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A Portrait of Streets and Shelters
(shown here [l] with an unidentified class graduate)
“I have been out of school for a long time and Halifax Humanities is challenging my mind in a good way. If it weren’t for this course I don’t think that I would ever have read some of these books on my own.”
This is the kind of comment that students of Halifax Humanities make quite often. In the midst of lives that are often difficult because of low incomes, health problems, housing problems and other stresses, adults come to Halifax Humanities for a challenging intellectual experience unlike any other schooling they’ve ever done.
So what is Halifax Humanities? It is a notfor-credit, university level course in the Humanities, primarily philosophy and literature. It is offered to adults living on low incomes who have a love of education, but not the financial resources to attend university.
All classes are taught by university professors who volunteer their time and the program is made as accessible as possible. Those of us who work at Halifax Humanities often refer to our program as “The Obstacle-Free Course” because we provide all books and reading material free of charge, provide bus tickets to attend class, and will even subsidize child-care if that is what a student needs. There is no financial cost to the students.
Halifax Humanities is now entering its 8th year of operation. Classes are held at the North Branch Library on Gottingen St., where twice each week, students spend the afternoon exploring challenging texts from such great authors as Homer, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Jane Austen, Darwin, Emily Dickenson, Alice Munro. The course content is not easy, but students find that with the guidance of superb teachers, they can connect to the deep, perennial human questions that all great writers are concerned with.
Beginning with the Ancient World and moving right through to contemporary Canada, the curriculum of Halifax Humanities is a wonderful exploration of the texts, thinkers, and thoughts that have shaped the culture we live in. All of the BIG questions are discussed: “What is justice?” “What is love?” “Why is there so much inequity in our society?” “What does it mean to have a true friend?” “Who is deserving of my trust?” “Is religion a good or harmful force in human life?”
In spite of offering no credit and no obvious practical outcomes, Halifax Humanities has proven to be a very important course in the lives of the over 80 students who have graduated. Students often tell us that one of the hardest parts of living on a low income is the way in which your self-esteem is eaten away by the need to get your food from a food bank, buy your clothes only at second-hand stores and feel accountable to social agencies and housing authorities. In Halifax Humanities, the strengths and intelligence of the students is acknowledged, stimulated, and allowed to grow and develop. For many this has been a source of inspiration, encouragement, and self-esteem building. Who knew that simply reading books together could have such an impact on people’s lives?
For more information, please visit our website: www.halifaxhumanities101.ca or call 902-425-7589
To our dear Vendors, Contributors, Volunteers, Readers, Subscribers, Advertisers, Financial Supporters, Suppliers, the Churches that welcomed us, for having made it possible that we reached 14 years of continuous publishing. May we have you with us again during 2012 and beyond!
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Last Updated on 15 - XI - 2012