Recently, two of our instructors, Victoria Thomas (Senior Lecturer in English & American Literature) and Anna Preus (Ph.D. student in English), attended a workshop with the Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking (IWT) which was brought to the Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP) through its partnership with the Bard Prison Initiative’s Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison. This workshop marks the beginning of new efforts between BPI and Consortium partners, which include PEP, to increase faculty access to the strategies and practices taught at IWT for implementation in classrooms in and outside of prison. At this workshop, Dr. Thomas and Ms. Preus participated in developing new writing strategies that will assist students in their coursework across disciplines.
Writing to Learn Workshop
The workshop, held in Chicago on Friday, January 25th, equipped teachers with writing strategies that could benefit students as they learn from both inside and outside the classroom. Workshop participants worked on practice-based writing exercises that replicated what students would be assigned in college courses. According to the Bard IWT, these methods aim to utilize writing as a way to support close reading, make personal connections to the content being studied, and stimulate collaboration between students.
We spent the day participating in writing exercises, practicing new teaching strategies, and discussing the benefits and difficulties of fostering a deep engagement with writing in our classrooms. The program provided great ideas for doing in-class writing, and also for conducting collaborative readings to enrich the writing process and offer students opportunities to share their work. We left with a bunch of evidenced-based resources to use in our own teaching. I look forward to sharing them with other people involved in PEP, and also implementing them in my own work with students on developing college writing skills.
– Anna Preus
Victoria Thomas taught Citizen Scholar: The Civic Role of the Academic Writer during the Fall 2018 semester. PEP is happy to welcome her back for the Fall 2019 semester for another writing course. As a tutor, Anna Preus meets with students weekly at MECC campus. In Fall 2017, she co-taught The Art of Poetry with Professor Vince Sherry and in Summer 2019 Ms. Preus will be the the sole instructor of a fundamental writing course for newly admitted students.
In 1999, in response to the decimation of college-in-prison nationally, the Bard Prison Initiative was founded by undergraduates at Bard College. After gaining access to the New York State prison system and securing limited funding, Bard College launched BPI as a pilot program with 16 students in 2001. Since then, the program has grown annually and dramatically. Its first associate degrees were issued in 2005 and the first bachelor’s degrees in 2008. Today, the BPI college is spread across six interconnected prisons in New York State. It enrolls more than 300 students and organizes a host of extracurricular activities essential to the breadth of college life and inquiry. Since 2001, BPI has issued roughly 50,000 credits and 450 degrees; it offers more than 165 courses per academic year and engages an extraordinary range of college faculty. Extrapolating from the successful establishment of the college, BPI has expanded in multiple directions. First, it is the home of a national Consortium that cultivates, supports, and establishes college-in-prison programs in partnership with colleges and universities across the country. Second, its office of Reentry & Alumni Affairs works with formerly incarcerated Bard students as they pursue robust civic and professional lives after release. Most recently, BPI established the Bard Microcollege to bring full-scholarship, academically rigorous liberal arts college to isolated communities outside of prison. In all its work, BPI builds alliances to rethink access, reduce costs, and redress inequities in higher education. For more information, visit bpi.bard.edu.