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University-Prison Partnerships in International Perspective, Event 20 March 2015

This workshop, co-organised by YAS member Anne Schwan (Edinburgh Napier University) and Sarah Armstrong (Glasgow University), was held at the University of Edinburgh and brought together participants from over ten universities and higher education institutions; practitioners in the arts, education, health and criminal justice; and, representatives of the voluntary sector and government.

Interest is building in how universities might engage those in prison and criminal justice settings. A number of recent and exciting developments in Scotland and the UK motivated the organisation of this workshop to explore the ways higher education does and could engage with those in prison settings. The workshop offered a forum to learn about innovative practices and to share ideas about developing these and maximising impact. It featured keynote presentations by Professor Lori Pompa (Temple University, USA), who founded the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Programme, a programme in which university courses are taught in prisons and attended both by (outside) university students and (inside) prisoner students; and Professor Fiona Measham (Durham University) who has overseen the very first application of this initiative in the UK.

This workshop also provided an opportunity to share the many ambitious initiatives happening in Scottish prisons and led by its Education contractors, from delivering a philosophy MOOC (massively open online course) to men and women prisoners to running reading groups in prison, to creating opportunities of student placements in education after prison, and placing university student volunteers in prison learning centres.

Future plans include ideas to form a Development Working Group to co-ordinate activities in this area; develop a Resource Bank to share good practice and guidelines; linking up with organisations such as Recruit with Conviction to help with social integration post release, and moving forward with funding applications to support new and existing schemes and evaluation.

The workshop was made possible through the generous support of these organisations: New College Lanarkshire, The Centre for Literature and Writing (CLAW) at Edinburgh Napier University, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), University of Edinburgh, Education Scotland, and the Young Academy of Scotland’s ‘Arts, Humanities and Society’ Working Group.