Press Release


Graduation address by educator and author Earl Shorris

CHICAGO On Saturday, May 20at 1:00 p.m. at Alliance Francaise (54 West Chicago Avenue) the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will celebrate the graduation of The Odyssey Project‘s class of 2006. The Odyssey Project — now in its sixth year — is a free, eight-month program of college-level humanities courses for people living in poverty. Students in the class of 2006 took courses from September through May at the Ariel School on the South Side and at the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park on the North Side.

Earl Shorris, educated at the University of Chicago, is the author of numerous books and articles dealing with a wide variety of issues related to education, poverty, capitalism, indigenous peoples, and Latin American culture, including New American Blues: A Journey Through Poverty to Democracy; and Riches for the Poor: The Clemente Course in the Humanities. A contributing editor to Harper’s magazine since 1972, Shorris is also the founder and chairman of the advisory board for The Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities and co-founder of the Pan-American Indian Humanities Center located at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

In addition to Shorris, The Odyssey Project graduates will select a student speaker from each location to address the graduation audience.

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 course participants 110 hours of instruction in four humanistic disciplines. Students explore masterpieces in literature, art history, moral philosophy, and United States history. Writing instruction is also integral to the coursework. The Bard Clemente Course in the Humanities (of which The Odyssey Project is a part) is in its ninth year, with 26 sites operating in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Classes meet two evenings a week at host sites located in the community. Syllabi and reading lists at all sites 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 provided. Bard College in New York 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. Next year’s courses will begin in September 2006 at sites on the South Side, the North Side, and in Springfield, Illinois. A new site in Champaign-Urbana will also begin in the fall of 2006.

For more information about the Odyssey Project, or to request an application, please call 312.422.5580, email, or visit and click on “ The Odyssey Project ” under “Educational Programs and Grants.”

Click here for remarks given by the speakers. For more information, please contact Dimitra Tasiouras at 312.422.5580.

The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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