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Odyssey, in which the UW teaches free humanities classes to adult students who can’t afford college, launched in 2003, when cofounder Emily Auerbach ’76 offered a course to 30 students. The class includes works by authors such as Maya Angelou, Kate Chopin, Charles Dickens, Lorraine Hansberry x’52, Plato, and William Shakespeare — Auerbach is a literature professor (her specialty is Jane Austen). Today, the Odyssey Project comprises four components

  • Odyssey Course — the original program  
  • Onward Odyssey, which connects the course’s grads with further study 
  • Odyssey Junior, open to children and grandchildren (ages 2 to 18) of Odyssey participants 
  • Odyssey Beyond Bars, which offers classes to incarcerated Wisconsinites. 

Since Odyssey began, Auerbach and her colleagues have taught more than 500 students, three-quarters of whom go on to enroll in further college-level study. Learn more about the Odyssey Project’s history, and meet some of its graduates.

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