Called “the perfect fit for OLLI,” OLLI member Diane Senerth has revived an 18th century conversation club and brought it to the 21st century for lifelong learning.
Last fall, the University of Delaware’s Wilmington-based Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) became the first OLLI program in the country to start a Ben Franklin Circle discussion group, modeled after Benjamin Franklin’s 18th century conversation club focused on civility and mutual self-improvement.
The 21st-century version was founded at New York City’s 92nd Street Y, and now boasts over 300 chapters across the U.S.
OLLI member Diane Senerth read about Ben Franklin Circles in a New Yorker article and immediately thought of her fellow lifelong learners. The Ben Franklin Circle Discussion Group at OLLI began meeting as an extracurricular activity in 2019 and continued in 2020 on its path of exploration and discussion of Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues of temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, chastity, tranquility and humility.