For the last three years, Wyoming Pathways from Prison has been offering college courses to incarcerated women and men in Wyoming's five correctional facilities. This week the group is hosting the Transformative Education in Prison and Beyond Symposium at the University of Wyoming.
Project Co-founder Alec Muthig is helping to coordinate the symposium. He said people from around the country and the world will gather to discuss the positive impact humanities courses can have on inmates working to turn their lives around.
"When people usually think of prison education, they think of job skills so that when inmates are released they can find a job," said Muthig. "For me, that's only half of the equation. The other half of the equation is this transformative education that helps build character or adjust character."
Panel discussions, interactive workshops, and keynote addresses by leaders in the field will focus on advancing transformative education for incarcerated peoples.
"What we're doing is we are having people experience self-reflection, critical thinking and looking at themselves and how they fit into society a little differently," said Muthig. "So it could be an ethics course. It could be a course in stoicism. It could be a course exploring women in literature. All these allow you to see your place in society a little differently than you may have seen before."
Muthig said providing higher education in prison presents many challenges. Highly restricted access to the internet makes research and online learning hard for inmates to access. He said the symposium will be solutions-oriented.
People from around the country and the world will gather for the symposium March 29-30, at the University of Wyoming Conference Center. It's free and open to the general public.