The White House has announced that the Clemente Course in the Humanities is one of the distinguished recipients of the 2014 National Humanities Medal, which honors individuals and organizations whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources. Through a 20-year partnership with Bard College and other leading colleges and universities, the Clemente Course has offered a tuition-free, college-level course in the humanities—philosophy, literature, U.S. history, art history, and critical thinking and writing—to adults living on low incomes who have limited access to college education in communities throughout the United States. 09-08-2015 http://www.bard.edu/news/releases/pr/fstory.php?id=2716 Photo by Ralph Alswang, courtesy of National Endowment for the Humanities
The Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities is now accepting applications for its free college-level course in the humanities this fall in Kingston, New York. The course offers a rigorous introduction to the humanities—philosophy, literature, U.S. history, art history, and critical thinking and writing—to adults living on low incomes. Students attend at no cost, and tuition, books, and childcare will be provided. Students who successfully complete the course earn 6 college credits from Bard College. Classes will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., from October 1 to May 31, at the Kingston Library. 08-20-2015 http://www.bard.edu/news/releases/pr/fstory.php?id=2713
The Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities in Kingston is now accepting applications for its 2014–2015 program at the Kingston Library. Now entering its fourth year, the program offers a college-level introduction to the humanities to adults living on low incomes. Students attend at no cost. Tuition, books, childcare, and transportation (within the Kingston area) will be provided. Students who successfully complete the course earn 6 college credits from Bard College. 08-29-2014 http://www.bard.edu/news/releases/pr/fstory.php?id=2594
The Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities in Kingston, which offers a college-level introduction to the humanities to adults living on low incomes, has won grants from two local banks to support student expenses for the 2013–2014 program. The Ulster Savings Bank Charitable Foundation awarded a $2,475 grant and First Niagara Foundation awarded a $2,000 grant to support student expenses such as transportation, books, and childcare. 09-10-2013 http://www.bard.edu/news/releases/pr/fstory.php?id=2467
Bard College's Clemente Course in the Humanities, a free program for low-income students, has received a $2,475 grant from the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation. The funds will support transportation for participants in the 2013–2014 course in Kingston, New York. The Clemente Course has locations around the United States and internationally, offering a yearlong, accredited, college-level program in classic works of literature, history, and philosophy. 06-24-2013 http://www.ulstersavings.com/home/misc/communitygiving
To promote the personal growth, development, and enrichment of course members, thereby preparing them for fuller participation in the economic and political life of our society
To create a bridge to enrollment in all forms of higher education for low-income individuals for whom higher education would not normally be an option
The program is based on the belief that by studying the humanities those who are economically and educationally disadvantaged can acquire the cultural capital and conceptual skills necessary to improve their personal and societal situations. Participation in the Clemente Course is itself a positive life experience that will have a strong intellectual and psychological impact on course members, equipping and motivating many participants to go on to college, and more generally, contributing in a lasting way to their personal growth and enrichment.
Classes are held in a community setting such as a social service agency facility, neighborhood center, church, and occasionally on a college campus, if that institution is located close to the neighborhood in which course participants reside. Students find the community setting familiar, nonintimidating, and convenient. Courses begin with approximately 30 students, and experience has shown that about 55 to 65 percent of entering students complete the program.
In spite of every effort to keep students in the course, a certain amount of attrition is to be anticipated with a population that faces extraordinary personal challenges in everyday life. In light of national college statistics, the Clemente Course has actually had an excellent record of student retention.
The academic program consists of 110 hours of instruction in the humanities. There are 11 two-hour class meetings for each of the sections, and classes meet two evenings a week from October through May. The humanities curriculum is divided into four humanistic disciplines: moral philosophy, literature, art history, and U.S. history. Instruction in critical thinking and writing is also offered and is intended not only to enhance students' powers of expression but also to support them in their assignments in the four humanities disciplines. Although there are no standardized syllabi, there is a requirement that a number of recognized masterpieces in each discipline be covered, with differences in emphasis allowed for by the interests of individual instructors. Although the emphasis is on the great works in the Western tradition, there is plenty of room to represent the voices and approaches of other traditions as well. With the exception of supplemental texts in art history and U.S. history, only primary sources and documents are used as the basis of study and analysis.
Many Clemente students, because of their life situations or past educational experiences, have experienced financial or psychological impediments that keep them from even envisioning college as a possibility for themselves. In this program, many of the financial barriers to higher education are removed. Books, childcare, and carfare are provided; tuition is free; and social service support is made available. In addition, the course serves as an extended college orientation program that "demystifies" the college experience by acquainting participants with college-level texts, assignments, professors, decorum, and other serious-minded students.
The affiliated organizations include social service agencies, neighborhood and youth service centers, universities, and humanities councils. Bard College is committed to establishing new sites throughout the country and welcomes new affiliates. A complete list of current courses and affiliates can be found in the Affiliates section.
Bard College offers its affiliates technical assistance; faculty and director trainings; fundraising support; a national network for the sharing of information; and the benefits of national initiatives in evaluation, curriculum development, pedagogical seminars, book donations, and college scholarships. In addition, Bard College grants college credit to Clemente Course students who complete the course at a high level of academic achievement and certificates of achievement to those who complete the course but do not meet the requirements for college credit. Bard College closely supervises its affiliated programs and requires review and approval of affiliated host organizations, course directors, faculty, and curriculum. There are also reporting requirements as well as a requisite level of compliance with standard aspects of the program.
Establishing a Clemente Course in a new community can be an important, rewarding experience, but it is also an endeavor that takes planning, determination, and the dedication—over many months—to bring to fruition all elements necessary for a course to take place. The process requires that a local individual or community group take on the job of coordinating the project, either as part of one's job or on a volunteer basis. The first step to becoming an affiliate is to review the section For Prospective Affiliates, which explains the key elements of establishing a course. The final part of this section, the Course Implementation Questionnaire, serves as an application. The questionnaire should be submitted to the national office after some initial groundwork has been done in thinking through, researching, and addressing the questions that are posed. This information will help the national Clemente Course office evaluate the potential of a collaborative partnership in your community.
Although there are local variations, based on in-kind goods and services offered by the affiliate and/or host organization, it costs approximately $48,000 to run one course for an academic year. The breakdown of expenses can be seen in a sample course budget.
The Clemente Course program is funded, both on the national and local levels, by foundation and government grants, as well as through the generous contributions of committed individuals. Contributions are coordinated through the national office and can be used to support the national program, a student college scholarship fund, or designated for specific local sites. Contributions of any size are welcome, appreciated, and very much needed. In addition, the donation of working computers as well as passes to performances or exhibits offer wonderful opportunities for student enrichment.
State humanities councils have proven to be a very important source of support for the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities. The Clemente Course is a wonderful opportunity for state humanities councils to advance their mission of bringing the humanities to all Americans, for it enables them to reach more effectively into poor communities than they have typically been able to do. Thus far, councils in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington State, and Alaska have funded and re-funded local Clemente Courses. In five states—Washington, New Jersey, Alaska, Illinois, and Massachusetts—the humanities councils have taken on the role of "sponsor" of the Clemente program. A sponsor adopts the course as one of its programs, devoting a significant amount of staff time to develop and supervise the course, actively raising funds through its development department, and promoting the program throughout the state. It is expected that additional state humanities councils will soon play a significant role in supporting Clemente Courses in their states.
Local courses need tutors for the students, particularly those who are able to help with writing skills. Some programs have incorporated mentors into their programs, as well. High school advisors and college admission officers have also contributed their services in helping Clemente students understand and access opportunities in higher education. One should direct inquiries about volunteering to course directors at local sites.