Press Release

The Illinois Humanities Council is Accepting Applications For Free College-Level Classes


The Odyssey Project, an eight-month program of college-level humanities courses for low-income students, will be offered at two sites in Chicago in the fall of 2004.

CHICAGO – The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for the Odyssey Project, a free, eight-month program of college-level humanities courses for low-income adults. Classes will begin in mid-September at Ariel Community Academy on the South Side of Chicago and at the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park on the North Side of Chicago. For more information about the Odyssey Project, or to request an application for the South Side program, please call Amy Thomas Elder at (773) 550-9406. For an application for the North Side course, please call Tom Bal√°zs at (773) 508-5843.

Founded on the theory that engagement with the humanities can offer a way out of poverty, the Odyssey Project, in partnership with the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, offers participants 110 hours of instruction in five humanistic disciplines. Students explore masterpieces in literature, art history, philosophy, U.S.history, and writing and critical thinking. The Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities (of which the Odyssey Project is a part) is in its seventh year, with approximately 20 sites operating in the 2004-2005 academic year in the United States. The Odyssey Project is entering its fifth year here in Chicago. On Saturday, May 22, 32 students graduated from the Odyssey Project class of 2004.

“The IHC is thrilled to begin our fifth year of offering such high-quality education to men and women who otherwise would not be able to afford it,” explains Angel Ysaguirre, Director of Programs at the IHC. “Their experience in the Odyssey Project has led most of the students to look more closely at continuing their education at a four-year university.”

Classes meet two evenings a week over a twenty-eight week period at a host site located in the community (the sites for 2004-05 are Ariel Community Academy on the South Side of Chicago and the Howard Area Community Center on the North Side). Syllabi and reading lists are roughly equivalent to those a student might encounter in a first-year humanities survey course at a first-rate university. Tuition is free; books, childcare, and transportation vouchers are also provided. Bard College grants a certificate of achievement to any student who completes the course and six college credits to those completing it at a high level of performance.


  • Curriculum

    There are five discrete sections: Philosophy, U.S. History, Literature, Art History, and Writing and Critical Thinking. In addition, the course offers tutoring, especially with writing.
  • Students

    Students must be 17 years of age or older. The only entrance requirement is the ability to read an English-language newspaper and live below 150 % of the poverty level.
  • Faculty

    Teachers for the Odyssey Project are professors from the University of Chicago, DePaul University, Lake Forest College, and the School of the Art Institute.

The Odyssey Project is funded in part by The Seabury Foundation, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, and WGN TV Children’s Charities (a fund of the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation).

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