Press Release


Graduation address by Ronne Hartfield, acclaimed poet, author, and arts administrator

CHICAGO The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will celebrate the graduation of The Odyssey Project’s class of 2009 on Saturday, May 16 at 2:00 p.m. at Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago).

The Odyssey Project-now completing its ninth year in Chicago-is a free college-level introduction to the humanities meant to help adults with low incomes more actively shape their own lives and the lives of their families and communities. Students in the class of 2009 took classes in literature, philosophy, history, art history, and writing from September through May at the University of Chicago Charter School (Donoghue Campus) on the South Side and at the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park on the North Side. The Chicago courses are presented in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Civic Knowledge Project and the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities.

Ronne Hartfield, an acclaimed author, poet, and arts administrator, will give the graduation address. Hartfield’s most recent book is the biographical memoir, Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family. She was the Woman’s Board Endowed Executive Director for Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1990 to 1999 and the former Executive Director of Chicago-based Urban Gateways: The Center for Arts in Education, the largest private arts and education organization in the United States.

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


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 (offering 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 Project 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.

Tuition is free and all books are provided free of charge. Bard College grants a certificate of achievement to any student who completes the course and six transferable credit hours to those who complete it at a high level.

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.

D A R E  T O  K N O W

# # #