Funding Field Trips and Experiential Learning program for Humanities 101 students

The Cause

St. Mary’s University offers the Humanities 101 program, a strength-based educational program offering free university-level courses rooted in humanities, designed to help low-income Calgarians address barriers getting in the way of exercising their capacities and skills. The value and true impact of the Humanities 101 program lies in its capacity to help learners step beyond the constraints of poverty and to re-open doors of learning for individuals who have encountered extreme barriers in their lives. These barriers include experience with poverty, prior negative or interrupted education, war, violence, addictions, trauma, homelessness, physical and mental health etc. We provide a healthy and supportive environment where students can experience the excitement and benefits of a post-secondary education without the costs.
A vital element of the program is countering any physical barriers that obstruct student participation. This is why St. Mary’s offered the program with Free Tuition, program materials, transit tickets, and childcare if needed. A hot, nutritious meal is offered before class which is important to feed the hungry and to allow learners to gather together forming community.
The Humanities 101 program is offered to 30 students and their courses involves twice weekly classes, taught by university professors. The curriculum focuses on the Humanities subjects that have shaped our culture, from ancient Greek epics to contemporary classics of American and Canadian literature. Through their study, students find an opportunity to read and reflect. This time for study has proven to be very helpful in moving students from lives of frustration and reaction to lives of thoughtful reflection and intelligent engagement as citizens.
St. Mary’s University seeks $5,000 to support the Experiential Learning part of the program that prepares students to emerge as engaged citizens by exploring unfamiliar cultures and perspectives. This part of the program is designed to engage students in learning beyond the classroom and provide them with opportunities to apply their knowledge in real-life situations. Our students participate in field trips learning from local Museums, Art galleries, Historical Sites etc. Through these experiences, our students see, feel, touch, taste and gain awareness of other cultures; develop leadership and teamwork skills; learn to care for others, community and their environment; and become to new experiences.

Who Will it Benefit?

Humanities 101 serves and benefits adult learners over the age of 18 who have experienced barriers to learning. This includes people who have experienced some or all of the following barriers: previous negative or interrupted education, low-income, homelessness or unstable housing, violence, war, substance abuse, physical or mental health disability. Participants have included Indigenous persons, immigrants, single parents, and people accessing a wide range of social supports just to name a few. The Humanities 101 program is offered to 30 students for a total of two terms and their courses involves twice weekly classes, taught by university professors and qualified community members who volunteer their time.

Poverty in Calgary (2012), a joint study between the City of Calgary and the United Way, Vibrant Calgary, reported significant concerns with low-income and high socials tresses among immigrants, single parent families, aboriginals, and people with disabilities. The study demonstrated how poverty is a drain on the potential, possibilities, and opportunities of individuals as well as communities. In fact, poverty affects us all - our families, communities, and society as a whole. The isolation, health issues, and related stress experienced by people living in poverty affects their ability to fully participate and engage in social, economic, and political life. We are proud to that the Humanities 101 program reaches and benefits marginalized people, inspiring them to re-enter the academy, the workforce, and society.

Through partnerships with community agencies and services organizations in Calgary, low-income adults age 18 and over, interested in the program, are referred into the program. Applicants to the Humanities 101 program came from the following sources:
• Calgary Housing
• The Drop-In Centre
• Library Posters
• Elbow River Healing Lodge
• Pastor referral
• Alpha House
• Aboriginal Friendship Centre
• Canadian Mental Health Alberta
• Jesus loves You Society
• Servants Anonymous
• YWCA women’s shelter
The Humanities 101 program reaches and benefits socially and educationally disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable non-traditional people in the Calgary area.