Riley Teaching

What we are doing with Think Olio isn’t all that revolutionary. Our core belief is that education should be an ongoing, lifelong endeavor. Think Olio was created for those who want to keep learning. With our salon-style classes, taught by college professors, we’ve cut the excess out of education - the costs, the tests and grades, the fluorescent lighting, and people who don’t really want to be there.

Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It’s about enhancing our awareness of humanity and nurturing our appreciation for the humanities. Think Olio exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.

Founded by CUNY students Chris Zumtobel and David Kurfirst in March 2015, with a class in their living room, they have now held over 200 Olios at more than 30 locations. After they realized the disparity between what great teachers offer and how little they are paid, Chris and David created an environment where professors were appreciated and compensated for the work that they do and  class prices remained accessible. 

All Olios are open and accessible to all curious people, regardless of educational background.

Think Olio Founders
The founders, David Kurfirst and Chris Zumtobel. Photo by Laura Fuchs.

Over the last few years, we've hosted nearly 400 Olios with more than 40 amazing professors. Here are some highlights:

+ Launched the OlioNote with a party in a Penthouse Recording Studio in Times Square

+ Brought 150 people together to learn about the philosophies of Simone de Beauvoir and 250 people for the history of the string quartet woven in with live music.

+ Completed a 1 year residency at the Strand Bookstore with a new lecture every Friday night

+ Organized a seminar series exploring the state of Democracy with BAM

+ Analyzed Kill Bill at a rock climbing gym, Thoreau in a basement, and sound art in Central Park

+ Made it into the acknowledgements of two books published by our professors

What our future looks like:

+ Weekly Olios – We'll be back in Strand's Rare Book Room in 2018 with Olios every Friday night and will continue to pop-up at various venues all around NYC. 

+ Consistent Seminars – Each of our seminars have offered an opportunity for in-depth, multi-session learning with a professor and deep exploration with a committed group. Going forward we'll have two seminars each month.

+ OlioNote Volume 3 – The OlioNote Vol. 3 is in the works and of course that means another weekend launch filled with parties. We also plan to launch a Think Olio Fellowship which would provide the funding for a professor to present a new and surprising argument to be published by Think Olio.

+ OlioWorld Day 1 – A day-long symposium where we take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring a topic with the perspectives of multiple professors, hands on activities, and a lot of beer and dancing.

+ OlioNotes & OlioRadio – Our hope is to make our content accessible to more people and we plan to do that through study guides (like this one) and podcasts. Let us know if you'd like to be involved.

Find out when we launch new classes!