The Clemente Course in the Humanities

The Clemente Course in the Humanities® is a unique educational institution founded in 1995 to teach the humanities at the college level to people living in economic distress. The course works in conjunction with faculty from leading colleges and universities on five continents.

Students learn through dialogue about moral philosophy, literature, history, art history, critical thinking, and writing. More than ten thousand students worldwide have attended a Clemente course, and over fifty percent have successfully completed it.

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“The world improves when each one of us becomes better. The Odyssey Project achieves one of the kindest acts: it encourages us to look within ourselves, to seek a better world and the most important, it gives us hope to find it.”

Luis Tafolla, Odyssey Project, Chicago,IL - A Bard College Clemente Course

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Recent News

Meet Kafi Dixon

Kafi Dixon is the founder of Seeds of Change, an organization that allows individuals to come together to purchase food items collectively from local farms and wholesale distributors.

I never went to high school. I never went to high school. I was homeless; it was just too hard. When I was 16, I got pregnant and had my first daughter, and then when I was 19 I had mysecond daughter. Over the years I was ashamed because I didn’t have an education. I started several small businesses; a bedding shop, a farm stand, anything to get away without having to explain that I don’t have a GED. It was like this dirty little secret I was carrying around.

I really wanted to start a farm, but I needed a business plan to do that. I was paralyzed. I was unable to communicate my ideas for this business in writing. I’m more than capable of running a business, but I lacked confidence to write the plan, and I didn’t have networks of people I could turn to that had skills in writing, research or business planning.

That’s when I found Clemente. Clemente took my natural abilities and shined them so that others could see them. The professors and my fellow students also pushed me to recognize my own strengths. 

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Meet Waldo Aguavivas

Waldo Aguavivas is a student at Suffolk University.

In my family, other things were always more important than education. My mother had to work three jobs to put food on the table. She couldn’t come home and help me with homework or urge me to go to school. School was uncomfortable for me because I’m a gay Dominican male. I dropped out in 2005 when I was in 11th grade.

When I signed up for Clemente in 2011 I didn’t know what a syllabus was. My writing needed improvement. I struggled but I worked hard to improve, meeting regularly with the writing coach. Clemente made me realize that no question is a dumb question. I saw that others have the same questions I do, so I’m no longer scared to ask. The professors encouraged me to express myself. Through Clemente I learned self - discipline, and gained an understanding of what college is all about.

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Meet Amy Howard

Amy Howard is a member of the Port Townsend, WA City Council and is the executive director of the Boiler Room, a community art and social service center.

I thought I was going to be working in dead end jobs forever. Clemente showed me that I could think and that my ideas were valid. Now I encourage my volunteers and staff to take the Clemente Course because I know that it can change lives.

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