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Do you live in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Downtown South or somewhere nearby?

Would you like to learn more about Writing, First Nations Studies, Philosophy, Music, Art, Sociology, Popular Culture, Literature, History, Politics, Women and Gender Studies, Law, Architecture and more?

The Humanities 101 Community Programme (fondly known as 'Hum") offers 3 non-credit university-level courses at UBC for people living in the Downtown Eastside, Downtown South (DTES/South) and surrounding areas who have a lust for learning, especially those whose economic situation, academic experience, financial and social well-being are compromised. With respect to their low incomes, all participants receive course materials, bus tickets, meal vouchers and childcare, as well as student cards which give access to UBC amenities.

In Hum courses we study a different area each week, taught by excellent teachers in a respectful environment. They are grounded in relevant, interdisciplinary critical and creative thinking in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and take place from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, from September to April:

- Humanities 101: an 8 month course in the Humanities held on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

- Humanities 201: an 8 month course for grads of Humanities 101.

- Writing 101: a 3 month writing course twice yearly on Tuesday evenings. Each class, a different teacher presents a genre of writing which participants then practice individually and collectively.

- Writing 201: a 3 month writing course for grads of Writing 101.

Courses run from September through to April, and Public Programmes are ongoing. To apply for a course, you must attend an information/application session. In August 2016, we will be looking for participants to join the four courses that begin in September 2016. For details of where and when to apply, check back here in early July.

Along with these courses, Hum also runs alumni initiated Public Programmes in the DTES/South: study groups, workshops and a documentary film series now in its ninth year. All past and current participants are invited to be involved in these ongoing Public Programmes as well as Hum’s Steering Committee which meets regularly and guides all aspects of the Programme.

"Take the cotton out of your ears, put it in your mouth and listen, listen, listen" is the title of Hum's manifesto (statement of What We Want!). You can listen to it, and watch it animated here.


Hum participants are people with diverse backgrounds and knowledge who are geographically situated in the DTES/South and nearby areas, and are working to overcome obstacles and roadblocks – financial, institutional, educational, governmental, health and social. Hum attracts education activists who are participants, alumni, volunteer teachers, facilitators and supporters, and is committed to being responsive and situated.

For some people, Hum is a catalyst for self-knowledge that inspires and activates – if the moment’s right, it can help to get momentum going. The courses are a dedicated time and space for inquiry and an opportunity to meet like-minded people who love learning. This mix of people coming together, giving and taking knowledge, are in reciprocal relationships of learning based on their own expertise and also open to new visions. In class and in Public Programmes, there is a mutual flow and exchange of a variety of knowledge and responses to ideas, and this goes for everyone involved – participants, volunteer teachers and facilitators and staff. For participants, there are no pre-requisites, so you start where you are. Some have travelled through the eye of a storm in their lives, persevered and refuse to allow themselves to be restricted from education, further learning and ways of being.

At 16, and with about 700 graduates, Hum is the oldest programme of its kind in Canada; there are many more people enmeshed in the handful of sister programmes across the country, and in similar courses elsewhere. Supported by residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Downtown South, it is sponsored by the University of British Columbia’s Office of the Dean of Arts and private donations. Along with the current sharp increase in interest in free education, Hum is part of an international movement….

To find out more about Hum courses or Public Programmes please contact us. If you would like to make a donation please click here.

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