Illinois Humanities – The Odyssey Project, Instructor in Humanities Disciplines

Chicago, Illinois
May 13, 2021
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Illinois Humanities – The Odyssey Project

Instructor in Humanities Disciplines

(One semester-length course with potential for additional annual instruction)

Target fill date: August 1, 2021

Deadline for candidate submissions: July 1, 2021

The Odyssey Project is currently seeking instructors to teach introductory-level courses in the humanities (Art History, History, Literature, Philosophy, and Critical Thinking and Writing) at our locations on the South Side/Greater Grand Crossing, North Side/Rogers Park, West Side/location TBD, and in Spanish on the Southwest Side/location TBD. Instructors are required to have at least an M.A. (advanced PhD students are welcome to apply) and prior teaching experience. Instructors are responsible for fourteen 2-hour class meetings to be taught in either the fall or spring semesters (classes will meet one evening a week from 6:00-8:00 PM). Instructors will be independent contractors and the fee for service for the course is $4800.

Applicants interested in teaching at the Southwest Side Spanish site must be fluent (speaking and writing) in Spanish and English.

If interested, please submit a CV with references, a cover letter, and a sample syllabus for a class you taught or co-taught on the Illinois Humanities Work With Us page. Please select the job posting for "Illinois Humanities Odyssey Project Instructor"

Please see below for a more detailed description of The Odyssey Project:

Odyssey Project Overview

The Odyssey Project is a free, college-credit earning humanities program for adults who might not otherwise have access to a college education. During the 32 weeks of the Odyssey Project, participants receive 128 hours of instruction across five subject areas: literature, art history, philosophy, history, and critical thinking and writing. Each subject is taught by a different instructor from a local college or university. The course is offered at four locations in Chicago (the North Side, the South Side, the West Side, and the Southwest Side, which is taught in Spanish). The program is free of charge to students, including books and course materials, transportation assistance, snacks, and, when possible, childcare. The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) grants eight, fully transferrable college credit hours in Humanities 110 and Humanities 111 to students who successfully complete the course.

The Odyssey Project offers a text-based, discussion seminar, focusing on commonly taught college level works. Syllabi and reading lists are roughly equivalent to those a student might encounter in a first-year humanities course at a liberal arts college. We place a high priority on recruiting excellent and experienced teachers. Along with the professor, a Site Coordinator is present at all classes to support both faculty and students.


Odyssey courses are seminar-style and text-based. The curriculum consists predominantly of primary texts, and class time is largely devoted to discussion. The class is intended to be as much as possible like an introductory humanities course at a liberal arts college, except that the amount of material covered in an Odyssey course is much smaller. Because our students may lack both classroom experience and a background in the humanities, and because each subject receives only 25 hours of class time, it is simply not possible to offer a broad survey of any of the subjects. Reading assignments should be no more than 20 pages per class meeting. The challenge for the instructor, then, is to choose a small number of works that students can engage deeply and through which they can acquire skills and habits they will need for further study either on their own or in college. In general, each subject should require in total no more than the equivalent of seven to ten pages of writing. Shorter writing assignments—personal responses, submission of questions for discussion, abstracts, or analysis sheets—are often effective. We discourage giving in-class exams unless they involve discussion or group work.

Odyssey Students

The program commonly starts with 20 to 25 students. The course is open to adults of any age who live in a household with an income below 150% of Federal poverty level (about $40,000 for a family of four). The entrance requirements are that students be at least 18 years old, not already have a B.A. from an accredited college or university in the U.S., be able to read an English-language newspaper or Spanish-language newspaper for the program in Spanish (in order to gauge reading-readiness), and demonstrate a desire to complete the course.

The course generally attracts more women than men, and many students have young children as well as full time jobs. The median age is between 35 and 40. Some of our students have not graduated from high school, while others have begun work on Associates or Bachelors degrees. Many have not been in a classroom for decades. In general, they have fallen out of the educational system for personal, family or, especially, financial reasons, and many of them have not only economic but other barriers preventing them from returning to school.

Students are recruited largely through social service agencies in neighborhoods near the host course site. The course is also advertised in local newspapers, CAN-TV, and neighborhood centers. Interested applicants fill out a short form and submit it with an essay, and applications are reviewed by the Director and Site Coordinators to determine if a student is accepted.

All students who complete the course receive a certificate from Illinois Humanities, and those who complete all course requirements receive eight general humanities credit hours from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Students do receive letter grades, which are averaged across the five subject areas.

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