Colby Across the Walls
Higher Education in Prison Program
Creating co-learning spaces for the liberal arts across prison walls
Colby Across the Walls launched in Fall 2021, and currently offers 4-6 courses each year. Four courses a year bring incarcerated and non-incarcerated students together in the same classroom, with class meetings on campus and inside Maine prisons. Others are taught on campus by incarcerated faculty members, making Colby the first college in the U.S. to offer courses taught by currently incarcerated faculty. Colby courses are open to all incarcerated students for free and bear transferable Colby college credit.
Statement of Purpose
In collaborative classrooms across prison and college walls, Colby Across the Walls (CATW) aims to build community by creating spaces of intellectual freedom and emotional flourishing. CATW does this primarily through offering courses that include students and faculty based on the Colby campus and students and faculty incarcerated in Maine’s prisons. Our courses balance inside and outside students, open teaching opportunities to inside scholars, bridge our siloed spaces of residence, and build intellectual relationships based on dignity, mutual respect, and a commitment to shared learning. CATW courses will be held in person at least 8 times during the semester. CATW courses are content-rich, based in emancipatory pedagogies, and dedicated to building strong multifaceted relationships, nurturing individual voice and self-awareness, cultivating active listening, and building trust. CATW seeks to open collaborative spaces where creative work can emerge, new imaginaries can form, and shared ethical visions can take shape.
Examples of courses taught:
- Documentary Storytelling, Catherine Besteman and Erica King
- Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Suzanne Menair
- Carcerality and Abolition, Catherine Besteman and Leo Hylton
- Gender, Feminism, and Sexuality, Nazli Konya
- The Stories We Tell: Common Narratives of Criminal Justice, Brandon Brown
- Visual Ways of Knowing, Maple Razsa
- Feminism in Russian Literature, Kay Shirley
- US LatinX in the 21st Century, Nicolás Ramos Flores