The Odyssey Project in Champaign-Urbana

IPRH Research Prizes

Since the fall of 2006, the Odyssey Project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has offered a suite of courses following the Bard College Clemente Course model. The Odyssey Project is a free, 32-week college-credit granting humanities program for income-eligible adults with limited to no access to higher education. IPRH is proud to partner with Illinois Humanities to bring the Odyssey Project to the Champaign-Urbana community. Through this effort, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign numbers among 40 major universities and colleges across the country each year that offer the Clemente Course in the Humanities, which was recently awarded the 2014 National Humanities Medal by President Obama.

The premise of The Odyssey Project is that a foundation in these core humanities courses offers students an opportunity to build their knowledge base and develop critical thinking skills that will serve them in their pursuit of higher education, workforce opportunities and a lifetime of learning-based citizenship.

IPRH is pleased to work with community partner Urbana Adult Education Center (UAEC), which hosts the Odyssey Project classes. For information about enrolling, please contact Odyssey Project Director, Samuel Byndom at UAEC (217) 384-3530 or fill out the Interested Students Applications.

Learn about becoming an Odyssey Project student.


Learn more about supporting the Odyssey Project.


Watch a short film about the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanties.


2017–18 Instructors

Art History: Dr. Jennifer Burns is a longtime student of art history, having pursued the subject as an undergraduate at Yale University and as a master’s candidate at the University of Michigan. She earned her PhD at the City University of New York, where she specialized in modern and contemporary art and wrote her dissertation exploring feminist interpretations of Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings of the early 1960s. A decade ago, she and her husband moved to the Midwest, where she is now the proud parent of two girls and three dogs. A dedicated teacher, she has taught a wide range of courses in art and architectural history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, from Visual Culture to Global Art, Sustainable Design to Modern American Architecture.

Director and U.S. History: Samuel Byndom is a native Illinoisan. He received his undergraduate degree in history from Millikin University and served eight years in the Armed Forces. After his departure from the military, he earned a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in teaching and another in history from the University of Missouri St. Louis. He has taught both U.S. history and English to traditional and non-traditional students at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Education Policy Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Critical Thinking and Writing: Logan Middleton is pursuing is a PhD in English with an emphasis in Writing Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He developed an interest in community literacy work by working as a writing tutor at the University of Wisconsin and by doing similar work through the Madison Public Library system as a writing consultant. At Illinois, his research interests include digital rhetoric, disability studies, and how writing and literacy practices unfold in non-university spaces.

Literature: Débora N. Tiénou is a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation, entitled Beyond the Outfield: Baseball Fiction and Historical Fantasy, 1864-Present, explores American empire through the lens of baseball by interrogating how the past—both baseball’s and the U.S.’s—has been and continues to be constructed. She focuses on ways in which fiction from the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries imagines alternative possibilities within official history, interrogating the mythologies and histories surrounding “America’s National Game” and the nation itself. Her teaching and research interests include American literature from contact to the present (with a special emphasis on the novel), late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cultural history, the cultural history of sport, print culture, and archival research

Philosophy: Dr. Shelley Weinberg is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her interests are more broadly in the history of early modern philosophy (17th and 18th centuries) with a past focus on psychological, epistemological, and metaphysical issues in the philosophy of John Locke. Her work has appeared in Journal of the History of Philosophy, History of Philosophy Quarterly, and Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. More recently she has published a book with Oxford University Press (2016) entitled Consciousness in Locke. Shelley’s teaching interests include entry level courses in philosophy introducing students to philosophical questions concerning human nature, how we ought to live and what meaning our lives may have, what (if anything) we can claim to know, whether God exists and we can explain our experience of evil, whether we have free will, and whether artificial intelligence is possible. She also teaches lower and advanced level undergraduate courses as well as graduate level courses in early modern philosophy and theory of knowledge.

Learn more about Odyssey Project Opportunities in the State of Illinois.