CFP! Workshop: Teaching Theological and Religious Studies Inside Prison Walls

Call for Participants

Mass incarceration has drawn broad scholarly interest, and theological and religious studies scholars have begun to join this conversation. At the same time that scholarly interest in mass incarceration is on the rise, an increasing number of colleges, universities, and seminaries are offering classes inside prison walls, including religious studies classes. Higher education opportunities inside prisons were once common, but incarcerated students were excluded from Pell Grants in the US in 1994, leading to a decimation of the prison education landscape. In Canada, also in the mid-1990s, there was a parallel shrinkage in prison education opportunities. Yet teaching university courses in prisons poses unique challenges and offers unique opportunities, both for instructors and students. It offers those who are incarcerated the skills to think critically about themselves and their environments in a space that does not encourage critical thought, and it offers them the ability, post-incarceration, to articulate their experiences with mass incarceration and to shape the wider landscape of higher education in democratic societies. Teaching theological and religious studies inside prison walls promises insights of pedagogical value outside prison walls and to the burgeoning field of theological and religious studies scholarship on incarceration.

On May 3, we will convene a workshop of experienced and aspiring prison educators who are particularly interested in seeing theological and religious studies taught in prisons. The workshop will be held in Montreal (the AAR-EIR regional conference is May 1-2). Through group discussions, sharing experiences, and individual mentorship, this workshop will promote the growth of, and critical reflection on, teaching theological and religious studies in prisons. We invite theology and religious studies scholars interested in starting or growing prison education programs to apply to the workshop, which will also include several invited, highly experienced educators. We will provide participants with accommodations for two nights in a hotel, meals, and a travel subsidy. We intend this workshop to be the first step in a longer collaborative process.

To apply, e-mail your CV and a one page description of your reasons for applying to Melanie Webb (melanie.webb@ptsem.edu) and Vincent Lloyd (vwlloyd@syr.edu) by February 20, 2015. Notification by March 1, 2015.

This workshop is supported by an American Academy of Religion Regional Development Grant.

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