Clemente Course

A College Humanities Course for Underserved High School Students

clemente slc field trip

The Clemente Course is an interdisciplinary humanities course for underserved high school students. Taught primarily by college professors, the course is intellectually rigorous, focusing on significant multicultural works using primary documents, group discussion, writing, and group projects as the basis for learning, and is consistent with Utah's Common Core curriculum. The goal of Clemente is to encourage students to apply for and succeed in college.

The course was inspired by Earl Shorris's work with low-income adults in New York City in the first Clemente Course, for adults, which began in 1995 with the intention of bringing the richness and beauty of the humanities to those who haven't experienced them.*

Developed through partnerships with local school districts and Utah colleges, Utah's Clemente Course has been underway at East High School in Salt Lake City since 2013 and will expand to West High School in the fall of 2017.

*See Earl Shorris, Riches for the Poor: The Clemente Course in the Humanities, (New York: W.W. Norton 2000).

See the Oral History Poetry and the We Are One Public Art Project below for examples of what Clemente students are accomplishing.

For information on how to partner with us on a Clemente program at your school, contact Josh Wennergren at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 801.359.9670 x106.

What Students Say About Clemente

"If I had the chance to join Clemente again I would do it in a matter of seconds. Clemente is a wonderful program!" - Lusi

"It's a course that helps extend your learning and knowledge of the world. - Yerry

"Clemente will make you think about topics that have never even crossed your mind before." - Katrina

Clemente Students Write Poetry from Oral History Interviews

StudentsWritingStudents in the Clemente Course in the Humanities have been recording the oral histories of friends or relatives as part of their literature class at East High in Salt Lake City, taught by Professor Sean Desilets and honors student Emma Metos from Westminster College's Honors Program. Focused on the theme of "migration" in literature, these students created some of their own poetry, based on these interviews. The poems speak of the separation and loneliness many immigrants feel, as well as the hope for greater opportunity in America.

The poem featured here is just one of the touching pieces. You can read the additional poems here.

Her Story

When you are fifteen, you have your set of friends
My sister was shy
I was always outgoing
When you are new and older, it is hard to make those friends.

She was grown
And I was younger--too young to miss England
Her home, my house
We took a test
I passed
She didn't

Five years.
Five years was all it took.
It was different for her
For me, it was all the same.

- Aria Critchley, from an interview with her mother

Photo: Clemente students at East High School in Salt Lake City. Photo courtesy of Jean Cheney.

The Clemente 2015 Summer Camp

Click here to explore a short documentary from the 2015 Clemente summer humanities camp.

The "We Are One Inside Out Project" as part of the Clemente Course

As an outgrowth of the Clemente Course, Clemente students at East High turned their school "inside out." Although East High School is now 63% “minority” with Latino, Pacific Islander, Asian, and African American students and student refugees from around the world in its classrooms, many in Salt Lake still imagine the school as it used to be—predominantly white. The Clemente students wanted to show East High's true face to the world. Read more about the "We Are One Inside Out Project.

Media Coverage for Clemente

Utah’s New Clemente Program Seeks to Excite Underserved Students to Attend College
Humanities Courses Hope to Transform the Way People Learn

The Clemente Course has received major support from Alternative Visions, a fund of the Chicago Community Trust. Additional support for Clemente has been provided by the Sorenson Foundation. The Clemente Course is made possible through partnerships with the University of Utah Honors College, Westminster College Honors Program, East High School, and University Neighborhood Partners.

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