A College Humanities Course for People of Modest Means Who Dare to Dream
The Venture Course is a free, interdisciplinary humanities course offered by Utah Humanities to adults “of modest means who dare to dream.” Made possible through partnerships with Weber State University in Ogden, Westminster College in the City of South Salt Lake, and Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Venture introduces students living on low incomes to philosophy, art history, literature, American history, and critical writing/thinking.
This accredited evening course, taught by college faculty, gives students new ways of thinking about their lives and their world, developing their ability to think critically and empowering them to take more control of their future. Using discussion and writing to learn and primary sources as texts, Venture uses the liberal arts to help liberate the mind.
The Venture Humanities Course is Utah's Clemente Course and part of a national network of courses awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in the fall of 2015.
Hope, Heart, and The Humanities: How a Free College Course is Changing Lives
A new book written by the founders of Utah's Venture Course, Hope, Heart, and the Humanities tells how Venture, a free, interdisciplinary college humanities course inspired by the national Clemente Course, has helped open doors for hundreds of students who, for various reasons, faced barriers to attending college. This course has given them the knowledge, confidence, and power to rechart their lives.
Readers will go inside Venture classrooms to see what occurs when adults enter serious discussions of literature, critical writing, art history, American history, and philosophy. Also apparent are the difficulties nontraditional students often encounter and the hard choices they and their teachers make. But what readers may remember most are the stories and voices of people whose views of the world have broadened and whose directions in life have changed.
Edited by Jean Cheney and L. Jackson Newell with Hikmet Sidney Loe, Jeff Metcalf, and Bridget M. Newell. Published by The University of Utah Press.
Read a terrific Salt Lake Tribune article, "In Utah, Finding Hope in the Humanities."
How Are Venture Students' Lives Changed?
Hear what Militza Martinez has to say about how Venture has changed her life. After completing Venture, Militza was awarded a full scholarship to attend Westminster College, our partner in presenting Venture:
This is the most amazing program. I have a new view on my life and the world around me. I see everything more vividly and with more purpose. Architecture, art and even the newspaper have become an everyday part of my life. I encourage my son to be more active in his community (school, church, etc.) and that he does have a voice. I am so grateful for this experience. I have said before that in my pursuit of my dream to become a nurse that EVERY nurse should be required to take this program because I feel this will be the foundation of the type of healing professional I want to be. THANK YOU!
– Venture Graduate
Graduates of Venture exemplify the wide impact of the course. Some earn scholarships and continue their studies in college; others start their own business or seek more satisfying and promising employment. Many volunteer in their communities. Venture graduates have run for office, started nonprofit organizations, and enrolled in documentary film classes. All graduates of the course credit Venture for increasing their confidence in themselves and their hope for the future.
Whether they continue in college or not, over 90% of Venture graduates cite the following impact of their experience:
• An increase in their confidence to express their ideas and opinions
• An increase in their interest in the world around them
• A better understanding of U.S. history and democracy
• A desire to encourage the college aspirations in their children and others in their family
• A desire to keep learning, either by continuing in higher education or by reading and engaging in cultural activities like plays, lectures, films discussions, etc.
I found a confidence that I have never possessed. I felt intimidated by the idea of furthering my education, but I feel that I CAN continue through college and be successful. I can certainly say that I am a happier person, a better partner and a stronger parent because of the program. It not only encouraged me to stretch myself, it allowed me to develop personal discipline and be a more positive example to my children. I really feel that my relationship with my kids is much stronger and that they look at me in a new light, with greater respect and authority. I am also a much more grateful person, as I was given this amazing opportunity to be taught by extraordinary faculty and to share the experience with such a diverse group of individuals. I have found a new level of gratitude for such tremendous blessings.
– Venture Graduate
Venture Sites and Applications:
South Salt Lake
Learn More About Venture
A Venture alumnus wrote an essay about the profound effect the course has had on his life. Read the Essay.
The Deseret News printed a feature article about Venture by Elaine Jarvik. Read the article Journey of the mind How Socrates, Bernini and Sartre Enriched 16 Lives.
The Venture Course is made possible through partnerships with Westminster College, Weber State University, and Southern Utah University. Additional support to Utah Humanities for Venture has been provided by the George Q. Morris Foundation, CIT Bank, Richard Jacobsen, and Bridget Newell.