The Study Circle

A study circle is one way of organising free and voluntary adult education. In Sweden, various adult educational associations (like ABF, the workers’ adult education organisation) receive government funding to organise study circles.

A study circle is an open form of learning and can be organised in many different ways. However, the following things are typical for a study circle; it’s open for everybody and no pre-existing knowledge is required. Participating is voluntary and the participants have influence on the content and planning. Group discussions and dialogues are important parts in the pursuit of learning. In between the study circle meetings, participants have time to reflect and to work with the study material provided by the study circle.

To qualify for government funding, a study circle must meet the following criteria: The study circle must involve a small group of people who, based on their needs and interests, set out to increase their knowledge. A study circle can be held, not only through physical meetings, but also via distance learning or by a combination of the two forms. A study circle consists of at least three people who meet at least three times, concluding no less than a total of nine hours of study (one study hour is in this context 45 minutes). There is no upper limit of how many participants there can be in one study circle, but there can’t be more than what ensures an environment in which everyone can participate actively and make their voice heard. To count as a member of a study circle you must have attended at least three meetings, of which one must be one of the first three meetings.