Press Release


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 2006.

CHICAGO The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for The Odyssey Project, a free, eight-month college-level humanities course 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. Download an application on-line or for more information about The Odyssey Project, please call Amy Thomas Elder at (773) 550-9406. You can also learn more at

Founded on the premise 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 great works in literature, art history, philosophy, and U.S. history, and develop skills in writing and critical thinking. The Odyssey Project is part of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, offered at approximately a dozen locations around the United States. The Odyssey Project is entering its seventh year here in Chicago. On Saturday, May 20, 32 students graduated from the Chicago Odyssey Project class of 2006.

“The IHC is thrilled to begin our seventh year of offering such high-quality education to men and women who otherwise would not be able to afford it,” explains Amy Thomas Elder, Director of the Odyssey Project. “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 2006-07 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, on-site babysitting, and CTA fare cards 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.


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.


The only requirements are that applicants be at least 18 years old, live in a household with income below 150 % of the Federal poverty level, and be able to read a newspaper in English.


Teachers for The Odyssey Project are professors from the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and Northwestern University.

The Odyssey Project is offered in partnership with the University of Chicago and is funded in part by The Field Foundation of Illinois.

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 by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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