Each year, PNAP offers between 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 classes 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 with a group in the Stateville auditorium. 

Current Courses

Violence in Society

Faculty: Beth Richie

We are living through an unprecedented time where things are changing very quickly. Questions of justice and safety arise as part of daily debates. Feelings of fear and uncertainty prevail. Some groups are facing immediate danger and other formations are using power in overt ways to cause harm. Scholars, activists and policy makers alike anticipate significant changes in the social fabric and relationships between groups and individuals because of these changes. Many wonder what role violence will play in this transformation. This course will attempt to answer this question by exploring the theoretical perspectives on the causes and consequences of violence in society and discussing the current political, social and emotional dynamics that influence and are influenced by violence. We will examine the harm caused by individuals, groups, and the state and evaluate how violence is linked to forms of systemic oppression and social domination.

Economy, Society and Public Policy

Faculty: Damon Jones

This course will provide an introduction to the study of economics, grounded in real-world and practical policy questions. The target audience is any student who wants to learn how to use economics to understand and articulate reasoned views on some of the most pressing policy problems facing our society: inequality, financial instability, labor markets, climate change, wealth creation, and innovation. The course will differ from a standard introductory economics course by incorporating a wide range of views and insights, not just the neoclassical model of economics that tends to focus on simple supply, demand, and free markets. Instead, we will incorporate analyses of power, diverse schools of thought, and a notion of the economy situated in society and the biosphere.

Introduction to Visual Criminology

Faculty: Luke Fidler and Jason LaFountain

Criminal suspects are processed with mugshots and fingerprinting. Activists print posters to protest police brutality. Prisons appear regularly on TV. Attending to subjects like these, the emerging discipline of ‘visual criminology’ has framed the relationship between images and power in terms of the prison system and its corresponding regimes of control, policing, and punishment. Scholars are persuasively articulating the ways that evidence, law, criminology, and images are, as Katherine Biber argues, deeply reliant upon each other. In this course, we look at the history of crime and punishment in the United States and beyond by examining the architectural designs, photographs, drawings, and other works of visual culture that put people in prison and help to keep them there. We then see how artists have engaged the same visual traditions to challenge the ways that policing and imprisonment shape our lives, even calling into question the very existence of institutions like the prison or practices like the death penalty.

Art: Anthems

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

This is a year-long art course exploring the idea of the ANTHEM through different artistic iterations. The course uses movement, song, image, and language to address issues of citizenship, belonging, and freedom. The class will be conducted in four sections. Section one of this course will start with a study of anthems (personal, community, national) and other songs that seek to create a sense of belonging. Students will create visual forms and write their own anthems. Section two will work with movement based on anthems developed in section one. Section three will focus on the graphic novel, which might be considered as a program for an Anthem performance. Finally, section four will develop larger scale works, which will be utilized as a set for a performance of movements and anthems. Throughout the year the class will host guest artists to further inform the work. A culminating project will be a comic book that incorporates song, dance scores and mural designs.

The Lyric Essay

Faculty: Audrey Petty

In this seminar, we’ll closely consider the lyric essay–its origins and its aesthetics. We’ll read several craft essays about the lyric essay, and closely study exemplary texts that vary widely in theme and aesthetic approach. Assigned texts will include works by such authors as James Baldwin, Jamaica Kincaid, Maxine Hong Kingston, and John Edgar Wideman. Students will keep a journal to track their key questions and observations about assigned readings, and students will also draft and refine lyric essays of their own over the course of the workshop.

Math Tutorial

Faculty: Desmond Taylor

Think Tank

Faculty: Alice Kim, Durrell Washington, and Noelle Petrowski

Past Courses

2019-20 Academic Year

African Americans and the Civil War
Faculty: Dr. Johari Jabir

Envisioning Criminal Justice Reforms
Faculty: Dr. Clinton Nichols

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

Writing Poetry
Faculty: Dr. Tara Betts 

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

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

Our Dances, Our Freedom
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead

Art and Empire in the Ancient World
Faculty: Dr. Luke Fidler

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

Manifesta for the Future
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

2018-19 Academic Year 

Introduction to Writing
Faculty: Simone Waller

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

Emancipation and Abolition in Historical Perspective
Faculty: Dr. Kai Parker

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

UWW Capstone Experience Course
Faculty: Dr. Timothy Barnett & Dr. Erica Meiners

2017-2018 Academic Year

Race and Politics
Faculty: Dr. Cathy J. 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: Dr. Martha Biondi

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

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

2017-2018 Academic Year

Introduction to Environmental Justice
Faculty: Dr. Antonio Reyes Lopez

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 Dr. Miriam Petty

American Public Schools
Faculty: Dr. Eve Ewing and Dr. David Stovall

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

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

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

Introduction to Criminology
Faculty: Dr. Clinton Nichols

A Survey of Black Writers
Faculty: Dr. Tara Betts

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

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

Philosophy: Freedom and Its Limits
Faculty: Dr. David Egan

Philosophy: Philosophy of Punishment
Faculty: Dr. Jessica Bird

2016-2017 Academic Year

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

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

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

African American Studies 101
Faculty: Dr. Kai Parker

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

Literature: The Journey
Faculty: Audrey Petty

History: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter
Faculty: Dr. 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

2015-2016 Academic Year

Literature: Detective Fiction
Faculty: Dr. Tim Barnett

Abstracting Nature
Faculty: William Estrada

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

The Artistic Imagination
Faculty: Dr. Jason LaFountain

Art: Drawing on Community
Faculty: Marvin Tate

Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle
Faculty: Dr. Kai Parker

Black Women and the Justice System
Faculty: Dr. Beth Richie

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

African American History, 1619-1900
Faculty: Dr. Kai Parker

Freedom Dreams
Faculty: Alice Kim

Core Writing Skills
Faculty: Nancy Traver

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

2014-2015 Academic Year

Reading and Writing Our Lives
Faculty: Dr. Tim Barnett

Political Theory: Theory and Event
Faculty: Dr. Lucy Cane

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

Black Women and the Criminal Justice System
Faculty: Dr. Beth Richie

Introduction to Latino and Latin American Studies
Faculty: Dr. Christina Gomez

Portraiture and Installation
Faculty: Sarah Ross

Writing Workshop
Faculty: Dr. Amy Partridge and Dr. 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: Dr. Lucy Cane and Dr. Anna Terwiel

African American History, 1865-Present
Faculty: Dr. Darryl Heller

2013-2014 Academic Year

Personal Narratives in History
Faculty: Dr. 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: Dr. Natasha Barnes

Social Change Histories
Faculty: Dr. Erica Meiners and Jill Petty

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

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: Dr. Amy Partridge

2012-2013 Academic Year 

Gendered Perspectives
Faculty: Dr. 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