Publication Date



This paper provides insight into the experiences of six people who completed a Clemente university unit in the second semester of 2009 at the Mission Australia Centre, Sydney. Clemente Australia is a community embedded university humanities course providing higher education opportunity in collaboration with social agencies for people experiencing multiple disadvantage. Each person participated in a semi-structured conversational interview in early 2013 which explored their life journeys since 2009. The responses confirm what is known from the literature regarding the complexity of the lives of people experiencing disadvantage, the immediate and short term value of humanities education, as well as the importance of structures and processes which support this learning. Significantly, the interviews provide a vantage point from which former Clemente students reflected at some distance and considered how participation in Clemente affected their lives. These interviews provide detailed insight into the way each person wove what they encountered in their own way. The findings highlight a shared pattern of Clemente students raising new possibilities, planning on these new possibilities and acting upon them. Together, these insights speak to increased personal self-determination, and offer significant practice and research learnings for Clemente Australia, the higher education sector and social policy.


Institute for Advancing Community Engagement

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.