Helping Students Build Accountable Communities

Zahra Patterson introduces new course in Transformative Justice.

Transformative Justice is a new immersive course planned for the 2022-2023 academic year that focuses on incarceration, its history and impact, and conversations relating to reform. Developed to give students credit in both history and English, students will learn how literature serves as a lifeline for incarcerated people and how literary expression is used as a vehicle for change. Students will read the work of abolitionist poets and incarcerated writers to understand the interplay between history, politics, and literature.

As with other immersive courses, this learning will come with a key experiential component. “For ten of the days, spaced throughout the five weeks of the term, students will participate in field trips to learn from organizations working to transform the justice system,” said Zahra Patterson, a faculty member in both the English and History Departments. “Tentative collaborations include work with the Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project, where our students will learn about current prison legislation as well as the impact and efficacy of canvassing.”

This work will help students to build informed and persuasive speaking skills and encourage them to share their knowledge with people in their own communities. Students will also likely work with Books Through Bars, organizing a book drive and learning about the role books and education can play in providing a lifeline to incarcerated individuals.

After a four-day retreat, this course will culminate with a week back on campus dedicated to research, reflection, and community organizing projects that allow students to not only demonstrate what they have learned but how their learning has motivated them to reshape society for the better.

Learn more about our Signature Academic Program.

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