Center for Prison Education (CPE)

I took the opportunity to teach in the inaugural year of Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education Program at the Cheshire Correctional Institute. In the spring of 2010 I offered my general education course MB&B 119, Biology and Chemistry in the Modern World: A Survey of Drugs and Disease to two sections of 19 students at Wesleyan University, and to one class of 19 inmates in Cheshire. The course content included coverage of bacterial and viral diseases (TB, antibiotic resistance, AIDS, flu etc.), biotechnology (cloning, GMOs, stem cells etc.), drugs (caffeine, steroids, alcohol, THC etc.) as well as other diseases (diabetes, cancer etc.).

All three sections of the class received the same lectures, had the same assignments and tests, and the tests were randomly mixed beforehand and graded blind. The course was an unqualified success, and it was offered again in 2011 to a new cohort of student inmates.

Updates on the program are available in the following video:

a photo of Prof. McAlear with inmates, faculty and administrators of the Wesleyan Prison Teaching Initiaive in its first year
Prof. McAlear with inmates, faculty and administrators of the Center for Prison Education in its first year

The program was featured in the New York Times and on NPR. Further media coverage noted here.