By Chanapa Tantibanchachai

On Sept. 10 President Obama awarded the Clemente Course in the Humanities with one of 10 2014 National Humanities Medals. The U’s Honors College is involved in the only high school branch of the Clemente Course in the nation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jorge Rojas. Clemente Course students on a field trip at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.

Clemente Course students on a field trip at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. PHOTO CREDIT: Jorge Rojas.

The National Humanities Medal is awarded to any “Individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.”

Twenty years ago the Clemente Course was created to help disadvantaged adults learn about the humanities by enrolling in an intensive course in philosophy, literature, art history, American history or critical thinking and writing four hours a week from September through May. By participating, students can receive college credits, professional development opportunities and much more.

In Salt Lake City, the Clemente Course started as a pilot at East High School in fall 2013. Faculty and undergraduates from the U’s Honors College and Westminster College’s Honors Program teaching the Course to 10th and 11th grade students in coordination with East High teachers. East High School’s Clemente Course is the only high school off-shoot of the nationally acclaimed course for adults.

At East High, the course focuses on multicultural works using a variety of learning methods such group discussion, writing and art installations. In a recent project titled “We are One Inside Out,” 100 black and white photos of students were hung on a wall outside the high school to display the school and city’s changing demographics.

To learn more about getting involved with the Clemente Course through the Honors College, contact Patricia Rohrer at p.rohrer@utah.edu.


Chanapa Tantibanchachai is an associate science writer at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at chanapa.t@utah.edu.