Building Your Own Clemente Course
The Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities is a national program with headquarters at Bard and affiliated courses throughout the United States. Bard works with organizations and dedicated individuals across the country to lay the groundwork for creating new courses. Establishing a Clemente Course in a new community can be an important, rewarding experience, but it is also an endeavor that takes planning, determination, and dedication.
There are four key elements to creating a Clemente Course: (1) securing the necessary funding, (2) selecting an appropriate host organization (if the affiliate is not also the community host), (3) engaging a course director and faculty, and (4) successfully recruiting students.
1. Application and Funding
Welcome to this page. We are delighted that you are planning to begin your Clemente Course. Please email Marina van Zuylen ([email protected]) or Lela Hilton ([email protected]) Many thanks for your interest.
The Affiliate Relationship
While Bard welcomes and hopes to inspire the creation of humanities courses for low-income students, only programs officially affiliated with Bard may use the "Clemente Course" name and receive college credit from Bard. Bard's sponsorship varies depending on the needs of a particular affiliate organization. Bard provides certificates of achievement to all students who complete the course, and six transferable college credits to those who have participated at a high academic level; the benefits of national initiatives including curriculum development, evaluation, sharing of information, and public relations; an annual review meeting bringing together course directors, faculty, administrators, funders, and other officials involved with the operation of Clemente Courses nationally; and various ongoing assistance with all aspects of the program.
Often Bard also provides, depending on the needs of an affiliate: assistance with fundraising, targeting foundations and other sources, writing proposals and reports; review of host organization, course director, faculty, and course plans; recruitment and training of course director and faculty; assistance in the ordering of books and supplies through the Bard College bookstore; assistance with public relations; and the establishment of information sessions for students on applying to and financing college.
In this relationship, the affiliate generally agrees to: design and implement a fundraising plan in collaboration with Bard College; select a host organization (if the affiliate is not also the community host) that will provide classroom space, childcare, carfare, social service referrals, administrative support, and actively participate in the recruitment process; submit for Bard College's approval the credentials of the course director and faculty as well as course plans and syllabi; provide program coordination; serve as fiscal agent; assist in the implementation of the national course evaluation; submit to Bard College interim and year-end reports on the course for review.
Developing Community Support
Garnering community support can be accomplished through networking, creating innovative partnerships, and through the fundraising process itself. In some locations there have been formal presentations to invited groups that bring together representatives of the social service community, higher education institutions, potential funders, and influential individuals. More informal networking can also be beneficial, with presentations to coalitions of organizations serving low-income populations, groups of social workers, administrators and faculty members at colleges and universities, and individual funders. In some communities a more targeted approach has been successful, where private meetings with a few key individuals have led to all the necessary connections for identifying the best host site and faculty as well as interested funders.
A total of about $48,000 is normally required to fund a Bard College Clemente Course for an academic year. Clemente Course affiliates together with the host organization (when it differs from the affiliate) should devise a long-term fundraising plan to sustain the program. The affiliate should investigate a variety of local and national funding sources: foundations, corporations, small businesses, federal and state agencies, and individual donors. Some organizations are able to partially or fully fund the course from their annual operating budgets. Local colleges/universities and state humanities councils may also be able to provide support.
2. Selecting a Host Organization
Most Bard College Clemente Courses involve collaboration between Bard College, the affiliate, and a community organization that hosts the course (at times, the affiliate is also the community host organization). By sharing responsibilities for course implementation, the resources and expertise of each partner combine for the creation of a high-quality academic program in a supportive environment with solid prospects for sustainable funding. Clemente Courses have been hosted by a variety of organizations.
Things to Consider:
Clemente Courses have been hosted by a variety of organizations. They can include youth service organizations, mental health and family guidance centers, innovative high schools that serve low-income populations with special needs, community health centers, community action agencies that operate programs such as Head Start, neighborhood centers, teen parenting programs, and religious centers. Bard's approval is required for the final selection of a host organization. In evaluating potential host organizations, the following criteria should be considered:
- Location: The Clemente Course should be situated in a central location that is easily accessible by public transportation and one to which both students and faculty are comfortable traveling. Because classes are held in the evening, there should be adequate, well-lit parking facilities, if needed.
- Facility: The host needs to provide a classroom that is large enough for 25–30 people to be seated around a seminar table, with comfortable chairs, a blackboard or dry-erase board, good lighting, and an inviting atmosphere that is conducive to learning. The facility must either be open at night or provide easy after-hours access.
- Student Recruitment: The host should have a substantial number of potential Clemente students among its existing constituents, as well as the ability to network with other organizations in order to recruit more students from the community.
- Administrative Support: A staff member should be available to work with the Clemente Course director to meet the needs of the class as they arise throughout the year. That staff member should be prepared to help make social service referrals, deal with course-related financial matters, oversee student recruitment, and serve as liaison with the organization's administration and board. Further staff support is needed for scheduling admission interviews and some secretarial tasks.
- Fundraising: It is important that the host organization be in a sufficiently sound financial position to collaborate with Bard College in securing funding for a sustainable program. Either the organization's director or development staff must be willing and able to devote time to raise funds specifically for the Clemente Course.
- Mission: It is essential that there be (1) a good fit between the host organization's mission and the goals of the program and (2) a clear understanding of the benefits that hosting a successful Clemente Course can bring to the organization. The Clemente Course should be embraced as one of the host's own programs.
3. Selecting a Course Director
The course director is a key figure in the success of a Clemente Course, simultaneously playing the roles of teacher, administrator, mentor, confidant, and advocate. The director attends every class in order to support both faculty and students; ensure that high academic standards and decorum are maintained; see that students' problems are addressed; and to verify that administrative tasks and unexpected contingencies are managed.
Things to Consider:
Qualifications: The director is required to have an advanced degree in the humanities, preferably a Ph.D. The director should also teach one of the sections of the course. The director should be warm and approachable, someone the students trust enough to talk with about both the difficulties in their lives and problems that they may be having with the course. S/he must be caring and compassionate, respectful of the students' abilities and potential, and firm in his/her expectations of both faculty and student performance. A basic level of administrative skill is also required to ensure that the course runs smoothly, careful records are kept, and timely reports are provided to Bard College. Usually, the job of course director is a quarter-time position with a yearly compensation of $10,000, plus another $4,000 for teaching one of the course sections.
- Attends all classes (two evenings a week)
- Recruits, selects, and coordinates faculty schedules
- Recruits, interviews, and orients students
- Establishes the academic calendar, coordinates assignments, and orders books
- Provides oversight of quality and effectiveness of classes
- Supports students through mentoring, problem solving, advocacy, and help with social service support
- Serves as liaison with host organization, ensuring that the classroom is ready, childcare and transportation provisions have been made, and faculty payments are processed
- Keeps records and submits reports to Bard College
- Represents the course to the community and arranges for the support of educational institutions, arts organizations, social service agencies, and the media
- If funding allows, attends the annual meeting of course directors
4. Selecting Course Faculty
To a large degree, the success of the Clemente Course hinges on finding the best possible faculty through a careful search. Such a search takes into account personality and teaching style as well as academic credentials. Because Clemente Course instructors possess other important qualities besides academic credentials, the positions are generally not widely advertised in traditional ways.
Things to Consider:
Hiring Clemente Course faculty is often most efficient and effective when relying on personal referrals from people who understand the program's mission. Department chairs, faculty members, or humanities center staff at colleges and universities are often in a good position to recommend prospective instructors who would be first-rate, interested, and available. Potential candidates may include active professors at local colleges, upper-level graduate students, and scholars working in community organizations such as museums. The selection of all faculty and their course plans and syllabi must be approved by Bard College.
Qualifications: Five instructors are needed to teach classes in literature, moral philosophy, art history, American history, and critical writing and thinking. Course instructors are required to have an M.A. or Ph.D. in a humanities discipline and to be experienced teachers. The instructor must be in command of his/her field and adept at engaging the students, responding to them in a meaningful way, and handling the group dynamics of a classroom that has students with a wide range of skills and abilities. S/he should have a warm personality, a sincere regard for the students, a passion for his/her field, an ability to communicate the excitement of the material, and a teaching style that balances getting the material across with drawing out the students in discussion.
The five classes rotate through the academic year, each meeting for 11 two-hour sessions. Faculty compensation is usually $4,000 for teaching one of the five sections.