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Instructor, The Odyssey Project (Contractor)

Illinois Humanities
60603, Chicago
$6,500 for the course duration
Date posted
Apr 15, 2024

Job Details

Instructor Position in Humanities Disciplines

The Odyssey Project  

Illinois Humanities

Chicago, Illinois

(One semester-length course with possible annual renewal)

Deadline for candidate submissions: May 20, 2024 

The Odyssey Project is currently seeking instructors to co-teach introductory-level interdisciplinary humanities courses at one of our locations on the South Side/Bronzeville, North Side/Uptown, the Loop, and in Spanish on the Southwest Side/Little Village. This position requires that instructors have at least an M.A. (advanced Ph.D. students are welcome to apply) although a Ph.D. is preferred. All instructors should have prior teaching experience, with both formal and informal experience accepted.


Position Overview

  • Instructors are responsible for co-developing and co-teaching a course with one other instructor for a full 15-week semester.
  • Class meets two times per week, 2-hours per session.
  • Instructors are employed through Illinois Humanities as independent contractors and the compensation for the course is $6500.
  • Applicants interested in teaching at the Southwest Side Spanish site must be fluent (speaking and writing) in Spanish and English.
  • All classes take place in-person, but rare exceptions are made for students with extenuating circumstances who may need to join remotely.

Please see below for a more detailed description of The Odyssey Project:  

Odyssey Project Overview 


The Odyssey Project is a free, college-accredited humanities program for adults who might not otherwise have access to a college education. During the 30 weeks of the academic year, participants receive roughly 128 hours of instruction in the interdisciplinary humanities (Humanities 110 and Humanities 111) with additional emphasis on critical thinking and writing. The course is offered at three locations in Chicago (the North Side, the South Side, and the Southwest Side, which is taught in Spanish). Students have the option to continue on to a third, 15-week semester for credit (Humanities 210), which takes place in the Loop. They may also participate in a non-credited, college readiness seminar, which also takes place in the Loop.


The program is free of charge to students, including books and course materials, transportation assistance, snacks, and, when possible, childcare. The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) grants eight transferable college credit hours in Humanities 110 and Humanities 111 to students who successfully complete the course and three additional credits for students who complete the third, advanced semester (Humanities 210).


We place a high priority on recruiting excellent and experienced teachers. Along with the professor, a Site Coordinator and a Teaching Assistant are present at all classes to support both faculty and students. These positions are filled by Odyssey alumni.


Read more about The Odyssey Project at our web site:



Odyssey courses are seminar-style and text-based. The curriculum consists predominantly of primary texts, and class time is largely devoted to discussion. The class is intended to be as much as possible like an introductory humanities course at a liberal arts college, except that the amount of material covered in an Odyssey course is much smaller. Because our students may lack both classroom experience and a background in the humanities, the objective of these courses is to encourage curiosity, community, and facility both in the classroom and in engaging with the humanities. Reading assignments should be no more than 20 pages per class meeting. The challenge for the instructor, then, is to choose a small number of works that students can engage deeply and through which they can acquire skills and habits they will need for further study either on their own or in college. In general, each semester should require no more than 25 cumulative pages of writing. Shorter writing assignments—personal responses, submission of questions for discussion, abstracts, or analysis sheets—are often effective. We discourage giving in-class exams unless they involve discussion or group work.

Odyssey Students 


The program commonly starts with 18 to 22 students. The course is open to adults of any age who live in a household with an income below 150% of the Federal poverty level (about $47,000 for a family of four). The entrance requirements are that students be at least 18 years old, not already have a B.A. from an accredited college or university in the U.S., be able to read an English-language newspaper or Spanish-language newspaper for the program in Spanish (in order to gauge reading-readiness), and demonstrate a desire to complete the course. 


The course generally attracts more women than men, and many students have young children as well as full time jobs. The median age is between 35 and 40. Some of our students have not graduated from high school, while others have begun work on Associate’s or Bachelor’s degrees. Many have not been in a classroom for decades. In general, they have fallen out of the educational system for personal, family or, especially, financial reasons, and many of them have not only economic but other barriers preventing them from returning to school.


Students are recruited largely through social service agencies in neighborhoods near the host course site. The course is also advertised in local newspapers, CAN-TV, and neighborhood centers. Interested applicants fill out a short form and submit it with an essay, and applications are reviewed by the Director and Site Coordinators to determine if a student is accepted.


All students who complete the course receive a certificate from Illinois Humanities, and those who complete all course requirements receive eight general humanities credit hours from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Students do receive letter grades.


How to Apply

To apply for this position: Please submit a CV, cover letter, and sample syllabus  at the Illinois Humanities Work With Us page, or through the relevant job site. Deadline for submissions is May 20, 2024.

About Illinois Humanities


Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. 


We envision an Illinois where the humanities are central to making the state more just, creative, and connected.


Our values:

  • Center people’s experiences, histories, and cultures.
  • Actively promote equity, uplift diversity, and ensure inclusion.
  • Make and protect space for the exchange of challenging ideas, meaningful dialogue, and personal reflection.
  • Intentional, partner-centered relationships that build social capital and strengthen social cohesion, particularly for underserved and historically disenfranchised communities.




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