Press Release


Applications for The Odyssey Project, offering Humanities Courses for adults living on low incomes in Champaign-Urbana, are due August 3.  

CHICAGO – The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) and The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities are now accepting applications for The Odyssey Project, a free, eight-month college humanities course for adults living on low incomes. Classes will begin in late August at the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library, 504 E. Grove St., in Champaign-Urbana.

Applications are due Monday, August 3, 2009. For more information about The Odyssey Project or to request an application, contact the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at 217-244-3344. You can also download an application online

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 babysitting and bus tokens. Bard College 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.


Founded in 2000 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 on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"We are thrilled to begin our fourth year in Champaign-Urbana of offering high-quality education to men and women who otherwise would not be able to afford it," says Kristina A. Valaitis, Executive Director of the Illinois Humanities Council. "Odyssey inspires students to actively shape their own lives and take a more active role in the lives of their families and communities."

The Odyssey Project, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, is part of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities. It is offered in Champaign-Urbana in partnership with the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, the Chancellor’s Office of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Douglass Branch Library. It is 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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