Interest Circles or Learning Circles

An Interest Circle is a self-organized, self-governing, and self-directed discussion, research, or activity group proposed and coordinated by its members.

ELLA has received a lot of feedback from participants from past Spring Sessions that indicated that many of our members liked the idea of Interest Circles but did not have a clear idea of what they were, how they worked and how to get one started. We believe that Interest Circles (or Learning Circles as they are sometimes called) are a wonderful way for groups of engaged learners to take their learning far beyond any class or presentation and into realms that are of specific interest to them. They are self-facilitating and their content is brought in by members of the group for sharing. They can comprise a handful of members or much larger groups.

An Interest Circle can meet once or several times, and some can even last years if the participants wish them to (ELLA has a few groups that have formed at Spring Sessions over time and have gone on for years afterward).

Interest Circles can include such things as:

  • book clubs or reading groups
  • film viewing and discussion groups
  • exercise groups (e.g., walking groups)
  • discussion groups on a wide variety of topics – whatever interests the members
  • research or study groups
  • knowledge sharing groups (individuals research a topic and report back)


An Interest Circle could grow from a course the participants are taking or have taken that they wish to follow further, or from a “tangent” they couldn’t follow in class but would like to look into.

An interest circle could also form around a shared interest that has nothing to do with any topic brought up at Spring Session. It’s an opportunity for the participants to learn what they want, when they want, and in the way that they would like to learn it.

This year, in order to encourage as many people as would like to try an Interest Circle and get one going, we will be presenting two information sessions on how to get started. One will be on a Lunch break and the other will be after classes in the afternoon. If you wish to plan your time, please check the other activities listing for times (rooms will be posted at the ELLA Information Table).