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RIDOC Announces Brown Education Link Lecture Series: Brown Professors to Lead Weekly Discussions with Medium Security Inmates

The Rhode Island Department of Corrections is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Brown University, The Brown Education Link Lecture Series, which began in mid-October. Created by Brown senior Jonathan Coleman, a Literary Arts major from Santa Cruz, California, the program brings a different Brown professor to the ACI each week to lead a discussion on a topic relevant to his or her academic interests and to the theme “Questions of Citizenship.”

Pre-screened enrolled students will be responsible for completing an assigned reading before each lecture and will attend and participate in each session. The hope, according to Coleman, is to “inspire excitement about education at the ACI, both for Brown professors and for incarcerated students.”

Coleman has been coming to the ACI for the past three years as part of Space in Prison for the Arts and Creative Expression (SPACE), a joint program of the ACI and Brown’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service wherein inmates collaborate in creative arts workshops. Since its founding in 1992, SPACE has facilitated workshops in poetry, writing, visual arts, song, dance, theatre, and hip-hop in the women’s minimum and men’s medium and maximum security facilities. Through that involvement, Coleman says, “I became more interested in making changes inside the prison and getting Brown more involved.”

This summer, Coleman had the opportunity to focus on how best to do that through a summer fellowship with Brown’s Center for Public Service. He researched college/prison collaborations nationwide and found one at Grinnell College in Iowa on which he based the BELLS program. Ultimately, he would like to see Brown provide a credit bearing degree program inside the prisons, and that is still a long term goal, but the weekly lecture series seemed like a doable first step. The schedule for the fall lecture series is as follows: 10/17 Joan Richards, Professor of History, The Light of Isaac Newton 10/22 Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics, Inequality in America 10/31 Ross Cheit, Associate Professor of Political Science, Children as Citizens 11/3 Seth Rockman, Assistant Professor of History, Black Citizenship on the Streets of Providence, 1800-1860 11/10 Cynthia T. Garcia Coll, Professor of Education, Immigration and Education 11/17 Barrymore Bogues, Professor of Africana Studies, How were Human Rights Invented? 12/3 Mark Cladis, Professor of Religious Studies, Caring Makes Us Human: Caring in and out of Prison 12/8 Lecture pending

The lectures will be held in the John J. Moran Medium Security Facility’s Education Unit from approximately 12:30 – 2:30 p.m., and approximately 20 inmate participants will be selected by facility personnel based on past program participation, interest, and institutional record. The Brown professors are volunteering their time and there is no cost to the state to offer the program. Coleman says he already has ten different professors who have indicated a desire to participate in the spring. Although he will graduate at the end of this semester, the Swearer Center will hire a student coordinator to oversee the program in the spring.

Members of the press who are interested in attending one of the lectures should contact Tracey Z. Poole, Chief of Information and Public Relations, at (401) 462-2609 or via e-mail at

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