Press Release


The Odyssey Project, an eight-month program of college-level humanities courses for low-income students, will begin in Springfield 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 in Springfield at the Urban League Head Start Center at 1108 E. Cook. For more information about The Odyssey Project, or to request an application for the program, please call Nancy McKinney at (217) 820-6150.

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 Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities (of which The Odyssey Project is a part) operates approximately a dozen sites in the 2006-2007 academic year in the United States.

“The Illinois Humanities Council is thrilled to bring The Odyssey Project to Springfield for a fifth year,” explains Amy Thomas Elder, Director of the Odyssey Project. “The Urban League Head Start Center has been instrumental in the success of the Odyssey Project here.”

Classes meet two evenings a week over a twenty-eight week period. 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 18 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 Illinois-Springfield, Southern Illinois University, Millikin University, and the Illinois State Museum.

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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