The Odyssey Project took its epic first steps in 2003, which means campus is celebrating 20 years of uplifting nontraditional students with free humanities courses. (Watch a short anniversary video celebrating alumni who have taken this journey to hear their stories.) In 2015, the Odyssey Project had a major growth spurt as it broadened its free childcare into Odyssey Junior — a humanities enrichment program designed for kids. Ranging from newborns to teenagers, Odyssey Junior empowers the children and grandchildren of Odyssey students to break the cycle of generational poverty alongside their caregivers. Onward Odyssey is another expansion of the project that has allowed participants to pursue degrees and dreams they didn’t think were possible. New UW course offerings designed specifically for Odyssey alumni include composition, sociology, theater, and history. The adventure doesn’t stop there. Odyssey Beyond Bars (OBB) began as enrichment classes for students in prison. Now OBB teaches credit-bearing UW courses to learners in four Wisconsin prisons. What’s next for the Odyssey Project? This spring will see the launch of Odyssey Senior, a program that focuses on memoir writing and oral history built for Odyssey students’ relatives aged 60 and up. Fall 2023 will bring yet another addition to the project: Odyssey Beyond Wars. This program will offer military veterans a free two-semester humanities course, enabling them to earn college credits in a supportive community of fellow veterans. There’s more, but we won’t run on like Homer. Suffice it to say it’s been a long and impactful journey, and there’s not an end in sight.
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