Course Directory

Halifax Humanities 101

Host Organization: The Halifax Humanities Society

Address: 2222 Brunswick St.

City: Halifax

State/Province: Nova Scotia

Zip/Postal Code: B3K 2Z3

Country: Canada

Academic Director: Mary Lu Redden

Contact Email:

Telephone: 902-425-7589

Faculty: Various from 7 universities

Brief History:

Halifax Humanities 101 is a free Humanities programs that was originally inspired by the work of Earl Shorris to whom we will be forever grateful. The program began in 2005 and since that time has graduated over 70 people.

We offer an 8 month curriculum of "Great Books" study with a coherent, chronological approach that focuses on philosophy and literature. The program is divided into 5 chronological sections that cover material from ancient Mesopotamia, Israel, Greece and Rome and end with contemporary Canadian, sometimes local authors.

We have a large roster of teachers from 7 universities (6 of which are right here in Halifax). All of our teachers volunteer their time and usually do 2 classes on a crucial text they have taught in their regular courses. We have a "core text" approach and use only original sources with no reading of secondary material. This approach makes the program quite a challenge for the students, but one which they come to deeply appreciate.

Because Halifax has so many post-secondary institutions, Halifax Humanities is supported by all, but not under the jurisdiction of any one. We operate as a registered charity with a board of directors and all of our funding comes from fundraising efforts plus membership in The United Way. The universities offer in-kind support of various types.

Halifax Humanities is now entering its 8th year of operation. At the request of graduates we now offer a second level course in which the students help to shape the curriculum. Our basic program has twice weekly classes, while the graduates' Seminar class meets once a week.

As in other Clemente and Canadian Free Humanities programs, Halifax Humanities provides all books and reading materials to students, along with bus tickets, refreshments at class and childcare subsidies where needed. Our students are all living in low incomes, including various forms of social assistance as well as minimum wage employment. Many of our student live with chronic mental and physical health challenges and for them, entry into the workforce or formal education is not a goal. However, they continuously tell us how important it is to be intellectually engaged in a program that reinforces their strengths and intelligence rather than focusing on their disabling health conditions.

Other students have found in the program an excellent way to test the waters of further education at a time when they have encountered a life derailment of some sort. Consequently, we now have graduates who are working towards completing undergraduate degrees and the city universities have been very helpful partners in this.

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