by Helena Witzke
Three Western Michigan University professors are gearing up to help underprivileged adults in the Kalamazoo community attain a higher quality of life through experiencing free courses in the humanities.
Drs. Mariam Konate Deme, assistant professor of Africana studies; Thomas Bailey, professor of English and environmental studies; and Dini Metro-Roland, assistant professor, Socio-Cultural Studies, all have committed to volunteering next semester in the Humanities for Everybody project, an initiative seeking to help (the poor) gain critical thinking skills, increased confidence, and self-autonomy by providing free courses on, respectively, history, literature and philosophy.
The project was brought to Kalamazoo by the Eastside Neighborhood Association, the Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services (KNHS), and the local housing agency Open Doors. This program, which will be offered to low-income Kalamazoo residents who are without college experience, will begin its pilot courses in January.
After speaking with deputy director of KNHS Matt Lager, one of the key forces behind the Kalamazoo program, WMU professor of political science and KNHS board member Dr. Susan Hoffman contacted her colleagues at WMU about volunteering with the program. The response was “very generous,” she said—some 15 faculty members volunteered.
The participants do not have to pay tuition or buy the books for the classes. However, regular attendance, completion of assignments and dedication to the material are necessary.
Hoffmann also notes that the program is accepting donations. “Small donations will go a long way in this pilot year,” she said. Donations of even $20-$40 would help begin a fund to cover books, materials, the cost of bus tickets for transportation, and childcare for the participants. Contact the KNHS for Humanities for Everybody at: www.communityinvestmentnetwork.org/contact for contribution details.
Faculty for next year are needed according to Hoffmann. “We appreciate those who have volunteered, and will be grateful to have other volunteers in the areas of philosophy, writing and logistics, art history, and literature and American history.”
Hoffmann and Bailey are working together to forge strong ties between the Humanities for Everybody and WMU. The University Center for the Humanities has shown its support for the program and it is partially supported by the College of Arts and Sciences.
For more information, see the WMU News post