The Wyoming Pathways from Prison project has, for the past four years, been pioneering a new type of university/prison partnership in four prison estates across the state of Wyoming. Their Symposium was designed to present on their award-winning work, but also to act as a meeting house for various exponents and experts in the field of University and Prison Partnerships to scrutinise, and learn from, the wide variety of approaches, projects and pedagogies that have evolved over the past twenty years. Rob Colter, a lead tutor and advocate for the project, was kind enough to invite the Crito Project’s own Ben Walker to speak at the event on his development of Stoicism as a key subject in the Crito Project’s curriculum.
Over two days the Symposium’s attendants heard from a panoply of teachers, administrators and researchers. Highlights of the Symposium included:
The opening Keynote by the inspirational Jody Lewen, Executive Director of the San Quentin Prison University Project, on the pivotal topic of imagining – and projecting expectations and narratives on to – incarcerated students, and the effect that this can have upon classroom dynamics, justice and representation in the classroom, and teacher/student relations.
The panel discussion (pictured) on the role of philosophy in prison, and the following discussion with some of Rob Colter’s remarkable philosophy students, relayed live from Wyoming Women’s Prison.
Damon Horowitz’s Keynote on the challenges facing Humanities on campus and the potential for Humanities in prison to revitalise and reorientate the priorities of the discipline as a whole. Damon spoke informally, fluently and persuasively on the intrinsic good represented by cooperative thinking at a sustained higher level, and how this intrinsic good needs to feature in our understanding of University/Prison partnerships, in relation to the consequential goods (such as increased employability and decreased recidivism) that are normally touted as the primary benefits of such partnerships.
Videos and full details of the Symposium can be found on the University of Wyoming’s site here, in particular the video of the two-hour conversation on the place of Philosophy in Prison, featuring our own Ben Walker from the Crito Project, here. The Crito Project is deeply indebted to the University of Wyoming, and in particular Rob Colter, for the invitation to attend and speak at the event. The perspectives and priorities that were argued for at the symposium have already helped the Crito Project in so many ways, and we’re looking forward to being able to implement some of the many ideas that made the event such a lively and challenging success.