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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Transforming Prison Education through the UW

Gillian Harkins and Anne Dwyer of TEBB

Transformative Education Behind Bars, a project funded by the Simpson Center, invites UW faculty and graduate students to collaborate with educators at community colleges, nonprofit organizations, other university programs, and correctional facilities to expand educational access and justice for incarcerated students. Gillian Harkins, associate professor of English, initiated Transformative Education Behind Bars (TEBB) through a Simpson Center grant. She has spearheaded TEBB’s organization of a regional coalition and an educational advisory board, together with Anne Dwyer, a UW graduate student in English.

Last year, TEBB gathered educators from the UW and other community, state, and private colleges in the region with local nonprofit educators to research and assess prison education efforts. Working with University Beyond Bars (UBB), a private nonprofit in the Seattle area, TEBB also initiated work on creating relevant curriculum for students in Washington state correctional facilities.

Now in its second year, TEBB is focusing on developing a broader coalition of prison college programs across the country and continues its work in creating and implementing educational assessment plans. TEBB recently hosted a 2nd annual National Conference on Prison Higher Education, held at the Simpson Center, for educators interested in addressing issues of prison education, educational access and funding.  Nearly 100 people attended this conference, representing academic institutions, nonprofits, and state correctional centers from across the country.

The TEBB project was recently highlighted in Perspectives, the newsletter of the UW College of Arts and Sciences. Read the article.