Class sees incarcerated and non-incarcerated students learn together inside federal prison
Oshawa, Ont. – Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that it is the first college in Canada to provide college courses in prison through the Walls to Bridges (W2B) education program, which facilitates for-credit post-secondary courses taught within correctional settings. Each W2B classroom sees equal numbers of incarcerated and non-incarcerated students learning together as peers.
This semester, DC Professor Dale Burt is teaching Resiliency in Society: the Bridges and Barriers at a federal correctional institution in Ontario. Each week she travels to the prison with eight DC students who are taking the class alongside eight currently incarcerated students.
“The Walls to Bridges classroom offers a unique transformational learning experience that encourages diverse learners to build bridges with one another, recognizing that there are many ways of ‘knowing,’ including from each other and our experiences,” said Professor Burt. “I structure and lead the lessons and facilitate the learning activities, but we are really all students and teachers in the W2B classroom. Together we are able to break down barriers as we examine – and unlearn – assumptions and ‘othering.’”
The participating DC students are enrolled in either Mediation – Alternative Dispute Resolution or Victimology, two of the college’s post-graduate certificate programs. Each student had to apply and be interviewed in order to be accepted into the W2B course.
“Taking part in the Walls to Bridges program is important to Durham College for many reasons,” said Stephanie Ball, executive dean of the college’s schools of Justice & Emergency Services and Interdisciplinary Studies. “The environment and dynamics of the class make for a more impactful learning experience for all students while also providing access to post-secondary education for learners who may not have had access to it otherwise.”
The final class will be held at the prison on Wednesday, April 15. Students will present a collaborative project on what they have learned through the course followed by a graduation ceremony.
About Durham College
At Durham College (DC), the student experience comes first. With campuses in Oshawa and Whitby and a learning site in Pickering, we offer approximately 13,400 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students access to more than 140 full-time and nine apprenticeship programs, including the Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science and Honours Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management.
We enable students to develop the career-ready skills required to meet the demands of today’s job market by connecting them with expert faculty and offering quality programs. With a focus on experiential learning through field-placements, applied research, co-ops and other hands-on opportunities, DC grads have the skills and knowledge employers need.
The Oshawa campus features DC’s newest building, the Centre for Collaborative Education, which represents the college’s commitment to working with local business and community partners while bringing together local, Indigenous and global communities and members of key business sectors.
DC’s Whitby campus is home to the Skills Training Centre, where students receive hands-on training and instruction in industrial-grade shop labs for carpentry, HVAC, welding, elevating devices and crane operation, among others. The campus also features the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, which includes Bistro ’67, a full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, and Pantry, a retail store featuring food prepared by students in the college’s culinary programs.
For more information, visit www.durhamcollege.ca or call 905.721.2000.
About Walls to Bridges
Walls to Bridges (W2B) is an innovative educational program that brings together incarcerated (“Inside”) and non-incarcerated (“Outside”) students to study post-secondary courses in jails and prisons across Canada. The National Hub for the program is based out of the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work, Wilfred Laurier University, in partnership with Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.
Experiential learning is foundational to the W2B teaching and learning process. An important principle of all W2B courses is that students from outside the correctional system are not ‘mentoring’ or ‘helping’ or ‘working with’ incarcerated/criminalized students: all participants in the class are peers, learning the class content together through innovative, experiential and dialogical processes. Self-reflexivity is a key component of W2B classes.
By providing access to education for incarcerated peoples and through collaborative scholarly inquiry with university-based students, Walls to Bridges classes offer opportunities to understand the complexities of criminalization and punishment through lived experiences and intersectional analyses. This is a transformational educational experience which draws upon lived experience as a source of theorizing as well as challenges the artificial boundaries between people experiencing imprisonment and those who are not.
Visit www.wallstobridges.ca for more information.
For more information, contact:
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O: 905.721.2000 ext. 2952