UVic launches new course connecting students with inmates
Associate professor Audrey Yap outside the Wilkinson Road jail. (UVic)
The University of Victoria is partnering with the Vancouver Island Regional Correction Centre for a first-of-its-kind course.
Starting next month, 10 UVic students will join 10 incarcerated inmates at the Wilkinson Road jail for weekly "Conceptions of Justice and Engaged Pedagogy" classes.
Associate professor of philosophy Audrey Yap says the students and inmates will read and discuss several pieces of work over the three-month course.
"We're reading a short story by Ursula Le Guin and we're reading actually a few things by Martin Luther King," said Yap.
"We're reading part of an essay by Camus and excerpts from a chapter by an Indigenous writer, Lee Maracle. "A lot of them have to do with ideas about justice, about what it means to be human, what it means to live in a society."
Yap says the course will create a dialogue between the students and inmates, and will allow them to learn from each other's insights and experiences.
"I think for the UVic student it will teach them a lot about how people who have had really different lives from them might see the world," said Yap.
"People with different backgrounds will read maybe the same things and come up with different ideas from them. They will get different things from that."
Yap said many inmates haven't had very positive experiences with school or education, and that the course will give them new opportunities to learn, voice their thoughts and opinions, and discover how the philosophy-based curriculum may relate to their lives.
Yap said there's not usually a lot of crossover between inmates and students, and that the course is intended to break down barriers and biases, learn from other perspectives, and see that we are all human.