The BPI Summer Residency is a professional development opportunity that provides hands-on, experiential training in the hows, whys, and whats of BPI’s approach to college-in-prison.
This July, emerging college-in-prison educators and practitioners from California, Oregon, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri, New York, and Hawai’i as well as South Africa, Jamaica, Austria, Argentina, and the United Kingdom joined BPI alumni and staff for the fourth annual BPI Summer Residency. For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, the Summer Residency was back to in-person workshops on Bard’s campus in Annandale, NY.
This year more than ever, the residency emphasized experiencing community and cohort, mirroring student experiences, alongside technical conversations about the mechanics and strategies of building robust, ambitious, and successful college-in-prison along with support for reentry and alumni affairs in different locations and institutional contexts. As always, BPI’s approach to program building emphasizes building slow and small with goals of longevity, sustainability, and integrity at the heart of the work.
BPI staff and alumni subject matter experts from the academic, reentry and alumni affairs, national engagement and advocacy, development, and senior leadership teams led the immersive workshops. The lived experience of BPI alumni—who were included both in the cohort and as workshop leaders—underscored much of the two weeks, providing vital insight on the logistical and human-scale impact of college-in-prison.
The 25 workshops ranged in subject from “Faculty Recruitment and Hiring” to “Math Curriculum and Pedagogy” to “Thinking About Fundraising” and represented four overarching themes in college-in-prison program building:
Academics and Practice,
Reentry and Alumni Affairs.
The 2022 cohort was able to build community, compare notes and exchange ideas, and create lasting bonds and a lifelong network of support across their cohort, and with past and future Residency cohorts, the full BPI staff, and across BPI’s national Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison.
Many more additional virtual workshops and webinars will be offered across the next year, bringing together members of past cohorts, and practitioners from across the Consortium For the Liberal Arts in Prison.
The benefits of the cohort model, a core tenant of BPI’s institutional foundation, were not only spoken or theorized about throughout the workshops but also experienced and deployed first-hand by this year’s practitioners, with the themes of the workshops playing out in real time.
Eager to be back in an in-person format, this year’s cohort fully committed themselves to exchange ideas while grappling with the core principles, philosophical approaches, and complex questions at the heart of their work in bringing higher education into carceral spaces. And, there was lots and lots of bonding in and outside of the classroom! In the weeks and months following the Residency, the cohort 2022 Whatsapp thread is as lively as ever.