Amy and Ruth are going to talk about their Learning Together project.
The project “has enabled Cambridge graduate criminology students and students at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Grendon to learn criminology together over an eight week programme”.
The first cohort graduated together at HMP Grendon in May 2015. They had “read journal articles, listened to lectures, participated in small group discussions and written an essay that integrated new theoretical knowledge with personal experiences on the course”.
A report of the project noted:
The impact on the students was profound. Many talked of how they felt that they had been able to engage with sophisticated academic material, but had also undergone an important social experience, meeting people from very different backgrounds in a context where they felt valued. For the university students this was an opportunity to transcend detached academic learning and instead engage directly with prisons and prisoners.
The tag line for the project is: Being, Belonging and Becoming Together. The project aims to:
- Curate inclusive spaces of encounter
- Enable connections and unlikely friendships
- Believe these connections to be individually, socially and institutionally transformative.
This project brings back memories of work underway at the University of York in the 1970s. Laurie Taylor worked with Stanley Cohen at Durham Prison. A book about their work is called Escape Attempts.
I am fascinated to learn, forty years on, about Amy and Ruth’s understanding of the transformative potential of connectedness.
I am hoping they will explore how we go beyond institutional structures to enable learners to find their own spaces in which to flourish. I see these spaces as opportunities to bring together the escape from the constraints of everyday routine with the freedom of imagination and personal learning desires.