Press Release


Free college course for French speakers to be held at Howard Area Community Center

CHICAGO The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) announces the launch of Projet Odyssée (The Odyssey Project), a ten-week college humanities course for speakers of French living on low incomes. Classes will be held starting in early May at the Howard Area Community Center (7649 N. Paulina Ave., Chicago).   

Projet Odyssée is presented by the Illinois Humanities Council in partnership with the Heartland Alliance’s Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Political Torture and the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities. For more information, please contact Amy Thomas Elder, Director of The Odyssey Project, at 312.422.5585 x223.

Classes in literature and philosophy will be taught in French by Professors Stacy Fifer of the University of Illinois Chicago and Michael Edwards of DePaul University. The course is offered at no charge to students; books and CTA fare are provided. Students who complete the course are eligible to receive credit from Bard College in New York. The course is intended to offer a challenging introduction to the humanities for persons who face economic and linguistic barriers to higher education.

"We have offered Odyssey Project courses in English and Spanish, and it was the Kovler Center who brought to our attention the need for a high-quality intellectual opportunity for the Francophone community as well. We believe that engagement with the humanities can help all of us, and marginalized people in a particular way, to see ourselves and the world in new ways and to clarify our deeply held human values in the face of all that would deny them," said Amy Thomas Elder, Director of The Odyssey Project at the Illinois Humanities Council.


The Odyssey Project, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, is founded on the premise that engagement with the humanities can offer a way out of poverty and offers instruction to course participants in humanistic disciplines. The Odyssey Project is in its ninth year in Chicago, where it offers classes in English, Spanish, and French, and its third year in Champaign. 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 is a part) is in its 12th year nationwide, with more than a dozen sites operating in the United States. 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.

For more information about The Odyssey Project, or to request an application, please call 312.422.5580, email, or visit

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) 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 (NEH), 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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