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Halifax Humanities Society

Our History

In 2003, a number of Halifax-based community advocates formed the Saint George’s Friends of Clemente Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of those living in material poverty, through education in the Humanities. 

In October 2005, the Society, by then a registered charitable organization, launched an eight-month pilot project called Halifax Humanities 101 based on a hugely successful educational model called the Clemente Course in the Humanities. Developed and first delivered on the lower east side of Manhattan in 1995 by writer and educator Earl Shorris, the course in the Humanities is a proven way to radically and successfully enrich the lives of those in poverty through education. The course material teaches reflection and critical thinking, enabling those on low incomes to combat isolation and to navigate their way through poverty to actively participate in changing their lives.

Since that pilot year in 2005, over 60 students have successfully completed the eight-month course of study. There have been five graduation ceremonies, at which students and their friends and families, teachers, volunteers, and board members have celebrated a year of study, intellectual engagement, friendships and tremendous growth in confidence and self-esteem.

The former name of the registered charity 'St. George's Friends of Clemente Society' has now been changed to 'The Halifax Humanities Society'

Dawn Tracey Brandes is the Director of The Halifax Humanities Society.



The 2008 Radical Humanities Symposium held in Calgary was a spirited celebration of the ten Clemente-inspired education programs that have taken shape across Canada.

Students, directors, teachers, volunteers and supporters came together at the University of Calgary over a beautiful autumn weekend to share experiences, hear inspiring stories, and discuss practical matters. Those in attendance discussed the different versions of the Clemente model of free education and came away with insights into how to improve their own programs.

Students from all the various programs spoke very movingly of the ways in which barriers to education had been broken for them and how their lives had been transformed through study and through seeing themselves as intelligent and engaged citizens.

Among the participants were:- 

University 101 Victoria
University 101 is a project that offers FREE, non-credit courses that will introduce students to a wide range of university topics.
Humanities 101 Vancouver

Humanities 101 offers three non-credit university-level courses at UBC for people living on the DTES and surrounding areas who are passionate about learning and knowledge, especially those whose economic situation, academic experience, financial and social well-being are compromised.

Humanities 101 Edmonton
Humanities 101 is an organization that offers non-credit post-secondary courses to underprivileged populations in Edmonton.
Storefront 101 Calgary
Storefront 101 was launched in 2003 as a community-based collaborative.
Humanities 101 Thunder Bay
Hoping to emulate the success of UBC's Humanities 101, the University of Calgary, Thunder Bay spearheaded a similar program.
University in the Community, Toronto
This program is a free educational opportunity for people with low incomes to participate in university level classes in the Humanities.
Discovery University Ottawa
Discovery University was launched in March 2005 after Rev. Deborah Dempsey brought the idea to members of her congregation at First Baptist Church in Ottawa.
Humanities 101 Halifax
In 2003, a number of Halifax community advocates formed a non-profit society dedicated to enriching the lives of those living in material poverty through education.

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