30pm – 3:40pm

This course examines how parents and siblings shaped and molded American presidents. Students study presidents in chronological order, looking generally at their mothers, fathers, and siblings and the personality traits that can be traced back to these relatives. The study of each president begins with a brief description of his time in office and his personality characteristics so as to better understand what he inherited from his family and how they influenced the future chief executive.

Mindfulness Meditation 

  • Instructor: Suzanne Hayward
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 3, 10, 17, 24, and July 1
  • 9:00am – 10:10am

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being fully present to experience life as it unfolds. This ancient practice, illuminated by recent research in neuroscience, is a powerful tool for settling both mind and body, creating space for relaxed, nonjudgmental awareness in each moment. In this class, students learn simple breathing techniques, guided meditations, and mindful living skills to help focus attention, improve equanimity, and reduce stress. 

Managing Health Challenges through Creative Change

  • Instructor: Lois S. Levine-Elman
  • 5 sessions | $50 
  • June 3, 10, 17, 24, and July 1
  • 10:30am – 11:40am

As one grows older, one can experience chronic conditions that impact their sense of well-being and competency. Medical challenges sometimes lead to further health problems that can be debilitating but not life threatening. Limited by pain, lack of strength, and decreased function, it can feel like living in an alien body. Given this new reality, how do we find alternative ways to still get joy from activities we love? This class discusses creative ways of coping with health challenges that affect changes in diet, sleep, social interaction, and require us to be our own medical advocates. 

OLLI Seminar Series

Held regularly on Thursday afternoons, the OLLI Seminar Series is just one of many membership benefits. Meet fellow attendees and bring your friends for free. Speakers include faculty members and administrators from Widener University, as well as regional experts on a variety of topics.

Solomon Perel: Jewish Soldier in the Wehrmacht and Scholar

  • Instructor: Theodore J. O’Tanyi Jr.
  • June 3, 1:00pm

Estate Planning 

  • Instructor: James Ruggiero Jr. 
  • June 10, 1:00pm

My Journey with a Pair of Great Horned Owls

  • Instructor: Pamela Dimeler
  • June 17, 1:00pm

Cosmic Origins of Everyday Stuff

  • Instructor: Rob Fergus 
  • June 24, 1:00pm

World War II: Pennsylvania Military College (PMC) Men Who Served

  • Instructor : Ronald Romanowicz 
  • July 1, 1:00pm

Shapeshifting in the Pursuit of a Fulfilling Third Act

  • Instructor: Dan Jolly 
  • 5 sessions | $50
  • June 4, 11, 18, 25, and July 2
  • 1:00pm – 2:10pm

Rewrite your narrative in pursuit of personal growth and transformational change. In this course, students discuss the longevity revolution and investigate ways to improve their lives through authentic relationships, “encore” work and recreational activities, health and wellness, financial planning, self-discovery, and more. Participants have the opportunity to practice “shapeshifting” by participating in personal development challenges that encourage an examination of goals by thinking differently and defining solutions in pursuit of a fulfilling “third act.” Class size is limited to 20 students. 

OLLI students

Audit a Widener University Course

OLLI members are invited to audit a current Widener University course for a discounted rate of $250. Offered in a 100% asynchronous online format, these courses can be taken around your schedule. No tests. No grades. Just learning for the love of learning.

Members may enroll in a course while completing their OLLI registration.

UPHI 210 Major Philosophers 

Fall I: August 23 – October 10, 2021  
An historical introduction to philosophy. The most interesting ideas of the major philosophers are selected to present a comprehensive view of the fundamental problems of knowledge, ethics, and philosophy of religion.  
UHIS 352 Women in America Since 1870 

Fall I & II: August 23 – December 10, 2021  
Explores the lives of women in America from 1870 to today, with special emphasis on how race, class, region, and gender have affected women’s identities, relationships, and daily lives. Topics include religion, paid and unpaid labor, prostitution, friendships, family life, community, health and sexuality, birth control, the women’s rights movement, and the impact of United States’ involvement in international wars. 

Support the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Thanks to the generosity of friends, neighbors, and current members, OLLI can make powerful programming and compelling courses available to hundreds of lifelong learners. These supporters ensure that adults in nearby communities never stop learning. Will you join them? Find out how your gift will extend OLLI offerings for years to come. 

Get in Touch

Questions about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute? We're glad to connect with you.