Each year PNAP offers 13-15 non-credit college-level courses in subjects ranging from printmaking and criminology to poetry and women’s studies. Faculty are independent artists and Chicago university professors. A committee identifies new faculty and courses based on student interest and a desire to offer classes in a wide range of subjects taught by faculty that are representative of our student population. Our commitment to non-credit classes has been supported and articulated by our students in prison, as access to general education and art has been a critical gateway to higher education. Along with classes, PNAP hosts guest lectures where speakers discuss their work as writers, artists, and activists together with a group of incarcerated men in the Stateville auditorium. 

Current Courses

The Evolution of Hip-Hop

Faculty: LaTasha DeHaan

The hip-hop culture has evolved from its inception in house parties in New York during the 1970s to becoming a multibillion-dollar revenue generating business through music sales, concerts, movies, clothing, streaming and other media products. This musical genre and culture that was created and has been largely sustained by African-American hip-hop artists, has garnered inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and an awarding of the historic Pulitzer Prize. This course examines the evolution of hip-hop music and culture in the United States from the 1970s through the 1990s and some current forms of hip-hop in the 2000s. In this course we will evaluate some of the most seminal contributions and/or controversies in hip-hop through historical, political, social and economic lenses. 

Practicing Public Health: Healing Communities, Healing Selves

Faculty: Evan Lyon and Sam Chen

This course will travel from Palestine to Pilsen to answer the question: “How can public health truly heal us?” Together, we will study pressing health issues that shape our world, from COVID-19 to depression. Along the way, students will learn not only how to analyze public health initiatives, but also how to be leaders in promoting the wellbeing of their families, friends and peers. This seminar-style course is built around active discussion and reflective writing, rather than lecture-style learning. Students who are interested will have the opportunity to co-create educational materials that can be spread to classrooms across the US.

Alternative Justice Systems: A Comparative Exploration for Liberation

Faculty: Marina Bell and Clinton Nichols

This class explores the histories, structures, functions, values, assumptions, and goals of punishment systems beyond the United States’ criminal punishment system operated by the states and by the federal government. Case studies will include justice systems in First Nations/Aboriginal communities and those operated by governments in countries like Brazil, Iran, Japan, and Rwanda. The course also includes justice systems that have evolved within the US, outside of a state context—particularly in communities where residents cannot rely on police for safety— such as restorative and transformative justice, community-based accountability practices, mutual aid, and Indigenous forms of peacemaking and conflict resolution. Comparison with these alternatives invites critical reflection on the current state punishment system, and the opportunity to develop a critical analysis of the system, in terms of its punitive values, its destructive social and cultural impacts, and the ways in which many of the most well-intentioned reforms tend to reproduce rather than solve harmful social problems. Alternative justice systems have different fundamental assumptions and challenges but also different ways to address root causes behind incarceration and punishment. The course will also present opportunities for us to vision and dream together, about what kind of a system we want, what kind of a society we want, and how to achieve those dreams.

Reading and Writing Short Poems

Faculty: Meredith Nnoka

In this course participants will learn the fundamentals of poetry writing and analysis with a particular focus on short-form poems. This generative poetry workshop will provide participants with a broad set of strategies for writing and revising their own poetry. Alongside reading and analyzing a variety of poetic forms and styles, participants will be asked to write one short poem a week and participate in weekly writing workshops, leading to the compilation of a class anthology and an in-class poetry reading.

Abondans: Worldbuilding and Afrofuturism

Faculty: Indigo Wright, Timmy Châu

“We cannot create what we cannot imagine” –Lucille Clifton

“We are living in an imagination battle. If you can’t imagine your freedom, then you will never achieve it.” –Terry Marshall

While the work of abolitionists is to be movement builders, it is also to be world builders. Over the course of this class, participants will work to produce dynamic cultural pieces engaging with the work of freedom dreaming through the genre of Afrofuturism. Students will also walk away with a broader understanding of the artistic, cultural and theoretical offerings of Afrofuturism. This project asks students to not only imagine the world we want to see, but create those spaces in the present. Participants will be invited to hold space to recognize lost adolescence and imagine collective futures. Artists are invited to imagine a world unstructured and undisciplined by systems of oppression and, creatively and collectively, become world builders. With art as a transitory tool, this exhibition seeks to transcend time, space, binary, and bars. 

The following questions gesture toward the content this class seeks to explore: What futures become possible when we recognize and honor time that’s been stolen from us? What lessons and/or moments from the past must be remembered to ensure a better future? What would it mean (look like, feel like) to “reclaim my time”? What would it mean (look like, feel like) to actualize our liberatory visions in the here and now?

Art Workshop  

Faculty: William Estrada

The course will focus on the creation of illustrations within a social and political context to amplify the stories and concerns of historically marginalized groups, with specific attention given to Chicago neighborhoods. Using illustration techniques, collage, and text based work students will develop a series of postcards geared towards young people in Chicago, focusing on developing and disseminating statements to inspire, reflect, and think critically about what a joy filled future can look like. We will learn from the work of contemporary artists working in collaboration with people to challenge oppressive systems by building just futures centered around joy.

UWW Study Hall

Faculty: Jason LaFountain, Tim Barnett, and Alan Giuliani

UWW Study Hall provides a space for current degree students to get together once a week outside of class, for support from the PNAP Higher Education Coordinator. There will be time for filling out degree paperwork, discussion of courses, workshopping writing, tutoring (e.g. math), planning for future semesters, etc. The Study Hall is also a space for UWW graduates to mentor the current students.

Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank

Faculty: Alice Kim and Maria Dikcis

The Think Tank is composed of incarcerated scholars and cultural workers and is co-facilitated by Alice Kim and Timmy Châu. Through in-depth research, policy analysis, and advocacy, alongside creative cultural projects, we work to transform the material and ideological conditions created by carceral logics. We seek to make key interventions and offer critical insights to the broader movement to end mass-incarceration from within one of the most brutal geographies of the prison-industrial-complex. Abolition is our horizon. 

Past Courses

2021-22 Academic Year

Portrait as Mosaic: A Reading and Writing Intensive Seminar
Faculty: Audrey Petty, Jill Petty, and Ben Austen

Printmaking: Portraits of Change
Faculty: William Estrada and Hanna Gibson

Youth and Social Movements
Faculty: David Stovall and Emily Pierce

Shaped by Spaces: Human Relationships with Built and Natural Environments
Faculty: Tess Landon

Modern Mathematics
Faculty: Alan Giuliani

Correspondence on Current Biology Topics
Faculty: Beth Reinke and Aaron Schirmer

Tracing the History of Japanese-American Incarceration During World War II
Faculty: Fred Sasaki and Cean Gamalinda

Contemporary Feminists Engagements
Faculty: Beth Richie, Erica Meiners, and Anna Martine-Whitehead

Two Centuries of Black Poetry: A Generative and Analytical Poetry Course
Faculty: Tara Betts

Drawing: Observation and Invention
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

UWW Study Hall
Faculty: Jason LaFountain

Math Tutorial
Faculty: Nick Moreno

Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank
Faculty: Alice Kim, Durrell Washington, and Noelle Petrowski

2020-21 Academic Year

Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank
Faculty: Alice Kim, Durrell Washington, and Noelle Petrowski

Math Tutorial
Faculty: Desmond Taylor

Making Space: Emancipatory Design
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead, Andres Hernandez, and Amanda Williams

Art: Justice Murals
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead, Sarah Ross, Damon Locks, and Aaron Hughes

Towards a People’s Bill of Rights: Rethinking Criminal Justice
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

Introduction to Latinx Studies
Faculty: Christina Gómez

A Beloved Community: Healing, Justice, and the Urgency of Mindfulness
Faculty: Johari Jabir

James Baldwin and Black Political Thought
Faculty: Martha Biondi

Race, Class, and Gender Dimensions of Criminalization and Justice
Faculty: Julian Thompson

Research for Justice
Faculty: Lisa Yun Lee and Adam Bush

Poetry: The Lyric Essay
Faculty: Audrey Petty

Writing Our Lives: The Art of Memoir and Personal Essay
Faculty: William Ayers

Violence in Society
Faculty: Beth Richie

Introduction to Visual Criminology
Faculty: Luke Fidler and Jason LaFountain

Economy, Society, and Public Policy
Faculty: Damon Jones

2019-20 Academic Year

African Americans and the Civil War
Faculty: Johari Jabir

Envisioning Criminal Justice Reforms
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

Art: Anthems
Faculty: Sarah Ross, Anna Martine Whitehead, Aaron Hughes, and Damon Locks

Writing Poetry
Faculty: Tara Betts 

Writing the Brief Biography and Short Learning Statements
Faculty: Tara Betts

Critical Ethnic Studies and Contemporary Art Practice
Faculty: Patricia Nguyen and Casey Goonan

At Home in the World: Telling Our Stories of Public Housing
Faculty: Lisa Yun Lee and Ben Auste

Critical Writing and Research
Faculty: Tim Barnett, Martha Biondi, Erica Meiners, and Beth Richie

Draw What You See/Draw What You Dream
Faculty: Aaron Hughes

Our Dances, Our Freedom
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead

2018-19 Academic Year 

Introduction to Writing
Faculty: Simone Waller

Digging Deeper: Poetry Informed by Contingent Citizenship and Being Human
Faculty: Tara Betts

Emancipation and Abolition in Historical Perspective
Faculty: Kai Parker

Afrofuturism: Science Fiction as Social Commentary and Alternative Visions of Tomorrow
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

UWW Capstone Experience Course
Faculty: Timothy Barnett and Erica Meiners

Race and Politics
Faculty: Cathy Cohen

Make Your Mark & Fly Your Flag
Faculty: Aaron Hughes

From Civil Rights to #Black Lives Matter: Politics, Society and Protest Since the 1960s
Faculty: Martha Biondi

Movement / Movement: Dance and Liberation
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead

Poetry About My Rights: Writing Poems Informed by Contingent Citizenship
Faculty: Tara Betts 

Art and Empire in the Ancient World
Faculty: Luke Fidler

The Social Value of Latinas/os/xs
Faculty: Michael De Anda Muñiz

Manifesta for the Future
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

2017-18 Academic Year

Introduction to Environmental Justice
Faculty: Antonio Reyes López

Writing Workshop: Creating Character
Faculty: Tess Landon

Printmaking: Developing a Collaborative Portfolio
Faculty: William Estrada

Art and Animation
Faculty: Damon Locks and Sarah Ross

Mapping the Self in Community
Faculty: Jill Petty, Audrey Petty, and Miriam Petty

American Public Schools
Faculty: Eve Ewing and David Stovall

Justice and Politics in Shakespeare’s Plays
Faculty: Wendy Wall

Black Women in History, Politics, and The Law
Faculty: Beth Richie, Barbara Ransby, and Cathy Cohen

Critical Education: Power, Knowledge, and Change
Faculty: Tim Barnett and Erica Meiners

Introduction to Criminology
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

A Survey of Black Writers
Faculty: Tara Betts

Writing: Education from the Public to the Personal
Faculty: Tess Landon

Political Theory: The Meaning and Limits of Rights
Faculty: Lucy Cane

Philosophy: Freedom and Its Limits
Faculty: David Egan

Philosophy: Philosophy of Punishment
Faculty: Jessica Bird

2016-17 Academic Year

American Art: A People’s History
Faculty: Luke Fidler and Jason LaFountain

Introduction to Latina/o Studies
Faculty: Michael De Anda Muñiz

Staging Time: Real Stories, Real Theater
Faculty: David Feiner and Benjamin Serrano

African American Studies 101
Faculty: Kai Parker

Passing Time: (In)significant Moments
Faculty: Andres Hernandez

Literature: The Journey
Faculty: Audrey Petty

History: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter
Faculty: Martha Biondi

Art: From Drawing the Personal to Printing the Public
Faculty: Aaron Hughes

Writing: Writing Through a Wall
Faculty: Alice Kim

Performance: Dance and Movement-Building
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead

2015-16 Academic Year

Literature: Detective Fiction
Faculty: Tim Barnett

Abstracting Nature
Faculty: William Estrada

Political Science: The Meaning and Limits of Rights
Faculty: Anna Terweil and Lucy Cane

The Artistic Imagination
Faculty: Jason LaFountain

Art: Drawing on Community
Faculty: Marvin Tate

Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle
Faculty: Kai Parker

Black Women and the Justice System
Faculty: Beth Richie

Words Free: An Exploration of Poetry & Poetics
Faculty: Lasana Kazembe

African American History, 1619-1900
Faculty: Kai Parker

Freedom Dreams
Faculty: Alice Kim

Core Writing Skills
Faculty: Nancy Traver

Art and Science Fiction: Documenting the Future
Faculty: Damon Locks

2014-15 Academic Year

Reading and Writing Our Lives
Faculty: Tim Barnett

Political Theory: Theory and Event
Faculty: Lucy Cane

The Art and Craft of Memoir: Object Lessons
Faculty: Audrey Petty

Black Women and the Criminal Justice System
Faculty: Beth Richie

Introduction to Latino and Latin American Studies
Faculty: Christina Gómez

Portraiture and Installation
Faculty: Sarah Ross

Writing Workshop
Faculty: Amy Partridge and Erica Meiners

Poetry Series: Writing and a Healing
Faculty: Marvin Tate

Animals: Myth and Reality
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

The Artist in Representation
Faculty: Damon Locks

Introduction to Political Theory in the American Context
Faculty: Lucy Cane and Anna Terwiel

African American History, 1865-Present
Faculty: Darryl Heller

2013-14 Academic Year

Personal Narratives in History
Faculty: Amy Partridge

Art & Advocacy, History & Practice
Faculty: Tess Landon

Art: (Re)creation / Time
Faculty: Damon Locks, Sarah Ross, and Fereshteh Toosi

The Fiction and Prose of Richard Wright
Faculty: Natasha Barnes

Social Change Histories
Faculty: Erica Meiners and Jill Petty

Poetry: Dear Reader
Faculty: Fred Sasaki, Lindsay Garbutt, Ydalmi Noriega, Ashley Sheehan, James Sitar, Mairead Case, and Nuria Sheehan

Humanities: Social Change Histories
Faculty: Ben Almassi and Nick Smaligo

Drawing from Observation
Faculty: Ryan Griffis

Expository Writing Basics
Faculty: Jill Petty

Poor People’s Movements in the 2000s, 1960s & 1930s
Faculty: Amy Partridge

2012-13 Academic Year 

Gendered Perspectives
Faculty: Erica Meiners

Unexpected Art, Unexpected Artists
Faculty: Tess Landon

Mural and Painting Workshop
Faculty: Gabriel Villa

The Letter
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

Creative Writing: Political Poetry
Faculty: Daniela Olszewska

Creative Writing: Coming of Age
Faculty: Jill Petty

Faculty: Anthony Madrid, Nadya Pittendrigh, Fred Sasaki, and Tess Landon

Visual Stories
Faculty: Sarah Ross