Augustana Prison’s New Education Program to Host Zoom Event Jan.17 on University Behind Bars

In honor of the upcoming Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Augustana College organize a round table and a film, “College behind bars” online Monday January 17th.

It is a four hour film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick of PBS (premiered in November 2019) and is available on Netflix. The events of January 17e will highlight and explain how college programs in prison are part of the “beloved community’s dream” through the inspiring voices of formerly incarcerated students, according to a statement from the event Thursday.

Featured panelists will include men featured in the PBS documentary, members of the Bard Prison Initiative and the Augustana Prison Education Program. The 20-year-old Bard Prison Initiative is a Bard College program that provides college education to inmates.

Academic programs end with associate’s and bard’s bachelor’s degrees. New York State College first made the news when its debate team won against Harvard University in 2015.

the Augustana Prison Education Program, which started last fall, is inspired by the Bard Prison Initiative and was organized by Dr. Sharon Varallo, professor of communication studies. Ten men took classes this fall at East Moline Correctional Center, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

Dr. Sharon Varallo, Augustana Professor of Communication Studies, in class at East Moline Correctional Center. (Photo by Chris Ferman ’23)

The roundtable will be a live virtual event – via Zoom – at 6.30pm on January 17th.e. (To attend, use this link.)

“For taxpayers, this is the best value for money and time invested,” said Sharon Varallo, the driving force behind Augustana’s first prison education program (APEP), and its executive director, in a statement. communicated. college exit. “For every dollar spent on university courses for incarcerated people, five dollars are saved on the cost to the community. “

No Augustana institutional or tuition funds are used to fund the program.

Varallo and other professors travel to the prison regularly to teach the same classes they offer on campus. One of Augustana’s most popular courses – African American / Black Literature taught by Dr. Paul Olsen – is one of five APEP courses last fall. The program reflects the liberal arts orientation of Augustana.

APEP is inspired by one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the country, the Bard Prison Initiative in New York City, which gained national attention after being presented by filmmaker Ken Burns. The documentary illustrated several successes and shattered many stereotypes about people in prison.

Shooting for the 2019 PBS documentary, “College Behind Bars”.

“My hope is that people in the community realize that the incarcerated people are no different,” Varallo said. “They are bright and talented and have as much to give as anyone, and sometimes they are even more motivated. It’s just untenable that we throw away their lives.

Sharon Varallo is the Executive Director of the Augustana Prison Education Program and a Professor of Communication Studies.

“At Augustana, we believe in the power of education so that people know their options and be transformed, even if they don’t have the regular channels to get to the main Augustana campus,” he said. she declared.

APEP was launched with a grant from Austin E. Knowlton Foundation, where Eric Lindberg, the director of investments, led an initiative for prison education reform.

Augustana College annual event of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., January 17 will highlight and explain how college prison programs are part of the “Beloved Community Dream” through the inspiring voices of formerly incarcerated students.

The theme – “Redemption: Pursuing MLK’s Vision of Beloved Community” – and the day’s programs reflect Dr. King’s call to bring people together, close the equity gaps, and deliver. hope and opportunities for social change.

Community and university programs this month

January 17: The Quad Cities community is invited to hear from panelists from the Bard Prison Initiative at 6.30 p.m. via Zoom.

January 17: Faculty, staff and students are invited to the panel discussion by the Bard Prison Initiative and the Augustana Prison Education Program at 10:30 am via Zoom.

Classes for the January quarter will be held on a shorter schedule. Classes will run for 90 minutes, either from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. or from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The documentary “College Behind Bars” will air throughout the day in the You Belong Here lounge, Gerber Center, on the fourth floor.

January 19: the Virtual tour of the National Civil Rights Museum will be offered at 6.30 p.m. via Zoom. There will be a watch party in the Gävle rooms of the Gerber Center. The event is open to the Augustana community and alumni.

The National Civil Rights Museum is located in the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated. The museum’s mission is to “share the culture and lessons of the American civil rights movement and explore how this important era continues to shape equality and freedom around the world.”

January 17-21: An interactive exhibition “I Have a Dream, Too” will be open daily in the You Belong Here lounge, Gerber Center, fourth floor. There will be activities throughout the week.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC, August 28, 1963.

On Friday of this week, students are invited to a walk-in event from noon to 3 p.m. to learn more about Dr. King and his iconic Speech “I have a dream”. He delivered the speech on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. It was a watershed moment in the civil rights movement when Dr. King laid out his vision for equality, justice and freedom.


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