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The Odyssey Project

The Kaplan Institute is proud to partner with the Odyssey Project, a free, 32-week, college-credit granting humanities program for income-eligible adults with limited to no access to higher education, sponsored by Illinois Humanities. The program is offered in the Chicago neighborhoods of Albany Park, Greater Grand Crossing, and Cicero (taught in Spanish), as well as in Urbana-Champaign. 

The first-year course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the humanities through the study of philosophy, art history, literature, U.S. history, and critical thinking and writing. In addition to work in the classroom, students also have the opportunity to see plays, visit museums, and attend public lectures.

Upon successfully completing the first-year course, students earn six units of college credits in the Humanities from Bard College. Students who have completed the first-year course also have the opportunity to take additional courses through the Odyssey Project.

Teach in The Odyssey Project in 2019-20

Application deadline for teaching has passed, but workshop proposals still being accepted.

See "Additional Engagement Opportunities" section at bottom for details.

Northwestern faculty and graduate students are invited to apply to teach one of the first-year courses below:

The first-year Odyssey experience begins with a five-week Critical Reading and Writing intensive, which runs from mid-September through late October. This is an introductory college-level writing course. Prior college-level teaching is a requirement for those instructing this course. This course meets twice a week for five and a half weeks from 6-8 p.m.

The next unit of courses runs from November through the first week of February. The spring semester runs from early February through mid-April. The sequencing of courses is determined by the Director of the Odyssey Project in consultation with the teaching staff. Graduation is in early May, and Odyssey instructors are requested to participate in this culminating event.   

Each of the courses is an introductory level, seminar-style course that meets once a week for two hours from 6-8 p.m. for eleven weeks. Each course is thought of as part of a larger introduction to the Humanities course. The topic of each course is to be determined by the instructor, in consultation with the Director of the Odyssey Project; the syllabus for the course is to be determined by the instructor, in consultation with the Director of the Odyssey Project

This year the North Side Branch classes convene on Mondays and Thursdays from 6-8 at the American Indian Center; the South Side Branch convenes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8 at the Stony Island Arts Bank. The program expects to hold this same schedule during the 2019-2020 school year.

Stipends are available for teaching one of the first-year Odyssey courses. Graduate students must have the permission of their advisor to teach in this program.

*Graduate students in the History department may have the opportunity to receive departmental funding for teaching in Odyssey.

To be considered for teaching in the Odyssey first-year program, please send a cover letter indicating the course you’d like to teach, C.V., and either a sample syllabus (whether the course has been taught or not) or a one-paragraph teaching statement to Tom Burke (


Additional Engagement Opportunities

Northwestern faculty and graduate students also have the opportunity to propose a workshop to teach Odyssey students who have completed the first-year program. These workshops can be taught on nearly any topic and can run for an afternoon or as multiple sessions. There is currently no remuneration offered for teaching these workshops.

To propose a workshop, please email a course description and C.V. to Tom Burke ( These proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

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