UNIVERSITY WITHOUT WALLS
In 2017, PNAP launched University Without Walls (UWW) at Stateville in partnership with Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). The launch marked the first time a secular, degree-granting program was offered at Stateville in more than 20 years.
UWW is a non-traditional, competency-based degree-completion program program that serves adult students who have professional, community, political, and life experiences that have resulted in significant college-level learning. With the support of PNAP Co-Directors of University Curriculum Tim Barnett and Erica Meiners, both NEIU faculty, enrolled students established advisory teams made up of a community advisor with expertise in the students’ area of study and a faculty advisor from NEIU and developed portfolios of prior learning, learning goals, and a learning contract. Over the next 2 years, students took classes and independent studies and consulted closely with advisors to complete their degrees. Areas of study included Critical Carceral-Legal Studies, Poetic Justice in Black Culture, Transformative Justice, and Resource Development for Non-Profits.
The first cohort of 7 students graduated in May 2019, marking a milestone in Illinois for the advancement of educational programming behind bars. The graduation ceremony featured remarks by Angela Y. Davis, Professor Emeritus at the University of California Santa Cruz, Juliana Stratton, Lieutenant Governor of Illinois and a musical performance by Chance the Rapper. Graduate families, PNAP members, and fellow students joined the graduates to celebrate the occasion. Currently, 6 students are enrolled in the second UWW Stateville cohort.