The Charleston Clemente Course Project at Trident Technical College was awarded a Service Learning Award by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education on Thursday, March 6, 2008. The Clemente Courses are free college-level humanities courses that are offered to disadvantaged people in the Charleston area, in the hope that a study of classical literature, philosophy, art, history, and ethics can offer a way out of poverty through intellectual freedom. The Humanities CouncilSC provided the original grant for this project in 2005 and continues with annual funding support through the We the People rubric of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Service Learning Awards presented by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education honor programs that extend the reach of the university into the wider community. Criteria included community impact, number of students who participate, and integration into academics. Trident Technical College was selected for the Two-Year Colleges category; Clemson University and Newberry College won for Public Four-Year Colleges and Universities and Independent Colleges and Universities respectively.
The Charleston Clemente Courses Project has shown remarkable success over its three-year history, thanks in large part to the visionary leadership of Project Director Mary Ann Kohli, a professor of English at Trident Technical College. The retention rate is an impressive 73%, and many of the course graduates go on to continue their higher education or to start their own business ventures. The SC Commission on Higher Education cited the Clemente Courses for their “innovative approach to addressing homelessness and poverty through the empowering force of education.”
Dr. Randy Akers, Executive Director of The Humanities CouncilSC said, “The Clemente Course has proven to be a successful humanities program, engaging people with the best of classical material and inspiring them to apply it to their present lives. The Humanities CouncilSC has been happy to be involved with this program.”