The Humanities 101 Program: Paying Education Forward to Disadvantaged Populations at St. Mary’s University

The Cause

The Humanities 101 program at St. Mary’s University brings free university level courses to low income, vulnerable individuals who have experienced barriers such as poverty, abuse, addiction, war, violence, homelessness, and interruptions to their education and personal growth. Funding from the Field Law Community Fund will be utilized to cover tuition costs and allow St. Mary’s to continue offering this program at NO charge to participants and help to reduce the financial barrier associated with post-secondary education opportunities.
The power of the Humanities 101 program lies in its capacity to spark the interest to reopen the doors of learning whilst encouraging self-empowerment, equipping learners with the skills to discover their talents and inspiring learners to play a positive role in their lives and communities. St. Mary’s University recognizes education as a fundamental right of all people and that in the absence of barriers to education, individuals move towards their potential.
A vital element of the program is countering any physical barriers that obstruct student participation. St. Mary’s offers the program with FREE Tuition; textbooks, backpacks, binders, pens, and paper are paid for; transit tickets are supplied. Childcare is covered if needed. A hot, nutritious meal is offered before class which is important to allow learners to gather together forming community.
The Humanities 101 students participate in field trips learning from local Museums, Art galleries, Historical Sites etc. which 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. Through these experiences, our students see, feel, touch, taste and gain awareness of other cultures; develop leadership and teamwork skills; learn to care their community and become open to new experiences.
The humanities courses offered to those marginalized in our communities are radical. They seek to uncover and disrupt relations of power that surround and immobilize the poor while expanding their intellectual horizons in an accessible, challenging, and respectful environment. Our program’s success depends passionate volunteers and supporters like you support offers the possibility of transformation that makes a lasting and profound contribution to the lives of our learners.

Who Will it Benefit?

Humanities 101 serves 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.
Humanities 101 engages marginalized groups through partnerships that implement an intake process with community agencies and services organizations in Calgary (including Women's shelters, Elbow River Healing Lodge, Literacy Canada, The Mustard Seed and others). The benefits of education include: reduced levels of poverty, improved access to meaningful employment, and improved physical and mental well-being. As an inclusive initiative, the Humanities 101 program ensures that Calgarians have the access to post-secondary education; breaking barriers that affect a portion of our city’s community.