The Initiative for Community Justice & Engaged Pedagogy creates transformative learning opportunities within and beyond prison walls. In order to support long-term productive exchanges between the university and community, the initiative also convenes dialogues and catalyzes applied research about critical issues through the lens of community justice and engaged pedagogy.
Supported by a generous grant from The Hearst Foundations.
There is a growing call to include more community-based perspectives in conversations and decisions about justice in the United States. Our approach to community justice points toward building up community collaborations, resources, strengths and capacity to resolve conflicts, address crucial human developmental needs, or prevent crime.
At the same time, in the current age of information-overload and specialized academic disciplines, there is a need for holistic and formative education. Our approach to engaged pedagogy builds on the rich history of human-centered Jesuit pedagogy and community-engaged liberal arts education at Boston College, to foster education that is relevant to people’s lived experiences and bridges the university and community in unique ways.
The Initiative for Community Justice & Engaged Pedagogy brings together these two key concerns to create transformative learning spaces, facilitate engaging conversations, and catalyze applied research projects.
Based on the widely successful national model of Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, the Lynch School of Education and Human Development partners with the Woods College, Sociology Department, and Suffolk County Sheriff's Department Education Division to offer a course that brings college students together with incarcerated men or women to study as peers behind prison walls. The core of the Inside-Out Program at Boston College is a semester-long academic course, meeting once a week, through which "outside" students (from BC's Chestnut Hill Campus) and the same number of "inside" students (incarcerated at the Suffolk County House of Correction) attend class together inside prison.
In addition to other occasional course offerings, the Inside-Out Program typically offers the course Inside-Out: Perspectives on Crime, Corrections and Justice (SOCY 3378 / ADCJ 3033 / APSY 3378) during the fall and spring semesters. Students who have completed the course are eligible to serve as Interns or Program Assistants who facilitate small groups for Inside-Out courses, pursue further academic study on topics related to Inside-Out, or help with research and logistics related to the program.
The initiative convenes a variety of public events, and continuing or professional education workshops, on topics related to community justice and engaged pedagogy such as:
Through the eyes of Boston residents, activists and students from the Clemente Course in the Humanities, A Reckoning in Boston explores connections between the racial wealth gap in Boston, public health, gentrification, and environmental justice. After the film screening we will be joined by film co-producer Kafi Dixon, an urban farmer and founder of the Common Good Co-op in Boston.
The event will convene researchers, practitioners, and community leaders who work at the intersection of correctional programs, community-based interventions, and ecological sustainability. We will learn together and explore the possibilities of creating environmental opportunities in prisons, jails, and communities impacted by incarceration.
Weekly 90 minute fully online sessions on Thursdays (starting June 2 until July 14) will focus on themes including, ecological conservation, reentry, green workforce development, STEM education and college programs, the healing potentials of people-plant interactions, food and agriculture, developing participatory and collaborative research projects, and program evaluation.
For questions contact: email@example.com
This three-part workshop familiarizes participants with the theory and practice of non-violent communication— as an essential component of more restorative approaches to addressing harm and as a way of life. It offers a general introduction to the theory, history, and practice of non-violent communication through lectures, discussion, and opportunities to practice key skills. Workshop exercises and activities encourage participants to apply non-violent communication principles and strategies to their own personal life and professional practice.
The 2020 documentary film, Since I Been Down, presents the stories and achievements of a group of incarcerated leaders who are developing educational opportunities to improve their lives and the wider community from within Washington State prisons. The film will be screened at Boston College on the evening of Tuesday, March 1st. After viewing the film, attendees will join small breakout discussions led by BC students. The screening and discussion will take place Tuesday, March 1, from 6-8:30 pm, in the Heights Room (second floor of Corcoran Commons) and pizza will be served. The event is sponsored by the Sociology Department and the Institute for Liberal Arts at Boston College.
What are some of the individual and social challenges that people and communities impacted by incarceration face? What do humanistic and transformative interventions look like in practice? And how can those in mental health professions, education, policy, and human services best address the personal and systemic contexts that contribute to high rates of incarceration? Through guided discussion, guest presentations, and a concluding exercise during the workshop, plus a supplemental resource list, participants will explore the role of and needs for humanistic interventions in the context of incarceration. Overall, the workshop focuses on introducing the knowledge and capacities necessary for imagining or implementing humanistic interventions.
What are some of the individual and social challenges that people and communities impacted by incarceration face? What do humanistic and transformative interventions look like in practice? And how can those in mental health professions, education, policy, and human services best address the personal and systemic contexts that contribute to high rates of incarceration? Through guided discussion, guest presentations, and a concluding exercise during the workshop, plus a supplemental resource list, participants will explore the role of and needs for educational and psychosocial interventions in the context of incarceration. Overall, the workshop focuses on introducing the knowledge and capacities necessary for imagining or implementing humanistic interventions.
Join us for a virtual panel discussion, hosted by Inside-Out Program Coordinator, Matt DelSesto.
Each year in the United States, more than 600,000 people are released from federal and state prisons, with an additional 9 million cycling through the nation’s jails. This forum will address some of the challenges faced by those returning from incarceration. The discussion will explore how individuals and organizations are responding to systemic challenges of this moment and imagining new approaches to community safety.
Stacey Borden (Founder and Executive Director of New Beginnings Reentry Services) and Carl Miranda (Director of Roca Boston) will offer opening remarks, with responses and dialogue facilitated by former participants in the Boston College Inside-Out Program.
This event is made possible through generous support from the Hearst Foundations. It is sponsored by the Boston College Inside-Out Program and Initiative for Community Justice and Engaged Pedagogy.
This workshop introduces students and professionals to emerging research and practice related to ecological sustainability initiatives in prisons or communities that are impacted by incarceration. There has been a growing interest in policies and practices that promote public safety and reduce recidivism. At the same time, local ecological sustainability initiatives are increasingly common in communities across the United States. In recent decades, corrections departments, community-based organizations, and educational institutions have brought these ecological and criminological fields of research, policy, and practice together in new ways. This work takes many forms, from institutional sustainability initiatives to community greening, therapeutic horticulture, food justice, permaculture design, recycling protocols, environmental education, and green jobs training. Some practitioners have been at work for over a decade growing within the walls of state prisons, county jails, or youth detention centers. Others are building links from prison gardens to land-based careers on the outside, integrating college credits with agricultural training, or working with families of incarcerated loved ones and communities impacted by incarceration.
Join us for a virtual celebration of the Boston College Inside-Out Program, hosted by Inside-Out Program Coordinator, Matt DelSesto.
The 21st Century has been a time of increasingly global connection, and at the same time, it has brought new political, social, and physical divides that sometimes seem insurmountable. One of these divides is the experience of incarceration, where what actually happens within prison walls is hidden from public view while those on the inside have little connection to the outside world.
Since 2018, the Inside-Out Program at Boston College has brought students from the Chestnut Hill Campus to learn together with incarcerated students at the Suffolk County House of Correction. After two full academic years, we look back to see the impacts and role of the Inside-Out Program at these two different institutions. The event will include a keynote presentation from the Temple University Inside-Out Center on the history and philosophy of Inside-Out, remarks from administration at Boston College and Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, and reflections from the Program Coordinator and former students. At the conclusion of the event we will officially release a report on the Inside-Out Program: “Advancing Transformative Learning Partnerships.”
Join us for a virtual discussion on prison education within and beyond prison walls, facilitated by Boston College Prison Education Program Director, Dr. Isabel Lane.
Education—most especially higher education—has long been viewed as a cornerstone of American social mobility and opportunity. In response, in part, to the crisis of mass incarceration, both private and state colleges and universities across the United States have increasingly invested in prison education initiatives to give people a chance to begin or complete a college education while incarcerated. At the same time, in the United States more than 95% percent of all people held in state prisons will be released, and almost all of those currently in county jails or houses of correction will soon return to communities. In Massachusetts alone, thousands of people return home from incarceration each year. For these students, college-in-prison programs represent only the beginning in their pursuit of careers or further education.
Boston College recently launched two initiatives aimed at creating more of these opportunities for incarcerated students in the state of Massachusetts: the Prison Education Program, a Bachelor of Arts degree program at Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Shirley, and an Inside-Out Program at the Suffolk County House of Correction, which both offer credit-bearing Boston College courses. In this context, the After Prison Education virtual discussion will explore what colleges and universities can do to best support students during and after incarceration. It looks at the value of higher education in prison, different models for engaging students through the process of reentry, what program qualities contribute to student success, and how insights and approaches from the Jesuit, Catholic Tradition at Boston College can contribute to this work.
The Justice Inside-Out Speaker + Film Series explored perspectives on crime and justice from both sides of prison walls. It built on conversations and topics in the Boston College Inside-Out Program that have brought together students from Boston College campus and the Suffolk County House of Correction for credit-bearing courses since Fall 2018. This series was generously supported by The Hearst Foundations. It was sponsored by the Boston College Inside-Out Program, Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Sociology Department, Woods College of Advancing Studies, and the Faith, Peace & Justice Minor.
Restorative and Transformational Justice minor at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development (LSEHD) consists of 18 credits, 12 of which may not simultaneously be counted toward the BC core or other major/minor requirements. The minor is designed to advance understanding of Restorative and Transformational Justice as a critical important tool.
Students will explore Restorative and Transformational Justice topics as they relate to Education, Applied Psychology, and Human Development, select electives from different departments and engage in social impact action project or Senior Thesis.
The College Pathways Program is designed especially for incarcerated students who will soon be released back into the community. The curriculum aims to help participants understand the college process from application to degree completion. Students will become acquainted with the inner workings, experience, and language of college. Topics covered include: the value of a college education, college application process and financial aid, selecting a major and courses, communication for success with professors and administration, setting personal and professional goals, balancing work and study, personal health and wellness, and key academic skills needed for college-level work. Each session is centered around a specific set of topics and involves: a short introduction to the topic from the instructor, completion of an in-class assignment, and group discussion. There are occasionally guest speakers.
“A university is inescapably a social force: it must transform and enlighten the society in which it lives.”
Contact Initiative Coordinator Matt DelSesto with any questions or to learn more.
Initiative Coordinator Matt DelSesto '12 has published a new book, Design and the Social Imagination (Bloomsbury, 2022), that discusses the Inside-Out Program and models of engaged pedagogy.
Led by Matt DelSesto ’12, Boston College undergraduates are learning side-by-side with incarcerated students at a local prison, with mutually beneficial results.
The Initiative for Community Justice and Engaged Pedagogy was the lead organizer of a national July 2022 conference on the theme Ecologies of Justice. The hybrid event took place online and in-person at Evergreen State College in Washington State. It brought together researchers, practitioners, and activists working on issues related to prisons, jails, communities, environmental justice, and ecological sustainability.
In November 2021, Inside-Out Program Instructor and Coordinator Matt DelSesto were featured in season two of the Pulled Up Short podcast with former program participants David Sellers and Allison Pyo. Their episode “Are Prisons Separate from Society?” discusses some insights and experiences from the program with podcast host, and Lynch School of Education and HumanDevelopment Dean, Stanton Wortham.
The March 2020 issue of Common Ground (The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Newsletter) profiled the successful partnership with Boston College for the Inside-Out Program. You can view the article on page 8 of Common Ground at the Sheriff’s Department website.
In November 2019, the Boston College Inside-Out Program presented on the topic “Assessing the Rigor of Inside-Out Pedagogy” at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in San Francisco. The presentation explored the unique contributions that the BC Inside-Out Program can make to student formation.