Press Release


The Odyssey Project, a program of college humanities courses for adults living on low incomes, will be offered in Chicago in Fall 2008.

CHICAGO – The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for The Odyssey Project, a free, eight-month college humanities course for adults living on low incomes. Classes will begin in mid-September at DonoghueSchool on the south side of Chicago and at the HowardAreaCommunity Center in Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago.

The Odyssey Project requires that applicants be at least 18 years old, live in a household with income at or below 150 % of the Federal poverty level, and be able to read a newspaper in English. Tuition and books are free, along with on-site baby-sitting and bus cards. BardCollege grants a certificate of achievement to any student who completes the course and awards six transferable college credit hours to those who complete it at a high level of achievement.

Begun in 2000 and founded on the premise that engagement with the humanities can offer a way out of poverty, The Odyssey Project offers instruction in humanistic disciplines. Students explore great works in literature, art history, moral philosophy, and United States history, and also develop skills in writing and critical thinking.

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

For more information about The Odyssey Project, or to request an application for the south side program, call Amy Thomas Elder at 312.422.5585, extension 223. For an application for the north side course, call Catherine Zurybida at 773.995.8411. You can also download an application at The application deadline is August 1, 2008.

"The IHC is thrilled to begin our ninth year of offering such high-quality education to men and women who otherwise would not be able to afford it," says Kristina Valaitis, Executive Director of the Illinois Humanities Council. "Their experience in The Odyssey Project has inspired most of the students to look more closely at continuing their education at a four-year university." The Odyssey Project is part of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, offered by the Illinois Humanities Council in partnership with the University of Chicago and funded in part by The Field Foundation of Illinois, the Seabury Foundation, the Polk Bros. Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and an anonymous donor.

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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