Bringing the Humanities to the Community: Lessons from Free Minds Austin, with Vivé Griffith

Are the humanities being devalued in our lives, citizenry, work, cultures, families and communities?

Vivé Griffith and Rebecca Meacham

Vivé Griffith and Rebecca Meacham

UW-Green Bay Prof. Rebecca Meacham (Humanities) invited national leader in humanities education and community partnerships, Vivé (VIH-VAY) Griffith, the former Director of Free Minds, Austin, to have this important discussion with the UW-Green Bay community, April 23, 2018. Griffith’s work with Austin’s Free Minds program, and programs like it (UW Madison’s Odyssey Project, for example), have made life-changing impacts on students and local communities.

What value can humanities education serve for underserved communities? How can an interdisciplinary class in literature, philosophy, history, or writing open the door to higher education — and civic engagement — for those who have faced barriers to college?

For more than a decade Free Minds has offered free college humanities seminars to low-income adults, modeled on the Clemente Course in the Humanities, an initiative begun in New York City in 1995. Far from just a college access program, Free Minds is founded on the belief that engaging with the humanities can provide adults with a unique opportunity to cultivate the confidence, agency, and communication skills that enable individuals to change their lives.

Griffith discussed the history of Clemente and the lessons learned in building a course in Austin; how to create successful university-community partnerships; how to measure outcomes, and the initial steps to launch a Clemente-inspired program in Green Bay.

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