OPEEP supports the creation and sustained offering of prison-based education at OSU. By bringing together campus students with incarcerated students in prison-based classrooms, the stark realities of injustice, disenfranchisement, and mass incarceration can be met with pedagogies that connect personal transformation with efforts to change society.
Experiential and collaborative learning defines the inside-out model. Sustained engagement with others who are co-learners and partners in knowledge-building means that all students can explore the unique and personal effects of oppression in theirs and others’ lives. Students experience the power of learning together and can develop ideas for change through that shared understanding that knowledge can spur action for change.
Teaching and learning are practices of healthy communities that should be pervasive, life-long endeavors. We believe that faculty and teaching staff also continue to learn and grow as educators by learning new pedagogies and expanding their teaching experiences to include prison-based education. Our project provides training opportunities for faculty and teaching staff to learn these practices and to visit student and faculty alumni of inside-out courses, including workshops within prisons. All subjects, disciplines, and topics are possible.
Collaborative learning also fosters confidence for incarcerated students whose ideas are equal in every respect to campus students’ contributions. Learning side-by-side and seeing their own self-worth practiced and respected by their student peers and teacher encourages the development of personal and social skills for successful reintegration into their communities. Participating in higher education is one of the most effective practices of successful reintegration and of dramatically reduced recidivism. We therefore seek to provide strong and supported pathways from prison education to campus education.
We believe that building and sharing knowledge should be a collaboration between teachers, students, and communities that raises all voices and ideas.