Learning circles were started by Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) and Chicago Public Library in 2015. Since then, this model of peer learning has spread to libraries and community centers across North America, East Africa, and Europe. This year, Saint Paul Public Library is proud to partner with P2PU to bring learning circles to Saint Paul, MN, with support from the Knight Foundation.

Frequently asked questions

What is a learning circle?

A learning circle is a group of people who meet to learn something together. Learning circles are:

  • Open to the public
  • Free for participants
  • Recurring (generally between 4-8 times)

Additionally, learning circles are led by a facilitator, rather than a teacher. This means that the person who is organizing your learning circle is not an expert in the subject that you are learning. They are there to help guide the group through the course and ensure that the meeting space is ready each week.

What learning materials can be used in learning circles?

Most learning circles use a free, online course as the basis of study. While P2PU creates some courses, the vast majority of materials come from other organizations around the web. You are welcome to use any course you would like for a learning circle, so long as it is free for participants and not in violation of the terms of service of the course provider. A complete list of courses currently being used by learning circle facilitators is available at https://www.p2pu.org/courses/

What personal information do I need to provide to participate?

Learning circle participants do not need to create an account with Peer 2 Peer University. You can sign up for a learning circle with your name and phone number and/or email address. This information is only used by your facilitator to contact you. If you would like to create a learning circle, then you need to create a P2PU account. Additional questions related to user privacy can be answered by contacting support@p2pu.org.

Does it cost money to participate in a learning circle?

No, learning circles are free to participate in.

Do I get any certificate at the end of the learning circle?

P2PU is not a university and does not offer any accredited degree certificates. Some of the online courses that are used in learning circles have degree and/or certificates, but many of these are not free. If you would like a certificate demonstrating the completion of your learning circle, this is possible if you speak with your facilitator.

What is Peer 2 Peer University?

P2PU is a 501c3 non-profit organization registered in California in the United States, with team members in the US, Canada, and South Africa. The mission of the organization is to create equitable, empowering, and liberating alternatives to mainstream higher education. The majority of funding for P2PU comes from philanthropic and public sources including Institute of Museum and Library Services, Open Society Foundations, Siegel Family Endowment, and Knight Foundation. P2PU also accepts donations and offers a variety of services to organizations that are looking to develop thriving nonformal education communities.

Can anybody start and facilitate a learning circle?

Yes! Learning circles are free to create, all you need is an account with P2PU. Check out the facilitator resources to learn more about facilitating a learning circle in Saint Paul.