The Prison and the Academy: Exploring Critical Prison Pedagogy

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2018

Should we turn prisons into colleges? Join us for a public conversation on Friday, April 13, 2018, in Robertson Hall, Bowl 001, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.

At this moment, when institutions of higher learning are recognizing and responding to the crisis of a lack of educational opportunities for incarcerated people, it is timely to reflect critically on the values and potential pitfalls of prison education. We will consider ethical questions about the responsibility academics and the academy bear in ensuring access to higher education within prisons and reflect on the particular obligations that educators from the outside have to those they are teaching. We will discuss what educators might do to expand education, given that existing programs reach so few of those who are incarcerated, as well as explore how those incarcerated think and feel about educational programs.

This spring’s “The Prison and the Academy” event will seek to frankly address the following questions, among others:

  • Should prison education be a by-product of academic life or integral to the work of academic institutions and professionals?
  • Are teaching and learning in prisons inherently political acts? Should political beliefs influence curriculum, course content, and pedagogical strategies in the prison classroom?
  • Should the experiences of the incarcerated be incorporated into courses?
  • When and under what conditions should the experiences of the incarcerated be represented to others by educators?


Reginald Dwayne Betts (Yale Law School)

Lori Gruen (Wesleyan University/Princeton University Center for Human Values)

In conversation with:

Boris Franklin (Rutgers University)

Joshua Miller (Georgetown University)


Following brief presentations from our discussants, we look forward to an open discussion with the audience. Brief reception to follow. 


Questions? Contact the organizers Prof. Lori Gruen (, Brittany Holom (, and Jill Stockwell (  


Sponsored by the University Center for Human Values, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning,

and the Prison Teaching Initiative