Since 2009, the St. Mary’s University campus has been home to Humanities 101. Learners in this unique program have faced poverty, immigration, violence, negative educational experience, addictions, homelessness, and other interruptions to learning. They meet two days a week for four months, where history, culture, and the arts come alive through storytelling and the lens of multiple perspectives. Field trips to the theatre, art galleries and museums—a first visit for many—round out their learning experience.
The Humanities 101 program provides a safe, welcoming and innovative learning approach, all while removing the barriers these students would face elsewhere. Tuition and textbooks are free. Transit tickets are supplied. Childcare is covered. Volunteer tutors are available for extra help. A hot, nutritious meal is shared around a community table before each class.
During celebrations at the end of each semester, student after student comes forward to speak about the life-changing and profoundly positive effects they’ve experienced because of Humanities 101. Graduates have gone on to degree studies, further course work, employment and meaningful volunteer roles.
We applaud the tremendous dedication of Dr. Tara Hyland-Russell, who has been a driving force in creating and sustaining Humanities 101, as well as the St. Mary’s faculty and larger student body that have rallied around the program to ensure it stays. Each year, students raise thousands of dollars, and students and faculty line up to volunteer their time and expertise.
Social change is at the heart of Humanities 101, giving learners real hope for the future. This model learning community is a true cause for celebration!