The Bridge Program at Antioch University Los Angeles began as CHE (Community Humanities Education) in 1999 – a remarkable collaboration between AULA and alumna Shari Foos, CHE’s founder. CHE was originally inspired and informed by the Clemente Course in the Humanities, which was created in 1997 by noted social critic and author Earl Shorris, in partnership with Bard College, on New York City’s Lower East Side. In 2000, Shorris received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton in recognition of his work with the Clemente Course. Since its inception, the Clemente Course has taken root at 32 sites in cities throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and France. CHE varied slightly from the Clemente model but held to the same philosophy: that the study of the humanities and the development of finely-honed critical thinking skills are crucially important for everyone, perhaps especially for people near the bottom of the economic ladder.
Horace Mann, the first president of the original Antioch College, wrote in 1859, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” Shari Foos took this suggestion to heart, and with her husband, Richard, established CHE in collaboration with Antioch University Los Angeles. Dr. David Tripp, CHE’s founding director, provided CHE with its original academic vision. The first site was at the Venice Family Clinic in West Los Angeles.