Press Release

Free Humanities Course Program in Chicago Graduates 12th Class, Recruiting New Applicants

CHICAGO, IL- April 19, 2012—This May, a unique program offering adults living on low-incomes free College level liberal arts courses, complete with college credit, graduates its 12th class while opening applications for classes beginning next fall. 

The Odyssey Project, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council in partnership with the Clemente Course in the Humanities, will hold a graduation ceremony for students from its three Chicago courses in the North and South Sides plus the Spanish-speaking course on Saturday, May 26, 2012, at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. Angel Ysaguirre, Deputy Commissioner for Arts Programming for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and formerly Director of Programs at the IHC when the program was initiated, will be the keynote speaker. The graduation will also serve as the official start of recruiting for the 2012-2013 session of classes.

The Odyssey Project is a free college-level introduction to the humanities, founded on the conviction that engagement with the humanities can offer individuals a way out of poverty by fostering habits of sustained reflection, critical thinking, and skilled communication. Classes are offered in literature, philosophy, history, art history, and writing, taught by faculty members from top institutions including the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, DePaul University, and Lake Forest College. In partnership with the Bard College Clemente® Course in the Humanities, in Annandale, New York, students may receive up to six units of college credit.

Courses are taught at AKArama Community Service Center in Woodlawn on the South Side, the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park on the North Side, and Spanish-speaking students met at the Gads Hill Center in Pilsen. The course in Champaign is held at the Douglass Library. Since its inception, more than 500 students have graduated from the program.  

Accepting Applications

The Odyssey Project will soon be accepting applications for its 2012-2013 school year. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and live in a household with income at or below 150 % of the Federal poverty level.  Classes are free of charge and tuition and books are provided, along with on-site babysitting and transit cards.  Classes are held mid-September through June at all locations. The application deadline is August 1, 2012.

The Odyssey Project graduation ceremony will take place Saturday, May 26, 1pm at the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 West 19th Street) in Chicago, Illinois.

For more information about the Odyssey Project graduation and to be notified when the application becomes available, please contact Amy Thomas Elder at 312.422.5580 or visit the Odyssey Project page at   

About the Illinois Humanities Council

 The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. 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.

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233 

# # #