The Inside Out Prison Exchange Program, housed in the Women’s & Gender Studies department at Eastern Michigan University, provides a unique opportunity for incarcerated women to take college-level courses (at no cost to them or to the taxpayer) while serving out their sentences at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.
This Fall, a volunteer team comprised of myself (a Full-Time Lecturer), two doctoral candidates, and three undergraduate students will be launching the program’s first ever course in the field of psychology. This class, which we are tentatively calling Psychology of Gender, is being built from the ground up to uniquely suit the needs of our anticipated students.
Because we are all volunteering to develop/teach this course at no cost, this funding request is entirely focused on purchasing a textbook for our students called: “In Our Own Words: Writings from Women’s Lives.” We selected this textbook for several reasons.
First, this is not a standard college textbook with dry academic writing, which would likely be inaccessible (and possibly alienating) to our students. Instead, the book we have chosen is a collection of 42 personal essays written by women from a diverse array of backgrounds. To quote the publisher: “representing many divergent viewpoints… with an emphasis on ethnic, cultural, and age diversity, this well-balanced collection … depict[s] a variety of women’s experiences.”
By using a text containing essays written by women from all walks of life, we hope that our students will connect better with the material. In addition, by using a text which promotes the inherent value of diverse women’s perspectives, we hope to empower our students to see the importance/worth of their own voices. Our goal is to not only educate, but to provide our incarcerated students with opportunities for intellectual, attitudinal, and behavioral growth. This is what makes our project “awesome” – its potential to be transformational.
Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (July 2019)