History of Odyssey in Champaign-Urbana

Odyssey Project in Champaign-Urbana: From 2006 to Present

This information is adapted from a 2010 article by Matthew Schroyer in CU-CitizenAccess. View the archived article in full.

The Odyssey Project in Champaign-Urbana began as an affiliate of the Bard Clemente Course in the Humanities, which began offering college-level courses to low income adults in 1995 out of the Roberto Clemente Family Guidance Center in Manhattan, N.Y.

Odyssey student and instructor working on a project together.

Like the Bard Clemente Course, the Odyssey Project gives all students free instruction and course materials, such as textbooks. At the time of its inception in Champaign, students who graduated from the program could earn credits from Bard College.

The Illinois Humanities Council (now called Illinois Humanities) first began the Odyssey Project in Chicago in 2000. In 2005, John Marsh, who at the time was assistant director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (now the Humanities Research Institute or HRI), began planning an Odyssey Project for Champaign, launching with its first class in fall 2006.

In fall 2019, the Odyssey Project became a UIUC credit-bearing program fully administered by HRI and with College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) courses. Support from the the Mellon Foundation enriched the program's offerings, including co-curricular activities, opportunities to learn from an artist-in-residence and creative writer-in-residence, as well as added support through mentorship and internships.

Related Articles

“ 'A Challenge with Great Rewards' — Odyssey Project a Springboard for Continuing Education” - Interview with Odyssey alumni, October 14, 2020

"The Odyssey Project offers educational opportunities through humanities courses" - Smile Politely article, September 18, 2019

"Grant gives higher education to community" - Daily Illini article, February 25, 2019