News, Profiles, Awards and Publications


Academic Director, Clemente Course, Port Townsend, WA

Dr. Arendt Speser

There’s a new kid on the Clemente block. In 2017, Dr. Arendt Oak Speser joined the team as the new academic director of Jefferson Clemente. He’s the program’s second director, stepping into the role vacated by Clemente National Program Director Lela Hilton, who founded the Port Townsend, WA, program in 1999.


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Professor in Bridge, Antioch University Los Angeles

Anyone who wonders how the experience of studying the humanities translates to the real world should talk to Rosa Garza-Mourino.


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MEET JEAN CHENEY
Founder, Venture Course in the Humanities in Utah

Twelve years after founding Venture, a Clemente-inspired course in Utah, Dr. Jean Cheney is more convinced than ever of the value of humanities education.

“It opens people up to new ways of thinking about themselves and their world. And it empowers them to make changes they want to make going forward,” she says. “I am a believer because of what I have witnessed.”

When she joined Utah Humanities in 1997 after a career as a freelance writer and English teacher in high schools and colleges, creating a college humanities class for low-income adults was not on her mind. But after hearing Clemente founder Earl Shorris speak a year later, the wheels got turning. In fact, Jean says she had “a sort of epiphany.”

“Imagining the people in Earl’s Clemente classroom opened my eyes to a reality that should have been obvious: all people deserve a good humanities education, are richer for it. And some people may even be saved by it,” she says. “I don’t apologize for that language. Since being directly involved in this education since 2005, I have seen many, many people turn their lives completely around because of this one course.”


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Congratulations to Jean Cheney and her colleagues from the Venture Course in Utah.


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Harlem Clemente Professor of Literature G.D. Peters, just named as Lehman College's Adjunct Professor of the Year.


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As the academic year opens at colleges across the country, one important group of students will be underrepresented in classrooms: returning adults. The missing students may have both the abilities and the motivation to pursue degrees. But many are shut out of higher education because of debt owed to schools they attended years, even decades, earlier.


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December 2, 2016.  Marina van Zuylen was on a panel representing Clemente, “Great Books” and Civic Education, at a conference to celebrate the centennial of John Dewey’s classic Democracy and Education (1916) at Columbia’s Center for American Studies. 


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The Foundation recently had the opportunity to connect two of the grantees in our Liberal Arts Beyond the Academy special initiative, to talk about their experiences of bringing the humanities well beyond traditional classroom settings. Lela Hilton, Program Director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, Inc., and Ann Kowal Smith, Founder & Executive Director of Books@Work, agreed to let us eavesdrop on their conversation. The Clemente Course in the Humanities brings free humanities education to people living in economic distress.


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