Teach an Adult Education Class

We're always looking for new instructors for our adult education program.

About the Program

Adult education classes revel in the depth, complexity, and joyfulness of the humanities. Each class is a community of curious, non-specialist learners who expand their horizons through conversation, collaboration, creativity, and an open exchange of ideas.

Every year, adult learners take over 150 non-credit courses at the Newberry, ranging in size, duration, cost, and format. We welcome proposals for classes that explore the humanities in dynamic and accessible ways.

The calendar of classes is divided into three terms:

Fall: September - December

Winter/Spring: February - May

Summer: June - August

Classes take place in the afternoons and evenings from Tuesday through Thursday and during the day on Saturdays. When scheduling classes, we consider instructor availability as well as the needs of the program and the Newberry.

A minimum of seven registrants are needed to run a class. If a class doesn't have at least seven students, it will be canceled.

Instructor compensation is based on the number of participants enrolled in the class. Class instructors receive 50% of all tuition. The remaining tuition fees support administration of the program.

Developing a Proposal

Instructors are not required to hold an advanced degree. We encourage artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, performers, directors, and other arts and humanities practitioners to propose classes or workshops.

Read our tips for developing a proposal before starting your application.

We evaluate proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the subject and relevant experience, both in their CVs/resumes and in their proposals.
  • Successful applications approach their subject matter in a critical way that explores the ideas, assumptions, value, or rhetoric of a literary or cultural object; interrogates the narratives of events or historical moments; or places texts, events, art, and/or material objects in context.
  • Proposals should appeal to a general audience and demonstrate the value of humanistic inquiry.

While we accept proposals for topics across the humanities, we're especially interested in proposals in the following areas:​

  • Chicago, including the city's history, arts, music, literature, and graphic design
  • African American, Mexican, and Indigenous genealogy
  • Medical humanities, disability studies, history of medicine, and illness and disease
  • Language instruction, including Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Greek, and Arabic
  • Writing workshops, including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, short stories, screenwriting, and playwriting
  • Grant-writing, podcasting, and filmmaking
  • Experiential learning, including walking tours, site visits, and design workshops

Fall term: mid-May

Winter/Spring term: mid-September

Summer term: mid-February

Application Requirements

Each application must have the following components. Read about the requirements before starting your application.

We will use this information for marketing purposes. In four to five sentences, describe the scope of the class, its major themes, and what participants will gain from the experience. Titles should be concise, accessible, and compelling to a general audience.

The overview should include:

  • Your approach to the topic
  • A detailed outline or syllabus, including weekly assignments, classroom activities, and discussion topics
  • An explanation of how your proposed class relates to the Newberry's mission and collection

Your CV or resume should highlight relevant experience (particularly teaching experience), research, publications, and other activities.

Many (but not all) instructors ask participants to complete reading assignments outside of class. Avoid requiring out-of-print texts, obscure or expensive materials, large amounts of photocopying, or excessive reading (more than 200 pages of fiction prose or 75 pages of poetry or non-fiction prose per week).

Books. Please ensure books are in print, accessible (reasonably priced and written for a non-specialist audience), and widely available. Include ISBN numbers for all required or recommended books.

Digital Course Packets. If you have a selection of shorter materials you'd like to use for your class, we can compile them as a digital course packet to share with participants.

Please specify any reading, writing, or other assignments you'd like participants to complete or bring to the first session of the proposed class.

Classrooms come equipped with a desktop computer with hardwired internet, DVD player, screen, projector, speakers, and laptop plug-ins to project from a laptop. Classrooms also have free wi-fi available. We have additional equipment available by request. Please indicate any additional equipment you would like to use in the application form.

The Newberry houses a vast and diverse collection of primary sources. If you're interested in arranging a collection presentation led by library staff, please indicate your interest in your application. If possible, include a list of collection items.

Submit a Proposal

You can submit up to three class proposals through the Newberry's SlideRoom application portal.

Get Started

Have Questions about Submitting a Proposal?

Get in Touch

Contact us at (312) 255-3700 or via email.