Welcome to the Jefferson Clemente Course: a Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities

  • The  Jefferson Clemente Course is an affiliate of the Clemente Course in the Humanities®, a nationally acclaimed, free, college-level course in the humanities for low income students.

The course is based on the belief that anyone, if given the opportunity and support, can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to enrich and transform his or her life.

All tuition, books, childcare and transportation costs as needed are FREE to qualified students.

Are you interested in literature, art, history, and philosophy?

Do you like to read about and discuss important ideas?

Would you like to practice your writing skills?

Then join Jefferson Clemente Bridge Course, a college-level introduction to the study of the humanities for low-income adults.

What does it cost?  It costs you nothing. All fees for tuition, books, travel expenses, and childcare will be waived for qualified students. Transferable credit is available for those who might want to go on to college.

Who can take the Course? The Bridge Course is open to past students and new students alike. No previous college experience is necessary.  Students do not need a high school diploma or GED to participate.

Why study the humanities?  Because they offer us a way to understand our past, to think critically about the present, and also to prepare for the future. By discovering ourselves through rich and diverse readings, and discussing our ideas with our peers, we become more connected to the world around us—locally and globally—in a way that helps us gain confidence and courage in who we are, even as the world seems to change abruptly before our very eyes.

Conversations That Matter:  The theme for our 2018 Bridge Course is designed to stimulate critical dialogue and teach the dialectic method through multiple disciplines. Dialectic is rooted in the Socratic practice of inquiry and investigation as an end-in-itself. Rather than trying to “prove” a certain truth, the process of dialectic encourages us to develop and cultivate ways of seeing and knowing rooted in the free exchange of ideas. This means thinking not only about issues, but also how we talk about what matters to us as individuals and members of various social groups. We all carry assumptions that influence and impact how we see ourselves in relation to others. By asking questions about these assumptions, guided through readings of timeless and timely texts, we learn how to take control of our lives both internally and externally.

Clemente Faculty:  Our teachers not only have expertise and experience in their respective fields, but are also accomplished community members and advocates of the Clemente mission to eliminate barriers to higher education.

APPLY NOW! Jefferson Clemente Application_2018


Watch a short film about our course. 


Bard CollegeOur Course is accredited by Bard College.  Successful students receive transferrable college credits.


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For more information:

Arendt Speser, Academic Director,  jeffcoclemente@gmail.com or 360-774-6635


Remembering Earl Shorris:  1936-2012

Earl Shorris meets with students and faculty from the University of San Andres in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2010.