Course: The Free Minds Project [writing instructor]

Based on the national model of the Clemente Course in the Humanities founded by Bard College, the Free Minds Project makes higher education accessible for low-income adults and supports their success in pursuing college degrees. At the core of the program is a free two-semester college course in the humanities. Team-taught by faculty from the University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College (ACC), the course provides a dynamic environment for adults to build self-confidence, critical thinking and communications skills. Course materials, academic advising, case management, college preparation workshops, and a youth development program are provided. Successful students earn six credit hours from ACC. Free Minds gives adults whose lives have been materially and psychologically circumscribed a chance to re-imagine their possibilities and build better lives. Free Minds is founded on the belief that engaging with the humanities can provide adults with a unique opportunity to cultivate the power, value, and pleasure of reflection, and that this experience has the ability to change lives.

The writing unit is designed to teach students about the craft of writing and research, as well as critical thinking and speaking. Students learn how to draft an academic essay, basics principles of grammar and composition, and the art of argumentation. In building a toolbox for writing, this course is also designed to build confidence in students' abilities to succeed as writers and thinkers. Essay topics are drawn from the core curriculum in the humanities.