The Civic Knowledge Project has a new home. Formerly located in the basement of Walker Museum, CKP has moved to the Edelstone Building, 6030 South Ellis Avenue.

It’s a fitting location, says Bart Schultz, director and senior lecturer in the Humanities Division, since CKP is about overcoming “the social, economic, and racial divisions among the various knowledge communities on the South Side of Chicago.” Edelstone is just south of the School of Social Service Administration, which cosponsors many CKP initiatives. It’s across the street from the South Campus Residence Hall, the largest undergraduate dormitory on campus. And it’s a few blocks from one of CKP’s newest and most important community partners, the AKArama Foundation.

The foundation is the philanthropic entity of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s first African American sorority. Beginning this year, AKArama will host CKP’s flagship initiative, the Odyssey Project, a collaborative effort of the University of Chicago and the Illinois Humanities Council. The project provides a free yearlong course in five humanities subjects—literature, US history, critical thinking and writing, philosophy, and art history—for adults at or below the poverty level. Founded at UChicago in 2000, it was modeled on the Clemente Course designed by writer Earl Shorris with the premise that engagement with the humanities can offer a pathway out of poverty.

All of CKP’s programs aim to unite the University and wider South Side communities. Schultz anticipates that the audience for the fall 2011 Great Conversations series, for example, to be “at least half non–U of C,” including Odyssey students and faculty, Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters, and other community members. The series, titled “Freedom and Education,”  will launch on October 19 with Thomas C. Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Distinguished Service Professor in History, who will discuss his book Children of Fire: A History of African Americans. Kenneth Warren, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor in English and African and African-American Studies, will lecture on November 6. Danielle Allen, former dean of the Humanities Division and CKP founder, will appear on December 7. Cost is $10 per lecture or $25 for the series. All lectures take place on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the AKArama Foundation, 6220 South Ingleside, Chicago.

Poverty, Promise, and Possibility, CKP’s interdisciplinary initiative of courses, lectures, community forums, and one-day workshops, will continue in 2011–12. On October 6, representatives from leading community organizations will discuss education and urban poverty with host Shaz Rasul, director of the University’s Neighborhood Schools Program. The next two events feature associate professors from the School of Social Service Administration: on October 20, Evelyn Brodkin will speak on “Poverty, Inequality, and the Role of Government: Politics, Practices, and Possibilities.” On November 10, Susan Lambert and Julia Henly will present “Poverty, Underemployment, and Family Hardship: The Realities of Today’s Labor Market for Chicago’s Families.” All lectures are free and take place at 6:30 p.m. at the School of Social Service Administration, 969 East 60th Street, Chicago.

More information about upcoming events sponsored by the Civic Knowledge Project is available here.


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